- If you like to grill or cook meat at home, it’s a good idea to have a probe thermometer on hand.
- The Lavatools Javelin Digital Meat Thermometer is our top pick because it’s intuitive to use, provides fast and accurate measurements, is easy to read, and has a magnet on the back so you can store it on your fridge.
There are plenty of hacks out there for telling if your meat is done. You can cook your chicken until the juices run clear. You might press on your hand as a reference guide for how done your steak is. Or, you may simply slice the cut of meat in half and eyeball it.
All of these methods are valid, but I prefer precision. I want to know the moment my roast reaches a safe internal temperature. If I wait any longer, I fear that I might lose some flavor and juiciness. If perfection is your goal, then a meat thermometer should be an indispensable tool in your culinary repertoire.
Types of meat thermometers
There are two types of meat thermometers that tend to work better than the rest: probe thermometers with cords and digital instant-read thermometers. Instant-read thermometers generally take less than 10 seconds to provide an accurate reading, work well in all sorts of foods, and are not designed to remain in the meat while it’s cooking.
Probe meat thermometers with cords typically cost a bit more but they remain in the food while it’s cooking in the oven, grill, or smoker. And, many of the best models will also alert you when the meat is at the optimal temperature.
Beyond these alternatives, there are analog dial thermometers, thermometer-fork combinations, thermocouples, disposable indicators, and the infamously inaccurate pop-up indicator that comes with your turkey.
We also want to note that ThermoWorks produces many of the highest-rated thermometers, but we didn’t feel their performance justified their exorbitant prices. There are several options that work just as well at a fraction of the price.
Our research into the best meat thermometers involved a close examination of countless reviews from experts. The meat thermometers we chose to include in this guide exhibited a strong track record of accuracy, easy usability, and durability.
Here are the best meat thermometers:
- Lavatools Javelin Digital Meat Thermometer
- Polder Stable-Read Digital Thermometer
- ThermoPro Wireless Remote Meat Thermometer
- Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Digital Meat Thermometer
- iDevices Kitchen Thermometer
Updated on 1/14/2020 by Jen Gushue: Updated links, formatting, and prices.
The best overall
The Lavatools Javelin Digital Meat Thermometer is a low-cost instant-read thermometer that provides quick, accurate readings.
Formerly known as the “Thermowand,” the Lavatools Javelin thermometer is designed to produce readings within four seconds with an accuracy of ±0.9 degrees Fahrenheit with a range of -40 to 482 degrees. The accuracy improves the closer the item you are measuring is to room temperature. The food-grade tapered probe is 2.75 inches long and made of 18/8 stainless steel. The device is covered with an anti-microbial coating to prevent bacterial growth.
The Javelin is available in six colors, including chipotle, butter, sesame, and indigo. It runs on one CR2032 3V battery for at least 4,000 hours of continuous use. Lavatools backs this product with a lifetime warranty.
Wired found it takes only 4-6 seconds to return a stable temperature and the reviewers liked that it is inexpensive. However, the testers didn’t like the short probe length and that the range topped out at 482 degrees. Serious Eats compared this thermometer to the ThermoPop from ThermoWorks and found the Lavatools thermometer has the edge when it comes to cooking thinner cuts of meat but can’t reach the center of large roasts like the ThermoPop can.
Pros: Inexpensive, accurate readings, magnetized for convenient storage, lifetime warranty
Cons: Short probe
The best budget thermometer
If you want to get an accurate internal temperature reading for your meats but don’t want to pay porterhouse prices, consider the Polder Stable-Read Digital Thermometer.
The Polder Stable-Read thermometer provides accurate readings in as little as four seconds. You insert the probe into your roast, press the button, and once you hear the beep, you know a stable temperature is available.
The large, easy-to-read screen holds the reading until you reset it. It measures temperatures ranging from -49 to 392 degrees Fahrenheit and runs on one CR2032 3V battery.
Do be careful when washing the probe. You do not want the electrical components to be exposed to moisture, or they may fail.
Note: For the small price difference, we recommend spending slightly more for our top pick, the Lavatools Javelin thermometer.
