The Best Meat Thermometers for 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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If you ever fret at the thought of accidentally serving your friends and family undercooked meat, eliminate your worry by getting a great digital meat thermometer. It’s one of the few tools that will instantly increase your confidence in the kitchen. After testing 37 digital instant-read and probe thermometers, we think the ThermoWorks ThermoPop 2 is the best instant-read thermometer and the ThermoWorks Dot is the best probe thermometer for a home kitchen. Both thermometers are fast, accurate, and reasonably priced, with clear, easy-to-read displays. meat thermometer for grilling

The Best Meat Thermometers for 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

No other thermometer under $50 can match the ThermoPop 2's combination of speed, reach, reliability, and easy-to-read display.

The Dot probe thermometer stays in your meat while it cooks, allowing you to easily monitor doneness. It also has a strong magnet that keeps it securely attached to an oven door.

This thermometer offers a bit more speed, plus temperature alerts, temperature holding, and a fold-up probe that’s handy for taking readings at odd angles.

This was the fastest and most accurate instant-read thermometer we tested. It also offers a rotating screen with a bright backlight, a huge temperature range, and serious waterproofing.

This single-probe thermometer offers more features, including a timer and volume adjustment.

No other thermometer under $50 can match the ThermoPop 2's combination of speed, reach, reliability, and easy-to-read display.

On top of being fast and accurate, the ThermoWorks ThermoPop 2 is also waterproof, and it’s designed to work for both righties and lefties. It can read temperatures ranging from -58 °F to 572 °F, and can easily switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit. The ThermoPop’s backlit display has large digits and automatically rotates in four directions, so you can quickly read it from any angle. Although it’s not the fastest thermometer we tested, it comfortably covers most home-kitchen needs. And it is far, far better than most of the digital thermometers sold for less than $30. We recommend the version with a 4.5-inch probe, but you can also get it with an 8-inch probe, which takes readings a second or two slower.

The Dot probe thermometer stays in your meat while it cooks, allowing you to easily monitor doneness. It also has a strong magnet that keeps it securely attached to an oven door.

If you want a thermometer that you can leave inside your roast while it bakes, or that you can attach to your grill or smoker, we recommend the ThermoWorks Dot. The Dot is accurate, affordable, and easy to use. It has the same wide temperature range as the ThermoPop, and it also has one of the longest probe cables of any of the thermometers we considered. The digital display on the ThermoWorks Dot is easy to read, and you can quickly set an alarm to go off when your meat reaches a certain temperature. We also like the backlit screen, which is handy for outdoor grilling at night.

This thermometer offers a bit more speed, plus temperature alerts, temperature holding, and a fold-up probe that’s handy for taking readings at odd angles.

The Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo instant-read thermometer is the midpoint option between the ThermoPop and the $100 best-in-class ThermoWorks Thermapen One. In our tests, the Javelin Pro Duo was nearly a second faster at reaching a true temperature than the ThermoPop, and its folding probe lets you take readings from odd angles. It has a few features the ThermoPop lacks, such as a beep that tells you when it settles on a temperature, a button for holding the reading, and the ability to track minimum and maximum temperatures. It also displays temperatures down to a tenth of a degree. And unlike the ThermoPop or Thermapen, the Javelin Pro Duo has a magnet that lets you stick it to your fridge or stove, rather than keeping it loose in a drawer.

This was the fastest and most accurate instant-read thermometer we tested. It also offers a rotating screen with a bright backlight, a huge temperature range, and serious waterproofing.

Most people don’t need to spend over $100 on a thermometer. But if you care deeply about speed, or if you have cooking projects that demand to-the-degree accuracy, the ThermoWorks Thermapen One is the easy choice. This buttonless thermometer is completely automatic—it powers on when you pull out the probe, and the bright backlight and rotating screen are motion-activated. It was on average 2 to 3 seconds faster than the Javelin Pro Duo at reading temperatures in the mid-100s (Fahrenheit), where most cooking happens. Thanks to the thermometer’s long probe, you can be confident you’re getting readings from deep within your food.

This single-probe thermometer offers more features, including a timer and volume adjustment.

If you’re looking for a few more helpful features on a leave-in probe thermometer, the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm includes a timer and volume adjustment. Though the ChefAlarm was a couple of seconds slower than the Dot at reading temperatures in our tests, it was just as accurate. We especially liked the convenience of the timer on this model. The digital unit is also hinged, so you can lay it flat or adjust it to a specific angle. Unlike our other picks, the ChefAlarm thermometer comes with a case to hold the probe and the digital unit.

To find out what makes a great meat thermometer, I spoke with various food professionals, including barbecue and grilling expert Rick Browne, the creator, host, and executive producer of PBS’s Barbecue America series, and the author of more than 10 cookbooks; Janet Crandall, a private chef, formerly the executive chef and head butcher for Wyebrook Farm in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania, a butcher at Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, and an instructor at the International Culinary Center (the ICC has since been acquired by the Institute of Culinary Education); and Robert D. Edman, assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Food Safety and Community Sanitation, New York City Department of Health.

