Kitchen thermometers help ensure that foods are cooked and stored at proper temperatures as well as cooked to a safe internal temperature.
Oven thermometer: This allows you to check the temperature of your oven.
Refrigerator/freezer thermometer: This verifies whether the appliance is chilling correctly. For food safety, refrigerators should maintain a temperature of no higher than 40 degrees F, and freezers should maintain a temperature of 0 degrees F or less.
Candy/deep-frying thermometer: Use one when making candy, some frostings and syrups, and when frying foods in a large quantity of cooking oil or shortening. Used to measure extra-high temperatures, the thermometer is marked with candy-making stages, such as hard-crack; it's also marked for deep-fat frying.
Disposable temperature indicator: Designed for specific temperature ranges, this single-use thermometer has a sensor that changes color when the appropriate temperature is reached. Follow manufacturer's directions and use it only for the foods for which it is designed.
Electronic oven cord thermometer: Best for roasts or large cuts of meats, this thermometer features a probe designed to stay in the meat as it cooks. A stay-cool cord attaches to a magnet-backed unit that affixes to the oven door. An alarm sounds when the food reaches the desired temperature. Though they're designed for oven use, they can also be used to check foods cooking on the stove.
Fork thermometer: Handy for grilling, fork thermometers can be used for most foods; however, they're not designed to be left in food while it is cooking. To ensure an accurate reading, be sure that the tine of the fork containing the sensor is fully inserted.
Instant-read thermometer: This can give an internal reading in seconds. The sensor in a digital instant-read thermometer is in the tip. Use this type of thermometer to verify internal temperatures of thin or thick foods. The sensor of a dial instant-read thermometer is in the stem, not the tip, so it must be inserted at least two inches into the food you are testing for an accurate reading (for thinner cuts, you may need to insert the thermometer sideways into the food). Do not leave either type of thermometer in food while cooking.
Meat thermometer: Typically used to check the internal temperature of large cuts of meats, such as roasts and whole poultry, they are generally not appropriate for thin foods. Oven-safe meat thermometers may be left in a conventional oven, but not a microwave oven.
Pop-up thermometer: Sometimes turkey or other meat comes with a thermometer that pops up when the food is done. Even when such a device is present, the food should be tested with a reliable food thermometer to ensure that it reaches the proper temperatures for safety and doneness.