Can You Actually Trust A Built-In Oven Thermometer?

When you set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to cook your meal, you expect the internal temperature to reach and stay at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Accurate temperatures are important for making sure dishes come out the way they were intended. You may be surprised, however, to find that every oven is different. The true temperature of your oven might be significantly different than the number that your display shows you.

According to America's Test Kitchen, the oven temperature we most often rely on is based on the temperature at the spot of the oven where the thermometer is located. This specific location is not necessarily near where your food will be cooking. Oven hot spots can contribute to temperature variations, meaning even more inconsistencies.

It's safe to say your built-in oven thermometer should at least be double-checked. If it's deemed unreliable, what can be done? Luckily, you won't have to get a brand-new oven — there's a much easier solution to save your next batch of brownies from overcooking.

Oven thermometers to the rescue

The difference between the displayed temperature and the actual temperature of your oven can be as much as 50 degrees (via Martha Stewart). Baking your dishes at incorrect temperatures can lead to underbaked goodies or dishes that burn quickly.

The best solution for combatting varying oven temperatures is investing in a quality oven thermometer (via Food52). These handy devices, which vary in style, can be placed in the center of your oven where the food is being cooked to give you the most accurate temperature. From this point, you can adjust your oven's dial until the true temperature matches what it should be.

Alternatively, some ovens offer you the opportunity to calibrate the temperature. That is, you can test the actual temperature against the perceived temperature and set them to match one another. This can be done by manipulating the dial or as an electronic oven setting (via Whirlpool).

While it's normal for oven temperatures to vary, you'll want to seek professional advice about having your oven repaired if you notice an excessive difference. Otherwise, just make sure yours is equipped with an oven thermometer to make your baking adventures run more smoothly.