What is an Instant Read Meat Thermometer?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2020
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An instant read meat thermometer is a device used to determine the internal temperature of a piece of meat during cooking. This is typically used to ensure that meat is cooked to a certain level of doneness either for preference or for safety reasons. Different types of meat are often cooked to different internal temperatures to ensure that any potential bacterium within the food has been destroyed and that it is safe for eating. The guidelines and legal requirements for necessary meat temperatures vary by country and should be considered by professional and home cooks alike.

Professional chefs often use an instant read meat thermometer because it is a small handheld device that does not take much space and allows the user to take readings quickly during cooking. These devices can be analog or digital and usually take one of several different basic forms. A digital instant read meat thermometer often consists of a handle and a long probe that can fold down to rest alongside the handle for easy storage. The probe is typically long enough to penetrate into food and keep the user’s hands clean and safe from heat, while the handle will have a digital readout on it that allows the user to easily see the temperature displayed.


Another common type of instant read meat thermometer looks more like a long thick needle with a circular cap at the top. The long needle is the probe itself, and the cap is the display. This type of thermometer allows a user to easily test the meat and see the results at the top. Traditionally, analog meat thermometers have been made in this design, though some newer digital models have also been designed in this way.

The best way for a person to use an instant read meat thermometer is to wait until the meat appears to be the correct level of doneness. A user should then insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat, as this will usually be the last area to be fully cooked and will give a better idea of the full doneness of the meat. Care should be taken by the user to be sure the probe does not touch a bone within the meat, as bones can heat to a higher temperature than surrounding meat and may give a false reading. The probe should also not be pushed all the way through the meat into the cooking area; the tip of the probe should remain about in the middle of the meat.


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