Instant-Read Thermometers

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Dr of BBQ
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2008/12/13 20:04:19 (permalink)

Instant-Read Thermometers

EQUIPMENT REVIEW: Instant-Read Thermometers

Which brand is best? We tested 12 digital models to find out,
products tested (listed alphabetically)

CDN ProAccurate Candy & All-Purpose Thermometer DTC375
CDN ProAccurate Quick Tip Digital Cooking Thermometer DTQ450
CDN ProAccurate Quick Tip Digital Cooking Thermometer on a Rope Q2-450
Comark PDT300 Thermometer
Cooper-Atkins Waterproof Digital Thermometer DPP400W
DeltaTRAK 11000 Thermometer
Fieldpiece SPK1 Thermometer
Maverick Redi-Chek Professional Chef's Digital Thermometer DT-01
Polder Instant-Read Thermometer 371
Taylor Classic Instant Read Thermometer 9840
Thermoworks RT-301 Thermometer
Thermoworks Super-Fast Thermapen 211-476

Sight, touch, and instinct are age-old ways to gauge when food is done, but for consistent results, none is as reliable as taking the food’s internal temperature. There are many types of specialty thermometers on the market, designed specifically for everything from meat to cappuccino. Yet for home cooks the most useful model is the least specialized of them all, the instant-read thermometer. This device can be inserted into almost any kind of food to display a reading of its internal temperature within seconds. Unlike traditional meat thermometers, these quick-reading units are not designed to be left in the oven. Prolonged exposure of the whole unit to heat will destroy an instant-read thermometer.

After testing, we developed the following criteria for an acceptable thermometer: A broad range to cover high and low temperatures; a stem long enough to reach the interior of large cuts of meat; a way to recalibrate slips in accuracy; and, above all, speed, so you don't have to keep the oven door open too long.

One of the primary design differences among instant-read thermometers was the type of display—dial face or digital. Though pocket-sized dial face thermometers are less expensive than digital models, they are much less legible, and most have narrower effective temperature ranges than the digitals. Both digital and dial thermometers are mechanically capable of covering wide temperature ranges, but dial thermometers cannot offer the same readability over wide ranges because their faces become too compressed graphically to read small changes. As a result, while digital displays show the numbers clearly and display the temperature to the degree (or in some cases, even tenths of a degree), most dial faces are marked with faint lines every two degrees, leaving you squinting and unsure of whether your loaf of bread is at exactly 195 degrees.

Another important difference between digital and dial models is the location of the temperature sensors. On dial face thermometers, the sensors are located roughly one and one-half inches up from the tip of the stem. The sensors on digital thermometers, on the other hand, are located at the very tip of the stem. In our testing, this difference mattered most when measuring the temperature of shallow liquids. Our top digital thermometers could produce an accurate temperature reading in liquids of one inch deep or even less whereas the dial models needed at least one and one-half inches.

On the other hand, some cooks prefer dial face thermometers because many of these models can be recalibrated manually by adjusting a nut at the base of the dial whereas digitals cannot be recalibrated. However, we tested the calibrations of all our units in boiling water, which should read 212 degrees, and in a slurry of ice and water, which should read 32 degrees, at both the beginning and the end of our six-week testing period. All of their calibrations held from beginning to end, which led us to believe that the digitals’ lack of ability to recalibrate is not the disadvantage it might seem at first. Given these factors, we found that we generally preferred digital thermometers over those with dial faces

We noted one difference among digitals that effected cost. Our higher priced models are outfitted with a thermocouple sensor, whereas the less expensive models register temperatures with a thermistor, which is a cheaper circuit that comes with a sacrifice in speed. Our preferred model has the thermocouple sensor, but we found a best buy model with thermistor.

Several models offered high enough temperature ranges to use for deep frying or sugar syrup, however, none really made it as high-quality pinch hitters in this department. Many allowed maximum temperatures just a few degrees above the 375-degree oil that is required for deep frying, easily risking damage to the thermometer. They also lack the clip by which a thermometer could be attached to a pan wall so the stem could remain in the hot oil or sugar syrup. Readout clarity was also a problem.

One note: digitals are electronic and do require batteries. This might be annoying when you reach for a thermometer and find that the battery has died unexpectedly. Because battery life can be extended by shutting the thermometer off when it is not in use, we think it’s essential that digital thermometers to have an automatic shutoff, or at least an on/off switch.

