Why You (Truly) Need an Instant-Read Meat Thermometer

Updated: Jun. 22, 2023

Want to make sure your meats are always perfectly done?

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Instant-read meat thermometers are essential in any kitchen. For a home cook, they’re an indispensable tool for making a tender pot roast or crisp and juicy roast chicken, all without breaking a sweat. The beauty is that meat thermometers are so easy to use! Whether you’ve accidentally dried out your dinner in the past or—worse—undercooked it, using an instant-read meat thermometer will make sure your meals are always perfectly done.

Perfect Roast Chicken Recipes
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How to Use a Meat Thermometer

Using a meat thermometer is a piece of cake. Aim for the thickest, meatiest part of your roast (like the chicken thighs, for instance). Digital meat thermometers read the internal temperature of your dish within seconds and then display it on an easy-to-read screen. Typically, they’re accurate within two to three degrees, so you’ll know if you’re where you need to be in the cooking process.

The reason why it’s so necessary for the kitchen isn’t just to achieve a moist and tender turkey; cooking to the correct internal temperature is a safety matter, too.

When you’re using the oven at home, it’s important to reach a safe core temperature in your meat, fish or poultry dishes. Doing so kills off any potentially harmful germs and protects you and your family from food-borne illnesses (like E. coli). Here’s a quick refresher on the minimum safe internal temperatures for various foods:

  • Beef, veal and lamb: 135°F for medium rare, 145° for medium well
  • Pork: 145°
  • Chicken and other poultry: 165°
  • Fish: 160°

Find all our Test Kitchen-recommended temperatures here.

When to Use a Meat Thermometer

There are lots of different ways to use your handy thermometer—and if you don’t have one, our Test Kitchen cooks love this convenient (and colorful) option from Thermoworks. We know they’re most often used for checking temps on foods cooked in the oven. But these must-have tools are for more than roasts! Keep a thermometer on hand whenever you’re frying in oil, too. Whipping up fries or corn dogs for the kids? Make sure to have an instant-read meat thermometer so you know when your oil is the right temperature for getting that beautiful golden brown crispiness.

You’ll never go wrong with an instant-read meat thermometer in your kitchen’s armory!