When we?re talking about meat, it?s always, always better to be safe than sorry. No-one wants of your classic cookouts to turn into a party of upset stomachs.
So, let?s take a closer look at five of the top instant-read meat thermometers. This way you can make sure that uncooked meat is never a problem in your life again.
What To Know About An Instant Read Meat Thermometer Before You Buy It
You might make the easy mistake of thinking ?meat thermometers? How complex can they really be?? However, the truth is that there are quite a few different types of digital instant-read thermometers out there.
What?s more, there are features you need to think about when you?re making your purchase. The factors we look at below can affect the practicality of the thermometer in certain situations, not to mention the accuracy and reliability of the readings.
Let?s break it down so you get a good idea of what to keep an eye out for.
Type of Probe
The question of which type of probe an instant-read thermometer uses gets into the technical side of how they work. Electric thermometers measure the heat in your meat through a probe that?s inserted before converting the readings into a temperature. Largely, there are two types of probes: thermistors and thermocouples.
Thermistors tend to be found in lower-priced instant read thermometers. This is because they?re not as accurate as thermocouples and don?t operate as quickly. The probe itself is also thicker than a thermocouple. Also, it has to sink deeper into the meat, which might mean it is unsuitable for thin cuts.
As thermocouples are more complex, more accurate, and faster than thermistors, they also tend to be more expensive. If you?re a fan of thin cuts of meat, such as burgers and fish, opting for a thermocouple is recommended. Otherwise, it?s a matter of price. If you?re willing to use a thermistor thermometer, give it a few degrees margin of error at lower temperatures.
Screen Size and Functionality
All instant read thermometers are going to have an LCD that shows the temperature measured in the meat, as well as any other information or functions the thermometer might offer. The bigger the screen is, the easier it will be to read the results and any more data it may have to display.
You also want to consider a thermometer that has a backlit screen. It?s easier to see the results with the lighting, which might, otherwise, make it hard to read, such as camping at night.
How long it takes to read
Technically speaking, no instant read thermometers are truly instant. But, the 2-15 second wait for your results is still much quicker than waiting several minutes to see what a conventional thermometer said.
See if the manufacturer mentions the reading time of a thermometer. For thin cuts and steak, those extra seconds can make a big difference.
If you got a long day of grilling ahead of you, you want to make sure that your thermometers got all the juice it needs to keep going. You can find instant read thermometers with a battery life of two thousand, or even three thousand hours.
You should also consider whether or not the thermometer has a feature to tell you when it?s running low on power. It could be ensured that you?re never stuck in the dreaded situation of cooking meat without being able to tell what temperature it is.
You want to make sure that your thermometer is resilient. It can handle being transported, used, and even dropped from time to time without damaging the complex circuitry inside.
Besides the resilience of the device, you should also ensure that it?s able to tolerate high temperatures. Waterproof thermometers can be a wise choice, too. You never know when it might meet a splash from an open cup or, heaven forbid, rain during your cookout.
Accuracy of reading
If a meat thermometer isn?t accurate, then it?s effectively useless. Even amongst lower price units, it?s rare to find one that doesn?t have a reading accuracy of 0.9?F within the actual temperature.
As mentioned, thermistor thermometers are slightly less accurate at lower temperatures. But, practically, this won?t affect you too much when you?re measuring the temperature of cooked meat.
When it comes to measuring meat, most instant read thermometers are going to work just fine. They are able to measure temperatures from between 32? F and 392?F.
Some can go even higher, able to measure temperatures of up to 550 or 600?F. But, that shouldn?t be too much of a worry for those using it for its intended purpose.
If you?re fond of your grilling and you need to use a thermometer on a regular basis, then it?s recommended that you consider investing in one that?s reliable, quick, well-built, and easy to use.
More affordable meat thermometers can still work as well. They just might be a little slower and a little more prone to annoyances (such as lacking a backlit screen).
