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Why do meat thermometers never seem to work?

a hand holding a clock

I love my meat done perfectly.  I’m a medium-rare on the nose type person.  I like my pork slightly pink and my chicken juicy.  So, the unreliability of most meat thermometers drives me bonkers.  I have gone through at least a dozen trying to find one that works consistently.  Finally,  I gave up on thermometers, adopting the far more versatile and trustworthy poke test.  But you absolutely need one for roasts, so I just find myself avoiding big roasts:(

But about a year ago, I gave them another shot after figuring out how to calibrate  mine.  Something they forgot to mention on the package!

Here’s how you do it…

  1.  Hold the stem of the thermometer in boiling water for 15 seconds. Assuming you are at sea level, the thermometer should register 212 degrees.  If it doesn’t read 212 and it’s the type in the picture to the right, tighten the screw at the back of it to achieve the correct calibration.

My thermometer works much better, but I still have to check it frequently. Sigh, I still hate them.

If you find yourself still hating your meat thermometer like me, try the poke test method.   The poke test is great for steak, chicken and any barbecue meats. Touch your index finger to your thumb and feel the meat of your hand at the base of the thumb, this is medium rare!  It really works, I swear.  Now, poke the meat the same way at it’s thickest point.  If it feels the same then it’s done, take it off and let it rest at least 5 minutes.  For most well done, touch your pinky finger. It takes a bit of trial and error, but you’ll figure it out.

Tip: Remember to always put the thermometer tip in to the thickest part of the meat, not touching the bone to test it. 

Tip 2: With chicken the juice should run clear when the bird is doneor overdone.  Just make sure it’s not pink.

For more cooking tips, recipes and foraging instruction, join me on my Youtube channel here.

Happy Cooking,

Chef Robin