6 Best Meat Thermometers for Perfectly Cooked Steak and Chicken Every Single Time
For delicious steak, chicken and more, having the best meat thermometer at your disposal is an absolute must.
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Struggle with cooking succulent, juicy meat? Dried out one too many Thanksgiving turkeys? Accidentally served some undercooked chicken with disastrous results? The best meat thermometer could have prevented all of those unfortunate events. Knowing proper food safety is just as important as knowing how to cook, which is why meat thermometers are an essential kitchen tool—just like your pots, pans and cooking utensils.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer in your kitchen, that changes today! We’ve gathered up the best options to help you cook safely and ensure guests go back for seconds.
The Best Meat Thermometers
- Best Overall: ThermoWorks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen
- Best Budget: Lavatools Javelin Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer
- Best Smart: Meater+ Smart Thermometer
- Best Oven Probe: ChefAlarm Cooking Alarm Thermometer and Timer
- Best Splurge: ThermoWorks Thermapen IR
- Best for Pizza Ovens: Ooni Infrared Thermometer
Best Overall Meat Thermometer
ThermoWorks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen
Countless chefs, brewers, professional pit masters and other food professionals believe the ThermoWorks Classic Thermapen is the best meat thermometer—and we agree. It gives precise temperature readings in less than three seconds, with a high accuracy of ±0.7 degrees. It even comes with a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-Traceable calibration certificate, so you know it’s accurate. For cooking projects where precision is paramount, you can adjust the screen options to measure temperatures to the decimal point instead of rounding it to the nearest degree.
The Thermapen uses Biomaster silver ion technology to prevent microbial growth. Plus, you’ll never worry about it going dead when you need it most—the battery lasts a whopping 1,500 hours, so this gift for grillers will be charged for years (maybe decades!) to come. Our Test Kitchen is also a fan of the Thermapen One.
- Endorsed by thousands of chefs, cookbook authors and culinary professionals
- Astoundingly accurate
- Simple to use and easy to read
- Auto on/off feature
Best Budget Meat Thermometer
Lavatools Javelin Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer
This best meat thermometer is a relative bargain, with more than 15,600 five-star Amazon ratings singing its praises. It takes only three to four seconds for this digital thermometer to deliver temperature readings with ±0.9 degree accuracy, and it’s not bad to look at, either. Available in nine vivid colors, you’ll be able to show it off—and keep it handy—with an integrated magnet that sticks to refrigerators, ovens and other metal surfaces.
Built to last, this instant-read thermometer is made with high-quality, impact-resistant materials that resist warping or cracking, like 100% bisphenol A (BPA)-free polycarbonate and food-grade stainless steel. This National Science Foundation (NSF)-approved pick complies with international food-safety guidelines, making it ideal for both home and professional use.
- Available in multiple colors
- Highly accurate
- Easy to use
- Some users say the probe is too short for extra-large pieces of meat
Best Smart Meat Thermometer
Meater+ Smart Thermometer
The wireless Meater+ smart thermometer keeps an eye on both ambient oven and internal meat temps with utter precision, relaying the info to a free smartphone app in real-time. The attractive bamboo charging base doubles as a Bluetooth booster, letting you keep a constant eye on your meat from up to 165 feet away. Connect it to your Echo or Alexa and you can receive updates from almost anywhere! A full charge lasts up to 24 hours, making the Meater+ ideal for smoking, slow roasting or braising meat.
A wide variety of presets makes it easy to cook almost any meat to its ideal cooking temperature. The Meater app also includes an Advanced Estimator Algorithm, which helps plan meals and manage your time in the kitchen. This smart kitchen gadget boasts over 26,000 five-star Amazon ratings, including Hector Baez who says, “Gone are the days of multiple probes trying to see the temp inside my smoker. This thing accomplished everything I needed it to. Being able to sync multiple devices with the app was a game changer. I can see my temp from wherever I was in the house. I’m only upset I waited so long to buy this. It’s a must-have.”
- Monitor your cooking progress using the free app
- Wooden base doubles as a charger and Bluetooth extender
- Highly accurate
- Provides real-time readings
- Can’t be used for high-heat cooking or non-meat uses, like candy making
- Must be inserted more than 2.5 inches, making it difficult to position in thinner cuts of meat
Best Oven Probe Meat Thermometer
ChefAlarm Cooking Alarm Thermometer and Timer
The ChefAlarm is designed for professionals, but is still a top-notch choice for any aspiring pit master who loves spending their weekend slow-smoking meats in the backyard. It uses ThermoWorks’ commercial-grade Pro-Series Temperature Probes, which are renowned for their exceptional accuracy, reading speed and durability (it can measure up to 572 degrees Fahrenheit!).
