Individual Steak Thermometers

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?

Overview:

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… read more

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.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Not Recommended

    Redi-Chek Mini Individual Meat Thermometers

    Though the set has four thermometers, two are for beef and two for chicken. When we placed the steak thermometers in 140-degree water, only one of the two read accurately. Even though each face is already quite small, only one-eighth of it is used for the temperature dial, making these thermometers even harder to read.

    • Design
    • Accuracy

    $15.00

  • Not Recommended

    Outset Steak Thermometers

    The markings for doneness on these thermometers were the most difficult to read. However, this brand also included temperature markings (though they were small and began at 140 degrees). Unfortunately, when we tested them for accuracy, all read lower than the actual temperature.

    • Design
    • Accuracy

    $10.95

  • Not Recommended

    Rösle Steak and Meat Thermometers

    With no temperatures—just arrows pointing to “R,” “M,” and “W”—these thermometers’ dials are also divided between steak on one side and pork, lamb, poultry, or beef on the other. And when we tested them in 145-degree water (which corresponds to Rösle’s definition of “rare”—a full 20 degrees beyond ours), only one registered the proper temperature.

    • Design
    • Accuracy

    $34.95

  • Not Recommended

    CDN Steak Thermometers

    This was the only set in which every thermometer read “rare” at 140 degrees (the temperature the FDA considers rare). Still, in our book, 140 degrees gives you medium steak. The dials on this set are minuscule and difficult to read. On the plus side, the colored silicone edges stayed cool and helped us keep track of which steak was which.

    • Design
    • Accuracy ★★

    $18.20

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