How To Check The Accuracy Of Your Kitchen Thermometer?

Taking the temperature of any meat or poultry is the best technique to determine when it is done. If the tool you’re using to take the temperature isn’t correct, you’re in trouble. And there’s a good chance your thermometer is inaccurate by a few degrees (or more!). Because “drift,” the industry name for thermometers losing accuracy, is so prevalent, several businesses advise calibrating thermometers once a year, monthly, or even with each usage.

How To Test Your Kitchen Thermometer Accuracy?

Here are some points for checking your kitchen thermometer:

To test in boiling water

At sea level, water boils at 212° F* (100° C). Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Place the thermometer stem in the water at least an inch deep but not touching the pot’s sides or bottom. Wait for the thermometer to register, which should take no more than a minute. To avoid scorching your hand, use tongs to grasp the thermometer or tuck the stem into a long-handled slotted spoon — anything that will keep it from dropping into the water. It is accurate if the thermometer reads 212° F or 100° C. For kitchen thermometers, an error factor*** of up to 2 degrees Fahrenheit in either direction is pretty uncommon. (In boiling water, all three of my thermometers read 1/2 to 2 degrees high.)

To test in an ice bath

Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). Put as much ice as possible for testing in a glass of water. To achieve this, fill a glass with crushed ice to the brim. To catch the overflow, place the glass in a pan or dish. To the rim of the glass, pour cold water over the ice. More ice should be piled on top, allowing the water to overflow. Place the thermometer stem in the icy water at least an inch deep but without touching the glass. Wait for the thermometer to register, which should take no more than a minute. It is accurate if the thermometer reads 32° F or 0° C. (At this point, my three thermometers are all within one degree of accuracy.)

How To Know If Your Thermometer Is Not Accurate?


Here are the options if your thermometer is not accurate:

Live with it

If your thermometer is wrong by 1 or 2 degrees or even a few degrees, and you can’t or won’t recalibrate it, write a note to yourself or mark the thermometer with “Reads 3 (or whatever). Degrees high.” Aim for a reading 3 degrees higher than the desired temperature while using. Consider Option 3 below if your thermometer is off by a significant amount or in different directions on both ends. Please get in touch with the manufacturer.


Dial thermometers

Under the deal, there could be a hexagonal nut. To adjust the dial, turn this nut with a bit of wrench — very, very gently. It’s impossible to do this while the thermometer is immersed in boiling or freezing water, and the temperature will fluctuate immediately after you withdraw it. The solution is to notice that the thermometer reads 4 degrees high in boiling water, leaving it away until it registers a consistent room temperature. Then twist the stem to lower the dial by 4 degrees. After that, repeat the test in boiling water.

Digital thermometers

If your device has a reset or calibration button, follow the instructions in the handbook to recalibrate it. Option 3 should be used if the first two options aren’t available. If your digital thermometer includes a remote probe, you can change it for less than the cost of a new thermometer.

Mercury or liquid-in-glass-tube thermometers

Put it out of your mind! Recalibrating techniques are time-consuming and complicated, and option 3 is to toss the thermometer.

Contact the Manufacturer

Explain the issue on the brand’s website. You may be requested to return the thermometer to them, most likely with a receipt. The thermometer may be repaired or replaced. What do you mean you didn’t keep the receipt? You’ve had that thermometer for a long time. What have you got to lose? Anyway, pack it up and send it along with a note explaining how much you use and rely on their excellent product, how sad you are that it is no longer accurate, and if there is anything they or you can do about it.

How Important Is Kitchen Thermometer’s Accuracy?

Kitchen thermometer accuracy is important because:

  • Temperature is one of the most important elements in preventing food-borne illness. Bacteria reproduce slowly at low temperatures and quickly at intermediate temperatures.
  • A product must be heated to an internal temperature high enough to kill hazardous bacteria in order to be safe.
  • Using a meat thermometer to confirm that food has reached the appropriate temperature is a reliable method.
  • Thermometers, on the other hand, must be used and calibrated correctly in order to be effective. If the thermometer is inserted incorrectly or in the incorrect location, the reading may not accurately reflect the product’s internal temperature.
  • The thermometer should be put in the thickest portion of the food, away from bone, fat, and gristle, in general. Read the manufacturer’s directions for calibrating (checking the thermometer’s accuracy).
  • Temperature is the only method to tell if food is properly cooked, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

According to a USDA study, the “color test” can provide customers with false information about the safety of the items they’re preparing, because cooked color varies greatly. Freezing and thawing, for example, might affect a meat’s inclination to brown early. This is especially important when the thermometer will be used to measure the temperature of raw food and then cooked food, for example, a raw hamburger patty and then a cooked hamburger patty.


Always keep receipts for thermometers and practice writing loving letters. With any luck, you’ll be able to turn them into a steady supply of precise thermometers. Because, to be honest, most thermometer manufacturers could be doing better. You may have heard that distilled water is best for testing thermometers since mineral-rich water can alter the temperature at which it boils or freezes.