Every oven I’ve ever owned has had an inaccurate thermometer. The temperature I set the oven to seems to feel no real pressure to tell me the temperature inside the oven! This is worse in my current oven, which is OK when the convection fan is on but isn’t even remotely close to accurate without the air circulation.
The fix? It’s a cheap oven thermometer.
What Is An Oven Thermometer?
The typical oven thermometer is a metal, heat-resistant, analog unit. It has a large dial so you don’t need to get too close to it to read it. Almost all of these will have a hook so you can hang it from the metal rack in the oven.
These thermometers have a large dial on front and are a bi-metal type thermometer, which means the hand of the dial is connected to a coil spring on the inside that expands as the temperature rises. The expansion of the coil happens in a predictable and linear way, to it moves the hand up the dial as the temperature rises.
Top Cheap Oven Thermometers
Here are some of the other oven thermometers you should check out if you want to ensure your oven temperature is accurate.
Rubbermaid Commercial Oven Monitoring Thermometer
My favorite cheap oven thermometer these days is the Rubbermaid Commercial, which sells for about $7.50.
This is a medium-sized, no-nonsense model which is small enough to fit into a toaster oven but I use in a full-size oven. The model ranges from 60 degrees F up to 580 and is NSF certified for safety. The dimensions are 3.75 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches so it’s quite a reasonable size.
I’ve found this thermometer to be quite responsive to temperature changes, to be stable once it’s hung in place, and to be very accurate.
Taylor Large Dial Oven Thermometer
My go-to brand for oven thermometers has been Taylor for some time now. Their Large Dial oven thermometer sells for about $8 and is has a 3-inch dial so you absolutely can’t miss this thing.
The unit is made of glass and stainless steel and it can read temperatures from 100 degrees F to 600 degrees F, making it ideal for any household oven. The dial also has zone indicators, so if you aren’t sure the exact temperature you need for something, say roasting mushrooms, you can at least make sure you are in the correct zone, like 300-375 F for baking and 375 degrees and over for roasting.
Downsides with those model are that it only has a 1-year warranty and that its large size means it can get in the way if you are using both racks at once. The thermometer is a bit over 3.5 inches tall so it really does hang down from the upper rack by a considerable amount.
Another downside, is that while the thermometer does have Celsius on it, this temperature scale is on the inside of the dial, making it quite small. This is common for thermometers sold in the US though.
Cooper-Atkins Stainless Steel Oven Thermometer
If you want a simple, small oven thermometer than the Cooper-Atkins is a good pick. This is another commercial-friendly NSF certified model that ranges from from 100 to 600 degrees F (50 to 300 degrees C). It’s fully made of stainless steel and glass.
This model is just 0.6 x 1.2 x 1 inches so it’s a bit small, which means it’s harder to read, but it’s great if you are cooking many dishes at once or if you have a smaller oven or a toaster oven.
Do oven thermometers have mercury in them?
No. Modern oven thermometers use a bi-metal coil design, which means a metal coil inside the thermometer expands as the temperature rises and contracts as it lowers. This movement pushes the hand up and down the dial, pointing to the correct temperature. This is a simple, safe design, though it's not necessary able to be precise down to the single degree.
Can oven cheap oven thermometers be calibrated?
No, these oven thermometers cannot be calibrated or adjusted. These come from the factory with a set calibration which cannot be adjusted or reset at any point in the future.
Can oven thermometers work in a convection oven?
Yes, oven thermometers are 100% compatible with convection cooking and have no problem with the circulating air flow that is a result of the convection fan.
Are oven thermometers dishwasher-safe?
No, they are not. You can hand wash an oven thermometers with a damp rag and some soapy water, but you should never immerse or dishwash the thermometers because they are not waterproof.
How do I know if my oven thermometer is accurate?
The best way to test the accuracy of an oven's thermometer is by buying a secondary thermometer and using that to gauge the accuracy. Affordable third-party bi-metal thermometers are almost always accurate within 25 degrees F where built-in oven thermometers can be all over the place.