An affordable timer and thermometer in one, with an extremely well-designed probe clip and a long cord.
We’d love it if the timer counted up as well as down; the included temperature chart is plain wrong.
This is really the only timer and thermometer you need, combined into one gadget. Very handy functions, and we love the price.
A good thermometer can save the hides of novice and experienced cooks alike. It can alert you to that precise moment when a roast chicken has reached a safe cooked temperature but hasn’t yet gotten as dry as sofa batting, and tell you when that custard ice cream base has reached the right degree of cooked before it curdles. A thermometer you grab in the cookware aisle of the supermarket? Chances are it’ll rattle around in your gadget drawer until the calibration drifts away from accuracy. We recommend buying something with more precision and better engineering, but do you really need to spend $200? How about a tool that costs a tenth as much? For an answer, we turned to housewares manufacturer Polder.
As the name suggests, Polder’s Classic Digital Thermometer/Timer is a twofer: a probe thermometer and a timer. The countdown timer (maximum duration: 24 hours) works even if you’re not using the thermometer. Of course, it works with the thermometer, too, so you can set it to cook at a certain temperature for a specified stretch of time. It has a range of 32 to 392 degrees Fahrenheit (it also reads in Celsius) and a five-minute alarm, so there’s a good chance you’ll hear it even if you’re drifting in and out of the kitchen. There’s a memory feature that saves the last temperature. It has a flip-top display and a magnetic mount so you can pop it onto your range front or the side of the fridge. The probe is fitted with a pan clip that zigzags in a way that points the probe away from the side of a pan, and, best of all, it has an extra-long high-heat silicone cord (43 inches). It’s powered by a AAA battery (one’s included), and carries a one-year limited warranty. It comes with a USDA food temperature cooking chart to help you determine the proper settings.
We put the Classic Digital Thermometer/Timer through a total of six tests. To check the calibration, we performed basic checks of ice water and boiling water. Next, we used it to determine the finished temperature of both a roasted whole chicken and a couple of split ducks. Finally, we did slightly more complicated testing via a roasted pork loin and one braised in milk on the stovetop.
Ice water: Accurately temped at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Boiling water: Accurately temped at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roasted chicken: We stuck the probe in the thigh of a whole chicken that we placed in a cold oven, programming the alarm to go off when the temperature reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The alarm sounded, we let the chicken rest, and then cut into a perfectly cooked bird.
Duck halves: We stuck the probe in the thigh of a butterflied, bone-in duck and set it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, nice results.
Roasted pork loin: We cooked our roast at two different oven temps, starting at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, later 350. We set the thermometer to go off at 145 degrees Fahrenheit and it did, yielding a beautifully cooked roast.
Braised pork loin: We used the Polder on a pork loin in a covered Dutch oven on the stovetop, set to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Success, plus we loved not having to constantly open the lid to check on it.
General stuff: We love this tool for the way it can replace a candy/deep-fry thermometer and still let you know when your roast is done. The design of the probe clip is perfect: It angles the probe at the right degree to get an accurate reading, even in a small saucepan. Plus, if you’re deep-frying, you can walk away and hear the timer signal when your oil is ready. The display is nice and big, and the cord stays cool (though the probe itself gets quite hot). In all, this has tons of useful features for the price. Only thing that’s janky here is the accompanying chart, which has unreliable cook temps for a range of meats. Just toss it.
Photos by Chris Rochelle