Best Instant Read Thermometer for Meat
My rating –
Despite being in the mid-range in terms of price, the GDealer DT09 has a lot of value to offer. Within 4 seconds, it can display temperatures from -58?F to 572?F. You can have it read in either ?C or ?F, whichever you prefer.
It?s super easy to whip out and use, too. The 4.6? stainless probe is foldable, meaning you can keep it nice and compact when it?s not in use. I do particularly like the convenience features included, such as the backlit LCD display which you can turn on with a press of the button. Not only does it make it easier to see at night, but it also means it?s not wasting battery when you can see it clearly without backlight.
Speaking of battery life, it also comes with an auto-off feature. So, you don?t need to worry about it draining for too long. The lithium battery offers roughly a year of battery life, so you?ll get plenty of use of it, too.
In terms of material and build quality, it doesn?t feel like the sturdiest device, but it?s suitable. The stainless-steel probe is completely food safe, as is the ABS plastic case. It also has a magnet on the back of the device, so you can keep it stuck to the fridge when it?s not in use. It?s waterproof, too, so you don?t need to worry about any spillages or rain. You can wash it in water without fear.
Pros and Cons:
|Angle adjustable and foldable food-safe stainless-steel probe||Slightly inaccurate compared to other instant read thermometers, with a margin of error around 2?F|
|Backlit screen with hold function to make it easier to see the reading in all circumstances||Though it?s still rather light, it?s also one of the larger instant read thermometers around|
|Auto-off feature to help you conserve battery life||Lacks a feature that tells you when you?ve reached the perfect temperature for different kinds of meat|
|Made entirely of food-safe and waterproof materials||The plastic case feels a little cheap and the probe feels like it has too much wiggle room|
|Magnet and holder for kitchen hooks||There have been complaints from other users that it doesn?t remain in good condition for too long|
|Long-lasting battery that offers up to a year of use according to the manufacturer|
|As feature-packed as some of the more expensive options out there|
My rating –
Though slightly pricier than GDEALER?s offering, the Kizen Instant Read Meat Thermometer is still affordable compared to some of the more expensive devices on the market. When it comes to features, it?s just as well equipped as well.
It?s as instant as instant reads get, able to display the temperature of meat, foods, and liquids within 2 or 3 seconds. It is able to measure a range between -58?F to 572?F, which is effectively the standard for a meat thermometer. It?s more accurate than the GDEALER, too, having a margin of error that?s at 1?F. Still not the most accurate that you can find, but perfectly acceptable for the price.
In terms of temperature and features, there isn?t too much to set it apart from the GDEALER. It has a backlight feature, a hold function, auto-off, the ability to display in Fahrenheit and Celsius. Similarly, it also has a magnet and a hang hole so you can hook it up on the wall easily.
Like the GDEALER, it?s also made of food-safe, waterproof ABS plastic and stainless steel. However, its build quality feels a lot more resilient and stable. Despite the fact that it?s smaller, it feels a little weightier in your hand and, as such, you might have a little more confidence in using it.
I prefer the design overall, too. The device is ergonomically shaped so that it?s comfortable to keep a hold of. The bright blue screen makes it even easier to read the temperature. It even has a chart printed on it that shows the ideal cooking temperatures for a range of foods.
Pros and Cons:
|Accurate, fast readings across a good range of temperatures||ABS might not be as waterproof as advertised, as condensation was noticed inside the screen after it had been washed a few times|
|Pre-calibrated, so it offers accurate readings out of the box||Battery compartment can be a hassle to open|
|Bright and backlit LCD screen|
|Feels well-made, sturdy, and comfortable in your hand|
|Free battery comes along with it|
|Magnet and hook hole for convenient storage|
|Comes with a free eBook with recipes to get started using it|
|Waterproof, making it safe to wash with water|
My rating –
A slender, lightweight, and rather streamlined device, the Habor 022 is the most budget-friendly device we?re taking a look at today. The low price is one of the biggest draws, and as a result, it?s not as feature-packed as some of the other devices here, which could be a detractor for some.
