Published September 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.
Would mini thermometers inserted individually into steaks be easier than poking and checking with our beloved instant-read thermometer?
With an instant-read thermometer, we can find out in a jiffy if steaks are ready. But to see if mini thermometers inserted individually into steaks for the duration of cooking would save a little on poking and checking, we tested sets from CDN, Redi-Check, Rösle, and Outset (priced from $10.95 to $34.95 for four) on grilled steaks. The first issue: All the sets use the doneness temperatures close to those deemed safe by the FDA, which, in our view, leads to overcooked food. While some of the thermometers merely indicated the words “Rare,” “Medium,” and “Well,” those that showed temperature started at 140 degrees—a problem when our rule is that a steak reaches rare at 120 degrees. Second, their miniature faces were barely larger than a nickel, with tiny, hard-to-read type. Third, sticking them into the steaks wasn’t easy; if we pushed them in too deep, they gave inaccurate readings. The final blow? Only one set (from CDN; $18.20) had four accurate thermometers. We’re sticking with our favorite instant-read thermometer with its large, clear display and fast, accurate readings.