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Whether you’re grilling on the BBQ or roasting a large bird for the holidays, a get-together to share a meal is a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. That is, if your dinner is cooked properly.
Leaving a large cut of meat on the grill or in the oven too long can quickly turn it into an overcooked, leathery embarrassment.
Not enough cooking time can leave harmful bacteria unscathed, creating a welcome mat for food-borne illnesses. And neither scenario is going to add to the enjoyment of your meal…
The experienced chef seems to have a sixth sense for when meat is ready, but for us kitchen mortals, trying to determine when a large roast is properly cooked involves a lot of guesswork.
Timing alone is unreliable, as it doesn’t allow for the idiosyncrasies of your oven, or other factors like altitude, humidity, or the weather.
And determining doneness by gauging the clarity of the juices leaves many feeling uncertain – using a crystal ball seems to offer more clarity.
However, using a simple little gadget like a meat thermometer can eliminate the guesswork altogether – and make you look like a brilliant star in the kitchen!
Simple to use, inexpensive, and small enough to store in a drawer, an accurate thermometer can deliver sumptuous and perfectly cooked meats time after time.
Let’s have a closer look at:
- Our bottom line recommendations
- How they work
- Features to look for
- Food safety
- Cleaning and maintenance
- Detailed reviews of the top 5 models
Bottom Line Up Front
The Best Quality: Supreme Home Cook
The Supreme Home Cook Oven & BBQ Touchscreen Digital Meat Cooking Thermometer and Timer is THE best model for most people.
Not only does it feature a robust build, it’s also oven safe up to 500°F.
Moreover, the device allows you to preselect the correct temperatures for rare, medium rare, medium, and well done, and the type of meat that you are preparing.
And unlike its competitors (and some direct copycats), this feature actually works.
Top Pick in Wireless: ThermoPro
Have you ever dreamed about being able to monitor a chunk of protein “doing its thing” on the grill or in the smoker AND being able to do other tasks at the same time? Well, the ThermoPro TP-11 Wireless Food Thermometer allows you do just that.
Prepping side dishes in the kitchen WHILE your Boston butt or brisket slow cooks on the barbecue is super easy, thanks to this remarkable device. Simply stick the probes into the meat and the connected transmitter will send the temperature readings a receiver up to 300 feet away.
It works in the oven as well, allowing you concentrate on other household chores or simply take a break without worrying if your roasted chicken is becoming overcooked.
For Those That Like Simplicity: The Wietus Collapsible
Look no further than the Wietus Instant Read Collapsible Digital Electronic Food Thermometer. Not many bells and whistles, but a product that will remain dependable for many years to come.
With a 100% unconditional lifetime guarantee and National Safety Foundation (NSF) accreditation, the Wietus is an excellent choice both for the pro and the home cook.
Be aware that there are many knockoffs, and be sure to pick up an original as the clones don’t have the same quality of construction or accuracy.
About Meat Thermometers
A meat thermometer is a kitchen tool used to measure the internal temperature of meat, such as roasts, steaks, and poultry. As a cut of meat cooks, the level of doneness is correlated to its internal temperature, so that a temperature reading will indicate when your cut is cooked as desired.
It will have a sharply pointed metal probe to insert into the core of your meat, and a dial or digital readout to display the temperature.
Some will show only the temperature, while others will have a variety of markings to select the type of meat being cooked (beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish), as well as the specified degree of doneness (rare, medium, or well-done).
They come in a variety of styles including the classic dial style, simple folding units, infrared scanners, and two-piece base and probe units.
There’s even wireless units so you can be cooking outside on the BBQ or a smoker, but still have the freedom to work inside with a clip-on receiver to monitor progress.
Some of these can be left in the oven while cooking, while others can’t.
The old school dial style uses a bi-metallic strip that rotates a needle to indicate temperatures.
Another common style is the pop-up variety commonly found in turkeys – a spring is released when the meat reaches a set temperature, popping up the cap to indicate completion.
The two-piece digital style uses an electronic sensor in the probe, and the probe is connected by a thin and flexible heat-resistant cable to the display base.
The probe is left in the meat, and the cable comes out of the oven to the display, which can be programmed to sound an alarm when the set temperature is reached.
As a word of caution, care needs to be taken with the two-piece probes to ensure the wire doesn’t come into contact with hot elements or metal, which can damage them.
