Over the past few years I’ve experienced everything from burnt caramel to undercooked turkeys and overdone steaks because of crappy thermometers. Most were either slow, inaccurate, or both, and it made for imprecise cooking.
I left that all behind a few months ago when I started using a Thermapen digital thermometer. It’s fast, accurate (within +/-0.7 F), and tough (the newer models are splash proof, just don’t fully submerge it). It turns on the instant the stainless steel probe is flipped out, and is ready to read in three seconds. It’s got a professional thermocouple, and if you ever find it’s become inaccurate (you can test with a glass of ice water, or a geographically determined boiling point) they’ll calibrate it for free.
The quick reading time means that there is no need to leave it in the oven (or leave the roast out of the oven for that matter). My old $10 thermometer took 30-seconds to stabilize, which, when cooking a nice piece of steak, is the difference between perfectly cooked and over-done. Not only that, but the narrow probe is far better at determining the temperature of thinner cuts of meat without leaving gaping holes.
While it may seem like an extravagance to most, I’ve found this thermometer to be an essential cook’s tool.
[Note: We previously reviewed an older model Thermapen in 2004, but felt it was time for an update. --OH]