Meat thermometers, or digital instant-read thermometers are essential for cooking perfectly juicy meat and poultry. But did you know you can also use meat thermometers for a variety of other kitchen tasks?

In our article 15 Essential Kitchen Gadgets and Equipment for Every Cook, digital instant-read thermometers, or meat thermometers, come in at number five. Why? Because cooking by temperature, NOT just time is a surefire way to get perfect results every time.

If you’re new to the world of meat thermometers, check out our comprehensive article on How to Use a Meat Thermometer. It covers everything from calibrating, to carry over cooking, how to use it properly and so much more.

Then for all things meat, check out our Ultimate Internal Temperature Cooking Guide! It breaks down the proper internal cooking temperature for all kinds of meat and cuts (including ground meat, fish and seafood).

Our Favorite Instant-Read Thermometers

Thermapen

a Thermapen thermometer on a gray table

We love the Thermapen Mk4 from ThermoWorks, it’s super reliable and Lauren has used it in countless test kitchens. It’s an excellent tool for temping a variety of items but is especially great for taking meat temps! 

ThermoPop

a circle of round colored thermometers
Picture courtesy of ThermoWorks.

This little gadget is super cute, compact, and more economical than the Thermapen. The Thermopop is also by ThermoWorks, so you know it’s good. Most ThermoWorks instruments carry a two-year warranty and guarantee against defects in either components or workmanship (some items even offer a five-year warranty!)

Folding Thermometer

back folding digital thermometer on a white background
Picture courtesy of TaylorUSA

A more economical option comes in the form of this Folding Thermometer from TaylorUSA. It’s just $10. It’s built small which makes it an easy item for on-the-go grill-outs making or small kitchens.

Photograph of an instant-read thermometer measuring the temperature of lemon curd being cooked

Uses for Meat Thermometers

  • Grilling, roasting, and braising meat and poultry (we use our digital meat thermometer religiously when we’re cooking filet mignon, pan-seared lamb chops, and chicken breast).
  • Cooking perfect fish and seafood (it’s super helpful for perfect pan-seared salmon).
  • Candy making, although we prefer using both an instant-read thermometer and a candy thermometer.
  • Checking the temperature of oil for frying (yes you can use a meat thermometer for checking oil! We prefer meat or instant-read thermometers over a candy thermometer because you can check different areas of the pot).
  • Bread baking (including quick-breads and muffins).
  • Custards and puddings.
  • Ice cream.
  • Egg casserole and quiches.
  • Pies (fruit pies should reach 165ºF, pumpkin should reach 175ºF, and pecan should reach 185ºF.
  • Checking the temperature of water.
  • Candle making.
  • Checking your own temperature. Yes, you can check your temperature with a meat thermometer!

12 Surprising Uses for a Meat Thermometer

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About The Author

Loretta McGraw is a senior in journalism and mass communication at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Iowa State University. She is currently working as a Digital Food Publishing Intern here at Zestful Kitchen while attending classes and engaging in extracurricular media organizations on campus. After graduating she hopes to continue mastering her writing skills in the magazine industry.

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