I also consulted respected testing publications such as Wired and

As a senior staff writer for Wirecutter, I have written about everything from cookware sets to deep fryers. I’ve also spent 10 years working in the food and restaurant industry. My research builds on the work of former Wirecutter senior staff writer Kevin Purdy, who wrote the first version of this guide in 2013.

Every cook should have a reliable meat thermometer both to ensure food safety and to help you achieve the best results. The more common kind is an instant-read thermometer, which you stick into food for a few seconds to quickly check its doneness. Another type is a probe thermometer, which is designed to remain in the meat while it cooks. A heat-safe cable attaches the probe to a digital unit outside the oven that displays the temperature reading.

Most of the pros we spoke with recommended getting an instant-read thermometer over a probe thermometer. Probe thermometers are much slower to take an initial reading, so you can’t easily use one in place of an instant-read thermometer (our instant-read top pick takes 2 to 3 seconds, and our probe top pick takes 8 to 10). They also have a higher failure rate, because they’re constantly subjected to high heat.

The advantage of probe thermometers, however, is that you get an alert as soon as your meat reaches a set temperature, without having to open your oven door. This is especially useful for monitoring the doneness of a large cut of meat during a long roasting time, so you don’t accidentally overcook it. Just remember that different parts of a large cut of meat will cook at different rates, so even with a probe thermometer, it’s a good idea to use an instant-read thermometer to check your roast in a few different places. As barbecue and grilling expert Rick Browne told us, “The probe is sort of letting people know the temperature, and it’s a good guideline … then you can refine it with the instant-read and take multiple readings.”

Most of the pros we spoke with recommended getting an instant-read thermometer over a probe thermometer.

If you’re a seasoned cook and you have great instincts, you don’t truly need an instant-read or probe thermometer. But even professional chefs like taking the guesswork out of dishes, especially meats. For beginners in the kitchen, a good thermometer is a necessity to avoid overcooking steaks or undercooking fish or chicken, and for learning the baseline timing of your stovetop and oven.

If you have only a slow, analog (dial) thermometer, you need to upgrade. Analog thermometers are harder to read accurately, and they contain mercury, which is harmful to you and the environment. These old-school tools also tend to have thicker probes than their digital cousins. That means you lose more juice each time you pierce a roast with an analog thermometer than you do with a digital one.

If you use an induction cooktop often, you’re likely to find that the electromagnetic field above the cooking surface can cause any digital thermometer that’s not specially shielded to read inaccurately or simply “crash” and fail to work at all. A Wirecutter reader and a pastry chef on the ChefTalk forums have both witnessed this effect, and mentions of the problem crop up elsewhere in Web searches. ThermoWorks, the maker of two of our picks, told us that induction cooktops are known to disrupt its devices. Thermometer maker CDN also acknowledges the problem.

One solution: You can temporarily turn off the induction cooktop while you take a reading; you lose very little heat and momentum by briefly halting an induction cooktop. The other alternative would be to use an analog thermometer, but as we mentioned before, those are slower and harder to read. We think that’s more likely to adversely affect the outcome of your food than turning off your induction cooktop to use one of our picks will.

For this guide, we tested the following types of thermometers, ranging from about $10 to $105:

Ultimately, we found that the digital instant-read and basic probe thermometers were by far the easiest to read and operate. Dual-channel thermometers are designed for grilling and smoker enthusiasts who want to monitor the temperature of their grill or multiple cuts of meat at the same time. Remote probe thermometers are for checking the progress of meat on a grill from inside your home. But we don’t think these extra features are useful for most people.

After testing 37 meat thermometers since 2013 and speaking with numerous experts, we’ve made a list of the most important features to look for when choosing a good instant-read or probe thermometer:

Speedy and accurate temperature readings: What matters most in a good kitchen thermometer is speed and clarity—how quickly you can turn it on and see a steady reading of the temperature inside your dish. A thermometer that can quickly jump toward the final temperature is much better than one that leaves you guessing as it slowly rises. Instant-read thermometers typically reach temperatures a few seconds faster than probe thermometers. In our tests, our top pick instant-read thermometer, the ThermoPop 2, reached temperatures in about 2 to 3 seconds, while our top pick probe thermometer, the Dot, took anywhere from 5 to 8 seconds. A good thermometer should also cover the whole temperature range of home cooking, from below freezing (32 °F) up past very hot frying oil (400 °F).

Sufficient probe length: The probe on a thermometer should be thin at its point to minimize juice-leaking punctures, and long enough to reach the center of large roasts or deep pots. A longer probe also helps keep your hands a safe distance from heat and steam.