An easy-to-read display shows all the data in large, backlit text so you can see it from across the kitchen. If you need to walk away, an alarm will keep you on top of things. This best meat thermometer’s display can be tilted up and set on a counter. Or, fold it flat and use the magnetic back to attach it to your oven, grill or magnetic knife strip. It’s available in nine colors, so you won’t mind showing it off.
- Professional quality
- Easy-to-read large text display
- Highly precise readings
- Adjustable alarm
- Available in nine colors
- Some customers complain the probe cord is prone to kinks
Best Splurge Meat Thermometer
ThermoWorks Thermapen IR
Probe thermometers provide accurate readings when making candy, bread and (of course) meat, but there are some things in the kitchen they can’t measure. You’ll need an infrared surface temperature gun for measuring the surface of a cast iron skillet, preheated grill grates or a slick of hot oil on the bottom of a pan. The Thermapen IR combines the two into one outstanding grilling tool, making it the best meat thermometer if you’re a serious cook who’s willing to splurge.
The temperature probe has a thin tip that gives quick readings with superb accuracy, measuring temps within ±0.7 degrees in less than three seconds. The probe folds like a pocket knife, turning on when it’s extended, and off when folded away. To preserve battery life, it automatically turns off if left untouched for 30 seconds. To use the Thermapen IR’s infrared feature, simply aim the sensor toward the surface you want to read, then press the scan button.
“This was a gift for my husband and he loves it,” writes verified customer, Renee S., in her five-star review. “He uses it with the gas barbecue, with the Ooni pizza oven and with the Weber smoker. I use it for quick temperature checks when baking and cooking, as well, so an excellent purchase!”
- Two-in-one probe and infrared thermometer
- Rotating display for easy reading
- Ultra-accurate temperatures
- Two-year warranty
- No backlight on the display
Best Meat Thermometer for Pizza Ovens
Ooni Infrared Thermometer
The Ooni Infrared isn’t technically a meat thermometer, but since we love a good pepperoni pizza, we’re including on this list anyway. Aim the laser pointer at the floor of your pizza oven, and an accurate temperature reading will pop up on the backlit display screen. The ideal temperature for a pizza stone is 752 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cook small pieces of sausage on top of your pie.
“We just baked two pizzas last night using our new Ooni infrared thermometer,” writes verified buyer, Bonnie S. “It made an incredible difference in the quality—our pizzas were outstanding. Before we used the thermometer, our Ooni stone was not hot enough and the crust was too soft. Last night it was PERFECT. So happy we bought this new gadget.”
- Reads surface temperatures
- Safe point-and-shoot design
- Rapid readings
- Can also be used with grills
- Doesn’t measure the internal temperature of meat
What to Consider When Buying a Meat Thermometer
Here are some factors to keep in mind while figuring out which model is the best meat thermometer for you:
- Type: Digital thermometers are more expensive, but they’re accurate and easier to read. Analog thermometers are cheaper, but are harder to read and less accurate. Probe thermometers are meant to be left inside of meat when it’s cooking while instant-read models are used to quickly check internal temperatures.
- Temperature range: Some thermometers have a maximum temperature in the 200- to 250-degree Fahrenheit range while others can measure up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Determine which cuts of meat and what type of cooking you’ll be doing most.
- Accuracy: To ensure your meat is cooked perfectly and safely, thermometers should be accurate within 1 degree.
- Probe length: If you’re cooking large, thick cuts of meat, make sure the length of the probe is long enough to reach the center without hitting the bone.
- Response time: When standing over a hot flame or cooking thinner cuts of meat, you need a result that’s almost instantaneous. Some digital thermometers can give readings in only a few seconds.
How We Found the Best Meat Thermometers
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
How do you use a meat thermometer?
First, insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the meat—be careful to avoid fat, gristle or bones. If you’re cooking poultry, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh or breast, which takes the longest to cook. Once inserted, wait a few seconds for the temperature reading, then remove and clean the probe immediately. Using a clean probe every time ensures a more accurate reading.
How do you read a meat thermometer?
Analog thermometers have a gauge on top of a long metal probe; as the probe sits in the meat, the dial will slowly move to the correct temperature. A digital thermometer shows the temperature on a display in a matter of seconds, making it easier to read than analog models.
Can you leave a meat thermometer in the meat while it’s cooking?
Some meat thermometers are specifically designed to be left inside of meat while cooking, like the Meater+ and ChefAlarm Oven Probe. Instant-read thermometers, like the ThermaPen and Javelin, cannot be left in meat while cooking, and should only be inserted briefly to monitor temperatures.
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