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Using Your Steam Oven Temperature Probe to Cook Meat

A steam oven temperature probe is commonly supplied as an accessory when you purchase your oven. They’re a very handy thing to have, but I’ve found over the years that they’re rarely used because many of you aren’t sure what to do with them. 

Using your steam oven’s temperature probe is actually very straightforward and unbelievably helpful for cooking so many dishes, especially roasted meats. Take this as a push to dig yours out of the back of your kitchen drawers and cook something with it!

(No probe? No worries! Get yourself an instant-read digital thermometer instead. You won’t be able to plug it into the oven and have it tell you when your food’s done, but you can still use it to check temps and improve the accuracy of your cooking.)

Arm yourself with your probe and the information below, and download my meat temperatures chart at the end of this article. You’ll be well on your way to perfectly cooked meat every time. 

This article first appeared in the Steam Oven Insiders Newsletter, Vol. 14. Read the newsletter in full or go to the linked recipe and method for Classic Roast Beef.

What does the temperature probe do?

Think of your temperature probe as just that: something to read the temperature of the food you probe it into. 

It’s like any other thermometer probe device, but in the case of one that’s integrated into your steam oven’s operation, it’ll keep track of your food’s internal temperature and switch off the oven (or sound a timer alarm, or both) when the desired temperature is reached. That’s very handy, especially if you aren’t exactly sure how long your food will take to cook. 

Steam ovens reduce the cooking time of a lot of foods, especially roasted and steamed meats. Even for experienced cooks, it can be hard to judge when they ‘should’ be done because the added humidity throws conventional oven timings off. A temperature probe takes the guesswork out of the equation. 

It’s definitely not necessary to cook with a temperature probe, but using one can make your roasting and baking more consistent and accurate. 

When to use the temperature probe

The main benefit of using the temperature probe is for roasting meat, however I also use mine for steaming large whole fish or chickens, and for determining the doneness of cakes and breads. Baked goods don’t vary in cooking times as much as animal proteins in a steam oven, but they do still cook a little faster than in a conventional oven. 

It’s important to note that in the case of bread you’ll end up with a hole in the loaf where the probe sat. It’s not a huge thing but not ideal for presentation. 

For cakes, the probe can be quite useful, however I always wait to insert it until the cake is almost done. Most cake batters aren’t sturdy enough to keep the probe in place when they’re raw. If the probe sinks to the bottom of the cake you won’t get an accurate temp reading, not to mention you’ll have both probe and wire to pull out of your finished cake, which will take chunks of your baked goods with it!

Plugging in and using your temperature probe

I’m not going to give you brand-by-brand lessons on how to plug in your temperature probe, as they’re all much the same. Suffice to say, in every steam oven I’ve ever come across, you plug one end of the probe into a connection point inside the oven, the other end pokes into your food and the desired internal temperature is set via the oven’s interface. Most (but not all) appliances will automatically recognize that the probe is plugged in and prompt you to set the temp you want. 

Your oven manual will provide you with the specifics for your model if you’re unfamiliar with the probe, as well as any limitations for use (for instance, with most ovens you can only use the temp probe on certain functions and settings).

It’s worth noting that the temperature setting of the probe is NOT the same as the oven settings you use for cooking. You still heat the oven to whatever temperature you want to cook at, or whatever your recipe says. You still set your oven’s steam or humidity level. The probe is just there to make sure you’re alerted when the food reaches the right temperature. 

The Internal Temperature Guide for Roasting Meat (bonus download)

Here’s the real meat of this article! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

Download this printable chart and you’ll never have to Google ‘what internal temperature should I cook [insert meat type here] to?’ Just click on the image or the button below to download the file, and save to your device or print it out.

These are the temps I use in my own kitchen; they’re standards for the major types of meat we cook in Western kitchens. Plug in your probe and set your temperature based on the chart, and you’re away!

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