How To Calibrate A Meat Thermometer

Cooking outside is great fun especially if your friends are invited. But cooking for large crowds means that you will need the help of your trusty little thermometer constantly to make sure that the food you’re cooking is perfect and that no one complains.

But do you know internal thermometers have a little bad habit of going out of calibration from time to time?

How To Calibrate A Meat Thermometer

In simple words, this means that over time, your thermometer can start to give you highly inaccurate temperatures that can ruin your food entirely. Ruined food means unhappy guests, a lot of complains and damaged esteem for you.

Read: 5 Best Digital Meat Thermometers For Grilling

Don’t let this happen by calibrating your thermometer before hand to make sure it is giving you 100% accuracy. Calibrating your internal thermometer is quite fairly simple enough and you can easily do it by yourself. Below are some steps to help you calibrate the thermometer and bring it back to its glory.

In order to calibrate your thermometer, you will need a set of pliers and a small adjustable wrench. Now here are the steps you need to perform to gain 100% accuracy back:

  1. Find a large heat resistant pot of water and fill it up to at least half and let it set to boil on the stove.
  2. Now take a glass or another small bowl and place ice in it and cover it with water.
  3. Now it’s time to test your thermometer with the boiling water. Your thermometer should read exactly 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. This is the boiling temperature of the water. If it doesn’t read the temperature at 100 degrees Celsius, then your thermometer is not calibrated.
  4. Now adjust the small nut on the back of the thermometer. It is located where the probe meets the face of the thermometer. It isn’t large in size but should be easily adjustable.
  5. Now test the same thermometer in the ice glass or bowl that you placed earlier. The thermometer should now read 0 degree Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the freezing point of the water. If it doesn’t read the correct temperatures, time to make another adjustment on the small nut. When the temperature is accurate for both the boiling water and the ice, it will mean that your thermometer is now perfectly calibrated for 100% accuracy.

Altitude Adjustments

Altitude (feet) Boiling Temperature of Water (degrees F)
0 (sea level) 212.0
500 211.1
1000 210.2
2000 208.4
2500 207.5
3000 206.6
3500 205.7
4000 204.8
4500 203.9
5000 203.0
5500 202.0
6000 201.1
6500 200.2
7000 199.3
7500 198.3
8000 197.4
8500 196.4
9000 195.5
9500 194.6
10000 193.6

Table Source

A lot of modern grills, smokers and other grilling units have thermometers that are preinstalled with a small wrench built right beside the thermometer. It is located beside the thermometer and is often covered with a sleeve to protect it from the heat and protect the probe. Read your grill’s instructional manual before you perform these steps. If the mini wrench is already there, do not use an external pair of pliers or wrench to adjust the temperature. Simply wear protective gloves and do it by hand.

Calibrate a Meat Thermometer

For digital external thermometers, you will need to get them adjusted by professionals. But use these simple techniques to get your internal thermometer back in game.


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