Knowing the exact temperature of your oven is the real secret. But to uncover that secret, you need an oven thermometer. This simple kitchen gadget is surprisingly affordable (under $8) and super easy to use. Invest in an oven thermometer to help you master golden sourdough bread, the best fudgy brownies and anything else your heart desires!
What Is an Oven Thermometer?
It’s exactly what you think: a thermometer for your oven. Most people rely on the oven itself for reading the temperature, but did you know oven temperature settings aren’t 100% accurate? Your oven’s built-in thermometer is often located in the side or back of the oven; and the temperature in those locations doesn’t always match the center of the oven—where your food is actually baked.
A free-standing oven thermometer placed in the middle of the oven is the only way to know the exact temperature.
How Does an Oven Thermometer Help Make the Perfect Bake?
Here’s a simple formula: accurate oven temperature = perfect bakes. To achieve the perfect oven temperature, you’ll need an oven thermometer. For starters, no one likes undercooked or burnt baked goods. But the oven temperature also controls the color, texture and even the flavor of food as it cooks. This is especially important for homemade bread!
How to Use an Oven Thermometer
Pull out your oven thermometer from the drawer or invest in a brand new one—our Test Kitchen likes this durable Taylor thermometer. Then, use it to test your oven’s temperature accuracy. Set your oven to 350°, then place the thermometer inside. Let it rest for about 10 minutes, and then check the reading. This will tell you if your oven is running too hot or too cold. Be sure to move the thermometer around to the front and back, and left and right sides as well, to check for hot or cold spots.
Soon, you’ll know the quirks of your oven and how to get the perfect temperature every time. For example, if you discover your oven is 20° colder than the actual setting, when a recipe calls for 350° (this is why most recipes do), set it for 370°. Keep the thermometer inside the oven as you bake to keep an eye on the temperature throughout the baking process.