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 your search.
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 ensure 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 consider 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 use 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.
MEATER Plus Smart Meat Thermometer with Bluetooth
With a 165-foot range, this meat thermometer is great for any method of outdoor cooking.
Pros: If you love to use your smart device for everything, then you’re going to love this meat thermometer. It runs on Bluetooth via a free app that’s available for IOS and Android or applicable tablets. And when connected to Wi-Fi, the app is compatible with Alexa. On the app, you can use the friendly Guided Cook System, which walks you through every step of the cooking process to provide perfect and consistent results. You can also set up custom alerts and notifications based on the temperature or cook time of your favorite foods. That way, you can plan your meal and manage your time. The probe itself has dual temperature sensors that can monitor internal meat temperature up to 212 degrees and external temperature up to 527 degrees Fahrenheit simultaneously. Not to mention, this meat thermometer is dishwasher safe.
Cons: Sometimes, it takes a few minutes for the probe to connect to the app.
Bottom Line: This meat probe reads accurately and is very useful. It’s especially great for outdoor rotisserie grills and smokers.
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 battery is also rechargeable. Plus, 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. And the built-in magnet makes it easy to place the monitor and know that it will remain in place.
Cons: If you don’t have either an iPhone or Android, then this device won’t work for you. Much like the previous device, this one uses Bluetooth, so connectivity problems might occur.
Bottom Line: 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.
KitchenAid Leave-in Oven/Grill safe Meat Thermometer
This money-saving meat thermometer gives accurate readings for even cooking.
Pros: With its unique sloped design, this basic meat thermometer is easier to read than similar products. The numbers are larger because there is more space, so you won’t have to strain your eyes or get too close to read the temperature. And with precise calibration, you’re sure to get the perfect temperature reading every time you use this meat thermometer. Made from stainless steel and safety glass, this thermometer will last you a long time. Plus, it’s easy to clean. Just allow it to cool thoroughly and then wash it with dish soap and water before drying it and putting it away.
Cons: The clip mount on this thermometer can be finicky to use.
Bottom Line: Basic thermometers like this one are great for cooking meat and making candy. Unlike high-tech thermometers, you’ll have to check on this one continuously. Luckily, it’s large, accurate, and long-lasting, and it will save you a ton of money when compared with fancier meat thermometers.
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. It’s fast and gives accurate readings within .9 degrees Fahrenheit. 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. It also has an auto shut-off feature to save on battery power, and the battery is included. This thermometer is easy to clean and can be stored just about anywhere because of its slim design. Plus, the backlight LCD display screen is easy to read in the daytime or in the dark.
Cons: Because it’s so inexpensive, it won’t last as long as some other thermometers. The same goes for the batteries and the screen.
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.
ThermoPro TP-16 Large LCD Digital Meat Thermometer
With its easy mounting options, this thermometer is perfect for all your indoor and outdoor meat cooking needs.
Pros: This simple battery-powered meat thermometer is a step up from basic meat thermometers. It has a programmable timer and alert, and preset meat temperatures can be adjusted to fit your needs. It’s very accurate and can withstand temperatures up to 716 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can cook with a wide temperature range from 32 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit with high accuracy. In fact, this thermometer is accurate within 1 degree Fahrenheit. The 40-inch cable allows you to mount the magnetic screen near your outdoor grill, rotisserie, or smoker with ease. And the magnetic monitor is slim enough that you can store it away with ease when it’s not in use.
Cons: You may not want to leave this thermometer outside too long, or it will start to rust.
Bottom Line: Accurate and affordable, this digital thermometer is a must-have. It’s great for people who want some of the bells and whistles of a smart thermometer without being too fussy or having to deal with Bluetooth and other gizmos
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.