How to Tell the Temperature of a Dutch Oven
Whether you have a traditional black cast-iron Dutch oven or an enamel-coated one, confirming the temperature inside the oven is extremely important to prevent food-borne illness caused by improperly cooked foods. Confirming the interior oven temperature requires you use some type of thermometer--whether a Dutch oven or grill thermometer or a meat or food thermometer. The type of thermometer used depends on your preference and in some situations the heating method. You can cook outdoors with coals or briquettes below and on top of the Dutch oven or indoors with an electric or gas oven.
Magnetic Dutch Oven or Grill Thermometer
Prepare your outdoor pit with wood or briquettes and a Dutch oven tripod if desired. If cooking indoors, preheat your oven. Prepare your food inside the pot and place it over the fire or, if inside, place it on the middle rack of the oven.
Place a magnetic Dutch or grill oven thermometer face-up on the lid of the oven to measure the internal temperature while cooking. If you’re cooking outdoors, lay coals or briquettes on the lid around the thermometer.
Look at the thermometer periodically to check the internal temperature. Add or remove coals or briquettes, or change the indoor oven temperature setting as needed.
Meat or Food Thermometer
Remove the lid from your Dutch oven while cooking. Set it aside, taking care not to touch the hot surface with your bare hand.
Touch the tip of your meat or food thermometer probe against the food or liquid. Wait at least 10 seconds, then push the probe into the food or liquid. If you're checking thick food or meat, push the tip into the thickest spot without touching bone.
Wait for the arrow on a manual thermometer to move along the dial and stop at a temperature reading or for a temperature to appear on an electronic thermometer display. The amount of time you need to wait will depend on the type of thermometer. Remove the probe and return the lid to the Dutch oven when finished, then adjust your coal or briquettes, or indoor oven temperature, as needed to increase or decrease the Dutch oven temperature.
Repeat periodically to confirm your oven remains at the temperature you need.
- Although some Dutch oven users recommend "feeling" out the temperature, or using a certain number of coals or briquettes outdoors based on the Dutch oven's size to reach the appropriate temperature, never depend on these methods. Outdoor temperatures, wind, the type of food you're cooking and other factors can decrease the internal temperature in your Dutch oven, causing undercooked food.
Based in Southern Pennsylvania, Irene A. Blake has been writing on a wide range of topics for over a decade. Her work has appeared in projects by The National Network for Artist Placement, the-phone-book Limited and GateHouse Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University.