Let’s face it, fellow chefs! We have all been there. I mean, you graciously follow the recipe to the word, double check your ingredients and hungrily toss your masterpiece in the oven in anticipation of a delicious meal, but then…the headache begins!
You have to fumble with the timing the entire cooking period to make sure that your secret recipe is properly cooked.
Not only is this a recipe for disaster, but also a telltale sign that your oven is not heating the way it is supposed to. And what’s the end result? Anything from frustratingly burnt cookies, to an undercooked Thanksgiving turkey.
Fortunately, there is a simple, but effective way to keep tabs on the true temperatures of your oven even when the inbuilt one fails. But How? Well, using the humble oven thermometer!
However, considering that we all have different cooking needs, and no oven thermometer is designed to function like another, you have to select the best oven thermometer that will effectively fulfill your cooking needs.
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Top 5 Oven Thermometers
But, what makes the best oven thermometer tick?
Well, that’s the question I want to answer in this post.
Whether you are a veteran or a novice cook, this blog is your portal into the world of oven thermometers.
In this article, you are going to learn why you need one, how to use it, what to consider when choosing one and also the best models available in the market, to help you make an informed decision, so that you can take your cooking endeavors to the next level.
First things first...
What is an oven thermometer?
Like the name goes, oven thermometers are used in ovens by cooks who want total control on the temperatures their recipes are cooking on.
And since the inbuilt oven thermometer is not always accurate, an independent one makes it possible for you to accurately achieve and maintain desired temperatures.
You can leverage on the wide variety of features and capabilities on these thermometers to monitor and control the temperatures until you have reached the desired degree.
Benefits of having an oven Thermometer
Though accuracy might not sound like a big deal, you will be surprised by how much better your dishes will turn out when cooked under the right temperatures.
And when it comes to baking, I cannot overemphasize the importance of accuracy. Baking with an oven that is faulty will definitely destroy your baked goods.
And since baking is as challenging as it is, they are no need to add an extra hurdle to the mix. An independent oven thermometer will help you track, monitor and control temperatures on every stage of your cooking.
• An inbuilt oven thermometer can be poorly calibrated
Ovens, even the new ones run cold or hot most of the times and their calibrations become faulty in the process. When this happens, you might result in subtracting or adding cooking time. Unfortunately, this is not a reliable fix.
Baking or roasting food in too cool or too hot temperatures destroys its color, flavor, and texture. Fortunately, you can fix this by ensuring that you have an oven thermometer every time you are preparing a meal.
• Full control over the cooking process
An independent oven thermometer comes with several features and capabilities which makes it possible to track, monitor and control temperatures in an oven.
This gives you total leverage over the cooking process.
This control is necessary for reliable and consistent results, especially for recipes that demand precise temperatures.
This is perhaps the biggest reason you should get an oven thermometer. You see, most of the times, ovens have basic inbuilt thermometers with limited functionalities.
However, independent ones are available in a wide array. This versatility gives you the freedom and autonomy to select a thermometer that meets the precise requirements for your cooking endeavors. With these, there is no room for compromise!
Different types of oven thermometers
- Dial and glass bulb (analog thermometers): These function more or less in a similar way. Dial thermometers have a dial face which indicates the temperatures on a chart while Bulb thermometers have a standard bulb. The two indicate temperatures via a colored liquid. Traditionally, the liquid was mercury, but now they use liquid alcohol for health reasons. Dial models are easier to read, especially when peeping through the oven's door. For this reason, they are better than bulb thermometers. Readability is a very important consideration when buying a thermometer.
- Digital (Instant-read thermometers): Instead of giving you the temperature reading inside the oven, a digital thermometer displays the temperatures of the food itself. It is inserted in the food and the gauge at the end gives the internal temperature of your cooking food. However, most of these are not oven proof so they can’t be left inside an oven.
Tip: Different models will come with different ways of attaching in your oven. Some clip on the inside, others have a heavy bottom and can stand on the racks and others are designed with a hook so that they can effortlessly hang on the racks.
How to Use an Oven Thermometer
Despite the fact that oven thermometers are fairly easy to use, you will be surprised by how many people can’t handle them. If you are under this pool, it is time to get some lessons before buying one of these artistic pieces.
