Do Pop-Out Thermometers Work?

It’s meant to take the guess-work out of cooking your holiday turkey, but if you rely on a pop-up turkey timer, you could be in for an overcooked Thanksgiving bird—or worse.

How They Work

First of all, let’s dive into the mechanics. The design of these contraptions is pretty ingenious. There are essentially three main components: a plastic stick (the thing that pops up), a spring, and a bit of food-grade metal. That last bit is the most crucial. When the appropriate temperature is reached, the metal melts and releases the spring, making the “hey, I’m done” plastic stick pop out.

It’s All About Temperature

Conventional turkey timers pop out at 180 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. However, a turkey is actually fully cooked at 165 degrees, so waiting until it reaches 185 will cause you to overcook it. The results? Dry meat that’s anything BUT a crowd pleaser.

Reliability Is an Issue

When tested, manufacture-inserted pop-out timers have proven to be inconsistent. Some will pop at 185 degrees as intended. But a study done by Consumer Reports showed that some pop at temperatures as low as 139.5 degrees, which leaves you vulnerable to harmful bacteria and food poisoning. Not a fun way to spend the holidays.

A Better Alternative

For a well-cooked turkey, it’s better to rely on a digital meat thermometer with a probe. To get an accurate reading and ensure there are no cold spots, insert the probe in the thickest parts of the turkey—the breast as well as the space between the thigh and drumstick. You should take several readings to be safe.

Make Your Thanksgiving Tastier

Cooking a Thanksgiving turkey in the oven doesn’t have to be difficult. A meat thermometer can be your best friend, whether you’re doing the traditional way of roasting or trying your hand at deep frying. To get your holiday feast on the table even faster (and with less stress), try some of our made-from-scratch sides to-go, like our Mac & Cheese, Southern Green Beans and Honey Butter Croissants.

Just give your local Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen a call.

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