From Season 11: Fall Favorites
Everybody in the test kitchen fights over our favorite instant-read thermometer, but its near three-digit price tag ($96) demands a cheaper alternative. However, our Best Buy isn't up to speed with its 47-second read time. To find a replacement, we ran core tests on seven new $35-and-under models—temping ice water, boiling water, and pan-seared chicken breasts—to assess their accuracy, response time, and design.
When the last readout flashed on the screen, we had a tie. One model read temperatures accurately in 14 seconds. Its long, narrow probe easily slipped horizontally inside chicken breasts; its head felt comfortable and was easy to grip; and the sturdy buttons impressed testers. However, three flaws must be noted: This thermometer cannot be calibrated, does not automatically shut off, and only reads temperatures up to 302—so no deep-frying with this model. The other winner maxes out at 450 degrees and turns off after 11 minutes. While neither can compete with the speed and design of the Thermapen, both offer a fine alternative at a much lower cost. (Plus, their response times leave the Redi-Chek in the dust.)
Victorinox (formerly Victorinox Forschner) 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
|★ ★ ★||★ ★ ★||$19.95|
Wüsthof Classic Boning Knife
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasnt sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|★ ★||★ ★ ★||$99.95|
|Recommended with Reservations|
Mundial Boning Knife: Flexible
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
|★ ★||★ ★||$19.95|
Shun Gokujo Filet Knife
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
MAC Boning KnifeChef Series
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
Messermeister San Moritz Elite Flexible Boning Knife
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.