How to Measure the Temperature of a Cooking Pan (the right way)?

The temperature of the pan not only determines how your food ends up tasting but also affects the way your food appears and even smells.

It is important to realize that different cooking techniques require pans to reach different temperature levels.

This is why you must learn how to measure the temperature of a pan accurately if you want to take your culinary skills to the next level.

This will allow you to use different techniques in your cooking to achieve the desired results.

Let’s find out how you can measure the temperature of a pan and why it is important to do so.

How Can You Measure the Temperature of Your Cooking Pan?

You can easily measure the temperature of a pan before you add any food into it by using an infrared thermometer.

Infrared thermometers are specially designed to measure the temperature of an object from a safe distance and this makes them perfect for this job.

To measure the temperature of your pan, the first thing you need to do is to place your pan on the stove and let it heat.

After this, we suggest you add a little bit of cooking oil on the pan to ensure that heat emits from the surface of the pan properly.

After this, all you have to do is switch on your infrared thermometer and point it perpendicularly towards your frying pan. The device will then measure the surface temperature of your pan and show an accurate reading on its small display screen.

Simple Tips to Use an Infrared Thermometer Correctly

An infrared thermometer is a fairly simple device to use at home.

Read the tips explained below to be able to use it correctly.

Always Place Your Infrared Thermometer Perpendicular to the Surface

For the most accurate measurements, you should hold your infrared thermometer’s lens directly perpendicular to the surface. This will give you the most accurate reading of the surface’s temperature.

Clean Your Infrared Thermometer Regularly

Another useful tip to get accurate readings from your infrared thermometer is to keep it clean.

Your infrared thermometer must remain free from any build-up of dirt or moisture. Otherwise, it will start to show incorrect readings as the lens opening on it will become clogged by dirt.

For this reason, we suggest you clean your thermometer after you expose it to smoky or humid conditions. Also, make it a practice to clean it thoroughly after every 6 months so that the opening stays free of debris.

The Benefits of Using an Infrared Thermometer

There are many benefits of using an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of your pan.

Infrared Thermometers are designed to Measure Surface Temperature

The main reason why infrared thermometers are just right for measuring the temperature of a pan is that they specifically measure the surface temperature of an object.

The surface of your frying pan is what comes into contact with the food you cook in it. It is also this area that emits the heat waves into your food in order to cook it.

This means the surface temperature of your pan is what alone affects your cooking. This is why an infrared thermometer is a perfect device for measuring a pan’s temperature because it gives you the exact information you need.

You Can Measure the Temperature of Your Pan without Touching It

The first thing that comes to mind when trying to measure the temperature of a hot pan is a person’s safety. Since frying pans can be very hot, you need a device that will allow you to keep your distance from the pan to protect yourself from the high heat.

This is why infrared thermometers are ideal for this job because you can use them to measure the temperature of your hot pan without having to touch it.

All you have to do is point this device towards your pan from a safe distance to get a quick reading of its temperature.

Infrared Thermometers Give a Reading Quickly

Another important benefit of using an infrared thermometer is that it gives readings quickly. Infrared thermometers offer the utmost convenience and speed. This makes them highly suitable for use in the kitchen while you are cooking.

When you are cooking food, you often don’t have a lot of time on your hands. You are usually multitasking to save time.

This is why you need a device that will keep up with your speed in the kitchen. An infrared thermometer is perfect for this because it will typically give you a temperature reading within a fraction of a second.

This way, you don’t waste any of your valuable time in measuring the temperature of a pan and can continue cooking as normal.

Some Drawbacks of Infrared Thermometers

While thermometers are amazing at giving you an accurate reading of surface temperatures quickly, they also come with certain drawbacks.

Knowing about the drawbacks of infrared thermometers will give you a better idea of how you can use them. This can help you decide if they’re worth buying for you or not.

Infrared Thermometers Can Not Measure the Internal Temperature of Food

As explained earlier, infrared thermometers only measure the surface temperatures of objects. They cannot be used in the kitchen to measure the internal temperature of food.

