When you’re preparing meat, it’s incredibly important to have an accurate cooking thermometer. But how do you know if your meat thermometer is accurate? We can help! You can test the accuracy and adjust a cooking thermometer by performing this simple test (scroll to the bottom for video how-to).
We encourage you to test your cooking thermometers at least once every year. If it’s not accurate, knowing how to adjust a cooking thermometer can save you from getting sick or overcooking your expensive 20 lb turkey on Thanksgiving!
If the thermometer hasn’t been used for awhile or you have any reason to doubt its accuracy, you can verify its accuracy by using a simple calibration test and adjustment (if necessary).
How to Test & Adjust a Cooking Thermometer
To accurately test your meat thermometer, you’ll need a temperature meter tester. This can be purchased on Amazon. If you have a friend in the electrical, automotive, or appliance industry, they’ll likely have one you can borrow.
Use Warm Water
Warm up a cup of water and place your temperature meter tester into the hot cup of water. Read the temperature on the display. This is the accurate temperature that your meat thermometer should read.
Adjust Meat Thermometer
If the temperature on the meat thermometer does not match the read-out on the temperature meter tester (known as the “standard” in calibration terminology), perform the following simple adjustment to calibrate your thermometer:
- Verify that the meat thermometer has a nut on the back where the probe meets the thermometer. If there is no nut, the thermometer can’t be adjusted.
- Remove the thermometer from the water and wait for thermometer temperature to bottom out / return to room temperature.
- Use channel locks (or a wrench) to tighten or loosen the nut on the back. As you rotate the nut, you will see the needle move. Start by moving the needle slightly up or down (depending on if you need to increase or decrease the temperature reading).
- Put the meat thermometer back into the water and compare the temperatures to the standard again.
- Repeat this process until you reach an accurate reading.
Watch the video below to see Tom of Tiger Mechanical demonstrate how to test and calibrate your cooking thermometer: