Meat-Probe Thermometers

Published January 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.

Relying on time estimates to tell when a roast is done is a recipe for disaster—here is the perfect weapon for perfectly cooked meat.

Overview:

Update: July 2013

In 2008 we could only halfheartedly recommend the ThermoWorks Original Cooking Thermometer/Timer because its probes were sometimes defective. ThermoWorks has since updated the thermometer, so we checked its accuracy by plunging multiple copies of the probe into boiling water (212 degrees) and then into ice water (32 degrees) before using them to chart the temperature of a roast that cooked for 2 hours. The probes were spot-on in the water temperature tests and gave readings for the roast that were nearly identical to our favorite (and accurate) instant-read thermometer, the Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen, also by ThermoWorks. The new button layout was clear and easy to use, and the numbers display as large as ever. Since the wires inside the probe’s cord can wear out, we recommend occasionally checking its accuracy with a water temperature test. The new model is an improvement over its predecessor.
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Repeatedly opening the oven door to monitor the… read more

Update: July 2013

In 2008 we could only halfheartedly recommend the ThermoWorks Original Cooking Thermometer/Timer because its probes were sometimes defective. ThermoWorks has since updated the thermometer, so we checked its accuracy by plunging multiple copies of the probe into boiling water (212 degrees) and then into ice water (32 degrees) before using them to chart the temperature of a roast that cooked for 2½ hours. The probes were spot-on in the water temperature tests and gave readings for the roast that were nearly identical to our favorite (and accurate) instant-read thermometer, the Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen, also by ThermoWorks. The new button layout was clear and easy to use, and the numbers display as large as ever. Since the wires inside the probe’s cord can wear out, we recommend occasionally checking its accuracy with a water temperature test. The new model is an improvement over its predecessor.
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Repeatedly opening the oven door to monitor the internal temperature of a roast can throw cooking times off kilter. One solution? Meat-probe thermometers. These remote devices transmit temperature from a long probe left in the meat and attached to a thin cord that snakes out of the oven to a digital console. But don't throw out your instant-read thermometer just yet. We tested 11 models-several by the same manufacturers-and not one was flawless. The ones that accurately measured temperature sported function buttons that were too slow or too hard to figure out. Others that were user-friendly were also unreliable.

The best of the bunch was great when it worked but has probes that even its manufacturer admits are sometimes defective. Until a better meat probe comes on the market, we recommend this one with reservations. Check the probe's accuracy by boiling water and taking a reading before trying it with a roast. If the probe doesn't read very close to 212 degrees, ask for a replacement.

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