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Dec 4, 2008 04:14 PM

I want an instant read thermometer for Christmas

But I'm not sure what to ask for. Should i get the kind you open the oven door to stick a probe in the meat as its cooking or get the one with the wire going from inside to outside of the oven? And what is the best brand? I saw an exchange about boiling a probe in peanut oil to remove moisture that was causing a malfunction. Definely not into that complication. TIA.

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  1. Depends on what you'll be cooking most. I tend to use a probe thermometer often when cooking larger items like turkey, rib roast, pork loin, etc. That's the kind that has the wire attached. I use an "instant read" thermometer (can be had for pretty cheap, maybe $6-$10) for double checking things I cook by feel or pressing (maybe pork chops, steak?). These can't be left in the food or oven. The probe thermometers can get water in the probe but only if you run them under water or soak them in water. I've never had that problem myself, just be careful when washing the thing and don't dump water all over it. They are about $25.

    There are other thermometers that sort of combine the best of both worlds and they are known by the brand name Thermapen. They are a bit more expensive at about $80-$90. But they virtually eliminate any lag time in reading the food's temperature. The only downside with them is that they can't monitor your food while it's cooking like a probe thermometer can.

    Hopefully that helps. If I were to choose one, I'd pick a probe thermometer.

    1. Actually both a probe type digital thermometer and a remote reading are handy. If you can only talk Santa into one, a probe thermometer is your best choice. You should use it for a lot more than just meat in the oven. (Are the leftovers hot enough?)

      The best all around thermometer is a CDN DTQ450. It costs a about $20, has a good range, a very fast response time, and a "hold" button. If Santa has a little bigger budget, the Thermapen is also a great choice. It runs about $90 and has a a great range, a super fast response time, and a thin probe but no temp hold. Both are highly recommended by Cooks Illustrated. I have both of these but reach for the Thermapen most often because you just unfold the probe and you're good to go. (I find the buttons on the CDN a bit small for my ham hands.)

      I have had a Polder remote probe for several years, and it works well, but reviews on Amazon for the newer ones indicate the probe wires are a lot more delicate and don't hold up.

      1. I concur with the other posters. You definitely need at least one remote probe thermometer - the kind that has a wire that runs to a display outside of the oven. It's one of the few kitchen gadgets I'll never be without. Mine are branded ThermoWorks (the company that makes Thermapen), but they look suspiciously like the Polder. Just don't submerge the place where the wire goes into the probe and you'll be fine.

        Speaking of Thermapen, it's also a great tool. It does what other thermometers do, just a whole lot faster. Truly "instant read." But if you have to choose between the two, the remote probe is the way to go.

        1. Hi!

          I've had a lot of problems with probe thermometers, and I've bought a number of them. Lke al b. darned said, the probes tend to have issues.

          Now, I usually rely on an instant read thermometer because I've found them to be more reliable than probes. And, hands-down, my favorite thermometer instant read thermometer is the Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks. It's pricey (about $90.00), but it's performance puts other instant reads to shame. It's accurate and fast.

          Good luck!


          2 Replies
          1. re: MEH

            The reason I like wired probe thermometers so much is because you monitor the food as it's cooking. A hand held, non-over safe thermometer can take the temperature of the food as well or better than a probe thermometer can, but if your turkey is already at 190 degrees (as in way over cooked) then your thermometer is useless.

            1. re: HaagenDazs

              I agree completely and it's a wonderful idea, in theory. The problem I've had in the past is that the wired probe thermometers I've used are always inaccurate. It drives me crazy!

          2. I have a smoker that I leave probes in during the cook. The great folks at thermapen have commercial smokehouse probes and the digital readouts. I usually leave a couple in the briskets or butts and leave one just hanging so I can monitor the internal temp of the unit itself. A little OCD perhaps but it is fun knowing exactly what is happening..

            I also have bought insta read themapens for all family members, the Chef at our Country club as well as for the grill guy there. They make great gifts for good friends that enjoy cooking and grilling.