Durable: A thermometer’s durability depends on how well its electronics are protected from dust and water, as measured by its IP (ingress protection) rating. The IP rating consists of two numbers that indicate how much abuse an item can withstand. The first number (ranging from 0–6) pertains to solids, and the second one (ranging from 0–8) pertains to liquids. For instance, the ThermoPop 2 instant-read thermometer is rated IP67, which tells you that it’s “totally protected against dust” and “protected against the effects of temporary immersion” in water for up to 30 minutes. The Dot probe thermometer is rated IP65, which means the body of the unit is protected against the entry of dust and “low-pressure jets of water.”

Easy to read: We prefer thermometers that display large numbers on their digital screens to make it easier to read temperatures quickly. Backlit displays are also convenient when you’re cooking in a dimly lit kitchen or grilling outdoors at night.

Reasonable price: With rare exceptions, we’ve found that thermometers retailing for $20 or less are slow, of poor quality, and often barely distinguishable copies of one another, so over the years we’ve narrowed our focus to thermometers that cost from $30 to $105. You can find some perfectly good thermometers at around $30 that are much faster and more durable than the cheapies. We think paying the extra $10 or $15 is worth it for an accurate, high-quality instrument, but paying a lot more isn’t necessary for most people.

Aside from the essential criteria outlined above, we also sought out a number of other features that we think good instant-read and probe thermometers should have.

For instant-read, thermometers we looked for:

For probe thermometers, we looked for:

To test and calibrate a thermometer, ThermoWorks and CDN both suggest filling a thick ceramic mug with ice, topping it off with water, and then checking the temperature. So we did just that and timed how quickly each instant-read and probe thermometer reached within 1 degree of the ice water’s 32 °F, from a starting temperature of around 65 °F. We did this four times and averaged out three of the results after we discarded the most uncommon timing (whether fast or slow).

We also timed how long each thermometer took to measure the temperature of canola oil heated in a cast-iron pot to 365 °F. Those timings were far slower and more unpredictable (10 to 20 seconds, instead of 2 to 5) for the instant-read thermometers we tested, but measuring hot oil did give us a sense of which thermometer best protected our hands.

The most useful test involved water that was heated with a sous vide circulator in a stock pot and kept to 130 °F. A good circulator keeps an entire pot of water at one consistent temperature—no hot or cold spots—so it’s an excellent tool to control accuracy. Precise temperature and circulation also seem to create the ideal environment for fast readings, because in our tests all the thermometers reached their target much quicker than they did in ice water or frying oil. Note: For our 2021 update, we did not test the ThermoWorks Thermapen One using a sous vide circulator since we were working from home during the pandemic.

We used each thermometer to either monitor or check the temperature (depending on the type of thermometer) of oven-baked chicken pieces, to get a feel for each one’s usability. For our original guide, we also used the instant-read thermometers to find the internal temperature of pork chops cooked sous vide and to measure the temperature of water inside an electric tea kettle. However, because neither of those tests gave us much additional insight, we opted not to repeat them for our subsequent updates.

We performed two additional tests for probe thermometers. To test their cables at high temperatures, we used our finalists in a screaming-hot, 650 °F to 700 °F grill. We also evaluated the strength of the magnets on the back of the digital receivers to see how well they could stay attached to the side of an oven or grill. Finally, we measured the distance at which remote probe thermometers could still function before losing their wireless connection.

No other thermometer under $50 can match the ThermoPop 2's combination of speed, reach, reliability, and easy-to-read display.

The ThermoWorks ThermoPop 2 reads temperatures quickly and accurately, is simple to use, and comes at an excellent price. It’s an updated version of the original ThermoPop, which we recommended from 2015 to 2022, and it comes with a number of meaningful improvements, like a bigger screen, a thinner probe, and a screen that rotates automatically. In our tests, it took the ThermoPop 2 less than 4 seconds to land within 1 degree of most cooking temperatures. The large, backlit display is legible from almost any angle, and it rotates as you change the angle of the thermometer. The thin 4.5-inch probe gets into most roasts and liquids without exposing your hands to heat. In addition, the ThermoPop 2 has a huge range (-58 °F to 572 °F), a completely waterproof body, and one-button switching between Fahrenheit and Celsius.

In our tests, the ThermoPop 2 measured the temperature of 130-degree water in an average of 2.47 seconds (about a second faster than the original ThermoPop), and it was usually within a few degrees of that temperature in 2 seconds or less. Measuring oil heated to 365 °F took longer (as it did with all the thermometers we tested), but we got a reading in an average of 11.43 seconds, faster than with many of the other thermometers we tried. For most people who just want to safely and properly prepare meats and delicate dishes without overcooking them, the ThermoPop 2 does the job; getting a reading 1 to 2 seconds faster from our more expensive picks isn’t worth the extra money.

Besides speed, the ThermoPop 2’s screen is this thermometer’s strongest feature. It’s bigger than the (already clear) screen on the original ThermoPop, displaying a reading in large numbers to the tenth of a degree. Like with our upgrade pick, the ThermoWorks Thermapen One, the number rotates automatically in four directions as you change the angle of the thermometer, which helps when the probe is inserted sideways or diagonally into a hot or spattering dish. The rotating screen also makes the ThermoPop 2 equally suitable for left- and right-handed use; this is not the case with many side-reading units, which favor the right-handed. The screen’s backlight, which you can easily activate with the press of a button, is handy for grilling at night or taking a reading in a dark corner of the stove.

