Choosing a Food Thermometer - Dial or Digital

Dial and digital instant read food thermometers are the most readily available thermometers for consumers. They can be purchased at several types of stores including grocery, kitchen specialty, department, and hardware stores. There are differences between the two options and purchasing one depends on your expectations of the thermometer.


  Response Time 23-46 seconds*

25-34 seconds*

The depth to insert into meat Center the bottom 2 to 2 1/2 inches of the stem in the middle of the patty.

Center the bottom 1/2 inch of the stem in the middle of the patty.

Price $4.99-$19.99**


Calibration Some Models - check label

Some Models - check label

How does the thermometer
sense temperature?
Bimetallic Coil: Are two separate types of metal that are bonded together in the first 2 to 2 1/2 inches of the probe. Each metal expands at a different rate when the temperature increases and causes the pointer on the dial to move.

Thermistor Sensor: Is a ceramic semiconductor that is in the first 1/2 inch of the probe. The electrical resistance of the thermistor changes proportionally with the temperature sending a signal to the digital display.

*As measured in cooking hamburgers at the University of Idaho (2009) **Found in a Thermometer Availability Survey conducted in Washington and Idaho (2008)