Your oven is a big, hot liar, and the best oven thermometer will prove it. Sure, in a perfect world, the number on the dial face would match the internal temperature exactly. But the reality is that, most of the time, there’s a discrepancy between the temperature on the knob and the actual oven temperature, the calibration of which can vary based on the weather, your altitude, the age of your appliance, and countless other factors. Your oven probably heats differently from your best friend’s oven, which heats differently from the ovens in the BA Test Kitchen.
That’s not a big deal if your oven is only a couple degrees Fahrenheit off the mark, but oftentimes the discrepancies can be significant. Senior editor Sarah Jampel’s home kitchen oven—a liar if ever there was one—is off by a whopping 75 degrees. Just try getting consistent results or proper doneness on your angel food cake if you’re baking it at 250 instead of 325. An inaccurate oven can also potentially cause food safety issues. If you’re cooking food—particularly meat—and relying only on the recipe’s cook time and your oven’s temperature dial, you may not be bringing that roast pork up to the correct temperature if your oven is severely out of whack.
But just because your oven is, in all likelihood, deceiving you doesn’t mean you have to throw up your hands and allow unpredictable cook times to be a fact of life. There’s an incredibly simple step you can take to guarantee you’re baking and roasting at the right temperature, no matter the weather, no matter the day: You need to buy an oven thermometer.
Which oven thermometer is most accurate?
The best oven thermometer is the ThermoWorks DOT Thermometer. It measures temperatures of up to 572 degrees and comes with two components—a temperature probe and a magnetic digital hub that slaps onto the front of your oven, right next to your wonky temperature dial. The probe thermometer can be inserted into big, meaty roasts like prime rib or a whole turkey to monitor their temperatures as they cook, but it can also be attached to an oven grate to track the ambient air temperature. (We recommend using an all-metal binder clip to secure the probe to a middle oven rack. If you want a more permanent or less DIY-looking solution, Thermoworks also sells a durable stainless steel grate clip for $4 as well as a dedicated air temperature probe for the DOT.) With the probe in place, all you have to do is plug the connector cable—which is 47 inches long and can withstand high heat—into the hub, and an instant and accurate temperature reading will appear on the DOT’s digital display, which features large numbers and a backlight for easy readability.
The DOT makes checking the true temperature of your oven wildly simple, and since it comes with an alarm setting, it can also alert you when your oven is preheated to your desired temperature based on the thermometer’s reading. As another added plus, you can easily detach it to use in your smoker, pizza oven, or backyard grill, so you can have accurate temperatures indoors AND outside.
There are other digital oven thermometers on the market, but as far as brands go, ThermoWorks has definitely earned our trust. You probably recognize their Thermapen instant-read thermometer and their adorable entry-level ThermoPop, both of which are our top picks for the best digital meat thermometers. They’re what we use to ensure our steaks are perfectly medium-rare and our chicken breasts will not give our friends and family food poisoning. Like their cooking thermometers, the Thermoworks DOT is easy to use, fast, and dead accurate—literally everything we could want from the best oven thermometer. It’s truly a set-and-forget kitchen tool, providing vital information for all of your baking and roasting needs while staying entirely out of the way.