How to Use a Meat Thermometer for Steak

Guide: Get Your Temp Right for steak by knowing how to use a meat thermometer.

Imagine spending hours in the kitchen, cooking your favorite steak for your family and friends only to realize that it was undone or overcooked.  How embarrassing would it be to not know the right temperature for your food, especially when you have put so much effort into making the perfect dinner or lunch? In that case, a meat thermometer is your best friend.

How to Use a Meat Thermometer

You can use a meat thermometer to check the done-ness and temperature of your steak. It is the best way to have a good reputation for your quality of food, and entertain your guests without worrying about the done-ness of the steak.

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What is a Meat Thermometer?

A meat thermometer is an instrument that is inserted into the meat to check its internal temperature and doneness. It consists of a probe that has sensors that detect the temperature. The probe is inserted into the thickest part in the center of the meat to get the right temperature.

Temperature is shown on a digital screen or dial, depending upon which thermometer you are using. It can quickly assess the internal temperature of the steak, burgers, chicken, or whatever meat you want to check, saving you from the troubles of guesswork at last.

Types of Meat Thermometers:

Buying a meat thermometer is, no doubt a significant investment. It is a must-have instrument to cook juicy and delicious meat at the right temperature. Using a meat thermometer while cooking steak kills the bacteria, eliminates the guesswork, and helps you get the exact temperature.

There are different types of thermometers available in the market. Some of them are digital, and some have dials to read the temperature. Some cannot work in the oven, and some can be left in the oven while the meat is being cooked. It all boils down to what is your cooking style, and how you prefer things in the kitchen.  You must choose the one that suits your cooking style and meet your needs.

There are three types of meat thermometers which are as follows:

Thermocouple Thermometer

The thermocouple thermometer is one of the best and most expensive thermometers. It has the quickest response time as compared to the other two. This thermometer can measure the temperature of the meat within 2 to 5 seconds. It has a thin probe that can pierce the thickest part of the meat to measure its temperature. This thermometer is not oven safe and cannot be used while the meat is being cooked in the oven.

Digital Thermometer

Digital instant-read thermometer is very popular in the kitchen. It can easily measure the temperature of the meat within 10 seconds due to its quick response time. It has A Digital screen that shows the temperature when the probe is inserted into the meat. As this thermometer is not oven safe you cannot put it in the oven while the meat is being cooked. One of the great things about digital thermometer is that it is pretty affordable with a quick response time.

Dial Thermometer

The dial thermometer is harder to read as compared to other thermometers. It takes 15 to 20 seconds to measure the right temperature of the meat, which is slower than other thermometers. This thermometer’s specialty is to measure the temperature of the thickest meat and massive meat cuts.  You can leave the dial thermometer in the meat while it’s being cooked in the oven. In this way, you can check the temp and doneness of the meat while it is still in the oven. It has a quite reasonable price.

Why Should You Use a Meat Thermometer?

Why on earth do you need a meat thermometer for? Can’t you just guess the right temperature by smelling the steak? Isn’t the color of the steak enough for you to know whether the steak is cooked or not?

And the answer is no. You can never know whether the steak is cooked or not through the smell or color. Many times you would think that steak is done but would face embarrassment in front of your guests when you find out that it’s dry as a twig. Even chef Jeff Mauro, being a professional, uses a meat temperature to check the internal temperature and doneness of the steak.

The Food Network star claims that you cannot rely on the color of the meat; it can be deceiving. The best way to make sure your food is done is by checking its internal temperature.

There are two main reasons you should always use a meat thermometer while cooking. First is food safety, and the second is the quality of food you serve to your family and guests.

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention

 According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year,48 million people face illness due to contaminated food. That is why it is advised by the CDC to cook your food correctly and check the internal temperature through a meat thermometer. It is essential to cook the meat at the right temperature to kill all the bacteria and prevent any sickness caused by food such as Norovirus.

Another reason for investing in meat thermometers is the quality of the food you want to serve. Presenting jagged meat or steak not only ruins the presentation but also affects the taste of the food. The cuts in the flesh will result in losing the juiciness and mouthwatering flavor of the steak, it will turn the meat dry and wreck your reputation as a cook.

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How to Use a Meat Thermometer for Steak:

Now that you are aware of the fact that it is essential for you to have a meat thermometer for the safety and quality of your food. It is time to know how to use a meat thermometer to perfect your cooking. You don’t have to worry as learning to use a meat thermometer is quite easy. We are going to teach you the procedure step by step. Let’s dive into it.

