After many years of faithful service, our cracked and stained oven thermometer is headed for retirement and we're searching for a good replacement. Do you have an oven thermometer you love? Share it with us in the comments. And if you don't yet own this inexpensive yet essential kitchen tool, keep reading to learn why you should!
According to tests conducted by Cook's Illustrated, two ovens set to the same temperature can actually differ by as much as 90 degrees. To prevent hot spots, temperature cycles, and poor calibration from affecting your recipes, it's essential to gauge your oven's temperature with a thermometer. You can also use a thermometer to check whether an oven is sufficiently preheated. (We're talking about thermometers for the oven itself here, rather than instant-read thermometers that check the temperature of the food.)
There are two types of oven thermometers: one with a dial face and the other with a glass bulb (for safety reasons, the bulb is filled with colored alcohol rather than mercury). We prefer the readability of dial-face thermometers; Cook's Illustrated also "found that the tinted alcohol used in bulb thermometers can get stuck, compromising accuracy." In either case, when choosing a thermometer, look for one that's sturdy and easy to read.
Different models can stand, clip, or hang on oven racks. In considering our next thermometer purchase, we're looking for one that would be easy to move and read as we use different rack configurations and baking pans. We also want a thermometer with both Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales; however, unless you frequently use non-US recipes, it's best to forgo this feature as the less cluttered the face, the easier it is to read.
We're currently leaning towards the Cooper-Atkins Oven Thermometer (about $7), which Cook's Illustrated recently recommended, but would love to hear our readers' suggestions, too!
• See the Cook's Illustrated reviews: Oven Thermometers