How many thermometers do you need?

Well, if you are like me – a lot.

I’ve been on the quest for an effective kitchen thermometer ever since I started cooking 2 years ago. I started with the recommended Taylor brands :


I have used them for quite sometime now. The one on the left is broken since it got wet when I left it in the sink (weren’t they supposed to be waterproof anyway?); I threw it after this shot was taken.

Then I saw the Taylor remote thermometer which was very effective in measuring the temperature of a roast while it was cooking. My hubby also uses it on the grill if he was cooking a cut of meat that he was not used to.


But since our new oven had a built in thermometer probe, I have stopped using it for roasts.

When I started cooking at very low temperatures like 190°F for duck confit, my less than stellar results led me to purchase what are known as oven thermometers. I have three of them and they do not necessarily agree with each other so I usually take the average of their readings. Actually they drive me crazy sometimes. Either they fall off to an area where it is impossible to reach (especially in a hot oven) or they disagree with each other with a difference of more than 50 °F (and yes I put them in the same area in the oven and tested them). If you guys can offer a more reliable model please let me know.


My desire to cook deep-fried food and make caramel properly also led me to purchase these:


Eventually, the slow response-time readings of my old Taylor thermometer had me looking for a new device with quicker temperature feedback. After quite some research, I bought the Thermapen and I am very happy with it:


After attending Harold McGee’s class, I just had to have an infrared thermometer. This is currently my most-used thermometer. I use it for making caramel, melting chocolate and browning butter. I also use it to make sure my butter and eggs are at room temperature. Heck, I use it to check the HH’s temperature – just for giggles.


And last but not the least, meet my new gadget. The thermocouple. It is a thermometer that can measure two items at the same time. Let’s say you want to find out the temperature of the meat vs. its braising liquid or how hot the pan is vs. the roast itself. I have not quite figured out how to work it yet. I couldn’t even turn it off when I first got it and I thought it was broken. Turns out I had to clear out some readings to enable the power button. It had a very brief instruction guide, but if this was McGee’s favorite thermometer, it might just be worth the trouble.


18 thoughts on “How many thermometers do you need?

  1. Wow Veron – are you by any chance related to Alton Brown? 🙂
    I own 3 thermometers myself, no, 4 if you count the oven one that won't sit in my oven properly and is therefore sitting on my counter (being as effective there as it was in the oven.)

  2. Hi Veron! Wow, that is quite the collection of thermometers! I only have two: a digital probe that I use for roasts and turkeys, and the Thermapen! Don't you love the thermapen?

  3. Whoah! I never knew I needed so many thermometers:) I've got 2 kitchen thermometers- one to check the oven temperature, and then one sugar thermometer..

  4. Ha! You're definitely putting me to shame — I think I have one instant-read thermometer, somewhere. Like measuring spoons, any device that measures in the kitchen doesn't get much of a workout from me.

  5. Uhhmm Sis? Hon.. you need to back away from the thermometers. Easy! Easy there! Slowwwlllyyy.. okay, now I want you to repeat after me:

    "I will not buy another thermometer for at least 2 years. I will resist the temptation and pray for extra strength while walking through Sur la Table or Williams Sonoma."

    Okay now breathe deeply and let it out slowly.. there. That's better, yes?

    It probably wouldn't hurt to find a 12 step program either.

    Just sayin'


  6. Veron – Hot Stuff!! I've been thinking about getting the infrared thermometer, so glad to know you're getting good results. I really like the idea of zapping the food to get the temperature reading – makes me feel like a culinary cowboy!

  7. Veronica,
    That is an amazing collection of thermometers! I love Taylor too…but I only have a couple. Looks like I need to beef up my collection!

  8. Hi Fanny – I love my IR one. I use it constantly.
    Hi Jenny – see , you are on your way to collecting them.
    That's funny, Mandy. I never thought I will have more than a lab.
    Hi Marvin – I love my thermapen. That's my second most used one.
    Hi Lisa – yup – perfect fried chicken if you watch that temperature.
    Hi Pille – now you know how many possible thermometers you can have.
    Hi Belinda – not all my thermometers work correctly specially the oven ones.
    Hi Lydia – I think it's the engineer in me…I can't well leave enough alone…I need to know the temperature of things and what they do at a certain temp.
    Hi Sis! You know after I counted how many I had, I thought the same thing too – the 12 step program that is.
    T.W. – go get it. You are going to love it!
    Hi Anita… Taylor is a good brand. But get the IR, it really makes a difference. I just made perfect brown butter today.
    Hi Kelly-Jane – yeh , maybe I should start a museum for thermometers 🙂

  9. wow, impressive collection. do they fall under 'gadgets'? . if i didn't know any better, i would have thought you were a man;-) oh, but then again you're an engineer so it makes sense (to another one- me!)

  10. Wow, Veron, that's A LOT of thermometers. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't own one till I bought one in July for the roast turkey…. I am now looking out for a candy thermometer. But I don't think that I will ever catch up to you – you are the Imelda Marcos of thermometers 😉

  11. OMG, you have opened my eyes!!! I had no idea that all these different types of themometors were available. I've got three – sugar, oven and meat. All three are ancient and slow.

    I have to have an infra-red themometer. There is no question. I am going shopping.

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