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Use a Food Thermometer

Use a Food Thermometer

Use a food thermometer to be sure that meat, poultry, casseroles and other foods are cooked thoroughly. You can buy an instant-read thermometer, like the one shown in the photo, for a few dollars.  Remember! Color is not a reliable measure of doneness in meat and poultry, so use a thermometer.

How to use a food thermometer

  • Always use a clean thermometer — hand wash it in hot soapy water and rinse it in hot water before and after use.
  • Insert the thermometer into the center of the food at the thickest part, away from the pan, bone, fat or gristle.
  • Check the thermometer directions to see how far you should put the thermometer into the food. If you don’t have directions, look for a dimple on the thermometer. Put the thermometer far enough into the food that the dimple is covered.
  • If the food has an uneven thickness (such as a turkey or beef roast) or has a variety of ingredients (like a casserole), check the temperature in several different places.
  • If a food is thin (such as a hamburger), you can stick the thermometer into the side. There are many kinds of thermometers. Some must stay in food longer than others to read the temperature.
  • Some thermometers are oven safe, meaning they can stay in the food the whole time it cooks.
  • Some thermometers are not oven safe. As a basic rule, keep the thermometer in the food until the temperature stops rising, about 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Different foods must be cooked to different temperatures. See the table on the next page for details.
Last updated: 01/22/13