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I want an instant read thermometer for Christmas

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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.

            1. Get one with a digital readout. I have three -- two with dials, and one with a digital, and I find that the digital is faster and possibly more accurate. The brand I have is MIU, from France, and it reads in Fahernheit and Celsius, It was a giveaway at a local market a couple of years ago, believe it or not.

              1. Agree with everyone here... and have several remote probes (with the wire, that you leave in during the cook) and the thermopen, which you stick in and read with accuracy in a couple seconds, then pull out. Love them both. The answer is, get both ($20 + $90). It's freaking Christmas!!! Obviously, the wired probe is for stuff that will cook for a long time, that you can monitor, and the thhermopen is for a quick check. They both have a place. And, the thing with the probe and water is this: if you let water get into the joint between the metal probe and the wire, it can mess up your readings. I just clean it carefully. If it goes haywire, you can put oil in a small pot, and lay the probe into it, so that the joint is submerged, then boil. The oil forces out the water, and, amazingly, it will work.

                1. My next thermometer will be from Thermoworks. One of the reasons their units are so quick reacting is the small diameter of the probe. Their products have a high degree of precision built in with very low levels of of accuracy variance. They do offer a very full line of thermometer products INCLUDING probe thermometers with cords up to 2 meters.

                  Check out their full line here www.thermoworks.com

                  I particularly like their fridge/freezer dual thermometer and I think I'm going to go with one of their replaceable probe models so I can have an instant read and a probe unit in one.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Grillncook

                    I have the Thermoworks "Original" probe thermometer. It's just a re-badged Polder with a thermistor probe. Slow response time, maximum temp. of 392F. It's no better than any of the other probe thermometers out there.

                    But looking at the website, they do have a couple of units that will take a K type thermocouple (just like the Thermapen has). Near-instant response, maximum temperature of 2500F. Okay, so you need a special high-temp probe for anything over 486F, but still - Geek Heaven!!! Looks like you can get the Mini Handheld Thermocouple and the low-cost oven cooking probe with a 78" cable for under $80. Time to go sit in Santa's lap.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      I recently picked one up from Ikea for 10 dollars.

                      It has a timer, a temperature alert, reads from 32-266F, has a cord heat resistant up to 428F, a strong enough magnet on the back and as far as my use and it's been accurate with a lag time of about 4 seconds in between temperature readings.

                      It's been doing what I need to do well and accurately.

                      The one downside is it lacks a name brand and an on / off switch. You have to put the battery in to turn it on and take it out to turn it off.

                      Other than that, it's not a bad start for less than 10 bucks.

                      It's called "Fantast" and it says "Design Carl Ojerstam" for anyone who might be interested or looking for more information on this thing. It's made in China.


                      Vagabond à la Carte : http://vagabondalacarte.wordpress.com

                      1. re: sksoze

                        That's a great price on the Ikea thermometer. The only drawback I see is that the maximum temperature it will read is 266F. So it's pretty much a dedicated meat thermometer; you can't use it for candy-making, checking the temperature of an oven, or monitoring hot oil. But for $6.99 (the website price), maybe there's nothing wrong with a dedicated meat thermometer.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          It's not too shabby, but it is what it is.

                          The calibration tests I've done with it along with cooking and website research for reviews, it doesn't seem like a bad little back up to have. There isn't a lot of information out there on it and time will tell if it holds up, but for now it seems to be doing what I need it to do.

                          You raise a good point about candy making. I don't make candy so mentioning that slipped my mind. I also bought it here in Canada, so I think that's where our price differences came into play.

                          When I start putting it through the finer paces and seeing if it's worth it's salt, like rigging stove top sous vide setups at home, I'm sure I'll need a better one.

                          If I run into any of the funkyness expected from an electronic at this price, I'll be sure let everyone know.

                          But as it stands, I'm happy with it.


                          Vagabond à la Carte : http://vagabondalacarte.wordpress.com