There are two very important reasons to cook meat to the right temperature. The first is that undercooked meat may not be safe to eat. The second is that meat is at its most delicious when the cooking temperature is just right. These two facts make a meat thermometer a wonderful tool to have. By following the steps below, you’ll make the best use of this handy kitchen tool.
1. Choose the Right Meat Thermometer
There are two primary types of meat thermometers on the market. Choosing the one that best fits your needs will help you get the most out of it.
- Instant-read thermometers: These thermometers give an instant, usually digital, reading when the probe is placed in the meat. If baking, remove the meat from the oven to measure.
- Leave-in thermometers: With a larger dial suitable for viewing from your oven window, these thermometers stay in during the entire cooking process.
2. Read the Manual
Although the older thermometers were usually as simple to use as sticking the probe in the meat and waiting for a result, newer models have digital controls that you should acquaint yourself with before using. Some of them have features that alert you when the meat is at the temperature you want. Knowing about this feature and how to use it can save you time and ensure a perfectly cooked cut of meat. If the thermometer needs to be calibrated, the manual will tell you that as well.
3. Insert the Thermometer Correctly
A common problem when using a meat thermometer is not placing the probe correctly. Also, measure the temperature at the thickest part of the meat to be accurate. As you’re inserting the probe, be sure to avoid touching bone, fat, or the cooking surface. All of those can throw off the results and provide you with an inaccurate reading.
4. Wait for a Stable Reading
Even the instant-read thermometers will take a second or so for the reading to stabilize. Old-school analog thermometers will take even longer. To get an accurate reading, you must be patient here and wait for the temperature to stop fluctuating. The instruction manual should also give you an estimated waiting time.
5. Interpret the Reading
Knowing the temperature of your food doesn’t mean much if you don’t know what temperature it should be. Each type of meat also has a different recommended temperature. Some, like steak, may have a range of target temperatures that depend on how you’d like the meat cooked. Before you begin cooking, look up the temperature that matches your cut of meat and cooking preferences.
6. Clean and Store Properly
If you don’t clean the food off of your meat thermometer when you’re done using it, it could throw off the results on the next measurement. Even worse, the food will likely allow bacteria to grow and pass that onto your next cut of meat as you’re taking the temperature. Moreover, warm, soapy water is always a safe bet for cleaning the probe of your thermometer. Some are even dishwasher safe, but be sure to check the manual before washing it that way.
Get Your Supplies at Clark’s Hardware
As grilling season rolls on, you can rely on Clark’s hardware for all your grilling accessories. You’ll find meat thermometers along with everything else you need to have a perfect day on the grill. If you have a favorite brand, we likely carry it. We even have repair parts if something goes wrong with your grill. To learn more about what we offer, visit one of our convenient locations: