This post is part of our 'This Is Fire' series, where our editors and writers tell you about the products they can't live without in the kitchen.
I was given the Thermoworks ChefAlarm years ago as a gift, but it took me about a year to open and start using it. But once I started using it, I cursed myself for not trying it out earlier. In fact, I love and use it so much that I bring along on trips to places where I might cook or bake in an unfamiliar kitchen. It’s small, compact, but incredibly useful beyond the typical “test the temperature of the turkey” purpose.
Easier to use than analog oven thermometers
Can set multiple temperature alarms
Comes with its own storage case
The ChefAlarm is a probe thermometer, the sort of thermometer that has a long wire that snakes from the thermometer body, with a pointed probe at the end. This probe is typically inserted into a roast, like a turkey, while it cooks. The thermometer sits outside the oven, reading the temperature without ever having to open the oven.
Though it sounds like a convenience tool, the ability to take the temperature of a dish without having to open the door of the oven helps food cook faster. Every time you open the oven, the internal temperature of the oven can drop as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. That fluctuation in temperature means your dish will cook slower and more uneven. With the oven closed through the entire cooking time, the internal temperature of the oven stays constant. The only time you have to open the oven is to take the dish out, when it’s done.
Though it sounds like a convenience tool, the ability to take the temperature of a dish without having to open the door of the oven helps food cook faster.
But most folks don’t make large roasts that often. I certainly don’t. Which is why the ChefAlarm sat in its box for a year before I finally got around to trying it out. What I didn’t realize is that the temperature probe is so sensitive, that it actually can measure the ambient air temperature around it. That meant I can use the ChefAlarm as an oven thermometer, placing the probe on a piece of aluminum foil on a lower rack.
This realization is why I now leave the temperature probe in my oven all the time! The ChefAlarm is far superior to a typical oven thermometer, which requires you to open the oven to view it, thus dropping the temperature of the oven. Now, when I develop and test recipes, I can be sure that my oven is always at the exact temperature it is supposed to be. If it isn’t, I can adjust the temperature to match the more accurate reading of the ChefAlarm. And when I travel to a home that I’m not used to, I can also bring along the ChefAlarm (which comes in a convenient zippered pouch) and use it to check the oven temperature as needed. No more second guessing or constantly checking if my food is done, opening and closing the oven door. I always know.
Thermoworks knows this is a popular use of its ChefAlarm. So much so that they sell an optional probe and wire with a rack clip so you can clip the probe and test the ambient oven temperature more easily.
It helps that the thermometer is intuitive and easy to use. It has a big backlight display, with easy-to-read buttons, and a magnetic back to mount it on the side or front of your oven. The thermometer case itself also bends in the middle, allowing you to set it upright on a table. There are low temperature and high temperature alarms that you can set, which will tell you when the food (or oven) hits the desired temperature you want, as well as an alarm with an adjustable volume so you can hear it wherever you are. It also has a built-in timer and can be calibrated if necessary.
There are low temperature and high temperature alarms that you can set, which will tell you when the food (or oven) hits the desired temperature you want.
The ChefAlarm does come with a clip that allows you to attach the probe to the side of a pot. This makes deep-frying or candy-making easier and less dangerous. No reaching deep into the pot with a handheld thermometer, hoping you don’t drop the thermometer in or splash hot oil or sugar onto your hand. And with the large digits on the digital display, there’s no squinting at small numbers on a traditional analog thermometer that sits in the pot. With the ChefAlarm, I know that I can bake, roast and cook with full confidence.
Dimensions: 5.94 x 2.75 x .75 inches | Temperature Range: -58 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit | Battery Life: 5,000 hours
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Irvin Lin is a writer, recipe developer and photographer based in San Francisco. He is deeply geeky when it comes to baking and the accuracy of his equipment. His cookbook “Marbled, Swirled and Layered” was picked as one of the best baking cookbooks of 2016 by the New York Times. He writes the nationally recognized blog Eat the Love and his work has been featured in the Washington Post; O, The Oprah Magazine; Serious Eats; Simply Recipes; and more.