A kitchen timer helps guarantee success in the kitchen—but only if it’s reliable and easy to use.
Published June 30, 2021. Appears in Cook's Country TV Season 15: Chuck Roast and Potatoes
The best kitchen timers are simple and easy to read and hear, with clearly labeled buttons, big digital screens, and alerts that are audible and/or visible from across the room. They often have extra features (such as stopwatch functions and memory settings) or adjustable settings to increase their usefulness. We especially like two models. The ThermoWorks Extra Big & Loud Timer is our top pick for cooks who want to track only one thing at a time. For cooks who want the ability to track multiple things with one timer, we recommend the OXO Good Grips Triple Timer.
You can use the timers on your smartphone, smart speaker, oven, or microwave—but there are good reasons to have a dedicated kitchen timer. Unlike most of the alternatives, a timer can be carried into another room so that it’s always visible and within earshot. A kitchen timer is also often easier to set than the timers on appliances, and you don’t have to worry about dirtying your phone with food.
We prefer digital models to old-fashioned dial-face timers because they tend to be more precise, easier to set, and easier to read. The simplest digital models track a single set time and beep when that time is up. Most are considerably more complex. Many are “multiple-event,” which means they can track multiple times simultaneously. Most can count up (like a stopwatch) in addition to down. It’s also common for timers to have adjustable volume settings (sometimes including a silent setting) and flashing lights so that there’s a visual alert, too.
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Kate is a deputy editor for ATK Reviews. She's a culinary school graduate and former line cook and cheesemonger.