Using a good meat thermometer can keep you from overcooking or undercooking food – the latter of which can lead to serious illness.
High-quality meat thermometers can cost as much as $100, but you can find an accurate, sturdy model for under $20 or even $10. You can buy reliable thermometers that fold and don’t take up much space in a drawer as well as models with easy-to-read displays, smart features and touchscreens, fast temperature readouts, and waterproof casings.
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The modestly priced CDN ProAccurate DTQ450X is just that, accurate. It registers temperatures between -40 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit within 2 degrees of the actual temperature. It takes a bit longer than other thermometers to display the temperature, but we’re talking about a mere 20 seconds, which isn’t long enough to be a deal-breaker for most people.
This popular meat thermometer is pretty rugged considering it has a plastic handle: It’s shatterproof, waterproof and covered with a special coating so repeated cleaning won’t damage it. The coating, BioCote, also reduces the risk of cross-contamination between foods. This thermometer is easy to recalibrate and comes with a plastic storage sheath and a pocket clip. The sheath even shows the best temperatures for different meats, which is a handy reference.
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The ThermoWorks Thermopop TX-3100 is a whimsical, lollipop-shape thermometer that comes in nine colors and can read and display temperature in less than eight seconds. It measures between -58 degrees and 572 degrees Fahrenheit and is accurate within 2 degrees of the correct temperature up to 248 degrees. However, it rounds to the nearest whole degree. The Thermopop TX-3100’s 4.5-inch probe can correctly detect the temperature in big cuts of meat as well as other foods.
If you need it, you can turn on the Thermopop TX-3100’s screen backlight to see the numbers better. Also, the thermometer can rotate in 90-degree increments, so you can read temperatures at different angles and upside down. In addition, it shuts off after 10 minutes of sitting idle, which saves battery life.
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The Taylor Pro 9842 is a basic meat thermometer – it doesn’t cost much but works well and takes up little space in your kitchen. This thermometer takes approximately 18 seconds to provide a full temperature reading, and it has a wide temperature range of -40 degrees to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, it is accurate within plus or minus 1 degree of the actual temperature.
There are only three buttons on this thermometer: an on/off button, a button to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius, and a calibration button. The Taylor Pro 9842 also turns itself off if it detects no change in temperature for 10 minutes. However, it has one drawback: Its LCD digital display is hard to read because the screen is small and not backlit.
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The best thing about using the iDevices Kitchen Mini Thermometer is it connects with an app to display the temperature on your phone. As such, you can move around and do other things while your dinner cooks. The app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. This thermometer’s receiver is separate from the probe you stick into your food, and they link with a heat-resistant wire. This setup lets the thermometer’s probe constantly track food temperature.
Although convenient, the iDevices Kitchen thermometer has a drawback: It only reads temperature accurately between zero degrees and 392 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a smaller range than many comparable products can handle.
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The CDN ProAccurate TCT572 digital meat thermometer displays temperature readings fast – its 4.25-inch stainless steel probe has a three-second initial response time, although it averaged a still-speedy eight seconds during many of our tests. The probe is also shatterproof and water-resistant, and it registers temperatures between-58 degrees and 572 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a wide range.
The backlit display has big, easy-to-read numbers. There is also a chart on the back that lists safe temperatures for different kinds of meats, which is handy. In addition, you can view the minimum and maximum temperatures the thermometer read while you cooked.
You use several buttons to turn the CDN ProAccurate TCT572 on and off and control its temperature settings. However, the buttons beep loudly when you push them.
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The Polder Stable-Read THM-398-90 digital meat thermometer is easy to use, inexpensive and reliable. To use it, you just push a button and insert the probe into your food. When your food reaches the right temperature, the thermometer beeps to let you know.
Polder claims it takes four seconds to get a full readout, but in our many tests, the Stable-Read THM-398-90 took an average of 14 seconds to display the temperature. Still, that's just a matter of a few seconds and not enough to make much of a difference. The thermometer’s readings are accurate within 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
This Polder thermometer’s thin, metal probe can register temperatures between -49 degrees and 392 degrees Fahrenheit. It holds the final temperature readout until you reset it.
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The Lavatools Javelin PT12is a petite, simple digital meat thermometer with no buttons to fumble with. Further, its temperature readings are accurate within less than 1degree Fahrenheit.
This thermometer’s probe is short compared to others, coming in at 2.75 inches, so it may present a safety hazard if you use it in an oven. However, the Lavatools Javelin PT12’s small size makes it handy to take along to picnics and barbecues. It can even be attached to a keychain or lanyard, and it has a magnet, so you can stick it on the refrigerator.
Our tests showed it can display temperature readouts in less than eight seconds, although the manufacturer claims it has a much faster initial response time. The Lavatools Javelin PT12 can read temperatures between -40 degrees and 482 degrees Fahrenheit. The display is not backlit, but it’s still easy to read.
Image Credit: Lavatools