This means that you cannot use an infrared thermometer to check the doneness of your food. In order to determine the internal temperature of your food, you need a traditional probe thermometer instead.

This shows us that infrared thermometers are not multipurpose devices as their use is quite limited.

Readings on an Infrared Thermometer Are Affected by the Emissivity of the Object

To explain the concept of emissivity we will give you an example of light reflection on a mirror. A mirror instantly reflects all the light directed towards it whereas a wooden object does not. Now think of heat emission as a similar process to light reflection.

Different objects emit heat at different rates regardless of their internal temperature. This means that even when an object is at a high temperature internally, it may not be emitting enough heat. This low emission of heat would lead to a lower reading showing on an infrared thermometer.

Because of this reason, infrared thermometers do not give accurate readings when used to measure materials with low emissivity. Such materials include pans made of aluminum and stainless steel.

Fortunately, this setback can be minimized as many modern infrared thermometers now come with adjustable emissivity settings.

This feature allows you to adjust the settings of your infrared thermometer according to the surface the temperature of which you are measuring.

As a result, your infrared thermometer’s readings will become more accurate as they will be adjusted for the emissivity of every surface.

Why is the Temperature of a Pan So Important?

You may have noticed that the recipes you read online usually mention specific temperature ranges that your pan should reach to cook a certain dish.

They clearly state that it is essential for your pan to reach the mentioned temperature before you can begin cooking. Have you ever wondered why these recipes stress on the temperature of a pan so much?

We’ll explain to you exactly why that is so with the help of a few examples below.

Your Pan Must be Properly Heated to Sear Steaks and Chops Quickly

When you are trying to sear pork chops correctly, you need to make sure the pan is at a high temperature before you place the chops on it.

A properly preheated hot frying pan is the key to searing. This is the only way to get that beautiful golden brown crust on pork chops.

On the other hand, if you place the pork chops on a pan that isn’t hot enough yet, the chops will taste and look a lot different. In the beginning, the pork chops will simply sit there waiting for the pan to heat up.

After some time when the cooking pan slowly starts to heat up, you will notice juices from the pork chops leaking out.

Then, when the frying pan finally reaches higher temperatures, these juices from the chops will start to boil away and evaporate. As a result, your pork chops will be steaming on the pan rather than searing on it. The pork chops will lose their juicy flavor and start to look gray and dull.

This will ruin their taste completely. Overall tender cuts of meat generally need to be cooked quickly at higher temperatures. Placing them on a cold pan will only prolong their cooking time and this can turn the meat tough.

Hence, we suggest you make sure your pan is properly heated before you begin searing such cuts of meat.

Your Pan has to be Hot Enough to Sauté Vegetables Correctly

Sautéing is another technique in cooking that requires your pan to be properly heated to get the best results.

If you place your vegetables on a cool pan, then they will get steamed instead of sautéed. As a result, they will become overcooked, dull, and mushy as they were on the pan for too long waiting for it to heat up.

Instead, if you add vegetables on a hot pan then they will get cooked quickly and be crispy in texture.

The shorter cooking time will also let them retain their bright colors, freshness, and natural taste. This is why you must always remember to use a hot pan for sautéing.

The examples above show us the importance of cooking at the right temperature. Just like the ingredients of a recipe and their quantities, the temperature of your pan also has an impact on the outcome of your cooking. Different cooking techniques have their own specific temperature requirements.

This is why it is crucial for you to follow the temperature guidelines given in a recipe in order to cook that dish correctly.

It is the only way you are going to achieve the results you are aiming for in the first place. Otherwise, if the frying pan is not hot enough then the same recipe will not give you the desired results. Last Few Words

We hope this article has been useful in helping you learn how to measure the temperature of a pan. Overall, the process is quite simple and just involves the use of an infrared thermometer.

An infrared thermometer is a highly valuable device in this situation as it allows you to measure the temperature of a hot pan from a safe distance. This way you get the job done with ease and convenience without putting yourself at the risk of getting burnt.

Now that you finally know the perfect device to measure the temperature of a pan, we hope you use it regularly in your kitchen to improve your cooking.

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