Choose the Meat Thermometer

The first and foremost step is to choose the meat thermometer that suits your cooking style. Whether you are grilling the steak or cooking it in the oven, you must check the internal temperature. We have mentioned all about the types of the thermometer, and also have provided the details about the useable and nonusable thermometers that can be left in the oven while the meat is being cooked.

You have all the information, and now it is up to you which one you want to choose. If you are going to cook the steak and want to know its continuous temperature, use the oven-safe thermometer. When you are grilling the steak, we recommend a wireless digital quick read to make measuring temperature easier for you.

Test the Meat Thermometer

After choosing the meat thermometer for the steak it is time to test whether the readings are accurate or not. Reading the temperature is the most crucial part of using a meat thermometer because the quality of the steak depends upon it. If the readings are inaccurate, the steak would not be perfectly cooked.

But how do you know whether the readings are correct or not?

The answer is simple. You test the meat thermometer before using it for the steak or any other meat.

Fill a glass with ice-cold water and place the meat thermometer in it for 30 seconds. Make sure the meat thermometer does not touch the sides or the bottom of the glass. The reading should be 32 Fahrenheit, If it does not read 32 Fahrenheit then you know the text is inaccurate.

Calibrate the Meat Thermometer

When the meat thermometer provides inaccurate reading, it is time to calibrate the thermostat. The meat thermometer can be easily adjusted if you are using a dial thermometer. You can calibrate the dial thermometer by adjusting the nut under the dial.

If you are using a digital thermometer, it has a reset button for calibrating. But it is quite tricky and needs an expert to adjust it. If you are unable to repair it, just notice how far off it is from its actual reading. For example, if it’s 7 degrees lesser than the accurate reading you can always add up 7 degrees when checking the temperature of the steak.

Temp the Steak

The next step is to measure the temperature of the steak by using a meat thermometer. It is advised to start checking the temperature a little early to get the exact temperature that you like for your steak. You must insert the probe in the thickest part of the steak which is also the coolest and center part.

Make sure to insert it in the meaty part through the side while avoiding bones and fat otherwise, the reading would not be accurate.  Insert the probe at least ½ inch in the steak or deeper if the steak is thick to measure the right temperature and doneness. It is also recommended to get the steak out when it’s 2 to 4 degrees lesser than the desired temperature.

It is important to verify the temperature of the steak by inserting the probe into multiple places and moving the thermometer back and forth to get the desired right temperature. Remove the thermometer when the temperature is verified. The doneness of the steak varies from well done 160 F to medium 140 F to rare 120 F. You can choose whichever temperature you want according to your liking.

We will also provide the steak temp sheet at the end for your convenience.

Carryover Cooking

You must remember that the meat keeps on cooking after it has been removed from the heat. This process of cooking after it has been removed is called carryover cooking. Thicker cuts of meat such as turkey, pork loins,and beef must be removed from heat before measuring its temperature.

But this is not relevant in the case of steak, chicken, and smaller cuts of meat. You must check the temperature of the steak before it has been removed from the heat.  When the steak is done you should wait at least three to five minutes before garnishing or serving the steak.

Tip: You should always clean the thermometer after using it with soap and hot water. It will kill bacteria and prevent food from contamination.

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Steak Temperature Chart

Steak temperature chat is quite essential when it comes to the doneness and temperature of the steak. Its temperature varies from well done 160 F to medium 140 F to rare 120 F. You can eat it as juicy and firm as you want by cooking the steak at the temperature of your preference. 

This chart will come in handy while using the meat thermometer for the doneness of the steak.  Variations in doneness will also affect the taste and texture of the steak. Let’s get right into it.

Well Done:

The steak is cooked well at 160 Fahrenheit or above. At this stage, it will be dry and hard with a grayish color. It is not recommended to heat the steak at this temperature as it will be hard with no moisture.

Medium Well:

The ideal temperature for the medium well is 150 Fahrenheit. The steak will have a firm brown texture. At this temperature, the steak will lose its juiciness and will begin to dry.


The medium temperature for cooking steak is 140 Fahrenheit. It is light pink with a slightly firm brown crust. At this temperature, the steak will start to dry and firm.

Medium Rare:

The temperature for cooking a rare medium stake is 130 Fahrenheit. It has a warm red center with a brown crust. It is an ideal temperature for a juicy steak.


The right temperature for rare steak is 120 Fahrenheit. It has a soft texture with a warm red center. It is neither hard nor quite juicy.

Now that you have read all about cooking the perfect steak, buy the meat thermometer and use it to check the doneness of your steak. Throw a feast and Enjoy.

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