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How hot is my meat?
April 21, 2008 11:07 AM   Subscribe

What digital cooking thermometer do professionals use?

My Polder brand thermometer (similar to this one) just broke, but even when it was new, it wasn't very good. I had a hard time trusting its readings. Is there an end-all meat thermometer out there?

I realize that "true" professionals probably know how hot their meat is without a thermometer, but surely there's a decent one on the market aimed at semi-pros, no?
posted by wordsmith to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Thermapen.
posted by zamboni at 11:15 AM on April 21, 2008


Yup, Thermapen. But that means opening the oven and stabbing the meat repeatedly. If you're doing a roast, you want something like the Polder.

I have the Williams-Sonoma branded version of this thermometer, and it hasn't let me down in six years of use.
posted by dw at 11:28 AM on April 21, 2008


thirding the thermapen.
posted by markovitch at 12:08 PM on April 21, 2008


I’ve never used the Thermapen; I always see them using it on America’s Test Kitchen. I use and prefer a Pyrex-branded one similar to yours with a remote display and timer, which I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond for about $20. I’m truly surprised by how expensive the Thermapen is, and by the fact that each unit operates exclusively in metric or Imperial units. I’ve seen Alton Brown using a non-contact IR thermometer like this. Honestly, I don’t think the difference in rated accuracy of 1° vs. 2° will make a big difference in cooking meat.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 12:19 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The non-contact thermometers are awesome and I wish I could justify the purchase but it can't perform the task of telling you when a roast is done since internal temperature is what is important.

I too am shocked by how expensive the Thermopen is but if it really reflects current temperature in 4 seconds than that is awesome and I can see where that is very valuable. My Kitchenaid probe digital thermometer takes a long time to stabilize on a temperature and my roast could be burnt to a crisp before the analog one shows a true temp.
posted by mmascolino at 12:34 PM on April 21, 2008


Disclaimer: I am not a professional cook.
But I sure do love me some Thermapen!
Wicked fast and the sensor is right at the tip of the probe. This is the baseline against which all cooking thermometers should be judged.
posted by browse at 12:35 PM on April 21, 2008


Thermapen, though the Taylor TruTemps seem to get better Amazon reviews these days for in-oven probes than the Polders, which have reliability issues.

Still, send that b0rked Polder back to them. I just got a replacement for a probe that reported the room temperature at 200F.
posted by holgate at 1:07 PM on April 21, 2008


Honestly, I don’t think the difference in rated accuracy of 1° vs. 2° will make a big difference in cooking meat.

True, but Thermapens are also standard issue for health inspectors.
posted by dw at 1:17 PM on April 21, 2008


Honestly, I don’t think the difference in rated accuracy of 1° vs. 2° will make a big difference in cooking meat.

But that's not the whole difference. Even a really good $30 thermometer takes a good 10-15 seconds to come up to temp. Sure, it's +/- 1.8F once it gets there, but the temperature is constantly changing and you have to leave it in there for way too long to get to that accurate temperature. "Instant reading" in this case just means that the display comes on right away, not that the temperature reading instantly equalizes with the surroundings of the probe.

The Thermapen is fantastic. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it's slightly bigger than you expect from the picture. Yes, it's only one of F or C and not both.

Yes, it is also shockingly accurate and fast, and really reads pretty close to immediately.

This makes a huge difference for big roasts, because the response time makes it possible to quickly sample more than one place in the roast.

There's no contest.
posted by Caviar at 1:40 PM on April 21, 2008


“Even a really good $30 thermometer takes a good 10-15 seconds to come up to temp.”

Yeah, but with the remote probe/timer style, the probe sits in the meat the whole time, and ought to be tracking the temperature continuously. When I’m roasting, I don’t want to keep opening the oven door and probing the meat. My thermometer alarms when the preset internal temperature has been reached.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 1:51 PM on April 21, 2008


Right. I have not seen a Polder or Taylor remote probe style thermometer that's actually within 5-10 degrees of the actual temp of the inside of the roast - they've all been pretty unpredictable. The ones with a separate piece you can carry around with you are even worse, and also don't seem to update the remote very quickly. That's a wide enough gap that it really will affect the quality of the end product. It also suffers from the drawback that you can't sample different parts of the meat, which I find useful.

If it works for you, great, but I've definitely been getting noticeably better results after switching to a Thermapen.

On the other hand, if you like that style, Thermoworks does also make a remote probe setup.
posted by Caviar at 7:30 PM on April 21, 2008


Also, because of the positioning of the sensor close to the tip, the Thermapen is the only thermometer I've used that can take an accurate reading off of a filet smaller than 1/2".
posted by Caviar at 7:32 PM on April 21, 2008


Thermapen. We use it for everything, even bread baking. We've saved the cost of the Thermapen several times over in not overcooking an expensive piece of meat. It's well made and will last a long time.
posted by Joleta at 8:23 PM on April 21, 2008


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