How accurate are thermometers?

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Assistant Cook
Jun 11, 2004
I am getting really frustrated with ALL the thermometers in my kitchen!
I'm not sure if I just have cheap ones, or if my expectations are too high??
Our meat thermometer NEVER gets to the 160 or 170 that is recommended for different meats, so I keep cooking, knowing that the meat is done, but it just won't get all the way there!
Today I used another therm. to check the temp of the water coming out of our coffeemaker. I think its a candy? thermometer? I have used it in the past to check the temp of oil for frying. Anyway, it showed about 140 from the coffeemaker, so I boiled some water to check it, and it only got to about 180 or 190. Shouldn't it read at least 212?
I bought one of the cheap instant read thermometers the other day and it is about the same!!
Any help on adjusting my expectations, or suggesting different brands would be great!
I have no idea. I'll do some research and maybe some of the experts here can help. The fact that you used different therms but got the same reading is odd. :?
I have A digital meat thermometer. I plug it into the meat, and The display unit sits on the stove. Never had A problem. Here is A newer version of the one I have;

I hear now they have remote thermometers. You can BBQ in the backyard, and monitor the temp. of the meat from your sofa!
I found my "Cooks Illustrated" 2002 April issue. They tested oven thermometers. Of all the kinds that where tested, the "Taylor Classic", was the winner.

They said this one performed best from 50-500*. It was there favorite pick. Hope this helps you out.
My meat thermometer is an inexpensive PYREX brand. The candy thermometer mentioned above is a Taylor.
Just to confirm, am I supposed to leave the meat thermometer in while roasting, or just use it occasionally to check??
I guess its possible that I just don't cook long enough, but I was cooking a pork loin the other day, and I cooked the heck out of it, and the therm would not go over about 160 (the thermometer said pork should be 170-180 I think)
Yes. You leave the probe in the meat. You close the oven door, and It does'nt hurt the cord. It shows the temp. of the meat all while its cooking. Theres also an alarm. I want to get A remote one next. I'm very glad I have one.
I realize you leave the one in with the corded probe. I was asking about the regular kind. I was smoking some chicken breasts yesterday, leaving the thermometer in. It was reading about 180, but within less than a minute of removing the smoker top, it dropped to 140, leading me to believe that it is not a true internal meat temp, but a combination of oven temp and meat temp?
My son does a lot of smoking of meats and fish. I'll ask him what he knows about temps while smoking and thermometer accuracy.
I guess I never heard of leaving the thermometer in while cooking. I did not know that. If your therm. can take the heat, that beats the heck out of poking it every ten minutes and let the juices run out. A 40 degree drop in under A minute? Can't be the chicken unless it is paper thin. Meat doesn't cool that quickly that I'm aware of. What does your thermometer read in A bowl of slushy ice water? Should be 32 degrees.
Trust me, get A digital one.
smoker temps

My son's reply to the problem of the thermometer in the smoker dropping so quickly:

Hmmm - I just use the smoker thermometer, not a meat thermometer. I would think the same thing the poster said - his thermometer was getting an internal air temp rather than a meat temp.

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