- Put Your Thermometer inside Your Oven
What you should do is place your thermometer inside of your oven beforehand. This is to ensure that the thermometer will get an accurate and relevant reading. The oven thermometer should be placed on the same rack where you are going to place your food.
Basically, the thermometer has to be placed inside the oven in advance. This ensures that you will get a relevant and accurate reading. Be sure to place it on the same rack you will be placing your food. This increases the accuracy.
- Set Your Oven’s Temperature
After you have placed your thermometer inside the oven, go ahead and set your desired cooking temperatures. Don’t forget to keep the rack empty at this stage. Only the thermometer needs to be on the rack.
- Wait and Preheat
After setting your desired temperature, you will see a light indicating that your oven is preheating. At this stage, refrain from opening the oven’s door. Doing that will dissipate the heat out of the oven and you will have to wait longer. After the preheat light goes off, check your thermometer. You might note that the oven thermometer has a lower reading that the initial setting.
- Wait for A Little Longer
If the oven thermometer is indicating a lower temperature than what you had set on the oven's timer, let it heat for some time until it gives an accurate reading.
- Place your meal in the oven
After getting an accurate preheat reading, go ahead and place your meal on the rack where the thermometer is for it to cook. Check the readings of the thermometer periodically and if need be, adjust the temperatures of the oven.
Tip: take care when removing the thermometer from the oven because it is going to be very hot.
What to take into consideration when buying a best oven thermometer
There is nothing more important than having a set of requirements that a product needs to fulfill before considering to buy it.
This not only helps you paint a picture of what you are looking for, but also lock down on the product that best meets your standards and fulfills your needs.
When it comes to oven thermometers, taking these factors into consideration will help you make an informed decision and be on the winning side.
- Accuracy: Having an oven thermometer with inaccurate readings will be counterproductive in your efforts to prepare good meals. For this reason, go for a brand that is renowned for producing highly accurate thermometers. And though thermometers are allowed to have some degree of error, don’t go for anything with an error of more than 10 degrees.
- Design: The design of a thermometer affects its overall use. Look for one with a hook such that it can hang on the racks or one with a stable bottom so that it will always be facing you when peeping on the oven’s door.
- Legibility: An oven thermometer that you can’t read is worse than an inaccurate one. Try selecting a thermometer with calibrations that you can easily see from the oven’s door. If you have a problem with your eyesight, thermometers with simple temperature labels and vivid contrasting colors will come in handy.
- Digital VS. Analog: Oven thermometers are available in digital or analog. If I was asked which of these is better, I would strongly advocate for digital ones. However, this is a matter of personal preferences. If you feel an analog one is best for your cooking, go for it.
- Methods of attachment: Depending on the design, oven thermometers will come with different ways of attaching themselves to the oven. There are those with heavy bottoms to help them stand on the racks, others with hooks so that they can hang on the racks, while others are designed with clips. Once again, the choice here boils down to your taste and preferences. However, thermometers that are always facing you are easier to use.
After first using a best oven thermometer, you might find yourself with several questions. The effectiveness of the oven and the accuracy of the thermometer are the major concerns. However, there are two ways to handle these concerns.
- Get Two Thermometers
As a first-time oven user, you might wonder whether the thermometer you have bought is accurate enough. To ensure its accuracy, go ahead and buy a second thermometer, then compare the readings that they record. If they provide identical readings, you can be assured that the thermometer you have is accurate for all of your cooking endeavors.
- Calibrate the Oven
There are ovens that allow you to calibrate the temperature. To do this, you have to remove it from the wall and look for a setting on its back. Digital ovens even come with navigational controls which help you reset temperatures. However, these do have their own limitations. If your oven’s temperatures are inaccurate, it is best to get an independent oven thermometer so that you can be sure.
The 5 Best Oven Thermometers
This ThermoPro model blew the competition out of the water with its capacity to accurately report changing temperatures. The design of this digital piece also leaves something to be desired. Some of the features that set it apart from the rest include:
• Cook mode
The cooking mode makes it ideal for the smoker, oven and stove top. There is also a preset temperature range for certain foods recommended by the USDA. However, you can also make your own manual settings.
• Timer mode
This digital kitchen timer comes with count up and countdown capabilities up to 99 hours and 59 minutes. This feature is practically alien to other oven thermometers.
