Where to put the thermometer in a turkey

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  August 29, 2022

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When turkey time comes, you won’t frustrate your friend and family if you have a perfect turkey cooked in your hands.

But if you’re a beginner or have no idea what an ideal cooked turkey is, it can be tough. So a turkey thermometer is essential for the job! It can tell you exactly what the perfect turkey is.

But wait!!

You probably don’t know how to use it properly and where to put a thermometer in a turkey, right? Don’t worry; you’ll have a perfect Thanksgiving for sure, so stay tuned!


You don’t really need to be a cooking pro or an expert at using the meat thermometer. In fact, it’s so easy to use.

How to use a meat thermometer

Make sure the thermometer is placed properly

To achieve the most accurate temperature reading, make sure you place the thermometer at the right place, which should be at the thickest portion of the chicken breast meat and far from the bones and fats. Remember that what you’re trying to look for is the lowest possible temperature, which is the most accurate reading for the meat’s overall internal temperature.

Most thermometers require that you place the probe at least half an inch into the meat. This is usually the case for some brands of thermometers.

However, if the meat is more than 1 inch thick, then you need to go deeper than half an inch in order to reach the core.

Check the temperature regularly

For bigger roasts, try to check the temperature about 30 minutes before it’s expected to finish cooking. If you’re cooking thinner and smaller cuts, start checking the meat around 5-10 minutes ahead of its expected cooking time.

In order to fully cook meat, aim for what’s stated in the recipe that you’re following. Remember that the meat will continue to cook even after it’s taken out of the oven.

This isn’t really a big factor for smaller cuts, such as slices of chickens or turkeys. However, for larger lamb, beef, pork, and veal roasts, they should be taken out of the heat as soon as their temperature reaches within 5 degrees of the temperature recommended in the recipe.

How to read a meat thermometer

I’ll show you how to read 2 types of meat thermometers: oven-going meat thermometers and instant-read meat thermometers.

Oven-going meat thermometer

Using an oven-going meat thermometer is easy. You simply have to insert the thermometer at least 2 inches into the center of the uncooked meat’s thickest portion or on the largest muscle.

Make sure that the device doesn’t touch any bone or fat. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an inaccurate reading. When the meat reaches the desired temperature or the temperature stated in the recipe, simply push the device a little more.

Instant-read meat thermometer

There are 2 types of instant-read thermometers: digital and dial. These thermometers are inserted when the meat is already out of the oven and will immediately provide an instant reading (hence the name).

Digital instant-read thermometer

For digital instant-read meat thermometers, the probe has to be inserted at least half an inch inside the meat. In only 10 seconds, you’ll get a temperature reading.

This kind of thermometer is ideally used in checking the doneness of bigger cuts, including the thinner ones, such as steaks, chops, and burgers.

This thermometer must not be left in the meat while it’s being cooked.

Dial instant-read thermometer

For the dial instant-read thermometer, it has to be inserted about 2 inches into the meat. When cooking thinner foods like chops and burgers, insert the probe on the side of the meat in order to get accurate readings.

In only 15 to 20 seconds, the thermometer will register the reading.

Again, inserting the thermometer while the meat is being cooked isn’t recommended.How-to-read-a-meat-thermometer

Now you know how to use and read thermometers, so let’s try it on your whole turkey!

Where to put the thermometer in a turkey

The best place to put a thermometer in is the high portion of the turkey thigh muscle that’s closest to the body. Make sure that you don’t touch the bone, as you won’t get an accurate reading.

When the turkey’s done, it’ll read an internal temp of 165°F. That’s the temp you’re looking for if you want a perfect, juicy turkey that’s delicious for Thanksgiving or any other special occasion.


The meat thermometer is an extremely useful tool in your kitchen.

In fact, any expert cook will tell you that using the meat thermometer is the only way to accurately determine if the food is safe for consumption. Furthermore, the thermometer can help you avoid overcooking or undercooking meat, which can cause food poisoning.

Always practice good food safety!

Is turkey done at 165 F or 180 F?


Turkey is done at 165°F, which is a safe temperature. Unfortunately, many people are still confused, so don’t let them tell you otherwise. Don’t hesitate to take your turkey out of the oven or grill when it reaches an internal temp of 165°F.

(Thanks https://www.foodsafety.gov for the table!)

Where do you take the temp of a turkey?

You’ll get the most accurate reading from the high portion of the thigh muscle that’s closest to the body. When the meat thermometer reaches 165°F, your turkey is ready to be taken out.

Do you leave the meat thermometer in while cooking turkey?

No, I don’t. You shouldn’t leave a meat thermometer in the turkey since the metal in the probe conducts heat into the turkey, which will give you a false reading.

If you want to leave it in, you should double-check the temp with an instant-read thermometer.

How do you calibrate a Goodcook thermometer?

Calibrating a thermometer will only require a few minutes of your time. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get a glass and fill it with ice. Then pour cold water over it.
  2. Stir the water with ice and leave it for 3 minutes.
  3. After 3 minutes, stir again and insert the meat thermometer into the glass. Make sure that it doesn’t touch any of the sides.
  4. The recommended temperature at this point should be 32 F. Record and compare the differences to determine if your thermometer is accurately displaying the temperature.

How to use a Farberware meat thermometer

If you have the Farberware meat thermometer, here are the steps on how to use this device:

  1. Thaw the meat or poultry before placing the thermometer, except for ground meats.
  2. Preheat the oven.
  3. Attach the thermometer to the meat and place it on the thickest portion. The stem must be inserted at least an inch into the poultry or meat, but it must not touch the gristle or bone.
  4. When you place the meat in the oven, position it in such a way that you can easily read the thermometer.
  5. When the desired temperature range is reached, remove the meat or poultry from the oven.

Is it okay to leave the thermometer in the meat while cooking?

Certain thermometers can be attached to the meat in the cooking process.

But this isn’t the case for digital thermometers that are “instant read.” This type of thermometer only registers the temperature when you place it in the meat. It must not be left in the meat while it’s cooking.

How do you use a eat Polder meat thermometer?

The Polder is the type of thermometer that must be inserted into the meat while cooking.
Here’s how to use it:

  1. Insert batteries into the thermometer’s battery compartment.
  2. Set the thermometer’s temperature according to the meat that you plan on roasting.
  3. Insert the probe thermometer about 2 inches into the middle of the meat. Make sure the probe doesn’t touch the meat’s gristle or bone.
  4. Place the meat in the oven while the thermometer is in it.
  5. Closely monitor the meat while it’s roasting. The display of the thermometer will register the temperature reading as it rises.
  6. Once the meat reaches the desired temperature, the thermometer will start beeping. That’s when you take the meat out.

Related : How to smoke a turkey on a pellet grill

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.