Using an Oven Thermometer

Using an Oven Thermometer

Why use an oven thermometer?

Because your oven is off and you probably don’t even know it.

Every kitchen that I have been in and every oven that I have ever used is off and I’m not going to bring someone in to recalibrate it, not for a few degrees.

So, I learn how my ovens perform and you can too.

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How to Figure Out the Exact Temp of Your Oven

  1. Buy an NSF stainless steel oven thermometer or two:

Because once you start using it, you won’t want to be without it and they’re not very expensive.

I like to use commercial-grade products in my commercial kitchen and home but an oven thermometer from a retail store works just the same.

But I recommend that wherever you purchase it from, it is “NSF Certified or NSF Approved” which means that it has been tested and complies with all standard requirements, especially for accurate heating.

2. Place it in your oven, near the front.

You can hang it. Most oven thermometers come with a hanger to hang on the oven rack.

Oven thermometer hanging from an oven rack.

You can set it on the rack, if you’re using the top rack place it on the bottom, if you’re using the bottom rack place it on the top, in the front, and to the side.

Oven thermometer sitting on an oven rack.

 You can place it on the sheet pan of whatever you’re cooking, as long as it’s not liquid or actually sitting on top of or in the food.

Oven thermometer sitting on a sheet pan.
  • Do not put it inside a large pan like a roaster with edges higher than the thermometer or in a baking dish.
  • And never touch it, if it’s been in a heated oven. It is made of steel/metal and will burn your fingers. Use an oven mitt.

3. Turn the oven on to 400.

On some home ovens, there is a sound or a screen that will tell you when it’s reached the temperature you set.

If you don’t have an oven that does that (then you really should be using an oven thermometer) there are instructions below for it.

When the oven lets you know it’s at 400. Open the oven door and check the temp on the thermometer.

Is it higher, lower, or exact?

For example, I set my home oven to 400 when it’s ready my oven thermometer reads 375, so my oven temp is off by 25 degrees, so the next time I want the oven temp to be 400, I will set the oven to 425, 25 degrees higher than the temperature I need. And now, every time I set the temp in the oven it will always be set 25 degrees higher than what I need it to be.

Older Ovens

If you have an older oven that doesn’t give a notification when the temp is reached:

  • Put the thermometer in the oven
  • Set the temp
  • Wait for 40 minutes so that you know it’s good and hot
  • Then check your oven thermometer

Not all Oven Thermometers are the Same

When looking for an oven thermometer, some people want to know what is the best one.

There are different oven thermometers and they all do the same thing; tell you the exact temp of your oven.

Some have extra-large dials, some are high temp to 750 degrees, some tell you the warming temp, roasting temp, and broiling temp, and some even tell you the cooling temps for food.

Some are as low as $4.00 and some oven thermometers are as high as $40.00.

So, what is the best oven thermometer? To me, all oven thermometers are the same, I just need to know what the temp of my oven is.

As long as it does what you need it to do, then get whichever one you want.

What Else You Need to Know about Oven Thermometers?

Oven thermometers will get dirty and crusty with food, after each use WAIT until it cools down and then wipe it with a dish towel.

Do not put it in the sink or dishwasher.

If you’re going to need to touch it before it cools down, grab it with a dry kitchen towel or oven mitts, it will get very hot.

The more you use it, the dirtier the glass can get, turning it brown from being in the oven so much, if it gets to where you can’t see the degrees, replace it.

It can break, so if you love using one, you should have a backup, in case you drop it.

And yes, they can get in your way, they are hanging off a rack and if you hit it with a pan you’re pulling out, it’s possible it will fall off and it’s possible to hit it with your hand. Be Extra Careful and Aware.

Where’s the best place to put an oven thermometer? In the front of the oven at the corner or you can hang it in the center, but the front corner is not in the way as much as having it in the center would be. Remember that oven thermometers are convenient, don’t overthink it.

Can you leave an oven thermometer in the oven? sure can, whether your oven is on or off, warm, hot, or cold, used 5 days in a row, or not used for 15, you can leave it in the oven; morning, noon, and night.

Why should you use an oven thermometer? To know the heat of your oven. To know it’s heating properly and to use your oven at the temp that you need it.

Using an oven thermometer is going to make such a difference if you know the exact temp you’re actually cooking at. So, creating a recipe or following a recipe will be more precise. But every time you open your hot oven, it takes 30 seconds to drop 25 degrees and then it has to come back up to that temp again. So the more you open your oven the longer your food takes to cook.

As I mentioned before, I run on volunteers, it’s easy for me to smell, touch or look at something and know it’s done. But if you’re relying on help from others, knowing the exact temp and time to cook something will keep everyone on the same page.

Have a comment or question, leave it below.



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