From Cook's Illustrated.
Product Name Thermoworks Super-Fast Thermapen 211-476
Manufacturer Thermoworks Model Number 211-476
Price $89.00
Recommendation Status Highly Recommended
Testers’ Comments

Simply the best: fast, accurate, and easy to use. The Thermapen also has the widest temperature range (-58 to 572 degrees).
Average Response Time 5 seconds Probe Length 4.5 inches
Where To Shop Thermo-Works (800-393-6434 www.thermoworks.com)

From Cook's Illustrated.
Product Name CDN ProAccurate Quick Tip Digital Cooking Thermometer DTQ450
Manufacturer CDN Model Number DTQ450
Price $17.95
Recommendation Status Highly Recommended
Testers’ Comments

CDN won us over by meeting the test criteria on all fronts. Quick 10-second readings put it only a step behind the test kitchen's high-end favorite. Has a calibration function.
Average Response Time 10 seconds
Probe Length 4.7 inches
Where To Shop Cutlery and More (800-650-9866 www.cutleryandmore.com
#1

12 Replies Related Threads

    CCinNJ
    Sirloin
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2008/12/13 21:20:30 (permalink)
    I have had a Cooper (before it was Cooper-Atkins) FW 2000 Digital Thermocouple Thermometer, for at least 7 years.


    Waterproof
    Sealed Membrane Keyboard
    Broad temperature range -100° to 999°F/ -73° to 537°C
    1/2" LCD display
    Probe temperature range is -100° to 500°F/-72° to 260°C
    NSF certified, and it is waterproof making it perfect for steam-filled kitchens and processing areas. This model will accept a wide variety of probe styles.

    Very accurate, and has been indestructable. Retail price in the $250 range.


    #2
    MiamiDon
    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2008/12/14 05:18:53 (permalink)
    FYI, note that the Thermopen is not waterproof. Mine died when it got rained upon.

    #3
    UncleVic
    Sirloin
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2008/12/14 19:00:22 (permalink)
    I have a Taylor digital... It's not an expensive model, but it gives me quick and accurate readings. Has yet to fail me. The batteries are close to 6 years old in the unit, and still doing the job quickly! I also have several Taylor analog dial type thermometers, and use them just as much. (I use the analog ones in my main kitchen, and the digital for the downstairs kitchen and backyard grill).


    #4
    MiamiDon
    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2008/12/15 04:11:20 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by UncleVic

    I have a Taylor digital... It's not an expensive model, but it gives me quick and accurate readings. Has yet to fail me. The batteries are close to 6 years old in the unit, and still doing the job quickly! I also have several Taylor analog dial type thermometers, and use them just as much. (I use the analog ones in my main kitchen, and the digital for the downstairs kitchen and backyard grill).





    I fried one of those by using it to test the temp of a steak on the grill (my wife is really picky about doneness).
    #5
    Freezers-full-in-Alaska
    Cheeseburger
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2011/12/22 19:54:53 (permalink)
    I know this is an old thread, Just wondering if the list of Digital Thermometers above is still in good standing or could you recommend more ? I know they have some now with lasers 
    Thanks
    post edited by Freezers-full-in-Alaska - 2011/12/22 19:58:17
    #6
    Foodbme
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2011/12/23 01:57:05 (permalink)
    The CDN one is on sale for $14.95 at www.cutleryandmore.com
    The laser ones only measure surface temperatures, not internal temps.
    #7
    Freezers-full-in-Alaska
    Cheeseburger
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2011/12/23 03:33:31 (permalink)
    Thanks I need both I want to see what the temps are on the griddle, I noticed a few places do not warm up like other places on there
    #8
    Lost Nation
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2011/12/23 07:44:40 (permalink)
    Thermapen makes a water resistant thermometer but it's best to keep any electrical device dry.
     
    The customer service at Thermaworks is top notch, they will repair any of their products for $15 includes water damage
    #9
    Freezers-full-in-Alaska
    Cheeseburger
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2012/01/11 23:27:00 (permalink)
    I'm bumping this to the top to maybe help someone out. There is a guy on ebay that sells the Pelouze TMP2000 Thermocouple Digital Thermometer normally $220. he sells them for $20 if you win the auction I bought 2 ($40),1 for a spare and they are new and work great. I can not post the link but copy and paste (Pelouze TMP2000 Thermocouple Digital Thermometer) in Ebay and you will see it $20. Just do not get into a bidding war as he list them every week LOL!!
    #10
    Dr of BBQ
    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2012/01/11 23:44:10 (permalink)
    #11
    kland01s
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2012/01/11 23:50:26 (permalink)
    Just a note about http://www.cutleryandmore.com  , if you live in the Chicago area they have a great warehouse sale at their Carpenterville Illinois warehouse twice a year. I went to one in the spring of last year and bought presents for the 4 weddings and showers I went to last year. Lotsa of everything is available and if you call and ask about the dates you can get a $10 off coupon. I saw several types of digital thermometers.
    #12
    lornaschinske
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    RE: Instant-Read Thermometers 2012/01/12 11:51:44 (permalink)
    Our HD uses those electronic ones. Last time he came to inspect the cart, he had to borrow our old-style "dial face" thermometer.  Batteries were dead. Time before that, He used it to check David's pan temps. It showed the temps to be way down. David said not so and stuck our old style thermometer in the pan. Seems the HD's fancy electronic one needed to be calibrated. We will stick with the old style ones that can be recalibrated easily and don't have to worry about the batteries dying because we leave it in the cart in freezing weather.
    #13
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