In 2021, I hit a Thanksgiving home run.
After deciding to brine a turkey for the first time, the results were much better than expected. Guests were happy, compliments were given, and when I learned we were hosting again last year, I figured it’d be easy to replicate the juicy, delicious result.
But I was wrong. Last year’s turkey was a disaster, so overcooked that the thing was pretty much an inedible piece of gristle.
What happened? After reviewing the steps and comparing them to the previous year, I realized I simply left the turkey in my old oven for too long without taking the bird’s temperature. When I did take it out to check it with my old-school thermometer, it had an internal temperature of 200 degrees and was climbing quickly. Experienced hands will know that’s WAY too hot – over 35 degrees hotter than the suggested cooking temperature – and the results were what you’d expect: a turkey was so overcooked it was all but inedible.
Needless to say, this year, I wasn’t taking any chances. I was going to invest in a smart thermometer and keep track of the bird’s temperature in real-time.
Which one? I decided I wanted to go with the Combustion because I liked the idea of keeping an accurate read on the bird’s temperature from core to surface (as well as ambient temperature) via the thermometer’s eight sensors. I also wanted to take advantage of Combustion’s predictive technology, which would give me a countdown and notify me when it would hit the target temperature.
I took the Combustion thermometer out of its bright yellow box on Thanksgiving morning. I’d downloaded the app to my phone a day prior, enabled it to connect via Bluetooth with the Combustion app, and ensured the thermometer was fully charged. I estimated the turkey would take about four hours to cook at 300 degrees (that’s with convection – if I didn’t use convection, I’d have cooked it at 325). I put in a target temperature of 160 degrees, knowing the bird’s core temperature would continue to rise after I took it out of the oven and waited.
After about 30 minutes, the Combustion gave me an estimate for when the turkey would hit my target temperature. Unsurprisingly, it was cooking slightly faster than my initial estimates, but I was prepared because I had the Combustion.
I watched the countdown clock tick downward, and when it hit 160 degrees, the app told me it was time to pull out the turkey. I double-checked the temperature with my old school thermometer and it matched the temperature reading on my Combustion thermometer. I put foil over the bird and let it sit for about 45 minutes before carving it up.
The result? A juicy, just-right turkey.
You’re probably asking why I didn’t use a smart thermometer before, and it’s a good question. The answer is I should have, but I figured at the time I could just do the math myself. As it turns out, however, older ovens can be a bit unpredictable (as can turkey cooking time estimates), and now the Combustion will be a permanent fixture come turkey cooking time.
Could I have used another thermometer? Maybe, as long as it has enough sensors to measure the core, surface, and ambient temperatures. While the original Meater had two sensors, it couldn’t measure core, ambient, and surface temperatures. However, Meater’s latest thermometer, the Meater 2 Plus, has five internal sensors and an ambient sensor, so I figured that would have worked great as well.
But after my experience, I recommend the Combustion predictive thermometer. The company tries to get you to buy the pair of the thermometer and the yellow kitchen clock, but I found the app works just find (and meant less clutter on my counter). You can buy the thermometer by itself right now for $119, or buy the thermometer and clock for $159.