Every Thanksgiving, there’s a lot to think about before cooking your holiday meal. There’s a menu to plan, the guest list to prepare, and the kitchen appliances and equipment that you’ll need to cook your meal. If you’re serving a turkey or a special roast this Thanksgiving, you’ll need a meat thermometer to ensure that your main dish is cooked to perfection, and safe to eat.
There are so many variations of meat thermometers on the market today that it can be overwhelming to make sense of them all. To give you a hand, we’ve broken down the essentials of each variety. Instant-read thermometers are inserted into your meat to test the temperature but aren't left in the meat while it’s cooking. Regular, ovenproof thermometers are inserted into raw meat and remain inside throughout the cooking process. And meat-probe thermometers connect the meat to the monitor with a cord, and let you check the temperature without opening the oven door. There’s also the pop-up thermometer, which was not considered for this article because of its lack of precision. Same goes for the R2-D2-looking infrared models; even though they may appeal to high-tech chefs, they’re better suited for grills and stovetop cooking endeavors.
When checking the temperature of a turkey, there are some guidelines to follow. It’s important to test the bird frequently, and to test different areas of the bird. For breast meat, the ideal temperature is between 150 degrees and 155 degrees, and don’t forget to let the meat rest for more than 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven. When testing dark meat, the desired temperature should reach 165 degrees. Since white and dark meat reach their cooking points at different temperatures, it’s a good idea to separate them while cooking your turkey to avoid drying out the breast meat.
To ease the stress of Thanksgiving this year, we’ve taken one less worry off your plate, and reviewed the best meat thermometers on the market today.