Grilling and smoking meat is no ordinary activity, it’s an art and a science. It demands both precision and a bit of flair.
One key piece of kit that you will need to get your meat smoked just right is a meat thermometer. By using a meat thermometer, you’ll always know when your meat is done and you’ll avoid suffering an undercooked or overcooked meal for dinner.
In this post, we will look at the best meat thermometers available so that you can know exactly what is going on inside your smoker.
Why should you use a meat thermometer?
A meat thermometer is the best way to ensure that the meat is cooked properly and that it is safe to eat. No matter how skillful a cook you are, knowing the temperature of your food will make you an even better cook.
One of the first things that you learn when you start smoking is that you cook to temperature and not to time, so having a good meat thermometer will allow you to know when everything is ready, or when it is time to wrap your meat.
Using a good meat thermometer will ensure that the meat is cooked through and has met the right temperature throughout. This is important for taste and to ensure that all bacteria have been killed by the heat.
Unfortunately, if you have an inaccurate or poor meat thermometer you can be misled by the reading and the results can be disappointing at best and dangerous at worst.
Best Meat Thermometer – Our Picks
Best Kitchen Thermometer 2021
|1. 23 Hours 59 minutes countdown time.|
2. 32°F to 482°F Temperature Range
3. Stainless Steel body.
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Digital Meat Thermometer
Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo
|1. 4000 Hours Battery Time|
2. 40°F to 482°F Temperature Range
3. Splash Resistant Construction
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Perfect Kitchen Thermometer
|1. Perform 180° Probe Rotation|
2. 14°F to 572°F Temperature Range
3. Touch-Screen Design
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Best Wireless Thermometer
|1. Backlit LED Display|
2. 32°F to 572°F Temperature Range
3. Lifetime Probes Warranty
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What are the different types of Meat Thermometers?
Meat thermometers come in different designs and specifications. These thermometers have different shapes as well i.e. some are fork-shaped while some are needle-shaped. Generally speaking, there are five major categories of meat thermometers. So here are some types of meat thermometers explained.
1. Bimetallic Oven-Safe
These meat thermometers have a bimetallic strip to achieve accurate readings. They usually require 2 minutes to give accurate readings because they have a metal strip that isn’t sensitive. They require meat probes to be inserted at least 2 inches inside the meat. They work best on the grill and digital electric smokers.
2. Bimetallic Instant-Read
These are more sensitive thermometers as they have a strip in them to measure temperature. They are not used in the oven. You have to insert meat probes 2 inches inside the meat and wait for 30 seconds. There is a digital dialer present in these meat thermometers which gives you the readings.
The thermistor is a type of thermometer which usually takes a bit longer time to give the readings. You insert meat probes only to a half-inch. It means it can measure meat slices as well. These thermometers are not oven safe and work best after the food is ready.
These are the instant-read thermometers that can generate reading in under 5 seconds. You can even measure the temperatures of thin meat pieces by inserting the meat probe just ½ inch. They are used inside the oven or smoker and also when the food is cooked.
Have you heard about the thermometer that nurses and moms use to check your temperature? Well, the liquid-filled thermometers are a bit like that. They offer you a wide range of readings. They are oven safe and can be used even for small pieces of meat. They work well for poultry and large steaks. You need to wait 2 minutes before you have an accurate reading.
How to Use Meat Thermometers
Safe usage of meat thermometers is the crux of using these tools. Broadly, one buys a thermometer that is either an oven-safe or instant-read depending on your requirements. The important thing is that you should always avoid bones and fat and insert it into the middle of the meat. This is due to the fact that fat melts at high temperatures and bones are the better conductors of heat.
Here are some common usage tips that will help you safely use meat thermometers.
- Always stick the probes sideways for thin pieces of meat.
- Always stick the probes where thighs meet the body in poultry.
- Keep your thermometer properly calibrated.
- Make sure you have read the user manual that came with the device.
- The probes are to be cleaned with warm soapy water.
- Turn off the meat thermometer after use.
Criteria For Selecting the Perfect Heat Thermometer
Choosing the perfect meat thermometer is time-consuming and requires a lot of research. So, we made criteria and shortlisted all of the below-mentioned thermometers according to the criteria. We chose these heat thermometers based on their temperature range, response time, price and of course user reviews on Amazon. By considering all these aspects, you can make an informed decision.
Best Meat Thermometer – Product Reviews
The ThermoPro TP-16 is a good single-channel meat thermometer that comes at a good price. It is not recommended to be used as an oven thermometer as the best accuracy is recorded to 200°F.
It comes with a large LCD to show the reading and an alarm setting to keep you updated about cooking. It is one of the best sellers on Amazon because of its affordability. When the target temperature is reached, you can hear an alert sound.
You can select the target temperatures by choosing the meat type (ribs, turkey, brisket, salmon etc). The silencing of the alarm is a bit tricky. You have to remove the probe first and let it cool before removing the meat thermometer.
