ThermoWorks Miniature Needle Probe Review

This is Ashley’s husband again with yet another review from the good people at ThermoWorks. I love this company! You may recall that I have reviewed two products from them already and they remain two of my very favorite cooking tools. The first was the Thermapen, which is the incredibly fast and accurate thermometer used by food safety inspectors, television cooks, and home cooks alike. I must admit this remains my very favorite and most used product from the company. I would recommend a good, instant read digital thermometer to anyone that cooks and this one is the best of the best. {Insert from Ashley: Through Labor Day ThermoWorks is having a HUGE sale on the Thermapen!!  They’re calling it their Buddy Sale.  When you buy 2 or more Thermapens you’ll only pay $80 for each one.  Regularly $96!  Expires Labor Day 9/3/12.  Visit ThermoWorks for more information.}


The second product I received was the TW8060 two-channel thermocouple. This is another great product that I use quite often. If you read the review of the TW8060 two-channel thermocouple you may recall that the the TW8060 is a 2-channel thermocouple alarm thermometer that works with a large variety of K type probes sold by Thermoworks. Less technically, the TW8060 is the thermometer and display (and other functions) where you can monitor the temperatures of two different probes at once and the probes are detachable and interchangeable. Thermoworks sells hundreds of different types of probes you can choose from depending on the intended use.


For the original review they gave me two probes to review along with it: the crocodile clip probe which is used to monitor the temperature inside your oven, grill, or smoker; and the smokehouse probe which is a leave-in thermometer used to measure the temperature of a thick cut of meat. These probes were both wonderful and I use them often. I use the crocodile clip probe every single time I use the grill for closed lid, indirect cooking. Since my grill doesn’t have a thermostat like the oven does it’s the only way to maintain a constant temperature for low and slow cooking. I just keep the lid shut, monitor the temperature (the TW8060 has alarms to help with this) and tweak the dials on my gas grill as needed. It almost feels like cheating but some people need all the help they can get! The smokehouse probe I use somewhat less often because I usually don’t cook chunks of meat that large, but when I do it is as essential a tool as the crocodile clip probe.


Grilling Chicken


But what about when I’m grilling something smaller like chicken breasts? I tried the smokehouse probe for that a few times and it did work but the probe is really not designed for small pieces of meat like that and it leaves quite a big hole for juices to escape. This brings me to the current review. We got a new probe to review that is aptly named the “miniature needle probe”. This probe has quickly become a real favorite of mine. As the name implies this probe is quite thin (0.06” diameter!). This looks as thin as a hypodermic needle. Not only have I used this as a leave in probe for chicken breasts, I’ve even used it as a leave in probe for thin tilapia filets (going in from the side). Yes, it is that thin! If I felt like I was cheating before, using the crocodile clip to monitor the grill temperature, I really feel like I’m cheating now. Delicious, succulent cheating. With a cooking diary, grill temperature monitor, and a thin leave in meat thermometer you are pretty much guaranteeing yourself consistent results.


One of the surprising things about this probe is that even though it is designed to be a leave in probe, it is actually instant read as well. In fact it gives a 2 second reading (yes, that is faster than the Thermapen!). This doesn’t really replace the Thermapen, though, since the Thermapen is still much more convenient to handle and use for checking temps instantly. You could use it as an instant read if you really wanted to but it would be a bit of a bother fiddling with the wires and hooking it up to the TW8060 as opposed to just pulling the Thermapen out and flipping open the probe. They go great together though. You can leave the miniature needle probe in one piece of meat at a time and monitor the temperature of that piece to give you an idea of how your meat is cooking but then you would still want to do a quick temperature check on the other pieces with your Thermapen to make sure it’s all done and not just the one piece.


Grilling Steak


I initially wanted this probe for grilling chicken breasts slowly with indirect heat but I have found many other uses for it since then. As I have mentioned, I have used it for tilapia filets on the grill and I’ve also used it for thick ribeyes using Meathead’s reverse sear method. Just be sure to remove the miniature needle probe before you get to the searing step since it is only rated up to 482 F and the higher searing temperatures will likely damage the probe. The probe is probably not long enough (2” and 3.5” models are available) to get to the center of a pork loin or brisket, so you will still want a smokehouse probe if you plan to use the TW8060 for that, however the miniature needle probe would work great with a small ham or a roast.


