Why You Need an Instant Read Oven Thermometer

Say goodbye to burnt cookies.

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June 15, 2020
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Young mother is putting a tray full of cookies which they made together with her husband and her son in the oven. Horizontal photo. Face is not visible.

Photo by: AnVr


There’s nothing worse than a tray of burnt cookies, but sometimes, it’s not your fault: Your oven temperature could be to blame. If you notice that dishes consistently finish cooking more quickly or more slowly than the times listed in recipes, chances are your oven temperature is off.

Typically, the built-in thermometer that calibrates an oven’s temperature is somewhere inside the oven — but on the periphery, the side of the oven. Temperature varies throughout the oven, so the temperature on the side can be different than that in the middle where you’re cooking food. A few degrees of variation might not seem like a big deal, but precision is very important when it comes to baking and cooking meat.

Enter the instant read oven thermometer, an inexpensive gadget that usually costs less than $10. You can (and should) place it smack in the middle of the center rack of the oven where your food cooks to take the temperature there. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; as soon as it’s preheated, check the temperature.

If the temperature is less than 35 degrees off, you can calibrate the oven’s thermostat yourself — check your owner’s manual on how to do it. If it’s more than 35 degrees off, you’ll want to have an oven technician come to service it.

While an instant read thermometer is an invaluable tool, luckily, once you calibrate your oven, the temperature will stay pretty consistent. You’ll only have to break out the oven thermometer about twice a year to double check nothing has changed.

Now that you might be in the market for one, may we recommend the one from Rubbermaid, above? We love it for its accuracy, legible face and hook that fastens onto your oven rack. Plus, you can use it to take the temperatures of your toaster oven and grill, too.

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