The temperature accuracy is up to the mark and the Thermopro TP-16 unit comes with a 90 day warranty in case there are any issues. You have to make sure the thermometer doesn’t get wet as it is not waterproof.
Key Features of ThermoPro TP-16
- It is ideal for most cooking types like fast cooking, slow cooking, cooking in an electric smoker, or even on the grill.
- A good LCD size i.e. 1.3 x 1.8 inches.
- It has a programmable alert according to the guidelines of USDA for particular food and meat.
- You can set the temperature as well aside from the preset temperature.
- The temperature display can be on Fahrenheit and Celsius scale.
- The digital display is operated with only one AAA Battery.
- ThermoPro TP-16 meat thermometer read a vast scale from 32°F to 482°F.
- You can set a countdown up to 23 hours 59 minutes.
- Preset temperatures are USDA approved.
- The alarm and countdown feature is fantastic.
- You can preset temperatures manually.
- Long-Lasting because of stainless steel.
- Budget-friendly meat thermometer, ideal for budget shoppers.
- Not ideal for temperatures above 200°F (93°C)
- Not waterproof
- The user interface is not user-friendly.
- It has only one metal probe.
The ThermoPro TP-16 Meat Thermometer is an efficient and cost-effective thermometer. The features are as handy as it gets. I recommend it to cooks who want a cost-effective meat thermometer that still provides a precise reading.
It does what it is supposed to do in an efficient way. It offers convenience and above all food safety is not compromised.
The Javelin Pro Duo is an interesting product. It offers you high accuracy at a medium price. This thermometer is developed right out of the box as you don’t see many meat thermometers with a fold-away probe.
It is a solid thermometer but remains lightweight. This thermometer is specifically designed to be used as the best meat thermometer for smoking and grilling. It is a perfect thermometer for homeowners if you want to enjoy the occasional grilling and smoking in your backyard.
This meat thermometer draws its inspiration from a javelin and it definitely does look like one although thankfully much much smaller! And foldable.
It has a 4.5-inch probe that can open up to 10.75 inches. It means safer hands when you are checking at a fair distance. It has advanced technology that ensures accurate readings. It has “ambidextrous” features which mean the display orientates based on how you are holding it.
The whole device has been made easy to use and can be trusted totally.
Key Features of Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo
- The fast turnaround time read 2-3 seconds reading the temperature.
- It has a large 2-inch backlit display so you see the temperature more clearly.
- It has high durability because of its splash-resistant construction.
- The Javelin Pro Duo also features an intelligent stabilization alert and temperature hold.
- The battery is more than 4000 hours so you can use for a long time.
- Instant and Accurate results.
- 40°F to 482°F of temperature range.
- Backlight display with digital reading.
- Auto-sleep and motion wake.
- Extraordinary battery life of 4000 hours.
- Auto-rotating screen.
- Ideal size, not that big or too small.
- Short probe (4.5 inches)
- A little expensive
- Not for use inside the oven for remote viewing temperature.
- Digital screen is hard to read from the side angle.
Thanks to its length, it can even handle both thick-cut meat and thin cut meat. It gives you the advantage that you don’t need to leave the meat probe and keep checking at different time intervals. All you have to do is to hold this thermometer for 5 seconds and you’ll have an accurate reading on your screen.
ThermoPro TP18 is one of the newest models in the market released by ThermoPro. Being one of the latest, it is one of the best available from the company.
ThermoPro TP18 is an ideal choice when you are responsible for a BBQ with your friends and family. This unit can be activated by pressing a separate on/off button. This thermometer allows you to cook professionally every time without breaking a sweat.
This device is easy to manipulate with a simple touch of the screen buttons. It is amongst the most accurate meat thermometers in its class. It has a touch screen design so your thermometer will not get stuck between buttons. The readout is illuminated for easy visibility in dim light. ThermoPro TP18 comes with a 12-month warranty. It is also a very reasonable price considering its got so many features.
Key Features of ThermoPro TP18
- The temperature units are changeable from Fahrenheit to Celsius and vice versa.
- It is powered by 2 supplied AA batteries which are inserted in a non-sealed compartment.
- Accuracy is within 1% and response time is just 2 seconds.
- It allows you to rapidly gauge temperature and move on.
- The probe is designed for easy penetration into meats.
- It has an easy to read LED display with large numbers. You can even use it low light and dim conditions.
- It is capable of performing a 180° probe rotation.
- Very Economical price
- Gives instant result in just 3 seconds
- Accurate up to ±0.9°F
- Wide temperature range (14°F to 572°F)
- Short probe (4 inches)
- Sometimes buttons become unresponsive
- Not to be put inside the oven
ThermoPro TP18 is a highly recommended meat thermometer owing to its price and qualities. It has the fastest response time and a wide temperature range as well. ThermoPro TP18 also features a foldaway probe for storage purposes when not in use.