Infrared surface scanners measure the surface temperature of the object the laser is pointed at, rather than internal temperatures. As such, they can’t reliably be used on chicken, turkey, pork, meatloaf, or any dish that requires a specific core temperature for food safety.
When using a meat thermometer, the tip of the probe should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat, but not touching the bone.
If the probe makes contact with bone, an inaccurately high reading will occur as bone conducts heat better than muscle.
Cooking meat to a specific interior temperature is important, because precise levels of heat are required to kill pathogens that may cause the most grievous of foodborne illnesses.
Using a thermometer is really the only way to accurately gauge how well the meat is cooked in order to kill bacteria, and conversely, it also helps to prevent overcooking the meat.
And according to the USDA, meat that’s overdone is not only dry and tough, it also suffers from significant nutrient loss as well.
If you’re unsure what the recommended internal temperatures of various cuts are, click this link from the USDA for their chart of recommendations. For a list that’s a bit more comprehensive, go to the Health Canada site.
Cleaning and Maintenance
To prevent cross-contamination of bacteria from raw foods to other foods, all thermometers used on foodstuffs should be washed with hot, soapy water before and after each use.
Take care to read the recommended cleaning technique for each model, as some should only be wiped down and kept away from hot liquids or water.
Features to Look For
When purchasing a meat thermometer, check the following list of features to ensure the one you get will suit your needs.
Instant or rapid-read capability
Most digital models will have an instant-read feature, which is important for the types of probes that can’t be left in the oven.
Two-piece styles that can be left in the meat while it cooks will have a continuous display.
Some of the bi-metal dial models can take as long as 30 seconds to display – and the temperature might actually change in that time span, producing a less accurate reading.
Clear Written Directions
Look for easy to understand instructions, particularly with models that have automatic and manual program features.
Not all styles are designed with an intuitive interface, and being unable to program your thermometer can be very frustrating.
Many of the higher-end probes will have count-up and count-down timers to assist with cooking times.
An alarm to indicate when your meat is cooked is a fairly standard feature. And, an alarm to indicate when the meat is close to completion is a nice bonus – as meat will continue to cook while standing, this way you can take it out of the oven a few minutes early so it doesn’t overcook.
Large Display Area
Supreme Home Cook
From Supreme Home Cook, this digital meat thermometer offers a variety of features that have made a lot of home cooks very happy.
The base unit has a clear touchscreen for smooth and simple operation, and the large digital display face is easy to read. With a straightforward menu, you can pre-set temperatures to ensure every cut you cook is done to perfection – very user friendly, set-up is complete with only three touches.
The stainless steel leave-in probe and wire can withstand heat up to 500°F, and can be used in either the oven or the BBQ.
Operation is simplicity itself. First, you select the type of meat. Then you select your preference for doneness. Finally, insert the thermometer and turn the alarm on. A loud, clear tone will sound when your cut is cooked to the ideal temperature for your settings.
The self-programmable feature pre-sets temperatures for poultry, beef, lamb, pork and fish, so guesswork is entirely eliminated and the end results are fabulous. Or, you can manually set the temperature yourself in the program mode.
A handy On/Off switch is located on the back of the display stand, as is the Thermometer/Timer switch, which can also be used as a countdown timer.
The display base also has a flip-out stand, and two magnets for attaching to the oven or BBQ, and can be set for either Fahrenheit or Celsius.
It measures 3 x 1 x 3”, and the overall length of the probe and braided wire connection is 48”.
It requires two AA batteries, which are not included. And it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
What Others Are Saying
The following comments are a compilation of the most commented-on aspects from verified purchasers on Amazon.
Definitely one of the highlights of this thermometer is its simplicity. Pre-set with only 3 touches, it eliminates all guesswork and cooks each individual piece to the ideal inner temperature for the chosen settings.
Another favorable highlight regards the cable. It’s flexible, thin and long enough to reach from the meat and out the oven door to the base where the display can be viewed with ease.
Both the kick-stand and the two small magnets on the back are appreciated, as they both make it easy to set in place and read the display.
Other favorable aspects are the features usually found on more expensive models – the timer, temperatures in both Celsius and Fahrenheit, and the alarm all add to the professional feel of this model.
On the downside, care needs to be taken when washing the probe as it isn’t totally waterproof.
Another complaint is the lack of memory. It reverts to Celsius every time it’s turned off, and doesn’t retain any settings users program into it.
