Since meat thermometers vary in terms of technology, design, and price, finding a great match for your grilling and smoking needs can be tricky. We made this guide to simplify the process and to showcase the best meat thermometers on the market today.
Why buy a meat thermometer?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional chef or a home cook. You should add a meat thermometer to your kitchen. The adage “It’s better to be safe than sorry” applies here. A meat thermometer will guarantee that each dish is safe for consumption to prevent foodborne illness, and it will even prevent you from overcooking your meat. Some folks like to cut into their meat to check that it’s done, but that allows the juices and flavors to escape and thus, turns your meat dry. Using a meat thermometer won’t affect the look or taste of your meat, and it’s super easy to use.
What should you look for in a meat thermometer?
- Accuracy: Cooking your meat until it’s reached a safe internal temperature is imperative for food safety. Thus, a high-quality meat thermometer should be accurate and ready to use right out of the box. While a great meat thermometer will maintain its accuracy over time, some models will allow you to recalibrate them in the event that their accuracy should ever falter.
- Functionality: Beginners who are new to grilling and smoking meats can really benefit from smart meat thermometers. This is because they can often provide more in the way of step-by-step instructions to ensure that you flip, remove, and rest your meat at the appropriate time. Additionally, leave-in thermometers can be very handy, as they allow you to record a piece of meat’s temperature without opening your grill or smoker and allowing heat to escape.
- Durability: Since various parts of your meat thermometer will be coming into contact with extreme heat and liquids, make sure that your thermometer is heat-resistant and waterproof. Even conventional instant-read thermometers should be durable to ensure that you won’t have to replace the product after dropping it on the floor.
Which type of meat thermometer is best for you?
Instant-read thermometers are easy to operate, and they give immediate, accurate readings, but they’re meant to be used toward the end of cooking. They should ideally have a very quick response time so that you don’t have to leave the oven door open for too long when you check the temperature. This type of thermometer is great for roasting turkeys, baking casseroles, and cooking up steaks.
A probe thermometer can be left in your piece of meat for the entirety of the cooking process. They usually come with a heatproof cord and reader, which sits outside of your grill or oven and doubles as a timer. Some also have cordless probes that connect to an app to give you periodic updates. This type of thermometer is great for cooking turkeys, for using in smokers, or for any other high-heat situations where the meat will be cooking for a long time.
Kizen Digital Instant-Read Meat Thermometer
This easy-to-use meat thermometer features a bright LCD display and fast and accurate temperature readings.
Pros: This instant-read meat thermometer provides accurate temperature readings within seconds and features a large, illuminated LCD screen for easy-to-read temperatures in Fahrenheit or Celsius, so you can clearly read the screen whether it’s day or night. Batteries and even spare batteries are included. It has a built-in magnet, so you can store it easily on the oven or grill. It comes in three cool colors, and it’s small so that you can take it with you anywhere. Unlike similarly priced digital meat thermometers, this one can be recalibrated to ensure accuracy.
Cons: Some users have been disappointed by the quality of this product, as it’s been known to get damaged easily if not taken care of. This product is advertised as waterproof, but some users reported breaks after a few handwashing sessions.
Bottom Line: This is a super convenient thermometer for the price you pay. Its quick and accurate readings make it a perfect tool for those who smoke their meats and don’t want to keep the door open for too long. However, it’s not the most durable kitchen gadget.
Yummly Premium Wireless Smart Meat Thermometer
This leave-in smart meat thermometer features a manual mode for experienced cooks and easy-to-use cooking presets that provide simple instructions for amazing results.
Pros: This product works for a variety of proteins, including fish, and is also perfectly suited for a wide variety of cooking methods. Beginner cooks and grill masters will appreciate the cooking presets, which give clear step-by-step instructions so that you remember to adjust the heat and flip and rest the meat when the internal temperature reaches an appropriate level. Basically, this device will make cooking and grilling a whole lot easier with its intuitive app. The Bluetooth connectivity is also reliable, and it comes with a nifty charging dock.
Cons: The price is a bit steep for a meat thermometer. There’s a lot of work to do to set up the app, so if you’re not tech-savvy or if you don’t have a lot of patience, then this product might not be for you. Because you’re relying on technology and Bluetooth, connectivity will occasionally drop, so this can be a problem, especially if you’re in the middle of cooking a roast. It’s also not the best meat thermometer if you’re thinking of using it with your smoker or for long cooking sessions, as the batteries might run out.
Bottom Line: This meat thermometer is extremely intuitive and convenient. There have been complaints about connectivity and the batteries running out, but if you have the money and are well-versed in technology, then this meat thermometer shouldn’t bring you trouble.
Inkbird Bluetooth Wireless BBQ Thermometer
This Bluetooth thermometer features four probes, accurate temperature readings, and a nifty app that helps you keep tabs on your meat from up to 50 yards away.
Pros: This meat thermometer includes three meat probes and an ambient probe. It provides reliable, accurate readings as well as any product on the market. Its 40-hour battery life is perfect for most people’s BBQ needs, and the loud alarm and 150-foot Bluetooth range are an absolute necessity, given how much time you’ll spend away from your meat while it’s cooking low and slow.
Cons: If you don’t have either an iPhone or Android, then this device won’t work for you. The LED display screen on the thermometer leaves a lot to be desired, as it’s not very visible at night or under direct sunlight. Much like the previous device, this one uses Bluetooth, so connectivity problems might occur. Some users have also found that the probes aren’t all calibrated the same, so it’s hard to get the same exact temperature.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a reliable and accurate thermometer for your smoker, look no further. It’s very easy to use, set up, and read. The long probes are a great feature, but since there are four, it can be difficult to get an exact temperature for each of them. The Bluetooth connection might unexpectedly get lost, but overall, this is a great meat thermometer for BBQs and smokers.
OXO Good Grips Chef's Precision Digital Leave-In Thermometer
This easy-to-use thermometer features a long, stainless steel cord and plenty of presets for perfectly cooked meat and fish.
Pros: This device from OXO features similar functionality to some of the top smart meat thermometers out there without the need to download an app or break the bank. This thermometer sports an easy-to-use interface and a long, durable, stainless steel cord that’s safe for grills, ovens, and broilers. It features a 24-hour timer as well as USDA- and chef-recommended cooking presets.
Cons: The alarm is quiet, so stay close or you might miss it and overcook your meat. The probe can sometimes be difficult to remove from the meat as well.
Bottom Line: If you cook a lot and like a variety of meats, then this is a must-have simply because of its versatility. The alarm on the device is quiet, so be sure to stay close, but this is a great choice for cooks who wish to take a more active role in their grilling experience.
ThermoPro Digital Meat Thermometer
This meat thermometer is super easy to use and to handle under tremendous heat.
Pros: The simplicity of this meat thermometer is admirable. The super-long stainless steel probe will keep your hands from burning, which is a definite plus. You can also lock the temperature so that the reading won’t change after pulling the probe out of the meat. The backlight LCD display screen is easy to read in the dark, and batteries are included as well.
Cons: Because it’s so inexpensive, it won’t last forever. The same goes for the batteries and the screen. Some users also found the screen to be too small and hard to read.
Bottom Line: If you’re not a serious cook but need a reliable and affordable meat thermometer to get temperature readings in just a few seconds, then we recommend this thermometer. The long probe is awesome, and it’s very affordable.
Regardless of which meat thermometer you decide to purchase, pick one that’s best suited to your cooking needs and that will give you perfectly cooked poultry, fish, pork, lamb, and beef every time you cook.