All in all, it is definitely one of the top meat thermometers on the market and you will have a wonderful experience using this thermometer.
ThermoPro Tp-08 is a meat thermometer emerging as a great challenger for other thermometers.
It doesn’t matter whether you are using an oven, grill, electric smoker, or fire pit; this thermometer is praised by users for its affordability, ease of use, accuracy, durability, and an excellent warranty.
The TP-08 allows you to be absolutely sure of meat temperature without evening opening your grill and smoker. It has an alarm that automatically goes off when your mean reaches a specified internal temperature.
It has a timer that can count up or down, depending on your choice. It means you can use it to keep track of all other things you are cooking along with meat. The receiver of this thermometer displays both food and cooker temperatures simultaneously. If the receiver loses signal from the transmitter for over four minutes, the receiver will alert the user by displaying dashes in lieu of the temperature reading and the receiver will emit a short chirp every four seconds.
Key Features of ThermoPro TP-08
- This model has a backlit LED display.
- The temperature range is immense i.e. 32°F – 572°F.
- It can be used on a variety of food items (meat, vegetables, etc.).
- You can set the temperature manually.
- The electronics have a 12 months warranty while there is a lifetime warranty for probes.
- The alarm functions are fantastic.
- It comes with a receiver belt clip and pullout stand.
- Very Economical price considering its features and durability
- Preset temperature feature
- Big LCD with backlight
- Report both (food and cooker/oven) temperatures
- Accurate up to ±1.5°F
- Wide temperature range (32°F to 572°F)
- Probes are rugged
- A little slow
- Both probes cannot be preset separately
If you are looking for a simple device that is easy to set up and allows you to be in full control of prep times, grill times, and temperature settings then this meat thermometer is best for you. It is seemingly one of the best wireless meat thermometers for its price and works well with any paired-up device. Click here to read more.
Why are Meat Thermometers essential?
We all know that food safety is more important than its taste. There is a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that indicated 1 out of 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illness. Food safety can be ensured by following simple steps.
- Clean and sanitize your hands.
- Keep raw meat away from other food and meat.
- Always use a thermometer to test temperature.
- Properly refrigerate food.
Now, meat thermometers take away the guesswork and allow you to cook meat at the safest temperatures.
These thermometers can be inserted into the meat to tell you the interior temperature of the meat.
You can use it also while cooking the food in an oven and an electric smoker. Usually, they work best with electric smokers. They even beep at you when it’s preheated. The best meat thermometers will help you predict cooking times accurately rather the just throwing a slab of meat in the smoker and hoping for the best.
Best Meat Thermometer – Buyer’s Guide
When selecting the best meat thermometer for your kitchen or bbq parties, you should consider the following properties of the thermometer:
While buying the kitchen thermometer, you should consider how accurate is this device. Most of the devices offer accuracy of ±1.5°F but the best ones are even more precise. However, we have already picked out the best one for you so don’t need to do the math again.
As technology advances, it’s not just about the quality, but the speed also matters. Similarly, while selecting the best meat thermometer, you should also consider the time it takes to report the accurate temperature,
The range of recordable temperature also plays a vital role in the selection of the best meat thermometer. Although it just seems impossible to cover the whole temperature range, the range tells us a lot about the quality of the thermometer the manufacturer is offering.
Last but not least, you also need to get value for money from your purchase. Although it is a very useful device that will improve your cooking and the safety of your food, there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on these devices.
One of the main aims of this research article was to filter out the best meat thermometer while keeping a low budget, and finding the best value meat thermometer available.
Best Meat Thermometer – FAQs
1. How often should I calibrate my meat thermometer?
First, one needs to understand the concept of thermometer calibration. It means testing the accuracy of a meat thermometer against a verifiable standard. The frequency of calibration depends on many factors and how often you have used it. Mechanical thermometers need to be calibrated regularly like dial thermometers. Digital thermometers are often calibrated once a year only.
2. Can you stick a meat thermometer in the oven?
It depends on the kind of meat thermometer that you are using. If you are using the one designed for grilling and smoking with attached probes; it will work nicely. But if you are using an instant-read thermometer with a plastic handle and LCD-screen, it’s a bad idea.
3. How do I leave the probe in when cooking?
You can only leave the probes inside that are specifically designed for that purpose. Try to stick the probes in the thickest part of the cut. For briskets and turkeys; it is simple but for steaks; you should insert the probes from the side.
The Bottom Line
I hope that you have enjoyed reading bout the best meat thermometer. I really think that they are an essential item to have when you are cooking.
They will help you to cook better tasting and safer food. Who doesn’t want that!
If you are new to smoking you might like to read about the best meats for beginners to smoke. These are fairly easy meats to start with and as you will see I have often stated the temperature that they must reach when you cook them.
So get your thermometer out!