And, being an electronic device, there are a number of complaints about the thermometer not working at all, or conking out after only a few uses.
However, customer service seems to be excellent with exchanges or refunds being hassle-free. They even tracked down one customer whose return period had expired and shipped him a new one.
Overall, the Supreme Home Cook is a good choice for reliable performance, with decent value for the price, and professional customer service to deal with any problems.
From ThermoPro we have a wireless meat thermometer with a separate transmitter and receiver that has a 300’ range; this means you can leave your meat in the BBQ or smoker outside without having to hover to hear an alarm.
ThermoPro TP-11 300 feet Range Wireless Food Thermometer available on Amazon
You can go back indoors with the receiver and continue with your day, knowing it will beep and flash when your meat temperature is reached.
The backlit LCD screen will proceed through 3 different color values to indicate changes: blue when temperatures increase by 10°F, green when the temperature reaches within 15°F of its target, and red when the set temperature is reached.
And, a loud audible tone is also emitted once the target temperature is hit.
The thermometer is programmed with pre-set temperatures for internal doneness, based on recommendations from the USDA. And all pre-programmed temperatures can be overridden to manually set temperatures to suit.
The 4” food-grade stainless steel probe designed with a step-down tip delivers accurate temperature readings, and delivers them quickly.
The probe and the wire measures 40” and delivers accurate readings for 16-482°F
The transmitter has a removable wire stand that converts to a hanger with an upward flip. And, for convenience, the splashproof receiver has a handy clip that allows you to go mobile – clip over your belt, and you’re free to roam.
The ThermoPro also features a count down and count up timer.
It also requires four AAA batteries, which are included with purchase.
What Others Are Saying
The following notes are compiled from the comments of verified purchasers on Amazon.
Of the favorite features, the transmitter’s ultra-large LCD display gets lots of compliments; its illumination and large font makes it very easy to read, and the changing light display, along with the alarm, makes it very clear when cooking time is over.
Another highlight feature is the ability to manually set temperatures, as well as having the pre-determined meat settings. Setup is painless, and the included instruction manual is well written.
The wire and probe provide plenty of length to reach from the oven, BBQ or smoker to a nearby countertop.
And, though a small item, the included batteries are a nice touch as well.
On the negative side, a few customers reported receiving duds that didn’t work on arrival. But, refunds and/or exchanges are easy and hassle-free.
Some also complain of the plastic feeling thin and cheap, and would like to see magnets on the back of the transmitter for wall mounted ovens.
Also, as with most probes, it isn’t waterproof and should not be fully immersed in water.
Overall, the ThermoPro delivers on its claims. User friendly, easy to set, well designed and well made, it’s one of the best in the wireless arena.
Weitus offers this fast and accurate digital thermometer, ideal for the BBQ, smoker or oven. The instant readout displays an accurate temperature within 4-7 seconds, suitable for professional and home cooks alike.
Wietus® Best Ultra Fast & Accurate Instant Read Digital Food Thermometer available on Amazon
The large temperature range of -50-572°F makes this utensil ideal for a wide variety of tasks from candy making and deep frying to beer making and grilling on the BBQ.
The LCD display is well illuminated, the large font ensures easy reading inside or outdoors, and it can easily be set to read either in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
Designed for convenience, the collapsible, stainless steel tapered probe folds up neatly when not in use. It has an automatic On/Off feature to ensure longevity of the AAA batteries, and the precision temperature sensor is accurate within 1°F.
Constructed with high quality, impact-resistant thermoplastics that prevent warping and buckling, it also carries NSF approval.
A quick-reference meat temperature guide is printed on the body and compliments the laminated guide that you can keep in your kitchen.
It measures 5.5 x 5.5 x 2”, and extends to 10” when the probe is in use. These sensors are splashproof but not waterproof, and shouldn’t be fully immersed in water. Clean with a damp cloth.
Backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
What Others Are Saying
The following notes are representative of the most frequent comments from verified Amazon purchasers, at the time of writing.
The folding probe feature is a hit as it switches on automatically when opened, and off when closed – which is handy for saving battery life. And, it makes storage easy in a utensil drawer.
The accuracy of measurement is also a highlight, as is the ultra-quick readout.
Another handy feature is the “hold” button. It will hold the measured temperature so you can remove it for easy reading – meaning you don’t have to put your face close to the grill.
Easy to use, of good quality, and with excellent customer service, it’s a great piece of kit for the kitchen.
