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Damn and I just got an oven thermometer too!|Check your oven temp

***************UPDATE******************

Cook’s made this video into a “members only” thing, so here’s the skinny on how to test your oven temperature:

Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for at least a half hour. Put a half cup of 70 degree tap water in your 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup (you can fuss with it by adding hot or cold water to adjust the temp – it’s important that it be at 70 degrees to start with). Place the measuring cup in the oven and close the door. After 15 minutes, take the measuring cup out of the oven and take the water’s temperature with your thermometer. Swirl the water around to make sure the temperature is even. The thermometer should read 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

***************END UPDATE******************

Leave it to Cook’s Illustrated…I was just looking over their latest email newsletter and found this!

It’s a video on how to check your oven temperature with an instant read thermometer and a glass of water. Much cheaper than buying a damn oven thermometer for twenty bucks (who just did that? Oh, why me of course!).

Not sure about that whole “if your oven is off by more than a couple of degrees, it should be calibrated by a professional” thing, but this is still an outstanding (and if you already have a candy thermometer* essentially free) way of checking your oven temperature.

Cheers.

*You don’t need that fancy digital thermometer in the video to do this – it would be more accurate, but if you have a simple candy thermometer, you should be able to do this test accurately enough. I don’t think a meat thermometer, however, will work. If you’re ever inclined to make candy or cooked frosting, a candy thermometer is a nice cheap tool to have around, so think about investing in one for a few bucks. (Note – this particular candy thermometer costs as much an an oven thermometer and you can get them for much less money, but this is the one I have and I didn’t want to link to something I hadn’t used. Even if you get this one for $20, it’s still way more useful than an oven thermometer, so you save having to have two tools to do the same thing!)

26 Comments

  1. [...] off. How off? Not even going to measure it off. Yours may be too, that’s why you should test it. Or don’t and just obsessively check on your baked goods and use your eyes to judge when [...]

  2. kathy says:

    I really wanted to see this video but I am not a member of Cook’s. Damm I guess I will have to buy a thermometer.

  3. Kathlyn says:

    Hey Kathy! I’m glad you put up this comment – I had no idea that Cook’s had made the video “members only.” I just posted instructions on how to test the oven with an instant read thermometer, a Pyrex measuring cup and some water. Hope that helps!

  4. Lisa says:

    Thanks for posting the instructions. I had that specific ATK show recorded on my DVR but then I lost the recording. I just did the test tonight and my thermometer read 164 instead of 150. I have a fairly new oven and I can adjust the temperature, but I’m not sure what to do. Any ideas? lisa

  5. Thanks for posting those instructions! Extremely helpful for anyone wanting to test their oven temperature.
    .-= oregon wireless meat thermometer´s last blog ..Talking Wireless Meat Thermometer =-.

  6. Jerry says:

    FYI

    I saw America’s Test Kitchen “Everyone’s favorite Cake” and Chris Kimball said 1 cup of water not half

  7. Andrea says:

    What do I do if the temperature is off – my oven will allow me to adjust temp – if temp is below 150 degrees how do I determine amount to adjust?

  8. Kathlyn says:

    I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any really good advice for recalibrating ovens. You can adjust your oven up or down (depending on if if it’s slow or fast) 150 degrees and see if you get better results. Some ovens are adjustable and if you bought it, it should have instructions that might include how to recalibrate. If not, you might have to have it serviced, which is probably the best way to go anyway if your oven is that far off and you want it really accurate. Hope that helps!

  9. charles says:

    water boils at 212F,
    with added heat, liquid water will remain 212F until converted to steam,
    how do get the water to remain liquid to 350F?

  10. Kathlyn says:

    You are right! I adjusted the post because I thought it was incorrect. The temperature should read 150 degrees Fahrenheit, not 350 (which would be impossible).

  11. SantaFeJack says:

    I was just about to spend that $20. on an oven thermometer, but the responses on Amazon.com to the various meters was so varied. You’ve not only saved me money, but I feel assured the results of your method will be accurate. Thanks.

  12. Jeff says:

    Should the oven be set at 350 for 30 minutes then the water should be 150 after 15 minutes?

  13. Kathlyn says:

    Hi Jeff – that’s correct! You can swirl the water around a bit when you take it out of the oven to make sure the water temperature is even.

  14. Chris Bohlmann says:

    Do you shut the oven off after the half hour or leave it on?