The 4.7? probe is long enough to safely test the temperature of even the hottest meats. And, it offers results in 4-6 seconds for temperatures between -58?F to 572?F. That?s a little slower than some of the others we?ve looked at here, and it?s worth noting that it does have a temperature accuracy of within 2?F, which may be sub-standard to some tastes.
However, if you?re an infrequent griller, then this feature light, the convenient device might just the thing you need. It has no magnet like some of the others reviewed here but still has a handy hook hole.
Some of the features we would have liked to see, and that are present in the others are an LCD screen backlight, a foldable probe, a HOLD function, and a magnet. Still, for those looking for an inexpensive, easy option, it can do just fine.
Pros and Cons:
|Light, streamlined design||Zero waterproof capabilities|
|Easy to use and understand with no extra features to muddle things up||No backlight on the LCD screen|
|Battery included with an advertised||No HOLD function|
|The probe isn?t foldable or adjustable at all|
|Feels a little flimsier than some of the other devices reviewed here|
|Reading accuracy is substandard|
|Takes longer to give results than some others mentioned here|
My rating –
The highest budget instant read meat thermometer we?ll be reviewing here, today, though still highly affordable compared to some of the truly expensive devices on the market. Compact compared to the others reviewed here, and easy to store with a foldable probe and magnetic back. It?s super convenient for attaching to a fridge or keeping in your pocket until you need it.
It reads temperatures in up to 4 seconds, which does make a smidge slower than some of the fastest thermometers we?ve looked at. But, it has a margin of error of around 0.9?F, which is as good as you can get in the market. It?s also worth noting that the -40?F to 482?F measuring range is a little smaller than the past three we?ve looked at but still more than enough to gauge the right heat of all meats.
In terms of features, it?s got a large, clear LCD display screen, though it?s unfortunately not backlit at all. It also has both a magnet and a hook hole, so storage is relatively easy. The Javelin feels nice, ergonomic and sturdy in the hand despite the fact that it?s so small. But, I have seen complaints about it malfunctioning over time, so I can?t speak comprehensively to the build quality.
Pros and Cons:
|Lightweight, compact||Splashproof, but not waterproof|
|Very accurate readings at a reasonable speed||A lot of complaints about malfunctions|
|Convenient magnet and hook hole||Auto-OFF function only activates after 60 minutes, which can drain your battery over repeated use|
|Large LCD display|
|Comfortable and ergonomic design|
My rating –
Last, but not least, we have the ThermoPro TP03, one of the more affordable devices we?re looking at, but surprisingly, not as light on the features as the Habor 022. You might not be able to tell that from the design, with only one button to press. Indeed, it doesn?t have the settings and functions that some of the others do. It doesn?t have a HOLD function, for one.
It is, however, backlit. The LCD screen isn?t the biggest, but a little light does make it effortless to read. The sole button turns it on and off, and also turns on the light. On the back, you need a pen or some other thin object to press the button that switches from C to F and back again.
It does have a lot of the convenience we expect from a decent thermometer, too. A foldable and retractable probe, magnetic back, and hook hole all make it super easy to store when out of use. The accuracy is surprising for the price, too. A margin of error of 0.9?F puts it up there with the most well-known competitors.
Pros and Cons:
|Fast, accurate readings between -58?F to 572?F in up to 5 seconds||Fiddly controls|
|Magnetic back, hook hole and foldable probe all make it easy to use and store||No lock or hold button to help you see the temperature after measuring|
|Auto-OFF feature to help you save battery life|
Out of all the meat thermometers reviewed here, it?s the Kizen that I?m likely to come back to using again.
It has all the features I want, including backlighting, a HOLD button, auto-off, a magnetic back, and a foldable probe. Many of the others lacked one or more of these features.
As for the ThermoPro, I had to go with the waterproof option over it. Though I?m not entirely sure any meat thermometer at this range will truly be waterproof.