How to Use a Meat Thermometer

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An instant-read thermometer should not be left in the meat during cooking.
An instant-read thermometer should not be left in the meat during cooking. (Image: mofles/iStock/Getty Images)

A meat thermometer ensures that your dish has reached a safe temperature for consumption, a temperature at which no foodborne pathogens can thrive. Use it anytime you prepare poultry, meat roasts, hams, casseroles, meat loaves and egg dishes. When you are ready to test the temperature of your food, simply insert the thermometer into the thickest portion of the dish -- near the inside of the thigh for birds or into the center of a roast or casserole -- and read the results on the dial within 15 seconds. If you're testing the temperature of a patty or thinner cut of meat, insert the thermometer sideways to get an accurate reading.

Varieties of Thermometer

An instant-read thermometers is designed to test food during the cooking process, but it should not be left in the dish throughout cooking as it may have parts that cannot withstand consistent heat. Oven-proof food thermometers may be left in the dish for the entire cooking process. Position it in the thickest part of the dish and arrange the face so you can easily view it when you open the oven door.

Precision Tips

Avoid allowing the tip of the thermometer to touch bone, gristle or fat, which can distort the readings. Beef should be cooked to a temperature of 160-degrees Fahrenheit or higher, poultry 170 degrees F and fresh ham 160 degrees F. Always wipe the tip of the thermometer clean after use.

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