February 9

Analog Dial Thermometers … Reliable, Simple, Classic


When it comes to simplicity, reliability, and low cost analog dial thermometers are hard to beat.

Good analog models are easy to read and require no batteries, which saves even more money over the life of the thermometer.

Select an oven thermometer to monitor the temperature inside your smoker and a meat thermometer to check food done ness.

If you aren’t looking for fancy high tech, an analog dial thermometer may be right for you.

Find out more about cooking thermometers


The Basics … How it Works

Analog dial thermometers have been around for generations and consist of two basic styles:

  • Liquid-filled Thermometers: Sometimes called “spirit -filled,” models because they are filled with a colored alcohol solution. These are by far the oldest type used for cooking. As the temperature rises the liquid expands and rises within column marked to indicate temperature. It doesn’t get any simpler than this. Good models are suitable to use as a “leave in the meat” style as you cook.

  • Bimetallic-coil Thermometers: These house a coil made of two different metals bonded together. The metals expand at different rates when heated. The coiled element is attached to a pointer stem at the other end of the thermometer. When the temperature rises the pointer is rotated by the expanding coil to indicate temperature. 

Types of Analog Dial Thermometers

 There a few different types of analog cooking thermometers:

  • Oven Thermometers: Good ones can be bought for under $10.00 and can reliably measure temperatures form 100F to 600F. These thermometers can be left right in the smoker to monitor temperature. The biggest disadvantage here is heat loss, your smoker must be opened to check the internal temperature. Oven thermometers get a “dirty” work out in a smoker. So plan on replacing it every few years. 

  •  Candy Thermometers: Most candy thermometers will function fine as a smoker thermometer. While I never tried it I hear some folks drill a hole in the cooking chamber and plug it with a cork. Running through the center of the cork is the candy thermometer. So the sensing end of the thermometer is suspended in the cook chamber.

  • Meat Thermometers: There are two types. Leave in the meat models, which continuously monitor the meat’s temperature. And quick read models. Which you occasionally insert into the thickest part of the meat to check temperature.  

Makes and Models …

Taylor Analog Instant Read Thermometers:
A real classic! Small in size and very handy, it accurately measures meat temperatures up to 225F. Comes with a pocket case. This is a compact model, the dial is only about an inch across. So it can be difficult to read by those with corrective lenses, especially in low light.

Taylor Classic Meat Thermometer:
This is one of my favorite analog dial thermometers. Simple, inexpensive, and made from stainless steel. Stem length is well over 4 inches so you can sink it deep into even a large cut of meat. The dial is 2 ¼ ” in diameter, making it easier to read than the compact Taylor.

Kitchen Aid Stainless Oven Thermometer:
Well constructed from stainless steel the Kitchen Aid will read up to an amazing 550 Deg F. Features a nice size 2½” dial, which those of us with aging eyes appreciate. You have the option of using it as a conventional oven thermometer or hanging it somewhere in the smoker.

These are just a few basics about Analog Dial Thermometers. I suggest you check your local cooking stores to see what available in your area. Stick with a stainless steel model. Remember that small dials that seem easy to read in the store can be tough to read when covered in smoke residue.

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