How to Read a Good Cook Meat Thermometer

Good Cook Classic Meat Thermometer
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If you have ever tried to read a Good Cook Classic Meat Thermometer you’re probably wondering, what’s with the different types of meat labeled at the bottom of the dial?

The bottom red row has beef, lamb and pork grouped together. The upper black row has poultry and ham as a group.

Well, it is there to let the home cook know at what temperature certain types of meat are done. The idea is when the top of the needle (red tip) is pointing to temperature, the bottom of the needle (black tip) will be pointing to a corresponding level of doneness for whatever meat you’re cooking.

It’s an ok idea but not effective for cooking something to its ideal temperature. I’ll explain this in a bit.

Good Cook Classic Meat Thermometer

You might have noticed this thermometer is quite slow in reading temperatures. This is because it’s your basic bi-metal analog thermometer.

This means the thermometer has a bi-metallic strip inside the probe end. When heated, the bi-metallic strip slowly turns a shaft with the needle connected at the end. This temperature reading process takes a lot longer than a good digital meat thermometer, which can usually read the temperature in a few seconds.

Another drawback of analog thermometers such as this one is that it is hard to see exactly where the needle on the dial is pointing. The dial is set up in 2-degree increments. Sometimes the difference between a juicy and a dry pork chop is only a few degrees. Here’s a good tutorial on the best pork chop temperature when it’s done.

The most confusing part of this particular thermometer is the temperature doneness scale at the bottom of the dial, and the reason you’re probably reading this.

How Do You Read a Good Cook Meat Thermometer Anyway?

Let’s look at the picture above as an example. It shows the thermometer needle pointing at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The bottom part of the needle is hovering over the medium doneness title for beef, pork, and lamb.

Imagine if you were cooking a steak and wanted to cook it to medium. If you cooked it to the 160-degree setting as they suggest it would be way overcooked.

The first problem is that there are three totally different types of meat (beef, pork, lamb) with differing levels of doneness grouped into one category.

Another problem is that you can’t make a generalization of doneness across the entire range of a certain type of meat. Would you cook a steak to the same temperature as you would a chuck roast?

You could, it probably wouldn’t taste too good. And that is why you don’t want to follow this thermometer’s recommended temperatures. There is one caveat to this, the poultry doneness setting at 165 degrees Fahrenheit is helpful. But even this can be misleading if you are cooking different pieces of poultry such as chicken thighs. A chicken thigh’s temperature when it is at most succulent is above 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

The USDA’s newest guideline for a safe minimum internal temperature of pork is 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

pork temperature

If you notice the picture from the National Pork Board to the left, the levels of doneness appear to be lower temperatures than represented on the Good Cook thermometer. The medium doneness level on the Good Cook is at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. That is considered well done by the National Pork Board.

My suggestion would be if you are using the Good Cook Classic Meat Thermometer, just pay attention to the temperature numbers on top and forget the doneness chart at the bottom. You can find what temperatures to properly cook your food to by visiting our other articles here.

Good Cook? Not If You Want to Be a Great Cook

Simply put, the Good Cook thermometer isn’t a good thermometer for all the reasons already mentioned.  Here are a few reasonably-priced alternatives to the Good Cook thermometer below. I highly recommend the ThermoPro TP-19  as a great instant-read meat thermometer and the ThermoPro TP-17 if you need a reliable oven thermometer.

Prices accurate as of:

What Does NSF Mean on the Good Cook Meat Thermometer?

You might have noticed the NSF on the dial of the Good Cook Thermometer. This just means that the thermometer meets standards set by the National Sanitation Foundation or NSF International, an American product testing, inspection, and certification organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The NSF seal should not be confused with the National Science Foundation logo, which is eerily similar.

Can the Good Cook Classic Meat Thermometer Go In the Oven?

Yes, it can. You can leave the Good Cook Classic Meat Thermometer in the oven. The back of the package states ” this meat thermometer is designed to be left in the meat during the entire cooking process.” This only pertains to the Good Cook meat thermometer that is pictured. Good Cook makes a few other models that aren’t rated for the oven. (see below)

Prices accurate as of:

If you have a thermometer and are unsure if it can stay in the oven, don’t do it. There’s nothing worse than a ruined meal because of a thermometer shattering onto your food.

How Do You Calibrate a Good Cook Thermometer?

The Good Cook Classic Meat thermometer only has a range between 120 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This leaves few options to calibrate the thermometer. It rules out testing it at freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and boiling (212 degrees Fahrenheit). One option would be to test it against another proven, accurate thermometer in between the ranges that exist on the Good Cook temperature dial.

Simmering Liquid

You could try simmering some water and test the temperature with another dependable accurate thermometer. Then you could compare the reading on the Good Cook Thermometer and adjust it accordingly.

There is an adjustable bolt underneath the dial just above the probe stem. All you need to do is use a set of pliers or a wrench to adjust the bolt so that the needle on the thermometer will match the temperature of the more accurate thermometer.

It is at this point where you are probably wondering what is the point of calibrating this thermometer if you already have a more accurate one on hand. Great question. At 6 bucks invested it might be time to cut your losses. In that case, might we recommend some more accurate, dependable thermometers that won’t have you constantly second-guessing them?





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