  15. Kathlyn says:

    Hi Chris. You should heat the oven for 30 minutes and then let the Pyrex with water sit in the oven while it’s on for 15 minutes. Hope that helps!

  16. Chris Bohlmann says:

    Kathly, – yes it does. Trying it now. Thanks.

  17. Dear,
    i want to know for how long to keep the oven thermometer in oven to check the required temperature.
    i bought the thermometer but still i am not able to understand my oven temperature.my thermometer does not stop on any degree,it keeps on rising or falling.i am very worried.
    i put for 5 mins also and during whole baking,it keeps on rising on both conditions.although,i kept the oven on low and high flame both,but not getting the right temperature reading.
    my question is will the thermometer stop on the required temperarture?
    is it to keep the thermometer during whole baking process?
    how long to keep the thermometer in oven to check the temperature?
    plz reply.will be very thankful to you

  18. Kathlyn says:

    I really do not know the answer to your questions. I do know that ovens do not stay at one temperature consistently, but fluctuate around the temperature you set them at. If you’re not having a hard time cooking things properly in the oven, then I would say that your oven is fine. If it is hard to cook things (if they are always underdone or always burning), I would have a professional look at it. Hope that helps!

  19. Ruth Davis says:

    Great ideas and advice, but I don’t have a candy thermometer, nor do I have any thermometer that will measure 150 degrees or that I can put in water. So now how do I check the oven temp ? Just have to keep checking my cookies, I guess. The darn temperature guage knob is broken and I have no idea where it is set, even when I put it on 350 degrees. It could be off as much as 50 to 75 degrees either way. Grrrrrrrr !!

  20. Kathlyn says:

    Hi there! If you don’t have any kind of thermometer, it will not be possible to use this method of checking your oven temperature. Since you are missing your temp gauge know, I’d see about replacing it and maybe having a professional come out and calibrate the oven for you. Then you’ll know where it’s set.

    Otherwise, you could invest in an inexpensive candy thermometer (I think you can get them on Amazon for about $10), or borrow one from a friend, buy a new knob and then try to calibrate the oven yourself. Even if you get close, at least you’d have an idea of where the oven is set at.

    Good luck!

  21. Emma says:

    I just discovered this meat and oven thermometer in one for $12: http://www.homehardware.ca/en/rec/index.htm/Indoor-Living/Housewares/Kitchen-Gadgets/Food-Thermometers/Cooking-Refrigerator/Dual-Dial-Oven-Meat-Thermometer/_/N-2pqfZ67l/Ne-67n/Ntk-All_EN/R-I4170694?Ntt=oven+thermometer

    If you don’t already have a meat thermometer or candy thermometer it seem like a good way to go

  22. eva says:

    Just used your method and shockingly my oven came in at 151 degrees…only 1 degree off! I’ve been in my apt for almost 10 years and have never used my oven once cause i was always doubtful of it’s temperature accuracy. I am so happy i found your post and was able to do the test. Now i don’t have to solely rely on my cuisinart oven/toaster! thank you!!

  23. Kathlyn says:

    Very glad to hear that the post was helpful – I hope that your oven helps you make lots of yummy stuff! Happy New Year!

  24. Gina says:

    Eva: You’ve lived in your apartment for TEN years and never used the oven because you didn’t know its temperature accuracy??? I had to read your comment a few times and I’m still scratching my head. Hey…. How do you know your toaster oven’s temperature is accurate? Just wondering.
    Kathlyn: You should’ve posted this info TEN years ago. Ha!
    I’ve been USING my oven long enough to know that the temperature is definitely not accurate. I think I’ll still invest in an oven thermometer. Bummer.

  25. Shelly says:

    Hi, i know i’m late to the game and the question about testing with no thermometer was last year, but thought i’d post this just in case someone would find it helpful. To test your oven’s temp with no thermometer you need to have an idea as to whether it seems to be running high or low, though i guess you could do both tests independently. They won’t give as accurate a read as a thermometer, just more of a general idea.
    If you suspect your oven is too cool, heat to 375 for 30 mins. Place a small amount of granulated sugar on a baking dish (best to line with foil for easier clean up) and place in oven (still on) for 15 min. If sugar doesn’t melt, your oven is indeed too cool.
    If you suspect too hot, same procedure except the setting is 350. Here the sugar should not melt. If it does then your oven is running too hot or may have an extreme cycle.
    I know it is very basic but in a pinch you can get a very general idea as to whether it is working correctly. :-)

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