Put safety first when cooking meat and use a meat thermometer to check your joint is cooked through. We put them to the test and came up with our top five.
If you have trouble cooking rare beef or worry that your roast chicken or turkey might not be fully cooked, a meat thermometer takes all the guesswork out for you. Here are some of our favourites from across a range of prices that are quick to respond, easy to read, and just in time for Christmas lunch. Remember to test the thickest part of the meat, away from bones for the most accurate reading. Digital probes can’t be immersed in water so a good tip is to clean them with an antibacterial wipe.
For a no-frills version, this is straightforward with a large, easy to read dial. You just plunge the probe of the stainless steel thermometer into the thickest part of the cooked meat or poultry once it comes out of the oven and you will soon get a reading. The guide on the dial gives the optimum target temperature for ham, veal, pork, lamb and poultry as well as options for rare, medium and well done beef. The temperature range graduates from 54C-88C /130F to 190F.
- £5.98, from Lakeland
Fantast digital meat thermometer and timer
You may not be using your meat thermometer everyday, so once you detach the probe with heat resistant cord this doubles as a useful timer and has a magnet on the back so that it sticks to the fridge. When using it as a thermometer just set the temperature that you are after, stick the probe into the cooked joint and the timer will beep if it is ready. This measures temperatures up to 130C/266F. This doesn’t come with any guide to temperatures for cooking meat, but we have one online. Batteries are not included.
- £7.25, from IKEA
ProAccurate Insta-Read ovenproof thermometer
For most thermometers you need to take the cooked meat from the oven and then test it, but this reliable ovenproof version can be stuck in the meat from raw so that you can check the progress as it cooks. A target range for a variety of different meats from ham and medium cooked lamb to poultry is clearly marked on the dial, showing a range of temperatures from122 to198F /50to90 C. This comes with a handy sheath to cover the probe when stored.
Digital pocket thermometer
If you are after a thermometer that is multifunctional, this comes in at a budget price, and offers reliable results for checking meat, oil when deep-frying, confectionary and jam and chilled food with a range of -40 to 230C / -40 to 450F. The stainless steel probe is covered with a lid to keep it clean and protected while in the drawer, and with a cord attached it can be worn round your neck if you like to keep it close by as you cook.
- £12, from Harts of Stur
SuperFast digital thermometer
Originally designed for the professional kitchen, this is now a great favourite for all serious cooks, so you are bound to have spotted it on TV cooking shows like MasterChef. The reading on this digital thermometer is virtually instantaneous, just three seconds once the probe is inserted into the roast. The wide temperature range from -49.9 to 299.9C means that it can be used to test the temperature of jams, caramels and oil as well as chilled dishes. The probe folds down like a penknife for easy storage (which also turns it off) and the antibacterial casing comes in a variety of colours.
- £48, from Sous chef
This review was last updated in February 2016. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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