Best Meat Thermometers 2018

Linda Thomson ·
Updated
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We invested 80 hours testing meat thermometers, using a standardized methodology for testing and noting everything from ease of use to accuracy to price. We especially liked the ThermoWorks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen, which offered extremely fast temperature readouts – averaging 3.6 seconds, which is outstanding in the world of meat thermometers. This also displayed excellent accuracy for the internal temperatures of foods. Its accuracy is touted to be within 0.7 degree Fahrenheit of a food’s actual temperature, and our testing showed it to be consistent and reliable. The ThermoWorks also provided an exceptional temperature measurement range extending from minus-58 degrees to 572 degrees Fahrenheit.    

Best Overall

ThermoWorks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen

The potent and speedy ThermoWorks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen meat thermometer gives you a temperature readout in under four seconds, and it is advertised to be accurate within 0.7 degree Fahrenheit. It’s also easy to use.
View on ThermoWorks
Best Value

Polder Stable-Read THM0389-90

The trim, portable and quite affordable Polder Stable-Read THM0389-90 is a handy meat thermometer that is accurate and reliable, although it does take 15 seconds or more to get a readout.
View on Amazon
Best Touchscreen

Supreme Home Cook Touchscreen Thermometer

The handy Supreme Home Cook Touchscreen Thermometer is one of the few that lets you monitor interior meat temperatures while your food is cooking. The thermometer includes a timer and an alarm.
View on Amazon
Best Overall

ThermoWorks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen

The ThermoWorks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen is a highly accurate and speedy meat thermometer that you can trust to help you prepare meats and other foods safely. Our repeated tests of this top-notch thermometer showed readouts displayed in an average of 3.6 seconds, while other similar models took 15 seconds and one took 30 seconds.
In addition, we found consistently accurate temperature readouts with the ThermoWorks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen, whose manufacturer maintains its readouts are within 0.7 degree Fahrenheit of a food’s actual temperature. This is an easy thermometer to use. Many other models use buttons to start the thermometer or change settings, but there are no buttons to mess with when you use the ThermoWorks. You can make changes within the battery compartment if you want to change to Celsius readings or turn decimal measurements on or off, for example, but we felt the default settings worked. Unfortunately, this durable and water-resistant meat thermometer also is the most expensive meat thermometer we tested. However, if you want to get clear, fast and true temperatures for years of cooking and baking, this could easily be an excellent investment for health, safety and good eating.
Pros
  • This works in less than four seconds.
  • This thermometer is very accurate.
  • You don’t have to mess with any buttons.
Cons
  • You must make changes inside the battery compartment.
  • This uses the less-available coil cell battery.
  • This is expensive.
$99.00ThermoWorks
Best Value

Polder Stable-Read THM0389-90

The budget-friendly Polder Stable-Read THM0389-90 is small, convenient and accurate. The probe on this thermometer can gauge temperatures between minus-49 and 392 degrees Fahrenheit (you can convert it to Celsius), and it beeps when it has the correct temperature. You get readouts that are within two degrees of the actual food temperature, which shows a high degree of accuracy.
One drawback to this otherwise fine meat thermometer is the fact that it takes a while to get a readout. Although the manufacturer advertises that you can get a correct temperature in four seconds, our tests showed it took an average of 14 seconds. While that is not a deal breaker, it might be a small annoyance for some cooks. Since this is fairly small, it’s easily portable and also easy to store. The thermometer is easy to use – all you do is insert the probe into the food you’re testing and push a button. Once you hear the beep, you can see the temperature. The readout will stay on the screen until you reset it. The probe is quite thin, so it doesn’t make a huge mark in your attractive Thanksgiving turkey, either.
Pros
  • You hear a beep when the readout is ready.
  • This is inexpensive.
  • This is very easy to use.
Cons
  • You wait 14 seconds for the readout.
  • You get only a one-year warranty.
  • The temperature range is smaller than others we tested.
$15.99Amazon
Best Touchscreen