As there are only two complaints at this time, there are no patterns of malfunctions or glitches to report.
An excellent performer, the Wietus collapsible meat thermometer offers very good value for the price in probes that cannot be left in the oven.
Smart Digital Fork-Style
The Best Seller in BBQ Forks on Amazon (at the time of writing), using the Smart Digital Meat Thermometer means you never have to serve under or overcooked food again.
Smart Digital Meat Thermometer Fork available on Amazon
It comes preprogrammed for a variety of cuts (beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey) and four different levels of doneness (rare, medium rare, medium, and well done) to ensure that preparing perfectly cooked food is painless process.
Select your meat and desired tenderness with the simple push of a button, and an alarm will beep to let you know when your meat is ready.
Heavy-duty construction and stainless steel tines mean this unit will be around for years to come.
The tines easily wipe clean and will never rust, and the sturdy handle won’t crack or fall apart.
With the patented Dual Probe Sensor Technology, you get fast and accurate temperature readings in 8-10 seconds. And the large font displays on the clear LCD screen for easy reading.
The extra-long meat probe measures just shy of 16”, so your hands stay safe when working with a hot oven or BBQ.
The Smart Digital Fork also comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
What Others Are Saying
The following notes are a compilation of reviews from verified purchasers at Amazon.
Satisfied shoppers are happy to report that the Smart Fork is easy to use in both the oven and BBQ.
The settings are easy to adjust, and the cooking levels of meats turn out as expected – rare is rare, medium is medium, and so on.
It displays operating temperatures quickly, and is very accurate.
The large size of the fork is another bonus, particularly on the BBQ as it gives a good distance from the heat of the grill.
And it seems to be quite sturdy and able to withstand a fair bit of abuse. One reviewer left it in the snow for a month, and after allowing it to air dry and giving it a shake, it’s operating fine.
On the negative side, the tines are too flimsy to comfortably use as a meat fork for larger cuts of meat.
And there’s a fairly high ratio of comments about the fork not working at all, or quitting after just a few uses. Plus, there’s a number complaints about slow and inaccurate temperature readings.
The Smart Digital Fork gives reasonable performance for a novelty thermometer at a fairly low price point.
Handy for the BBQ due to its length, you’ll still need another fork to actually lift hefty cuts of meat. And while a lot of users are quite happy with it, refinements are needed to make it a top-shelf product.
A classic dial-style thermometer, the CDN ProAccurate has an extra-large 2” dial with a durable laboratory glass lens, 5” stainless steel stem and a temperature range of 120-200°F.
It features a large glow-in-the-dark dial that makes it very easy to read, even in the oven, and displays core temperatures in 15-30 seconds.
The convenient temperature guide is also marked with a target range for various cuts of meat for confident cooking.
Easily calibrated with a simple boil test, you can count on accurate temperature readings time after time. The display shows both Celsius and Fahrenheit.
Easy to clean, it’s also dishwasher safe.
What Others Are Saying
The following comments are a compilation taken from verified purchasers on Amazon.
Satisfied customers are quite happy with the nice large face as the digits and recommended temperatures are clearly visible.
The green paint on the dial and arrow gives a good contrast with the oven light, and can be plainly seen from outside the oven through the window.
The boil test makes it easy to calibrate for accurate temperatures.
And a bonus point is that it’s dishwasher safe for thorough cleaning.
On the negative side, there are a number of reviewers who have complaints about the glow-in-the-dark paint. It doesn’t really glow and after some use the paint may fade, causing the numbers to blend in with the background color.
There’s also quite a few complaints about the glass fogging, and even a few about it cracking after some use.
With the dial being extra-large, it’s not really suitable for smaller cuts of meat. And it’s cumbersome in a utensil drawer.
There’s also numerous complaints about inaccurate readings – some of which sound like it wasn’t properly calibrated before use.
The CDN ProAccurate Meat Thermometer offers fairly good value for a basic, no-frills model. And the extra-large dial is definitely a highlight for those whose eyesight may not be 20/20 anymore.
At a low price point, it’s a good budget option – but could easily be improved with better instructions for temperature calibration.
And that concludes our look at the best meat thermometers that are available out in the marketplace. As usual, this post will be updated as new models are introduced and old ones are retired.
To sum it up, we believe the Supreme Home Cook offering is the best for most people, and has the best build quality.
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.