When it comes to kitchen staples, certain obvious things come to mind, like a good spatula or a chef's knife. But there's one item that even many serious home cooks might neglect to buy that we would argue is also a must-have: an oven thermometer.
The good news? This necessary yet often ignored gadget is typically pretty affordable. And one we love is currently on sale on Amazon.
So why would you need an oven thermometer when, you know, ovens have thermometers? As it turns out, that preheated temperature shown on your oven might not be that reliable. In fact, one test showed that two ovens displaying the same temperature can vary as much as 90 degrees. Knowing whether your oven runs hot or cold (and by how many degrees) can allow you to adjust temperatures and cook times as needed.
This Rubbermaid thermometer has an easy-to-read display. There are also two options for using it: Place it on the oven rack, or hang it from the top. Because it's mobile, you can also use it to test for hot spots in your oven as well.
Another fun trick we've written about before is traveling with your thermometer when you'll be cooking away from home. Even if you haven't used an oven thermometer at home, chances are you've made some intuitive adjustments to your cooking times. Cooking in a new oven (especially in the kinds of inexpensive kitchens often encountered in rentals) could throw you off your game.
Regardless if you're planning on BYOOT (bringing your own oven thermometer) on your next trip, an oven thermometer is an easy way to up your kitchen game — and be a better-informed (and more confident) home cook.