Guide to Food Thermometers

Guide to Food Thermometers
Published On:July 30, 2018 Revised On:December 28, 2023

Cooking various types of food at specific temperatures is crucial to ensure their safety and taste. For example, beef should be cooked until it reaches 145°F (63°C), while chicken requires a minimum temperature of 165°F (74°C). Cooking duration may vary depending on the appliance used and the location’s altitude.

Thermometers ensure food quality during storage, transportation, or cooking. Failing to accurately measure the temperature of food products can significantly raise the risk of bacterial growth. In this article, we will provide information on food thermometers.

Benefits of Using Food Thermometers

Food thermometers are essential tools that measure internal food temperature. Cooked food done right prevents foodborne illnesses and provides a great eating experience. Here are the significant advantages of using a food thermometer:

  • Precisely checks for safety and quality.
  • Preserves texture, juiciness, and flavour while avoiding overcooking.
  • Blocks bacterial growth and avoids eating undercooked/unsafe food.
  • It saves time when cooking large pieces of meat.
  • Reduces food waste from uncooked/overcooked meals.
  • Supports safe cooking temperature guidelines given by law or recipes.

Digital temperature indicators provide versatility when checking the temperatures of different foods without compromising the quality. Clean the thermometer before and after each use to avoid contamination.

Factors when Choosing a Food Thermometer

Selecting a suitable food thermometer requires consideration of vital factors. These factors help identify the appropriate thermometer for the intended needs.

  • Accuracy – Pick a thermometer that provides accurate temperature readings.
  • Speed – Pick one that quickly gives readings. Digital thermometers are quicker than analogue.
  • Ease of use & cleaning – Choose one that is easy to read, use and clean to avoid contamination.
  • Range – Check the thermometer’s temperature range to ensure it meets the cooking/measuring needs.
  • Probe Length & Thickness – Select one with a suitable probe length & thickness for the type of meat.

Apart from the fundamental features mentioned, additional options include thermometers with pre-programmed settings and alarm functions. These advanced thermometers allow specific temperature thresholds to be set, with alerts triggered when food reaches those temperatures. This ensures precise cooking without the need for constant monitoring.

Moreover, there are thermometers available that feature Bluetooth capabilities. These thermometers can connect to a smartphone app via Bluetooth, enabling the tracking of food temperature over time. This functionality allows for remote monitoring of the cooking process while attending to other tasks.

Utilizing a smartphone app, temperature readings can be conveniently viewed in real-time, timers set, and notifications can be received when the food is ready. This seamless technology integration enhances the cooking experience by providing accurate and reliable temperature data.

Types of Food Thermometers

  • Probe Thermometer has a thin pointed probe that gives results in seconds
  • Dial Oven-Safe Thermometer has a metal, wide base and takes two mins+ for accurate results.
  • Infrared Thermometer Gun measures surface temperature from a distance.
  • Grill or smoker thermometer measures chamber temperature

Probe Thermometers

Probe Thermometers are used ­­to measure internal temperatures. The thermometer works on the principle that different metals expand and contract at different temperatures. The rod of the thermometer contains two different metals, with one that will experience a quicker expansion rate at a lower temperature than the other.

The metal comes in contact with the object, and the heat causes the metal to twist according to the temperature. This will cause the dial to produce a readout on display. Thus, the Probe Thermometers help measure the internal temperature of thin-mass food with fast and accurate results.

Dial Oven-Safe Thermometer

Dial Oven-Safe Thermometers have a dial display that allows for easy temperature reading. It is designed to be placed inside the oven while cooking, providing accurate and reliable temperature measurements for various types of food.

The oven-safe feature of this thermometer ensures that it can withstand high temperatures without getting damaged. It is made from heat-resistant materials that can handle the oven’s heat without affecting its accuracy. This allows users to monitor their dishes’ internal temperature without opening the oven door and disrupting the cooking process.