Supreme Home Cook Touchscreen Thermometer

The Supreme Home Cook Touchscreen Thermometer takes a while to learn, but it provides you with accurate readouts and, unlike other models, lets you monitor the internal temperature of meats while they are cooking rather than simply testing at some point near the end.
This type of thermometer, called a probe-in (as opposed to those labeled as instant readout), lets you keep tabs throughout the cooking process. One difficulty is that you must learn to navigate the interface and its buttons, which takes some time. Using its screen, you can pick a preset for different meats and the doneness level you want, and you can set a timer and an alarm to let you know when the meat reaches the desired temperature. Once you understand how this works, it gives temperature readouts that are accurate to within two degrees. This is designed with a seven-inch-long probe, the longest of those we tested, which is supposed to stay inserted into a piece of meat for the entire time it is cooking. Along the way, you can check the continuous temperature updates.
Pros
  • This thermometer has alarms.
  • You can check on meat while it cooks.
  • This is very accurate.
Cons
  • The touchscreen is complicated to learn.
  • The button labels are difficult to navigate.
  • It takes more than 30 seconds to get a reading.
$20.99Amazon

Why Trust Us?

We established a consistent testing methodology for all the thermometers, even though some are designed differently. We were particularly interested in accuracy, since undercooked meat can be a source of food-borne illness. However, we also checked for such factors as how long it took for the thermometer to provide a readout, the range of temperatures it can measure, the length of its probe and how readily customer service responds to issues.

In addition, we determined an ease-of-use score for each thermometer we tested. This score is based on our overall experience in using each thermometer. We took into consideration the difficulty in powering the thermometer on, getting readings, changing settings and enabling alarms. For example, folding probe thermometers power on automatically after you unfold them, so you can measure your food's temperature immediately without having to fiddle with buttons or settings. One requires you to pair the thermometer with your smartphone over Bluetooth. Its setup isn't as fast when comparing it with others, since you must use your smartphone and an app to get temperature readings.

How We Tested

We tested these meat thermometers while baking chicken breasts of similar thickness levels in a gas oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. We set 165 degrees Fahrenheit as the base for determining whether it was fully cooked, since most food experts agree that’s the ideal internal temperature for cooked poultry. The testing environment was a medium-sized kitchen with a stable room temperature.

To determine an average reading time – or how long it takes to get a full temperature readout rather than simply an initial response – we used a stopwatch to time how long it took each thermometer to register a full temperature reading and averaged the results of multiple attempts. We found that the best meat thermometers determine a full reading in less than 10 seconds. On average, it takes around 14 seconds, but the slowest thermometers will take upward of 20 seconds to display a full reading.

Of the meat thermometers we tested, two have built-in temperature presets and doneness levels for several types of meat. These presets included ideal temperatures and doneness levels for poultry, beef, fish, lamb and more. On these two devices, we used the poultry settings.

What to Look for in a Meat Thermometer

Accuracy
It’s essential to get an accurate temperature readout so you don’t end up with undercooked meat that could potentially give you and others food-borne illnesses. To a lesser degree, it’s also important to not overcook foods since they become dry, unappetizing and might not get eaten, which is a waste of money. You should look for a thermometer that backs the accuracy of its thermometers.

Speed
Although seconds are not going to ruin a special meal, you undoubtedly would appreciate having a meat thermometer that gives you a readout quickly. If you’re making a special meal, it’s typical to have other foods to attend to, so a meat thermometer that can accurately gauge the temperature of meat would be welcome.

Ease of Use
If you don’t use your meat thermometer often, it can be frustrating to try to figure it out before a dinner party or holiday meal. Check out the meat thermometers that we found simple to use and save yourself a lot of headaches.

Customer Support
If you need help with your meat thermometer, it’s great to have plenty of options for contacting the manufacturer. Having access to FAQs, as well as email and phone support, can come in handy. It’s also a good idea to get as long a warranty as possible, even if your meat thermometer is not that expensive.

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