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.
Photo by Christina Xu.
The Thermapen is an instant read thermometer that will make sure you never under or overcook your food. It takes readings in less than three seconds, it's accurate to less than a degree, and it's designed to last for ages. It really is the best cooking thermometer we've ever used, and it deserves a place in your kitchen.
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. It's also worth checking out your local restaurant supply store and just buying whatever the pros use.
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 scotch fillet or drying out a roast chicken — you'll always know the exact internal temperature of your favourite 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 lollies — 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.