With clear temperature markings and a user-friendly design, the Dial Oven-Safe Thermometer enables precise cooking and prevents overcooking or undercooking. It is suitable for a wide range of recipes, including roasts, poultry, casseroles, and baked goods.

Using the Dial Oven-Safe Thermometer is simple. Just insert the probe into the thickest part of the food, ensuring it doesn’t touch any bones or the cooking pan. Then, leave it in the oven throughout the cooking process to monitor the temperature. The large dial display allows quick and easy reading and ensures that dishes are cooked.

Infra-Red Thermometers

Infrared Thermometers rely on infrared radiation to generate digital temperature readings. The thermometers will require a lens to focus infrared light from one object into a detector known as a thermopile. As the thermopile absorbs infrared radiation, it gains heat, which will be converted into electricity. The electricity will then be scaled into a digital temperature reading.

Infrared Thermometers require no contact between the thermometer and the object to be measured. This makes it useful for hard-to-reach and sensitive purposes. Also, they reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Therefore, such thermometers can be applied to measure plated foods’ temperature, serving areas, or even cold cargo.

Grill or Smoker Thermometers

Grill or smoker thermometers are built to withstand high temperatures and provide accurate temperature readings. They come in different types, including analogue dials and digital thermometers with LCDs. They are typically equipped with a probe that can be inserted into the meat to monitor its internal temperature. This allows for precise control over the cooking process, ensuring that meats are cooked to the desired doneness and avoiding undercooking or overcooking.

One key feature of these thermometers is their ability to withstand the intense heat of grills or smokers. They are constructed from heat-resistant materials that can handle extreme temperatures without compromising accuracy. This ensures the thermometer remains functional and provides reliable readings throughout cooking.

Calibration and Maintenance of Food Thermometers

Achieving precise temperature measurements of food ensures food safety and quality. To uphold accuracy, it is essential to calibrate and maintain thermometers regularly. Neglecting these crucial practices can result in unreliable readings. Here is a four-step guide:

  1. Check accuracy with an ice bath or boiling water.
  2. Adjust the thermometer, if needed, with manufacturer instructions.
  3. Clean the probe with hot soapy water or disinfectant wipes before and after use.
  4. Replace damaged or worn-out thermometers ASAP.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Food Thermometer

To ensure accurate temperature readings and maintain food safety, one must be aware of common errors that should be avoided when using a food thermometer. Here are some critical errors to keep in mind:

  • Not calibrating the thermometer before use
  • Measuring temperature at the wrong spot
  • Using a digital thermometer over the heat limit
  • Mixing up meat and poultry probe
  • Failing to clean the thermometer after each use
  • Failing to check validity or expiry date.

Recommended Food Temperature Chart

To ensure safe cooking, it is crucial to adhere to the recommended food temperature guidelines. These guidelines provide the information to prevent foodborne illnesses and ensure that food is cooked to the appropriate level of safety.

Type of Food Internal Temperature
Beef 145°F / 63°C
Pork 145°F / 63°C
Poultry 165°F / 74°C
Ground Meat 160°F/ 71°C
Fish 145°F/ 63°C
Leftovers 165°F/ 74°C
Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked)
145 °F/ 62.8 °C)
Fully Cooked Ham (to reheat) 165 °F/ 73.9 °C
Eggs 160 °F/ 71.1 °C
Fish & Shellfish 145 °F/ 62.8 °C
Leftovers 165 °F/ 73.9 °C
Casseroles 165 °F/ 73.9 °C


Understanding food thermometers is vital for maintaining food safety standards. Selecting an appropriate thermometer depends on factors such as the cooking method, the type of food being prepared, and personal budget. When using digital thermometers, inserting them into the thickest part of the meat while avoiding contact with bones is essential. It is worth noting that each type of thermometer has advantages and limitations.

To ensure accurate temperature readings, calibrate and regularly verify the thermometer’s accuracy to the manufacturer’s instructions. This proactive approach helps maintain the reliability of temperature measurements and promotes safe food handling practices.