The ThermoPop 2's 4.5-inch-long probe is relatively generous compared with those of most of the thermometers we tested (you can also get a version with an 8-inch probe, but that reads a second or two slower, and will probably feel unwieldy for any task that doesn’t require you to keep your hand far from whatever you’re cooking). The round head is also easy to hold and lets you get a secure grip. Even though you can’t adjust the angle of the probe, we found that it’s long enough to stab into many sections of a roast or dish without risking burning your fingertips.

The whole thermometer is rated IP67 resistant: completely impervious to dust and able to withstand being submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. That means you don’t need to worry about getting the probe wet when you wash it, which you should do—just don't go so far as to stick it in the dishwasher. Automatic shut-offs on both the backlight and the thermometer itself help extend its battery life, which ThermoWorks says should last for 4,000 hours.

The ThermoPop 2 covers temperatures from -58 °F to 572 °F (-50 °C to 300 °C), which is the widest range of any instant-read thermometer below $50 that we’ve found. You can choose from nine colors, and each one comes with a single-page guide to cooking temperatures that covers not only food-safety temperatures but also sugar stages for candy making, as well as every level of doneness for beef and pork (you can grab the PDF at ThermoWorks’ site). It’s a handy thing to stick on your fridge or to keep in a drawer.

Unlike the original ThermoPop, the ThermoPop 2 is NSF certified and comes with a certificate of calibration from ThermoWorks’ NIST-traceable lab, which means it meets certain industrial standards of accuracy. The ThermoPop 2 comes with a two-year warranty on the digital unit and a six-month warranty on the probe (the probes can be replaced if damaged). Keep in mind that the warranty is valid only if the product is purchased from ThermoWorks directly or from an authorized reseller (which does not include Amazon).

You can’t adjust the angle of the ThermoPop 2’s stick-style probe as you can with a fold-out thermometer like the Thermapen One. Although we don’t think this design is a dealbreaker, we’ve encountered certain instances—such as taking the temperature of meat on a scorching-hot grill—where we’ve wished we could angle it to get our hands a little farther away from the heat.

On the device itself, the water-resistant power/backlight button is a little small and hard to press, especially for people with big fingertips. Sometimes we had to press the button twice to be sure it activated.

Unlike the Javelin Pro Duo, the ThermoPop 2 lacks a magnet to keep it stuck to metal surfaces or appliances. Although this is a feature many people won’t miss, without it you’ll need to keep the thermometer in a drawer, where it might be trickier to find.

Switching from Fahrenheit to Celsius is less intuitive than on the original (which had a dedicated button). To switch, you hold down the power/backlight button for 3 seconds when turning the thermometer on, a trick we had to look up in the manual. Also, possibly to make the new version more waterproof, you now need a small screwdriver to access the battery, whereas you could open the original ThermoPop with just a coin.

The Dot probe thermometer stays in your meat while it cooks, allowing you to easily monitor doneness. It also has a strong magnet that keeps it securely attached to an oven door.

If you want to monitor the doneness of a piece of meat as it cooks, we recommend the affordable ThermoWorks Dot probe thermometer for its impressive accuracy and ability to read temperatures quickly. Compared with the other probe thermometers we tested, it was the easiest to use, thanks to its simple, intuitive design and large digital display. The Dot’s wide temperature range makes it ideal for both oven and grill use, and its backlit screen makes it easy to read in any light.

In our tests, the Dot was the fastest probe thermometer to read temperatures accurately. On average, it was able to read 32 °F in about 8.5 seconds and 212 °F in about 5.5 seconds. Its thermistor sensor has an impressive temperature range of -58 °F to 572 °F (and a cable that can withstand 700 °F for short periods of time), which is a wider range than many other probe thermometers cover. In a stockpot of 130 °F water maintained by a sous vide circulator, the Dot was accurate to the degree.

The Dot also had one of the longest cables—about 48 inches—of the probe models we tested. The cable became slightly discolored and stiff when we subjected it to the high heat of a grill. But that had no effect on the thermometer’s performance (however, ThermoWorks states that the Dot should not be used when broiling in the oven). Also, the Dot’s 4.5-inch probe will have no problem reaching the center of large roasts.

The Dot’s simple design and straightforward controls made it easier to use than the competition. This model has an on/off switch on the back of the unit, with arrow buttons on the side of the digital screen that allow you to set your desired temperature. After you insert the probe into your food, the alarm beeps to let you know when the set temperature has been reached. You can press any button on the interface to stop the alarm; to disable the alarm altogether, simply hold the two arrows down at the same time. You can also switch from Fahrenheit to Celsius by holding the power button for 6 seconds while turning on the unit. And among the probe thermometers we tested, the Dot has some of the strongest magnets, which kept it securely attached to the side of our oven.

