Whether you’re smoking, grilling, or barbecuing, you must always have a meat thermometer with you. It’s the perfect tool you can use to ensure that your meat is always cooked through.

After all, you wouldn’t want your family and friends to eat undercooked chicken or pork, right? And if you’re cooking steak, you also want to make sure that you’re getting the correct internal temperature of your meat.

So, how do you use a digital meat thermometer?

It’s pretty simple. Just insert the probe properly into your meat, and the thermometer will automatically get a reading.

In this article, we’ll go into details about:

  • How to use a digital meat thermometer
  • Calibrating your thermometer
  • How to know when the meat is cooked

So, if these are things you’re interested to know, read on…

The Right Way To Use An Instant-Read Thermometer

There are many types of meat thermometers that you can use, but we’re going to focus on the instant-read thermometer.

Instant-read thermometers are the most ideal to use in grilling as they read meat temperatures almost immediately. It’s perfect for when you’re grilling, cooking on the stove, or cooking in the oven.

These thermometers can’t be left in the food while cooking. But some models come with a corded probe that you can poke on the meat while the reader is outside the cooker.

Below is a detailed step by step on how to use this type of thermometer:

Step 1: Test Your Thermometer

The very first thing you need to do is to test your thermometer. You should always ensure that your thermometer reads correctly. Because if you don’t, what you think is perfectly cooked meat may be under-cooked or overcooked.

How do you check if your thermometer is reading correctly? It’s quite easy.

Just grab a glass full of cold ice water, place your thermometer in, and get a reading. If it reads 32 °F, then your thermometer reads correctly, and you can use it. But if it’s not, you need to do some calibration, which we’ll show you how later on in this article.

Step 2: Make Sure To Get The Temperature While Cooking

Don’t remove the food from the heat if you want to measure its temperature. If you do this, you’ll be getting inaccuracies. Instead, simply open your grill or oven and insert the thermometer while it’s cooking.

Step 3: Insert the Thermometer in The Right Spot

Don’t insert the thermometer anywhere you please. The first thing you need to make sure of is getting the thermometer right into the meaty or thickest part and not the bone.

For example, if you’re getting the temperature of a chicken, you can insert the thermometer into the thigh as it’s the meatiest part. For ribs or rack of lamb, insert in the center position where there are no bones.

Step 4: Get In The Right Depth

You should choose the thickest part of your meat for the digital meat thermometers can get an accurate reading. Instant read thermometers need to be inserted at least ½-inch deep to get a good reading.

Step 5: Read The Temperature

Once you’re able to make sure that you inserted the thermometer correctly, check the reading. If you think it’s at the right temperature, it’s time to remove the meat. But if not, then allow it to cook longer.

Step 6: Don’t Wait Until Food Hit Its Temperature

We highly recommend that you don’t wait for the meat or food to hit the proper temperature.

Remember, heat can continuously cook your meat even if it’s no longer in the oven. If you remove the meat after hitting the desired temp, it will continue to cook even after you’ve let it sit, thus, resulting in overcooked meat.

So, remove your food while it’s 5-10 °F below the desired temperature. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes so the heat can cook it further before serving it to your family and friends.

Calibrate To Ensure Accuracy Over Time

As mentioned above, it’s essential to test your thermometer before using it. This way, you get to ensure that you’re getting an accurate reading.

We already presented to you how you can test your thermometer. But what should you do after you’ve figured that it’s not accurate?

Sadly, for digital thermometers, there’s not much you can do. Depending on the kind of thermometer you have, you can simply follow the brand’s instructions, or you can buy another one.

But if you don’t have an extra with you, just record the offset temperature and add or subtract that to your final desired temperature.

But to avoid having to do this, make sure that you check your digital thermometer so you can already buy a replacement before your next barbecue cookout.

How To Know When Your Meat Is Cooked Through?

The purpose of having a meat thermometer is to ensure that your meat is cooked through.

You’ll easily know this by making sure that you’re recording correct and safe internal temperatures. As a standard guide, here are some meats and the internal temperatures you should be aiming for:

  • Beef, pork, veal, and lamb (steaks, chops, roasts): 145 °F and let it rest for 3 minutes
  • Ground meat: 160 °F
  • Poultry (including ground poultry): 165 °F
  • Ham (uncooked): 145 °F and let it rest for 3 minutes
  • Fully cooked ham: 140 °F – 165 °F
  • Eggs: 160°F
  • Fish or Shellfish: 145 °F

These are safe internal temperatures of each meat. Depending on your preference, you can cook at higher temperatures but never cook lower.

Final Thoughts

Getting the correct internal temperature of your meat is key to ensuring that it’s perfectly cooked. And with this, you’d need a good digital meat thermometer.

Fortunately, digital meat thermometers are very easy to use. Just simply take note of the following:

  • Test your thermometer before use
  • Don’t remove meat from the oven when measuring temperature
  • Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat
  • Make sure to reach a safe internal temperature

As long as you remember these four, you won’t have any problems getting the correct reading for your meat.