The best oven thermometer
If baking is what you do best, then you already know how important it is to have an accurate oven temperature. Baking comes down to basic chemistry and temperature regulation. Accuracy and precision are at the heart of each recipe, which is why a quality oven thermometer is essential. When you're choosing an oven thermometer, make sure its design is one that helps your baking experience. A good thermometer is easy to read with a clear face and well-displayed numbers. It should be easily visible, even through a darkened oven window.
Take a look at our buying guide to choose the right oven thermometer before you get to work on your next culinary masterpiece. We're including our favorite model, Rubbermaid's Commercial Stainless Steel Oven Monitoring Thermometer, whose large face is easy to read.
Considerations when choosing oven thermometers
You can't always rely on your oven's thermometer for a reading, which is why a separate oven thermometer is such a helpful tool. It's sensitive enough to display a quick drop in temperature -- such as leaving the oven door open too long -- so you're able to make appropriate cook time adjustments. Best of all, that means more kitchen successes than kitchen disasters.
Simply put, an easy-to-read oven thermometer is the most beneficial -- the larger, the better. Take into consideration the size of the face and the size of the digits. Both should be visible through your oven window, even if it's darkened. You shouldn't need to open your oven to read the thermometer.
Using an accurate oven thermometer also ensures food safety, which is heavily reliant on appropriately cooking foods like meat, fish, and chicken. Undercooked food can harbor bacteria and other contagions that result in food poisoning, and in some cases, it can be fatal. Some oven thermometers are even equipped with reference tables that display the correct temperatures for safely cooking certain foods.
Dial display vs. bulb display
Oven thermometers either have a dial display, which resembles a clock face, or a bulb display, which looks like a traditional medical thermometer. Dial displays have a red hand that rises with temperature. With bulb thermometers, the liquid inside rises. Dial displays are more popular and are usually less expensive, though they're somewhat less accurate than bulb thermometers.
Oven thermometers come in Fahrenheit, and some models also include Celsius. As far as temperature range, oven thermometers measure between 50°F and 500°F. These are fine for traditional oven use, but if you expect to use the thermometer for baking pizza or other high-heat foods, choose a model that goes up to 600°F.
For the most part, oven thermometers have hooks for quick attachment onto oven racks. The hooks don't latch or secure onto the racks, so you need to maneuver around the thermometer to prevent it from falling off. Oven thermometers also feature a base in the event you want to stand them up on a rack, but they may fall over as you pull pans in and out of the oven.
Oven thermometers cost between $3 and $15, and you definitely get what you pay for. For less than $6, faces are often small and numbers can be hard to read. If you spend closer to $15, you end up with one that is more easily visible, and certainly more accurate.
Q. What's the best place to hang my oven thermometer?
A. It depends on how large your oven window is. If you have a large window, you can place it toward one end of a rack, but if it's small, you may need to hang it in the middle in order to see it.
Q. Do I really need both Fahrenheit and Celsius on an oven thermometer?
A. It's not necessary, especially if you're comfortable with conversions in your recipes. If you're not, make sure you have both measurements on your thermometer. Having both doesn't affect the price.
Oven thermometers we recommend
Best of the best: Rubbermaid's Commercial Stainless Steel Oven Monitoring Thermometer
Our take: Easy-to-read face from a reliable brand in kitchen accessories.
What we like: High marks for accurate readings for both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Sturdy hook won't snap or break.
What we dislike: Hook is a bit narrow and could be easily dislodged if accidentally knocked.
Best bang for your buck: Winco's Three-Inch Dial Oven Thermometer with Hook and Panel Base
Our take: White background is crisp and clear, making it easily visible inside an oven.
What we like: Affordable and reliable. Helpful mini-guide on the face that helps cooks see necessary holding and cooling temperatures.
What we dislike: Face is somewhat busy as temperature is given in 10° increments.
Our take: Simple, straightforward option that can handle up to 600°F.
What we like: Extra-large print is easy to read. Has warm/bake/roast/broil scale as well.
What we dislike: Dial is a bit small compared to others, which makes it a bit more difficult to read behind a darkened oven door.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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