ThermoWorks ChefAlarm Cooking Alarm

Avoid over or under-cooking food. ChefAlarm monitors food temperature and sounds the alarm when it's done.

With a probe inserted into whatever I'm grilling or smoking. I know exactly what temperature my food is at. Also, an alarm goes off if the temperature reaches a pre-set number.

This is one of my two favorite cooking tools. The other is the ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4. I use them in combination as follows:

  • The ThermoWorks ChefAlarm tells me what's going on in one piece of meat at one location. Usually I will pick the middle of the thinnest piece of meat (or fish, poultry, etc.), and set a temperature alarm for slightly below what I want to remove the food at. For instance, I might check steak at 120 degrees even though I don't want to pull it off the smoker until 125 degrees. Once the alarm goes off, I grab the Thermapen . . . 
  • The ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 then lets me very quickly check elsewhere on the same piece of meat, and on other pieces, to see how the temperature varies. I can then remove done pieces from the grill, or located them to a cooler spot, while the others continue cooking.

The result is usually that your food turns out pretty much cooked the way you want it.  And considering how much we spend on food, that makes the cost of the cooking alarm well worth it.


Pro-Series probe in a piece of salmon.

Key Features

  • Accurate to within 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Can be fine tuned to +/- 1 degree if you care to.
  • Splash-proof.
  • Back-lit display with large, easy-to-read digits.
  • Loud alarm (adjustable).
  • Magnet on back - will stick to steel surfaces like most grills (not aluminum or stainless steel).
  • Includes a durable Pro-Series probe with a cable that can handle up to 700 degrees.
  • Other probes are available for things like
    • Deep-frying (12" straight probe)
    • Cooking in liquid (waterproof)
    • Measuring air temperature inside your grill or oven (air probe).
  • Comes with a padded zip-up case.
  • 9 pretty colors. Orange matches my motorcycles:)

Other Features (Stuff I Don't Use Often)

  • Low temperature alarm to let you know if your grill or smoker has stopped working.
  • Continuous minimum and maximum temperature readouts.
  • Count-down and count-up timers. I am starting to use the count-up timer to measure overall length of each cook.

The ChefAlarm hard at work monitoring Rosemary-Lemon Chicken in the oven. Chicken started at 35F, but needs to come off (for dark meat) about 175F. I set the alarm for 170F to give me time to check different pieces with my Thermapen MK4.

Usage

  • The food temperature is read at the very tip of the probe. So place the tip into the center of the meat where you want to read temperature. Avoid getting close to bones.
  • While I use my Thermapen MK4 for everything, I don't use my ChefAlarm quite as often. It's reserved for things that go in the grill or oven. Even then, I will often just use my Thermapen if it's something I cook a lot where I know how long it takes. But I always use it for large items such as turkeys, roasts, and pork shoulder.

Downside

  • It's robust, but as you can see, my display has some black lines in it from being dropped at least once too often.
  • The Pro-Series probes are described as more durable than consumer probes, but I've had one go bad on me. That was in about 1.5 years of occasional use. You have to be very careful not to pinch the cables.

Side Note: Other Choices Available

I bought my ChefAlarm in 2015. They have a couple of new alternatives you may also want to look at:

  • DOT - a simpler, less expensive alarm that uses the same high-quality Pro-Series probes as the ChefAlarm. Frankly, simpler is probably better for most people. The ChefAlarm has a number of features that I do not use..
  • Smoke - The other end of the spectrum. More expensive, but includes a wireless remote alarm so you can monitor your food and get alarms while doing important things like cooking or watching TV. Also has 2 channels (probes), so you can monitor internal grill temperature as well as food temperature. May be my next birthday present:)

If I was shopping today, I'd get the Smoke for myself for use on the grill, and the DOT for my wife to use in the oven. She abhors complex electronics, while I have more patience with them.


Shopping Tips

  • Get on the ThermoWorks mailing list so you are notified when they are having a sale. Go to Thermoworks.com.
  • They have good sales on Black Friday and over the holidays. I bought some extra probes for 50% off last year.