The ThermoWorks Dot boasts an Ingress Protection rating of IP65, which means the body of the unit is protected against the entry of dust and “low-pressure jets of water.” Like the ThermoPop 2, the Dot is available in a variety of colors. It also comes with a two-year warranty, and the probe is replaceable.

This model is also available with Bluetooth, sold under the name BlueDot, for about $25 more. It has all of the same controls as the regular Dot thermometer, but it can also connect to an app on your phone, which allows you to monitor the food you’re cooking from a short distance. It’s a nice added feature, but we think most people will be happy without it.

We’ve received feedback from a few readers saying the Dot began to malfunction after only several months of use, though we haven’t experienced this with the two models we’ve been long-term testing for two years. If you notice the Dot has become glitchy or less responsive, we’d recommend reaching out to ThermoWorks as soon as the problem arises. Probe thermometer wires take a beating, so if you’re experiencing issues, it may be that the wire is damaged and needs to be replaced. Improper readings may also be caused by a low battery charge, so we’d try replacing them to see if it solves the issue (it takes two AAA batteries).

The ThermoWorks Dot doesn’t come with a metal clip to attach the probe to the side of a saucepan for tasks such as frying or candy making, but all ThermoWorks accessories (including probe clips, grate clips, and air probes) are sold separately.

The Dot also lacks a timer and preprogrammed temperature settings for certain types of meat. However, since the pros we spoke with don’t recommend using preset temperatures anyway, we don’t think this omission is a dealbreaker.

This thermometer offers a bit more speed, plus temperature alerts, temperature holding, and a fold-up probe that’s handy for taking readings at odd angles.

Some people may want just a bit more from an instant-read thermometer than the ThermoPop 2 offers—a fold-out probe for getting more angles into smokers or very hot pots, and features such as temperature holding and minimum and maximum session temperatures. After head-to-head testing, we think the Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo is a smart next-step upgrade.

The Javelin Pro Duo got within 1 degree of our sous vide–controlled 130 °F water in an average of 2.8 seconds after three tests, about the same speed as the ThermoPop 2 (2.47 seconds). The Javelin Pro Duo beeps when it hits its stabilized temperature; can hold a reading, so you can see it after removing the thermometer from inside an oven or a smoker; and can track minimum and maximum temperatures while you’re using it.

The Javelin Pro Duo turns on automatically (unlike the ThermoPop 2), and its backlit display (which is motion-sensor-activated) is notably sharp and clear to read at most angles. The numbers also automatically flip to adjust for upside-down insertion or left- or right-hand use. Unlike on the ThermoPop 2 and Thermapen, however, the display doesn’t rotate 90 degrees to vertical.

Finally, this model has a couple of minor details that we enjoy. One is the loop at the end, which allows you to hold on with just a finger or two. Another is the magnet on the body, which allows you to store this thermometer on a metal surface (such as a fridge) instead of inside a drawer.

The Javelin Pro Duo is rated IP65 resistant (completely impervious to dust and “protected against low pressure water jets from any direction”), so it’s slightly less waterproof than the ThermoPop 2. Like the ThermoPop, it uses a CR2032 coin battery, but in contrast to the ThermoPop 2, the Javelin Pro Duo requires you to open the battery compartment to switch the display between Fahrenheit and Celsius readings (this is also the case with the Thermapen).

This was the fastest and most accurate instant-read thermometer we tested. It also offers a rotating screen with a bright backlight, a huge temperature range, and serious waterproofing.

What makes the ThermoWorks Thermapen One worth a cool $105 plus shipping? Mainly, it’s the fastest instant-read thermometer we’ve ever tested. The Thermapen One replaced the now-discontinued Thermapen Mk4, which was our long-time upgrade pick and a favorite of culinary pros. The Thermapen One is very similar to the Mk4, with a few improvements. Its needle-sharp probe is even faster and more accurate at reading temperatures (averaging about 1.5 seconds in our tests), and it is thin enough to slide easily into the thinnest of fish fillets or pounded chicken breasts. Its backlit screen is also noticeably brighter and easier to read than that of its predecessor. The display automatically turns on when you pick the thermometer up (if the probe is extended), and it rotates in four directions as you change the angle of the thermometer. The Thermapen One is by no means necessary for most cooks, but it’s an indispensable tool for those who love the science of cooking or the pursuit of kitchen perfection.

What’s most impressive about the Thermapen One is how much closer it gets to the final temperature in the early stages of its reading. Almost instantly, it knows that your 160 °F chicken is at least 150 °F. Within 2 seconds, it has a reading that's 1 or 2 degrees away. That kind of speed means you can get food off the heat quicker if you know it’s going too far, or you can be certain to turn down your frying oil. The Thermapen One’s range is -58 °F to 572 °F (about -50 °C to 300 °C), the same as the ThermoPop 2’s.