Pros: Accurate, fast, inexpensive
Cons: Questionable water resistance
The best high-end thermometer
If you like to cook your meats to precise temperatures and don’t want to let heat out of your oven to get a reading, the ThermoPro Wireless Meat Thermometer is a game-changer.
If you are used to having to open the oven or grill to measure the temperature of your meats, the ThermoPro Wireless Meat Thermometer has the potential to revolutionize your cooking experience.
You simply put one or both probes into your slab of meat, close your oven or grill with the transmitter on the outside, and let the transmitter know the temperature you want your food to reach. An alarm will go off once the meat gets to the right temperature. It comes with a wireless remote that has a range of up to 300 feet and measures temperatures between 32 and 572 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can walk away and prep side dishes or watch the game while your meat comes to temperature. You can also set a timer for up to 100 hours for slow-cooking or smoking processes. Each probe has 40-inch stainless steel mesh cables, so you can reach from afar.
This is the meat thermometer I use for everything: roasting flavorful turkeys, smoking pork butts, and making everything from candy to candles. I usually put both probes into different parts of the meat I’m cooking because I’m not always the best at finding the deepest, most centrally-located part of the roast, which is ideally where you should be taking your temperature readings.
You may find it more useful to use one of the probes to monitor the internal temperature of your oven or smoker. Once everything is set up, you just affix the remote to your belt.
The ThermoPro TP20 is the top pick in Kitchen Sanity’s look at the best meat thermometers. The tester rated it so highly because of the lifetime sensor probe warranty, it reads temperatures up to 572 degrees, and it notifies you when your food is at the right temperature. The reviewer does note that the transmitter uses up batteries quickly.
Pros: Lifetime probe warranty, alerts you when your food is at temp, can handle extreme heat
Cons: Runs through batteries relatively quickly, expensive
The best for fast readings
With the quick readings and backlit screen of the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Digital Meat Thermometer, you can check the temperature of your roast without letting too much heat escape from your oven.
The Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo costs about twice as much as the Lavatools PT12, but there are several extra features that justify the additional cost. First of all, temperature readings are delivered about a second faster. And at 4.5 inches, the probe is about 1.5-inches longer.
Other benefits include motion-wake, anti-fog display, stabilization alert, and backlighting. Also, the ambidextrous display rotates based on how the screen is positioned, which makes it easier for you to read the temperature. The Pro Duo comes in several colors, including chipotle, indigo, sesame, and stealth ink.
Wirecutter recommended the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo because of its fold-up design, temperature holding, stabilization alerts, and speedy readings. Morning Chores also liked its accuracy, readings within three seconds, stabilization alerts, and energy-efficient battery life. But, the reviewer noted the probe is relatively short and it can be tough to open and close.
Pros: Reads temps in under three seconds, stabilization alerts, folds up and has a magnet for easy storage
Cons: Hard to open and close probe with one hand
The best smart thermometer
The iDevices Kitchen Thermometer allows you to use your smartphone to track the temperatures of two types of meat from up to 150 feet away.
The iDevices Kitchen Thermometer comes with an app and two probes so you can track two separate pieces of meat, different areas of a large roast, or your grill’s ambient temperature on your smartphone from up to 150 feet away via Bluetooth.
The thermometer magnetically mounts to your grill or oven, and when your phone is more than 30 feet away, the display goes blank to conserve battery life. It runs on two AA batteries and has a temperature range of -22 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit.
CNET gave the iDevices Kitchen Thermometer an 8.3 rating out of 10. The reviewer was impressed with how the app alerts you when your meat reaches the ideal temperature but found the app wasn’t particularly well-designed. The thermometer won an “Editors’ Choice” award on PCMag because of the accurate temperature readings and the helpful alerts.
Note: iDevices sold its kitchen thermometer business to Weber in 2016, which markets the digital thermometer products as iGrill, such as the comparable iGrill 2. Although the iDevices Kitchen Thermometer is still available and supported by Weber, we believe it’s being phased out. We will update this recommendation once we find a suitable replacement.
Pros: Comes with an app that tracks temperatures and alerts you when your food is ready, two probes
Cons: Unappealing app design, short warranty
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