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How to Calibrate your Oven

With the holiday baking season just around the corner, now is the time to make sure your oven is properly calibrated.

With the holiday baking season just around the corner, now is the time to make sure your oven is properly calibrated.

By Julissa Roberts, associate food editor

August 29th, 2011

An oven that doesn’t run true to its temperature setting is unreliable and, more often than not, the cause of disappointing recipe results. With the holiday baking season just around the corner, now is the time to make sure your oven is properly calibrated.

First, buy a new oven thermometer. Some thermometers, especially the dual metal coil types (like the one pictured above), become fatigued over time and lose accuracy. It’s a good idea to replace your thermometer every year.


Position the thermometer in the center of the oven so it’s visible through the window, and heat the oven to 350°F.

Once the oven signals that it’s at temperature, note the thermometer’s reading every 20 minutes without opening the oven door.

When you have four readings, calculate their average by adding and then dividing them by four.

If the average is between 325°F and 375°F, the oven is calibrated. If it’s outside that range, the oven needs adjustment. In this case, consult the owner’s manual. Calibrating some ovens is as simple as turning a screw, but for others, you may have to call a professional to do the job.

posted in: Blogs, baking, calibrate oven
Comments (2)

DiveRat writes: Rats! Typos. I meant to say "If I want to bake at 350, I don't want my oven at 325". Sorry for the confusion. Posted: 10:16 am on January 26th

DiveRat writes: I'm sorry, but I really don't think this post is very useful. I'm commenting because unfortunately your blog entry does shoe up near the top in a search for "How to calibrate your oven". I've calibrated my oven in the past, and today when I searched for a guide to help remind me how to do it, yours came up. I'd like for people searching for this sort of ting to find something more useful.

The first problem I see is that you don't talk about how the calibration is actually done, you just state "Calibrating some ovens is as simple as turning a screw, but for others, you may have to call a professional to do the job". I think that at the least you could refer folks on to another site that talks about how to actually do it. Here's one: http://www.appliance411.com/faq/temperature-calibration.shtml

Second, why advocate buying an old fashioned oven thermometer which may become inaccurate in only a year? Why not get a digital thermometer, put the probe in a baking pan, and keep the readout on the counter where it's handy and easy to read? Your choice, and use whatever you've got, but you might want to at least suggest this option.

I did like the part where you take four readings and average. That's good advice, but why accept such a wide range of average values? If I want to bake at 250, I don't want my oven at 325. That would be unacceptable to me, and modern ovens can easily be adjusted with 5 degree increments. In my experience once they're adjusted they stay pretty darn close. At least subsequent testing with my digital thermometer shows them to be.

Another thing, it might be a good idea to mention that if you line the bottom of your oven with tinfoil to make cleanup easier, that can change the oven's calibration - at least it can in some models. I've seen it do so. It would be wise to recheck calibration if you add or remove a tinfoil lining in your oven.

Cheers,
Steve Posted: 10:12 am on January 26th

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