Nothing says holiday get together quite like a room full of family and friends, too many sides, and a turkey roasting in the oven. And although we love nothing more than a post-thanksgiving turkey coma, turkey in all its forms can be enjoyed year-round as part of your weekly meal plan!
In fact, turkey is a good source of protein, is low in fat, and comes in several forms, including turkey burgers, turkey soup, a whole turkey, or even turkey breasts to name a few.
This article is going to look at the latter two and focus on how to cook each of them to perfection. And the key to cooking a perfect turkey is having the right tools to do so. One of the essential tools you’ll need to have on hand when cooking your turkey is a meat thermometer. Today we’re going to outline how to properly use a meat thermometer in both a whole turkey and a turkey breast so that you can enjoy perfectly cooked turkey as often as you like. Let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
- 1 Where To Put The Thermometer In A Whole Turkey
- 2 How to Properly Place The Thermometer In Your Whole Turkey?
- 3 Do You Leave The Thermometer In While Cooking Whole Turkey?
- 4 What Is The Best Meat Thermometer For Whole Turkey?
- 5 Where To Put The Thermometer In A Turkey Breast?
- 6 How to Properly Place the Thermometer in Your Turkey Breast?
- 7 Do You Leave The Thermometer In While Cooking Turkey Breast?
- 8 What Is The Best Meat Thermometer For Turkey Breast?
- 9 An Overview Of Meat Thermometers
- 10 The Top Tips And Tricks For Using Your Thermometer
Where To Put The Thermometer In A Whole Turkey
Ok, so you’ve decided you’re going to cook a whole turkey. Whether it’s Christmas dinner or just an average Tuesday, you’re going to want to pick a recipe, purchase all your ingredients, and make sure you have a meat thermometer to help you nail the perfect roast. Once you have a meat thermometer, follow these steps to make sure your turkey cooks to perfection. You want your internal temperature for any poultry, including turkey, at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Properly Place The Thermometer In Your Whole Turkey?
It would help if you placed the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the turkey, making sure to avoid the bone. Bones have different thermal properties than the turkey meat, and putting the thermometer too close to them could skew the reading. When you’re ready to insert the thermometer, jab it in horizontally from an area close to the neck cavity. Aim to put it in approximately 0.5 inches to 1 inch deep into the turkey meat. A dial thermometer may require you to put it a bit deeper, up to 2 or even 2.5 inches in some cases.
Do You Leave The Thermometer In While Cooking Whole Turkey?
Leaving the thermometer in the turkey depends on the type of thermometer you choose. With both the thermocouple and digital models, you cannot leave it in while cooking. A dial thermometer, however, can be left in for the full cooking duration to keep track of the temperature and know when your meal is ready.
What Is The Best Meat Thermometer For Whole Turkey?
The best type of thermometer for a large piece of meat, like the whole turkey, is a dial thermometer. Because it can be left in, meaning you can observe its progress. Cooks typically get consistent good results by using this type of thermometer for roasts.
Where To Put The Thermometer In A Turkey Breast?
Turkey breasts are a rich source of protein that can be eaten whole or incorporated into several different dishes. After you’ve searched Google and Pinterest for the perfect turkey breast recipe, you’re ready to start cooking. Grab your thermometer and start prepping your meal! Remember, the internal temperature for your turkey breast should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit before it’s ready to eat.
How to Properly Place the Thermometer in Your Turkey Breast?
Make sure to place the thermometer’s probe into the thickest part of your turkey breast. Try to insert it from the side as your thermometer will be easier to read that way. Ensure the probe doesn’t touch the pan as the heat from it could skew your thermometer’s reading.
Do You Leave The Thermometer In While Cooking Turkey Breast?
As we stated above, this depends on the type of thermometer you choose. The thermocouple and digital types cannot be left while the turkey breast is cooking. A dial thermometer can be left in the for the length of the bake.
What Is The Best Meat Thermometer For Turkey Breast?
The best type of thermometer for a turkey breast is a digital thermometer. Because cooking times on breasts are lower than a whole turkey, you don’t need the constant monitoring that comes with a dial thermometer. The digital one allows you to check your internal temperature quickly by pulling the baking pan out of the oven, sticking the thermometer in, and getting a near-instant reading.
An Overview Of Meat Thermometers
A meat thermometer is a tool used to measure the internal temperature of a piece of meat so that it’s not over or undercooked. Undercooking turkey comes with serious risks, including food poising, and overcooking a turkey means you’ll end up with dry or even burnt meat.
These thermometers make sure the turkey cooks just right. It has two parts, the rod, and the dial. The rod is placed into the turkey to measure the temperature, which displays on the dial. There are three types of meat thermometers: thermocouples, dial thermometers, and digital instant-read thermometers.
These thermometers provide the quickest reading, which makes them a top choice for professional and amateur cooks alike. However, you can’t leave these thermometers in the meat while cooking, and they tend to run on the pricey side.
These are harder to read than the other two options and can take up to two minutes to deliver a reading. However, these thermometers can be left in a while cooking the meat making it easy to monitor. And bonus, these are your most affordable option.
Digital Instant-Read Thermometers
These thermometers have a quicker response time than the dial versions but are slower than the thermocouples. These are a reasonably priced-option but cannot be left in while the meat is cooking.
The Top Tips And Tricks For Using Your Thermometer
Here are a few essential things to keep in mind when making use of a thermometer in your turkey-cooking culinary endeavors.
Checking For Accuracy
Before you use your meat thermometer, you’ll want to check to make sure it works so you can feel confident about the accuracy of your readings while cooking. To do this, you can dip the thermometer in a bowl of ice water. Leave the thermometer in for five minutes and then confirm that it reads 32 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also lower the thermometer into boiling water instead. This option requires you to wait one minute, and it should read 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Getting An Accurate Reading
It’s essential to get as accurate of a reading as possible to ensure the temperature has reached its minimum required heat. If the probe is too close to the bone, roasting pan, baking sheet, it can throw off your reading, and your whole turkey or turkey breast may not be fully cooked. Another essential tip to keep in mind is to keep the thermometer still when you measure your turkey’s temperature. If you’re using an option that cannot be left in the meat while cooking, you’ll want to remove your whole turkey or baking pan full of turkey breasts from the oven to thoroughly check the temperature before putting them back in or pulling them out to set the table. Place it on a flat surface, then insert the thermometer as we’ve covered above to get an accurate meat temperature reading. To prevent a loss of heat inside your oven, ensure the oven door remains closed during this step.
A Turkey Tent
Once your turkey has reached the desired internal temperature, take it out of the oven and tent it loosely with foil. This process allows the turkey juices to settle and redistribute before you eat it. Your thermometer will typically read a higher internal temperature at this step before cooling back down.
Cleaning The Thermometer
It’s essential to clean and sanitize your thermometer after every use. Since most thermometers can’t be submerged in water, you’ll have to be careful when cleaning them. To sanitize, you can use an alcohol swab to wipe the probe or dip it into a food sanitizing solution for a minimum of ten seconds. You can also hold it in boiling water for a minimum of thirty seconds. If you decide to use alcohol or a sanitizing solution, rinse the probe with hot water afterwards.
Get Ready To Gobble It Up!
Now that you know the importance of a meat thermometer and how to use one when cooking your turkey dishes, you’re ready to get in the kitchen and whip up something yummy. Make sure to invest in a meat thermometer that will work not just for turkey, but a variety of other meats because it’s quickly going to become your favorite tool for preparing your meals.
We hope you enjoy your turkey not just on holidays but as part of a weekly, healthy meal plan. All that’s left is to gather your favorite turkey recipes and get cooking. Bon voyage!