Temperature is probably the most important variable in cooking, but it can be hard to control if you don’t know what it is. Sure, there are various tests you can employ to test “doneness” of various foods—the ol’ palm trick for steaks; the toothpick inserted in a cake—but these only give you approximations. If you really want to cook your meats, cakes, and candies perfectly every single time, you need a thermometer.
The Thermapen Is the Last Cooking Thermometer You’ll Ever Need
The Thermapen is an instant read thermometer that will make sure you never under or overcook your…
Because the whole point is accuracy, a good cooking thermometer is worth investing in. We’re big fans of the Thermapen, which takes readings in fewer than three seconds, and is accurate to less than a degree—but its more cost-friendly friend, the ThermoPop is a good choice as well. It’s also worth checking out your local restaurant supply store, and just buying whatever the pros use. Whatever you do, don’t get one those round, metal models. Not only do they lack a digital read-out, they tend to break easily (at least in my experience), and they’re just not that accurate.
Once you have a good one, you’re ready to cook any and all of the following:
- Perfectly cooked steaks, chicken, and more: Gone are the days of worrying about over-cooking that beautifully marbled rib eye or drying out a roast chicken—you’ll always know the exact internal temperature of your favorite meats.
- Tempering chocolate: Tempering chocolate is a lot more complex than simply melting the stuff in a bowl. In fact, it’s a multi-step process that involves heating and cooling to several different temperatures. It can be done without a thermometer, but it’s way, way easier with one.
- Checking ice cream bases: Unless you’re cooking your base sous-vide, it can be hard to know if your custard has reached the right temperature. A good thermometer can help you make sure you make ice cream, not scrambled eggs.
- Bake Better Goods: Not only can a thermometer tell you when your breads, cakes, and other baked goods are done, it can let you know when you’ve reached the perfect temperature of water for your yeast, rather than relying on your finger, which isn’t as accurate.
- Making Candy: Beyond chocolate, a good thermometer can help you craft perfect candies—from marshmallows to lollipops—without having to mess with hard and soft balls.
Honestly though, it’s worth it just for meats. There’s nothing sadder than overcooked meats.