Learning how to use a meat thermometer is a vital skill for the kitchen! Having overdone meat isn’t good at all, and underdone meat is very dangerous.
Meat thermometers are a great way to check your food for correct doneness. While you don’t want to eat undercooked meat, you also may not enjoy over-cooked meat either.
One would get you sick while the other would give you dry and hard to chew food. Learning how to use a meat thermometer is essential for cooking foods to that perfect sweet spot.
First, start by using a quality instant-read thermometer
I recommend the Thermoworks Thermapen, it’s what I use for all of my cooking needs. While you can use just about any digital probe meat thermometer, choosing one that is cheaper may result in lesser quality.
Low-quality thermometers risk needing to be recalibrated often, breaking, or giving inaccurate results- which could be dangerous.
How to use a meat thermometer
To test the temperature of a cut of meat, insert your digital probe meat thermometer into the center of a cut of meat. If your meat has a bone in it, make sure to not have your instant-read thermometer placed too close as that could give a false reading.
Wait until the thermometer has reached a steady reading. If necessary, continue to cook your meat until it is proper temp.
How do you know if your meat thermometer is accurate?
In case you are worried that something may be off with your handy dandy meat thermometer, you can always do a test to see if the reading is accurate or if it needs recalibration.
Simple tests like sticking the probe into boiling water or a bowl of ice water are great for a quick DIY test at home.
When you check using a bowl of ice water, stick your instant-read probe into the bowl. You want it to read 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you check using a pot of boiling water, carefully hold your probe into the water and wait for it to read 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
If it doesn’t read these numbers, or it isn’t even close, you’ll need to look up your digital thermometer online and find an owner’s guide to help you calibrate it back to the proper readings. Usually, it’s a small button or twist dial that needs minor adjusting.
Look at this chart for meat cooking temperatures for all the information you need when cooking meat!
Other uses for digital meat thermometers
Believe it or not, meat thermometers can be used for things other than meat.
These include (but are not limited to):
- Testing the doneness of bread
- Checking the temperature of a warm liquid before adding yeast (too hot and it will kill it, too cold and it does nothing)
- Reading the temperature of boiling sugar- like in candy making
So as you can see, leave-in meat thermometers are a great tool to have in your kitchen.
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