How to use a meat thermometer

How to Use a Meat Thermometer Properly? 2024

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    Discovering how to use a meat thermometer was a big “aha” moment for me in cooking. Ever since I learned this skill, my steaks, roasts, and burgers always turn out just right. And it’s not only for beef – any meat tastes much better when you take a moment to check its temperature while cooking.

    A meat thermometer is the only surefire way to ensure your meat is cooked to the correct temperature and safe enough to eat by eliminating harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. Coli.

    Remember, beef keeps cooking for about 10 minutes after you take it off the heat, so letting it rest is crucial. I prefer removing it 10 degrees before it reaches my desired temperature. This allows the juices to evenly spread, preventing the meat from becoming overcooked.

    meat thermometer

    Determining your ideal cooking temperature is a bit like finding your preferred sleep number. For steak, mine is 137 degrees, and after 10 minutes of rest, it’s a perfect medium rare – everything feels just right!

    Safe cooking temperature table for a quick guide

    Use a thermometer to check temperatures. Cook until reaching the internal temperatures listed below in degrees Fahrenheit.

    Ground meats
    (veal, beef, lamb, pork, deer, moose, elk or caribou)
    Fresh beef, veal, lamb, pork, deer, moose, elk or caribou steaks, chops and roasts
    recommended minimum temperature 145°F
    medium 160°F
    well done 170°F
    Leftover cooked meats 165°F or safe to eat cold if properly cooled and stored
    Ground chicken and turkey 165°F
    Whole chicken, turkey, duck and goose 165°F
    Poultry breasts and roasts; thighs and wings 165°F
    Casseroles, all stuffing, and reheated leftovers 165°F
    Fully-cooked poultry 165°F or safe to eat cold if properly  cooled and stored
    Fish and shellfish, any type 145°F
    Rabbit 160°F
    Fresh (raw) ham or shoulder 160°F
    To reheat the pre-cooked ham 140°F
    Eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm
    Egg dishes; egg-based sauces and custards 160°F

    Note: When cooking meat or eggs at home, remember these crucial temperatures: Cook eggs and all ground meats to 160°F, poultry and fowl to 165°F, and fresh meat steaks, chops, and roasts to 145°F.

    Ensure your thermometer is meant for meat and poultry, not for candy or other foods.

    Types of meat thermometers

    There are three types of meat thermometers available, each with its advantages and recommended uses. Here are some common types:

    use a meat thermometer on chicken

    1. Instant-Read Thermometers

    These digital thermometers give a quick temperature reading within a few seconds.

    They’re great for checking if meats are cooked to perfection. Just insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat for an accurate reading.

    2. Oven-Safe Thermometers

    These thermometers are designed to stay in the meat while it cooks.

    They have a dial display and are safe to use in the oven. For roasts and other large cuts of meat that require longer cooking times. Place the thermometer in the meat before cooking and leave it in the oven until the desired temperature is reached.

    3. Bluetooth/Wireless Probe Thermometers

    These thermometers come with a metal probe and can connect to a smartphone or another device via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Users can monitor the temperature from a distance.

    Insert the probe into the meat to monitor the internal temperature during cooking. Useful when you need to monitor the cooking progress without being right there.

    wireless meat thermometer is the easiest to use, with 1-2s accurate and fast temperature measurement.

    How to use a meat thermometer properly? 3 Steps

    Once you’ve got the right meat thermometer, let’s go through some easy steps for how to properly use a meat thermometer to make sure your meat turns out just right every time:

    meat thermometer for chicken

    Calibrate your meat thermometer

    Take a glass, fill it with ice and cold water, give it a good stir, and then put your thermometer probe in there. If it reads 32ºF, it’s working correctly. If not, you need to adjust it.

    A lot of digital thermometers have a reset or recalibrate button, so if the temperature is not right, you can probably fix it. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can get back to making perfectly cooked meat!

    Place the thermometer correctly

    Stick the thermometer into the side of the meat for a good temperature check. The sensing part of thermometers is ½ inch to 2 inches long, so make sure it’s completely inside the thickest, central part of the food.

    • Ground meat and poultry — put it in the thickest part of the meatloaf; put it sideways for thin things like patties. Meatloaf might still look a bit pink even when it’s 160°F inside, because of some ingredients like onions, celery, or bell peppers.
    • Red meat, roasts, steaks, or chops — stick it in the center of the thickest part, away from bone, fat, and gristle.
    • Poultry — put it in the inner thigh area near the breast, but not touching the bone.
    • Casseroles and egg dishes — put it in the center or thickest part.

    Keep an eye on the meat temperature early and often

    For a bigger roast, start checking your meat around 30 minutes before you expect it to be done. If it’s a thinner, smaller cut, begin testing the meat 5 to 10 minutes earlier. To achieve the right level of doneness, target the meat temperature specified in your recipe and follow a food-safety chat.

    Remember that meat keeps cooking even after you take it off the heat — this is known as carryover cooking. It’s not a big deal with smaller cuts like chicken pieces, steaks, and chops, but with large, thick roasts like beef, lamb, veal, pork loin, or big turkey breasts, remove them from the heat when they’re 5 degrees below their desired doneness temperature.

    Let these larger cuts rest for 5 to 10 minutes, and the temperature will rise to perfection, allowing the juices to evenly spread through the meat.

    If you found this article useful, you might also be interested in – How To Smoke Pork Ribs For Beginners: Ultimate Guide



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