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A variety of thermometers are available for use in the kitchen.

One of the main reasons for cooking your food is to kill the bacteria that causes food-borne illness. The thermometer is the only way to be sure your food has reached the proper temperature.

Types of Thermometers
Type Description Use
Bimetallic dial The mechanism is mechanical and can loose its accuracy over time. Probed type are for internal readings.
Digital readout with a thermocouple probe Single probe with a digital readout on the end. Measure internal temp.
Digital readout with a corded thermocouple probe Corded probe can remain in the food in the oven while cooking and is attached to an external digital readout. Measures internal temp.
Candy thermometers Glass bulb type useful for candy making. Highly accurate at high temperatures. Measures liquid temp.
Infrared gun Laser beam that measures food temperature without touching it. This is especially useful for checking for proper serving temperature. Measures surface temp.

The regular digital probe thermometers are for instance readings. The digital thermometers with a corded probe allows you to monitor of your food while its in the oven and usually has the capability to sound an alarm when a set temperature is reached. These are especially useful for slow cooking meat whether in the oven or on an outdoor grill. There are now thermometers that replace the cord with a bluetooth transmitter but that means having electronics in the hot oven which is not a good environment for electronics. While the cord is a hassle sometime, I'm in a wait and see mode for that. And as with everything else electronic now days some communicate with a smart phone app.

Bimetallic thermometers are available that stay in the oven to monitor the actual temp in the oven in case you fear your oven is cooking hotter or cooler than it is reporting.


  • Oven thermometer: dial that can be placed inside an oven to gauge its temperature; usually analog
  • Fridge/freezer thermometer: similar to oven thermometer; can be placed inside a fridge or freezer; often analog
  • Instant-read probe: digital thermometer with a probe stem; quickly registers temperature; multipurpose but not designed to be left in the food
  • Oven-safe probe: usually analog dial; probe stem; meant to be left in food while cooking
  • Candy/oil thermometer: usually analog and made of glass; intended for a wide range of temperatures; often used for candy and deep-frying
  • Infrared: digital thermometer that uses infrared to detect the surface temperature of a food

In general, with the exception of infrared thermometers, the temperature sensor of the thermometer must be fully submerged/inserted into the food. Oven and fridge thermometers should not be placed too close to the door, where temperatures can easily fluctuate. Probe-style thermometers should be inserted at least two inches into the food, or to the level you wish to test. For candy/oil thermometers, make sure the bulb at the bottom is fully submerged but not too close to the source of heat.



Thermometers are sensitive sensors, and they should be treated with care. Avoid tossing or dropping them. Thoroughly clean any part of the thermometer that comes into contact with food. Every so often, test the thermometer's accuracy by taking the temperature of a pot of boiling water and a glass of ice water for 30 seconds—at sea level the boiling water should be 100˚C (212˚F) and the ice water should be 0˚C (32˚F).