You may be one of the holdouts, still making do with your mother’s dial thermometer sticking out of your turkey. You may think that if it was good enough for her, it’s good enough for you. Or maybe you’re planning on using the pop-up thermometer that comes in your turkey (hint: whatever you do, don’t use the pop-up thermometer that comes in your turkey!).
Or maybe you’re a Thermapen® fan, thinking your Thermapen is enough to get you through the big day.
You’re right that the Thermapen is indispensable on Thanksgiving, but you’re really going to need an oven probe thermometer, as well, to get perfect results with your turkey. Here are five reasons why the ChefAlarm® is perfect for Thanksgiving*:
1. You Need to Track Temperature Changes Over Time
If you don’t, you’re going to have dry, tasteless turkey, or worse, unsafe turkey.
An instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen Mk4 will help you verify your final temperatures once your ChefAlarm alarm goes off, but you won’t know when to check the turkey if you don’t have a leave-in probe cooking alarm like the ChefAlarm. Turkey recipes that give you time recommendations (i.e. 350°F for 3 1/2 hours) don’t account for the unique size and fat content of your particular turkey, let alone whether your particular oven burns hot or cold. Tracking temperature over time with a ChefAlarm set to your target temperature (we recommend 157°F [69°C]) is the only way to make sure you don’t overcook your bird.
The ChefAlarm is an oven probe thermometer while the Thermapen Mk4 is an instant-read. They are two different kinds of thermometers. We like to think of them as similar to the odometer and the speedometer on your car. The ChefAlarm tells you how far you’ve come and the Thermapen tells you how fast you’re going right now (read more about this in our post, What Kind of Thermometer Do I Need?).
➤ TIP–Track Your Turkey: Simply set the probe tip in the center of the breast or thigh, avoid touching bone, and set your high alarm to sound when it reaches your target temperature—we recommend 157°F (69°C) for the breast.
This works for cooking turkeys, but it’s also amazingly helpful for monitoring your turkey thaw if you use the water method. You should be vigilant in adding ice every time the water temperature creeps up above 40°F (4°C) to prevent bacterial growth.
➤ TIP–Thaw Your Turkey Safely: Simply set your ChefAlarm high alarm to 40°F (4°C) and add ice when it beeps!
2. You Need to Keep Your Oven Door Closed!
With an oven probe thermometer like the ChefAlarm, the cable connecting the probe to the meter can be shut in the oven door. You can track your turkey’s internal temperature from outside the oven. This is important. We have found that each time you open your oven door, you could lose as much as 50°F (28°C) and your turkey will take that much longer to cook.
You have to open the oven door to check your turkey with an instant-read, even the Thermapen. And cheap dial thermometers must be viewed from straight on, not through the oven window. So keeping your oven door closed on Thanksgiving is definitely one of the perks of an oven probe thermometer.
3. You Need Robust Probes, Transitions & Cables
Pro-Series Probes® like the one that comes with your ChefAlarm feature overbraid cables, reinforced spring transitions, and heat-resistant bushings and insulators rated to 644°F (340°C). You won’t find that attention to detail with our competitors’ products. They will be more likely to break or give inaccurate readings and you will overcook your turkey.
In fact, some of the most popular oven probe thermometers on the market, have probe cables rated only to 392°F (200°C), while most turkey recipes call for searing the turkey skin at 400°F (204°C) or above! Get the ChefAlarm and know you’re covered.
4. You Need MAX/MIN Temp Displays
In the upper left-hand corner of every ChefAlarm display panel are the words “MAX” and “MIN” followed by numbers. This shows you the highest and lowest temperatures experienced during your cook.
This can actually be a critical feature on Thanksgiving Day. For one thing, it can show you how hot your turkey gets while resting.
➤ TIP–Carryover Cooking: Simply leave your Pro-Series Probe in the turkey while it rests on the counter for 30 minutes after cooking and before serving. The MAX temp should continue to rise from 157°F (69°C) to near or above 165°F (74°C) while the turkey rests.
The MAX temp is also really useful for your turkey thaw. With the probe tip suspended in your ice water for several hours during a speed thaw, you can check the MAX temp each time you check your turkey to make sure the water did not exceed 40°F (4°C) while you were away.
5. You Can Use the ChefAlarm’s Built-in Timer
An often overlooked feature on the ChefAlarm that really comes in handy is the built-in timer. Temperature, not time, should determine doneness. However, time is also a critical part of preparing a turkey.
Frozen turkeys should thaw 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds in the fridge, or 30 minutes per pound in an ice water bath. With your high alarm set to 40°F (4°C) and your probe suspended in the water, you can set a timer alarm on the ChefAlarm, as well.
➤ TIP–Thaw Time: Simply press the Start button on the timer to start counting up or punch in the number of hours needed to thaw and press Start to count down and beep when it’s done.
Many people raise or lower their oven temperature after a certain number of minutes, as well. And timing your rest after cooking is a snap with the ChefAlarm.
➤ TIP–Resting Time: Simply set 30 minutes on your ChefAlarm timer and press Start to be sure your turkey has enough time for carryover cooking and the reabsorption of liquids into the muscle fibers.
There you have it, at least five ways the ChefAlarm will make getting perfect results with your turkey so much easier this year. And there’s even one more: our amazing ThermoWorks Customer Care team is just an email, a phone call or webchat away to answer any other questions you may have about our products or about proper turkey temperatures and preparation.
So pick up a ChefAlarm today. You’ll be glad you did come Thanksgiving morning.
* The Smoke BBQ thermometer is also an awesome solution for Thanksgiving that allows you to track changes in temperature in both the breast and the thigh. It does not come with a built-in timer but all of the other ChefAlarm features and benefits described here are also found in the Smoke.