Baking Bread


But the miniature needle probe isn’t limited to grilling or even to meat. Another use that I love is for bread baking. I love baking sourdough loaves and one indicator of the doneness is the bread’s internal temperature (although it is not the only indicator). To use my miniature needle bread for bread baking I first bake the bread for about 20 minutes so it can hold the thermometer without tearing and then I insert the probe into the center of the bread from the side. The hole it leaves is tiny and barely noticeable. It’s so small I have even used it to check the doneness of miniature blueberry muffins in a similar manner!


Another surprising use that I love is for baking potatoes. Baked potatoes are more forgiving than some foods but there is a somewhat fine margin of fluffy, moist perfection that lies between a hard, undercooked baked potato and an overcooked, dried out potato and the best way to find that margin of perfection is by the internal temperature. Ever cook a baked potato for the recommended time at the recommended temperature only to cut it open and it’s still hard in the center? Potatoes are different sizes and they won’t always cook exactly the same. The time and temperature that worked last time might not work this time. Find the internal temperature that you love and cook it until it hits that temperature and you won’t ever be surprised by the result. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out how you like the skin and modifying the oven temperature each time you bake a potato until you find one that gives you a skin that you love. The different temperatures will result in different baking times but if you are relying on the internal temperature to determine doneness you won’t have to worry about it. As with the bread I do partially bake the potato before inserting the probe because it’s easier to insert.


One other ideal use for this particular probe is a cooking technique called sous vide.  I just read an article on ThermoWorks’ blog about it recently and it is very interesting.  It does require some equipment in addition to the miniature needle probe:  a thermal circulator that can accurately maintain a constant temperature in water and a vacuum sealer.  We have a vacuum sealer but don’t have thermal circulator so I haven’t actually ever tried this but would like to sometime.


If you do a simple web search (e.g. internal temperature of baked potato) for just about any food you can find the ideal internal temperature. Use that as your starting point and then see what you like and adjust as needed. Keep track of it and with great thermometers you will have great, consistent results.

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About Ashley

Ashley is very happily married and the mother to a beautiful little girl, and she is the main voice behind Embracing Beauty.


  1. Beeb Ashcroft says

    That is a great idea to use this for a baked potato!! I get so frustrated when I cook them for the right amount of time and they’re still hard!

    • Oh, yes! I love baked potatoes but I was constantly frustrated by the inconsistent cooking times. The rest of dinner would be ready and the potatoes would finish cooking 30 minutes later. 🙁

  2. Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell says

    As I was reading, I was thinking I wouldn’t really have use for it with meat, but then you got into the bread and baked potato talk so I started to realize just how handy this could be. Thanks!

    • Those are my thoughts exactly! He handles the meat but it’s nice to know that I can use it for things too.

  3. Brett Martin says

    hey this looks cool. also looks like a very cool holiday gift for folks who love to cook!

    • Yes, this will definitely top my recommendations for men in my Christmas Gift Guide. …and maybe I’ll be buying a few as gifts. 😉

  4. This is a neat kitchen gadget.

  5. Patti Purelli says

    This looks like such a cool little gadget~I want one!! I also want Michael to come cook for me some night, lol ~ This would also make a perfect gift for someone like my sister and her husband who have everything!

    • We’d love to have you over for dinner if you just lived a few hours closer. 🙂 If you’re ever in the area stop by!

  6. Wow I could definitely see this getting a lot of use in my home. I didn’t realize baked potatoes had a proper temp. I just poke a huge fork in them lol yeah not pretty when you come to my home for dinner haha. I’ll have to look into this further, great thorough review!

  7. Danielle F says

    Awesome gadget! My husband would love this too 🙂

  8. Tesa @ 2 Wired 2 Tired says

    What a great idea and I love the peace of mind it gives you to know your meat is fully cooked.

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