Which meat thermometer is best?
When it comes to cooking meat, safety should always be your top priority. If you don’t cook it to the correct temperature, it can harbor bacteria like salmonella, E. coli and listeria, as well as parasites and infections. With a meat thermometer, though, you’ll always know that you’ve hit the right temp rather than just guessing based on color or texture.
Meat thermometers are available in both analog and digital models. Some can even be left in the meat while it cooks, so you can check the temperature at a glance during cooking. If you want a reliable, high-quality thermometer with easy-to-use features, the ThermoPro TP-20 Wireless Remote Digital Meat Thermometer is the top choice.
What to know before you buy a meat thermometer
While all meat thermometers serve the same purpose, you can actually choose from several different types.
Leave-in analog meat thermometers are classic dial thermometers. They’re the most affordable type of meat thermometer and very user-friendly, but you have to take your meat out of the oven to use them. They often show a higher reading than the meat’s actual temperature, too.
Instant-read analog meat thermometers also feature a dial top and typically take 60 seconds or less to provide the meat’s temperature after you insert the probe into the thickest area of the meat. The display can be difficult to read the temperature, though. You can also get an incorrect reading if you don’t place the probe in the meat correctly. However, instant-read analog thermometers are fairly inexpensive.
Digital instant-read meat thermometers only require you to insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat, so it can then provide a reading within seconds. You can’t leave the thermometer in the meat while it’s cooking, though.
Thermometer forks feature two prongs that you insert into the meat for an almost instant reading. They work especially well for grilling.
Leave-in digital probes stay inside the meat while it cooks but have a base that sits on the countertop where you can read it. The probe is attached to the base unit via a thin cord that won’t break the seal around your oven’s door. This type of thermometer is extremely accurate and user-friendly and often has a timer and alarm.
Disposable pop-up indicators usually come with whole turkeys or chicken. They’re designed to pop up when the interior temperature reaches 165 degrees, the recommended temperature for poultry. They’re not the most reliable option, though.
Leave-in wireless digital probes resemble leave-in digital probes, but they don’t have a cord because they transmit their information wirelessly. They work well both indoors and outdoors.
In most cases, you need to calibrate a meat thermometer before your first use and once a year after that. For most thermometers, all you have to do is place the probe in a glass of ice water and check that the temperature is within one or two degrees of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, place the problem in a pot of boiling water to verify that the temperature reads within a couple of degrees of 212 degrees. If your meat thermometer isn’t properly calibrated, follow the instructions from the manufacturer for the proper calibration process.
What to look for in a quality meat thermometer
Some meat thermometers feature an alert that beeps or flashes a light when your meat has reached the programmed or recommended temperature. You can also find models that alert you if the temperature exceeds the recommended or programmed temperature.
If you want to keep track of how long your meat has been in the oven, you can find some thermometers that feature a timer. It counts down your cooking time, so you know when it’s time to check your meat’s temperature.
The best meat thermometers are preset with the recommended temperatures from the United States Department of Agriculture, so you know your meat is fully cooked and safe to eat. You can also find some models that allow you to program a chosen temperature that you want the meat to reach before taking it out of the oven.
For added convenience, some meat thermometers feature dual probes. One probe monitors the meat’s temperature, while the other keeps track of your grill’s temperature.
If you opt for a digital meat thermometer, look for a model with a rotating display. That allows you to adjust its positioning to read it from multiple angles. A rotating display comes in extremely handy if you cut a wide range of meats of different shapes and sizes.
For easier reading, some meat thermometers have a backlight to make the display more vibrant. If you want to use the thermometer at the back of your oven or inside a grill, a backlight is a convenient feature.
Digital meat thermometers run on batteries, so you’ll need to replace them to keep the thermometer working. Many models have an auto shutoff feature that turns the thermometer off when you’re not using it to prolong the battery life.
Meats tend to produce a lot of juice when cooked, so you’ll want to ensure that your thermometer is water-resistant or waterproof. This allows it to be splashed with juices, sauce or water during cooking without any issue.
Some wireless digital meat thermometers don’t have a base. Instead, they’re Bluetooth compatible, so you can check the reading easily on your smartphone.
How much you can expect to spend on a meat thermometer
Meat thermometers usually cost $10-$50. For a basic analog model, you’ll typically pay $10 or less. A basic digital thermometer can range from $15-$20, while high-tech digital probes, including wireless models, generally cost $20-$50.
Meat thermometer FAQ
Where should you insert a meat thermometer?
A. When you’re cooking a chicken or turkey, insert the thermometer in the thigh near the breast, pushing it in until you hit the bone. For a large boneless roast, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. With thin cuts of meat like burgers, insert the probe in sideways.
Can you use a meat thermometer to make candy?
A. While they’re not the same thing, you can sometimes use your meat thermometer for candy. Making candy requires fairly high temperatures, though, so make sure your meat thermometer has a high enough temperature range to work for your candy recipes.
What’s the best meat thermometer to buy?
Top meat thermometer
What you need to know: Made by a well-respected brand, this meat thermometer is extremely easy to use and boasts plenty of high-tech features for convenience.
What you’ll love: This thermometer features a durable build that lasts for years. The wireless design makes it easy to monitor your food temperature remotely with a range of 300 feet. Its large LCD display is easy to read and shows both food and oven temperatures.
What you should consider: Some users report occasional inaccurate readings, especially for programmed temperatures.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top meat thermometer for the money
What you need to know: This budget-friendly meat thermometer offers a timer and a compact design that won’t take up much space in your kitchen.
What you’ll love: It allows you to set a chosen temperature and cooking timer. The probe’s cord is 4 feet long, so it’s easy to use in most kitchens. The screen is adjustable and has large, easy-to-read numbers.
What you should consider: It has a somewhat flimsy feel and only reaches a maximum temperature of 392 degrees.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This surprisingly affordable thermometer offers many must-have features and provides quick readings with ease.
What you’ll love: This thermometer features a bright backlight display that’s easy to read at a distance. It provides temperature readings quickly and features two probes. It also has a built-in timer.
What you should consider: Some buyers report that their thermometers experienced issues with probe temperature accuracy after just a few uses.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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