Food Thermometers: Which One Should You Buy?

If you’ve never used a food thermometer before, you should invest in one (or more) solely for food safety, although they are incredibly convenient as well. Not sure which one you should buy? You’re not alone. Thermometers vary depending on your method of cooking. Here is a list of food thermometers with basic information to help you choose.

Dial instant-read thermometers. GOOD FOR: Casseroles, roasts, and soups. HOW TO USE: Not designed to stay in food while food is cooking. Use near the end of the cooking time. Insert into the food about 2” to 2½” deep into the thickest part of the food.  READS IN: About 15 to 20 seconds.

Dial oven-safe thermometers. GOOD FOR: Casseroles, roasts, and soups. HOW TO USE: Designed to remain in food throughout the cooking process. Insert 2” to 2½” deep into the thickest part of the food. READS IN: 1 to 2 minutes.

Digital instant-read thermometer. GOOD FOR: Shallow-tray frozen dinners and measuring the temperature in thin and thick foods. HOW TO USE: Not designed to stay in food while food is cooking. Insert into the food about ½” deep. READS IN: About 10 seconds.

Disposable temperature indicators. GOOD FOR: Chicken and burgers. HOW TO USE: Meant for one time use. Follow the manufacturer instructions. READS IN: 5 to 10 seconds.

Pop-up thermometers. GOOD FOR: Large roasts, such as Thanksgiving turkey. HOW TO USE: This type of food thermometer is usually already inserted into the foods when you buy them. READS IN: An insert pops up when the internal temperature has been reached. But you should always verify that the meat is cooked through with a conventional thermometer.

Thermometer-fork combination thermometer. GOOD FOR: Grilling. HOW TO USE: Insert into the food at least ¼” deep into the thickest part of the food, with the sensor in the fork fully inserted. READS IN: 2 to 10 seconds.