The Thermapen’s fold-out probe is 4.5 inches long, just like the ThermoPop 2’s. But the thermometer body is larger, so when fully extended, it puts you a good 10.5 inches from anything hot. The Thermapen’s IP67 rating is the same as the ThermoPop 2’s, which means it’s totally protected against dust, and it can withstand a dunk in water for up to 30 minutes, as long as you don’t twist it around while it’s submerged. It can certainly survive some splashed barbecue sauce or spilled drinks.

Inside the Thermapen One there’s a single AAA battery, which lasts for a very long time (the Mk4 also used a AAA battery and it lasted at least a year in our kitchen). The biggest visible difference between the Thermapen One and the Mk4 is the new battery compartment, which is larger and easier to access. The compartment still contains switches that let you disable the automatic shutoff or screen rotation, switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius, and choose whether the Thermapen shows a decimal point.

Having those switches inside the battery compartment is something of an inconvenience if you need to change between Celsius and Fahrenheit frequently. While it’s easier to do so than it used to be on the Mk4, you still need to unscrew the battery cover to access the menu and set buttons.

On top of that, it would be an improvement if the thermometer had a magnet for hanging it on something like a fridge. But for $15 you can buy a glow-in-the-dark, silicone case with a lanyard and a magnet on the back. ThermoWorks also sells screw-in wall brackets for the Thermapen in plastic and stainless steel.

The major technology difference between the Thermapen and its competitors is its thermocouple sensor. The majority of instant-read thermometers (including the Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo, our mid-level upgrade) use a thermistor, a small, relatively cheap but accurate resistor bundle stored in the tip of the probe. The Thermapen’s thermocouple has a thin sensor wire running down its whole probe, and the thermometer also keeps a more extensive set of reading and calibration electronics inside its sizable body. Because the wire has less mass than a thermistor module, it registers changes in temperature more quickly. That thin wire also allows for a thinner probe, which is helpful for piercing thin fish fillets and reducing the size of juice-releasing punctures.

ThermoWorks has made improvements to the Thermapen One’s construction that allow it to read faster than previous models, giving it an increased accuracy of ± 0.5 °F (compared with the Mk4’s ± 0.7 °F). The Thermapen One comes with a certificate of calibration from ThermoWorks’s NIST-traceable lab, which means it meets certain industrial regulations and standards of performance. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to recalibrate the Thermapen One. But according to the representative we spoke to, you can press and hold the menu button (located in the battery compartment) while the thermometer is turned on, and adjust ± 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit using the set button. When you have the desired value selected, the menu button will save it.

If you wanted to save about $20, you could buy the “classic” Thermapen. It’s not as fast at reading temperatures, it lacks the rotation and display upgrades, and it sticks to a coin battery. We think the Thermapen One’s conveniences are worth the full cost. It also comes with an impressive five-year warranty, which is an improvement over the Thermapen Mk4’s two-year warranty.

This single-probe thermometer offers more features, including a timer and volume adjustment.

If you want more features in a probe thermometer, such as a timer and volume adjustment, we recommend the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm. It was very accurate in our tests and has a longer probe than the Dot, but we found that it was slightly slower at reading temperatures. The ChefAlarm offers the same impressive temperature range as the Dot, from -58 °F to 572 °F for the probe and up to 700 °F for the cable.

In our tests, the ChefAlarm took a couple seconds longer than the Dot to read temperatures, but it was just as accurate. The timer on this model is a nice addition (it can handle countdowns as long as 99 hours, 59 minutes), and the backlit screen is handy for outdoor grilling at night. The ChefAlarm also allows you to set the minimum and maximum temperatures, which have corresponding alarms to alert you when they’ve been reached.

The two strong magnets on the back of the unit keep it in place when attached to the side of an oven or grill; the digital unit is also hinged, so you can lay it flat or adjust it to a specific angle. We like that the ChefAlarm thermometer comes with a case to hold both the probe and the digital unit. However, in spite of the ChefAlarm’s various benefits, we think most people will be fine with the Dot.

Regardless of which type of meat thermometer you use, keep in mind that the probe measures only the area of the meat it’s touching. You need to know where to place the probe to correctly measure the internal temperature of the meat—a challenge, particularly for beginner cooks.

According to Robert D. Edman, assistant commissioner of New York City’s Bureau of Food Safety and Community Sanitation, “The probe should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat, poultry, or poultry parts, away from bone, fat, or gristle. When taking the temperature of beef, pork, or lamb roasts, the probe should be inserted midway into the roast, avoiding the bone. The core temperature is what is being determined.” (Chef Janet Crandall told us that bones conduct more heat and will give you a higher temperature reading.)

For thinner proteins, such as fish fillets, insert the probe sideways. If you’re uncertain about the proper placement or final temperature of the meat you’re cooking, most of the pros we spoke with recommended taking multiple readings using an instant-read thermometer.

Before you use any thermometer, “you should always make sure [it is] calibrated,” said Crandall. “A thermometer should read 32 °F in ice water, and 212 °F in boiling water.” Most thermometers come calibrated, but it’s still good to double-check before using.