• Temperature range
It has the capacity to take both Celsius and Fahrenheit readings ranging from 0C to 300C or 32F to 572F
• One year warranty
This product is covered by a one year warranty, and once you register your thermometer after purchase, you get an extended 3-year warranty. The company also replaces broken sensor probes free of charge. This is the ultimate guarantee of quality.
The thermometer is designed with a graduated color wheel and large tick marks which make it easy to read through an oven door. Besides this, it comes with both side and front orientation in such a way you can make readings from the two directions.
A sturdy and stable bottom makes it easy to position the thermometer however and wherever you may like. And though it is not one of the most responsive thermometers, its aesthetic looks and an affordable price range cover up for its shortcomings. If the value for money and ease of use is what matters to you, this is an ideal thermometer to be your companion in the kitchen.
• Ergonomic design
A wireless and ergonomic design which makes it easy to move around and use. Its unique design means that it can stand on its own or get hanged from a rack.
• A big dial
Its colorful and extra-large dial makes it easy to read through the oven window.
A red pointer and a glass lens indicate accurate temperatures ranging from 100 to 600 degrees.
It is crafted from stainless steel for extra durability, strength and corrosion resistance.
It features a big and clear dial with a size of 1.7 inch
• Accurate and compact
This oven thermometer accurate temperature readings to ensure food safety and controlled cooking
• Stainless steel construction
High quality 18/0 stainless steel body.
• Wide range thermometer readings
This thermometer is programmed to read a wide range of temperatures from 50-Degree F – 500-Degree F.
• Built-in stand and hanger
It can attach to virtually any surface with its stand and hanger. Wherever you want to position it, it is designed to stand there. It has a lot stability.
This thermometer is recommended for any cook looking to take his/her cooking endeavors to the next level. Some of its distinguishing features include:
• Crafted from stainless steel
A highly durable stainless steel construction makes this thermometer one a kind. It can withstand high temperatures and offer any cook an ultimate cooking experience.
• A Clearly marked measuring system
Unlike other thermometers that struggle with legibility, the measuring system of this Rubbermaid is clearly marked with easy to read temperature units. This makes it easy for any cook to effortlessly read the temperatures through the oven’s door.
• Compact and light
Measuring 2 inches by 4.55 inches it is small enough to fit in most ovens. This weight also makes it easy to move around the kitchen. It weighs less than 1 pound.
• High precision temperatures
The ability to keep track and display high precision temperatures makes this thermometer one of the best in this list. It also records temperatures in both degrees and Fahrenheit.
• NSF approved
NSF approval guarantees you a quality oven temperature you can rely on.
If you are after an effective oven thermometer, this AcuRite will be an excellent choice for you. Whether you like baking, roasting, warming or boiling, it will help you achieve your desired results. It comes with several features that make it desirable.
• High degrees of accuracy
A highly durable stainless steel housing and high-quality glass lenses make it possible to accurately track, monitor and control temperatures.
• Temperature indicators
Its clear temperature indicators indicate heat ranges for roasting, boiling, warming, and baking, producing the desired results for cooks.
• Oven and grill safe
The thermometer can be left in the oven while cooking since it is oven and grill safe. Few other thermometers come with this feature.
• A wide range of temperatures
It has a temperature range of between of 150 to 500 degrees, a feature that makes it ideal for dishes that require a wide variety of heat.
Taking all factors into consideration, it is safe to say that the ThermoPro TP-16 Large LCD Digital Cooking Thermometer is a worthy contender for the top position of the best oven thermometers for several reasons.
First and foremost, it is designed with features that are only alien to thermometers in its class. For instance, it has a cook mode which makes it ideal for the smoker, oven and stove top. There is also a preset temperature range for certain foods recommended by the USDA.
However, you can also make your own manual settings. It also has a digital timer mode and a wide range of temperatures it can measure.
I’m Maria and I love cooking—and mostly EATING—food from all around the world. I’ve been sharing my abuela’s secret Latin-American recipes for the last 7 years with the world on this blog. I’ve been a full-time food blogger for many years and I’m always trying new delicious meals that don’t require a culinary degree or a Michelin-star chef. I also love traveling, cats, and knitting.