Best Meat Thermometers for the Holidays – For Turkey Day success, be sure to use one of these.
Every Thanksgiving, there’s a lot to think about before cooking your holiday meal. There’s a menu to plan, the guest list to prepare, and the kitchen appliances and equipment that you’ll need to cook your meal. If you’re serving a turkey or a special roast this Thanksgiving, you’ll need a meat thermometer to ensure that your main dish is cooked to perfection, and safe to eat.
There are so many variations of meat thermometers on the market today that it can be overwhelming to make sense of them all. To give you a hand, I’ve broken down the essentials of each variety. Instant-read thermometers are inserted into your meat to test the temperature but aren’t left in the meat while it’s cooking. Regular, ovenproof thermometers are inserted into raw meat and remain inside throughout the cooking process. And meat-probe thermometers connect the meat to the monitor with a cord, and let you check the temperature without opening the oven door. There’s also the pop-up thermometer, which was not considered for this article because of its lack of precision. Same goes for the R2-D2-looking infrared models; even though they may appeal to high-tech chefs, they’re better suited for grills and stovetop cooking endeavors.
When checking the temperature of a turkey, there are some guidelines to follow. It’s important to test the bird frequently, and to test different areas of the bird. For breast meat, the ideal temperature is between 150 degrees and 155 degrees, and don’t forget to let the meat rest for more than 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven. When testing dark meat, the desired temperature should reach 165 degrees. Since white and dark meat reach their cooking points at different temperatures, it’s a good idea to separate them while cooking your turkey to avoid drying out the breast meat.
To ease the stress of Thanksgiving this year, I’ve taken one less worry off your plate, and reviewed the best meat thermometers on the market today.
Polder Dual Sensor Meat and Oven Thermometer, $11
The Polder Dual Sensor model reads both the meat temperature and the oven temperature on different dials. This thermometer can also be used on the barbecue thanks to a silicone finger-grip under the dial that allows you to pick up the thermometer without burning your fingers. It’s a great value at $11 because of its multipurpose use, but will be less accurate than a digital reader.
CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer, $20
The CDN DTQ450X is Amazon’s best-selling meat thermometer. This model gives a precise reading in two to three seconds, with a compact design that you can throw in your pocket as you’re running around the kitchen. A downside, though, is that this model isn’t quite long enough to test the center of a larger bird.
ThermoWorks Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen, $96
According to Harold McGee and Alton Brown, the ThermoWorks Thermapen is the best thermometer available. This model gives a temperature reading in three seconds, with a high accuracy of +/- 0.7 degrees, and it turns automatically on and off depending on the temperature of the meat. It is very expensive, though — it may be a better idea to spend your money on your meal rather than on your thermometer.
Maverick Voice Alert Thermometer, $30
The Maverick Voice Alert model is recommended by America’s Test Kitchen and by Good Housekeeping as a great meat-probe device. This gadget can be programmed either by temperature or by “doneness” of your meat. This is a good choice if you want to reuse your Thanksgiving thermometer for later in the year with roasts or other oven-cooked meats. If you think an audio alert will disrupt your focus in the kitchen, this isn’t the thermometer for you — the monitor will alert you frequently as your meat cooks.
Polder Original All-in-One Timer/Thermometer, $25
The Polder Original All-in-One model is a meat-probe thermometer with a 43-inch cord that attaches to a magnet-backed monitor that attaches to your oven. This model allows you to set an optimal low and high temperature range — an alarm notifies you when the meat reaches your presets without having to open your oven door.
ThermoWorks Original Cooking Thermometer/Timer, $24 –
This is the one that I personally liked best and it is the one pictured.
America’s Test Kitchen recommends this ThermoWorks model as the best meat-probe thermometer as well. This model received high marks for its ease of use, and for an easy-to-read display that shows time in addition to temperature. An alarm can be programmed to alert the cook when the desired temperature is reached. This gadget also received great reviews for its on-point probe accuracy.
Taylor Commercial Waterproof Compact Digital Thermometer, $15
If you’re looking for an inexpensive and compact meat thermometer, this Taylor model is a good bet. The device reads from -40 degrees to 450 degrees, and gives an instant reading. Customer reviews have showed that the device is breaks easily, however, so use this one gingerly.