Never put the digital unit of a thermometer in an oven, grill, or smoker, or attach it to the lid of a grill, which can exceed 700 °F and melt it. Though the ThermoWorks probe thermometer cables are heat-resistant to 700 °F, avoid placing them directly on a grill grate or oven rack, since doing so could damage their inner insulation. Also, straighten any kinks in the cable, which can break the inner wires if left alone. And never place a probe tip directly into hot coals or fire. Always use a hot pad or an oven mitt when retrieving a probe thermometer from the oven or grill.

To prevent cross-contamination, be sure to properly sanitize the probe after each use, washing it thoroughly with dish soap and hot water.

If you want a wireless probe thermometer for grilling: Like the ChefAlarm, the ThermoWorks Smoke has a backlit screen and volume control. But in contrast to our other picks, the Smoke can operate via a wireless receiver and has two channels to accommodate multiple probes: one probe to take the internal temperature of the meat, and an air probe for measuring the ambient temperature of the oven, grill, or smoker. The Smoke also allows you to set the minimum and maximum temperatures for each probe, and will sound corresponding alarms when the set temperatures have been reached. In our tests, the Smoke maintained its wireless connection for an unobstructed distance of 350 feet, more than double the distance of the Weber iGrill 2. But considering that this thermometer is also $60 more than the ThermoWorks Dot, we think it makes sense only for grill and smoker enthusiasts.

If you want to monitor the Smoke’s probes from any distance, ThermoWorks also offers the exorbitantly priced Smoke Gateway, which pairs with Wi-Fi to allow you to get alerts from the Smoke on your phone. We tried out the Smoke Gateway and thought it worked fine, but we think it’s a pricey convenience item that most people can do without.

The Lavatools Javelin was previously our runner-up pick, but after some consideration we concluded that it didn’t hold a candle to the ThermoWorks ThermoPop 2 in terms of the most useful features. The Javelin has a notably shorter probe, and it’s not as waterproof as the ThermoPop 2. Also, its display does not rotate or light up.

The OXO Good Grips Thermocouple Thermometer, which costs about the same as the Thermapen One, did very well in our tests and read temperatures in about 2 seconds. Because its digital screen always stays illuminated, it’s especially easy to read, but the digits rotate in only two directions (whereas the digits on the ThermoPop 2 and the Thermapen rotate in four directions). At 4.13 inches, the OXO’s probe is slightly shorter than those of the ThermoPop 2 and the Thermapen, so it can’t reach quite as deep into large cuts of meat. The OXO is rated IP66 (versus the Thermapen One’s rating of IP67). If you’re willing to spend $100 on a thermometer, we think you’re better off getting the Thermapen One over the OXO because the Thermapen performed better in our tests overall and has an excellent track record.

The factory-calibrated, Thermapen-like Maverick PT-100 was glacial in testing ice water (taking nearly 11 seconds), and it read lower than all of the other thermometers in our sous vide test. Readings aside, the Maverick PT-100 doesn’t offer a lot of helpful features, and it’s strangely less dustproof and waterproof (IP44) than most of the thermometers we’ve tested.

Taylor’s 9867 Digital Folding Probe Thermometer has an interesting design, but it landed in the middle between our picks and cheaper models. Its display is bright, and its probe tip, at 1.5 millimeters, is thinner than the Thermapen’s. It’s not a bad thermometer, but its digital screen doesn’t rotate. We think it’s worth spending a couple of dollars more on the ThermoPop 2 for the convenience that feature provides.

The CDN TCT572-W ProAccurate Folding Thermocouple Thermometer, a Thermapen-style model, was pretty fast in our first chicken-broiling test, but still half a second behind the Thermapen. In a second test, the CDN finished behind all of our picks.

Our prior runner-up pick, the Polder Stable-Read, kept pace with our picks in an early 2016 test. It issued a helpful beep when it reached a stable reading (or at least when it determined that it had), and is a bit cheaper than the ThermoPop 2. But it’s not often in stock on Amazon. If you like a stick-style thermometer, it’s a decent pick, but the ThermoPop 2 suits more people.

The CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate Thermometer, our original pick for the best instant-read thermometer, remains an accurate thermometer with a wide range. It has one of the thinnest probes, at 1.5 millimeters, as well as a calibration option and a number of handy temperature-holding and alert functions for a relatively low price. But newer thermometers in a reasonably close price range do the job much faster.

The CDN DTW450L ProAccurate Waterproof Thermometer claims, right on its Amazon page, a 6-second response time, and in our first chicken test it averaged 6.13 seconds. It has an 8-inch probe, which is so long that we constantly feared it would snap.

The Taylor 9842 Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer has a good range (-40 °F to 450 °F), essentially mediocre speed ratings (although notably slower on ice water), and a calibration screw. It’s the best thermometer you can get for about $10, but that’s not what most people are looking for.

