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A kitchen timer helps guarantee success in the kitchen—but only if it’s reliable and easy to use.
What We Learned
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.
What You Need to Know
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.
What to Look For
- Accuracy: Fortunately, you don’t have to look very hard to find an accurate timer. Every model we tested was accurate.
- Tilted Display with Large Digits: Timers with tilted displays were the easiest to read; the best models were wedge-shaped or had kickstands. We also preferred screens with big, easy-to-read digits.
- Clear Differentiation Between Events: When using a multiple-event timer, you don’t want to accidentally clear an active event while adjusting another. The screens of the dual, triple, and quad timers we tested displayed each of their events simultaneously. (Previous models we tested required scrolling, which we found untenable.) One model featured separate “set” and “start/stop” buttons for each event. Many of the multiple-event timers also had unique patterns of beeps and/or visual alerts and indications on their screens that helped us differentiate between the events.
- Adjustable Volume Levels: Many models had two or more volume settings, so you can accommodate your personal preferences or adjust to different noise levels in your kitchen. Some could be set to sil...