The AcuRite 00665E Digital Instant Read Thermometer is an inexpensive thermometer in the fold-out style of the Thermapen. It felt cheap to use—the buttons seemed to require mashing, and the probe was not particularly thin. And this thermometer always took at least 10 seconds to get hot or cold temperatures—sometimes up to 19 seconds.

The Lavatools Element was very slow at reading temperatures, taking up to 15 seconds in some instances. The temperature readings don’t gradually increase, either, jumping from number to number, which makes it difficult to anticipate temperature changes. Its digital controls aren’t as intuitive to use as our picks’, and the buttons are very difficult to press.

We found the receiver of the ThermoPro TP20 difficult to read because it alternated the display of both probe temperatures, which we found confusing. The membrane-sealed push button on the receiver also became worn after only a few uses.

Since the ThermoPro TP16 is so light and the cable is so stiff, the unit moved around the counter when we opened and closed the oven door. We also found that the stand put the digital screen at an awkward angle for reading.

The Maverick ET-733 suffered notable delays in reading temperatures. In one instance, the thermometer jumped from 73 °F to 214 °F, showing no temperatures in between. This model is also covered by a paltry 90-day warranty.

Although the Taylor 1478-21 Digital Cooking Thermometer has intuitive buttons and a simple design, it’s slow at reading temperatures. It also can’t work on a hot grill because the cable and probe are heat-resistant to only 392 °F.

Good (but pricey) probe thermometers with wireless capability

The ThermoWorks Signals 4-Channel BBQ Alarm Thermometer is essentially the next step up from the ThermoWorks Smoke. It comes with four probes (one is an air probe) instead of two, all of which you can use simultaneously. It can also connect to an app on your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which is nice if you’re smoking meat and you want to monitor its progress from inside. But at $230, this four-channel thermometer is overkill unless you’re on a competitive barbecue team, or if you regularly cook several cuts of meat at once.

The ThermoWorks BlueDot is the same as the ThermoWorks Dot we recommend, except it can connect to an app on your phone via Bluetooth, which allows you to monitor the food you’re cooking from a distance. ThermoWorks advertising says the BlueDot can stay connected for an unobstructed distance of 95 feet, but in our tests it lost the connection at around 75 feet. We think most people will be happy with the Dot, which currently costs about $20 less.

Not-so-good probe thermometers with wireless capability

The Lavatools Carbon Lite uses Bluetooth to connect to an app on your phone, but unlike other models we tested, it lacks manual controls. This model was much slower at reading temperatures than our picks. And though the preset temperatures on the app are helpful for beginner cooks, we found the layout confusing when setting custom temperatures. The thermometer kept its connection for up to 250 feet in our tests, which was 100 feet less than the ThermoWorks Smoke. It also had a narrower temperature range than the ThermoWorks thermometers we recommend.

The Weber iGrill 2 was very slow to read temperatures and had the shortest probes of all the models we tested. We found that it began to lose its wireless connection at around 125 feet.

Designed specifically for the Weber Genesis II and Genesis II LX gas grills, the Weber iGrill 3 is not appropriate for most people. Also, since this model lacks a digital display on the unit, you can view the thermometer’s temperature readings only via an app on your phone.

We didn’t test the Meater Probe thermometer because it can read a maximum internal temperature of only 212 °F, which means it’s not suitable for high-temperature cooking. Also, its probe is so egregiously thick, it would be like sticking a Sharpie into your meat.

We opted not to test the Loki Sphere One Probe Bundle because it’s very expensive and has a smaller temperature range than our current picks. This model can accommodate up to four probes at once, but that’s overkill for what most people need.

This article was edited by Marilyn Ong and Marguerite Preston.

Thermapen Calibration Procedure (PDF), ThermoWorks

Marissa Rothkopf Bates, Taking the Temperature of the Mighty Thermapen, Newsweek, February 20, 2014

Sharon Franke, Get Your Gourmet Fix on the Go, Good Housekeeping, July 27, 2014

Christopher Null, We Put 5 Instant-Read Thermometers to the Test, Wired, February 23, 2015

Alex Colon, ThermoWorks Thermapen, PCMag, May 29, 2014

Nicki Pendleton Wood, Test Drive: Remote Probe Thermometers, Fine Cooking

Clip-On Probe Thermometers for Meat, Deep Frying, and Candy Making (subscription required), Cook’s Illustrated

Meathead Goldwyn, Our Favorite Thermometers For Food, Cooking, Ovens, Grills, And Smokers, As Well As Ratings And Reviews Of More Than 100 Devices,

Michael Sullivan has been a staff writer on the kitchen team at Wirecutter since 2016. Previously, he was an editor at the International Culinary Center in New York. He has worked in various facets of the food and restaurant industry for over a decade.

ThermoWorks makes the best thermometers for cooking and barbecuing. They’re fast, accurate, durable, well designed, and easy to read.

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The Best Meat Thermometers for 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

Instant Read Meat Thermometer Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).