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Everyone has their own method of checking to see when their chicken is cooked, steak is seared, or roast is ready. Some people pressing on their hand for comparison, others wait for the juices to run clear, and some just slice it open and take a look. But with a meat thermometer, there’s no guesswork as to when your meat is fully cooked, and no worries about whether you may have an unfortunate reaction a few hours later.
These days, the best meat thermometers are going digital, giving you an easy and accurate way to check on your meat without having to dissect any numbers or readings.
What You Need to Know When Buying a Digital Meat Thermometer
Meat Temperature: Meat thermometers can pinpoint the temperature of your cut within about 5 seconds and 0.9° Fahrenheit, sometimes from a range of -40° to over 500°F (make sure it offers Celsius too if that’s your preferred unit of measurement). Some deliver the temperature reading faster than others. To the casual cook, this may be a negligible difference. But when milliseconds matter, to a perfectionist chef trying to impress, this feature might be worth it. Waiting any longer can affect the texture, flavor, and juiciness.
Grill Temperature: Another application of a meat thermometer is the ability to get your grill temperature just right, before throwing your cuts on there. This is often overlooked, and can help avoid food being overcooked or undercooked if the grill isn’t hot enough at the beginning.
How to Use: You should always be sticking the thermometer into the deepest part of your meat for the most accurate reading. If you’re cooking thicker cuts, you’ll want something with a longer probe to really get in there, and some of the picks on our list offer the option of two probes, to be extra sure and safe that it’s reached the right temperature. A few models even let you leave the probe in the grill or the oven the entire time too.
Extra Features: The best digital meat thermometers all come with easy-to-read screens that display your time and temperature. Look for bonus features too, like an anti-fog screen, brighter backlight, and a longer battery life (most of our picks are wireless thermometers so there’s no need to plug anything in).
Since every grillmaster and chef has their own style, we’ve selected four popular meat thermometer options to help get you started on picking the right one before your next bake-off or backyard barbecue.
1. HONJAN Digital Meat Thermometer
Made with food-grade stainless steel, the Honjan has everything all ready for the cookout.
This BPA-free thermometer is loaded with features that any grillmaster will go for. With the ability to read a wide range of temperatures — from -58℉ to about 572℉ — in about four seconds tops, you won’t have to wait long to see what stage of cooking you’re at. The thermometer reading also effortlessly switches between Fahrenheit and Celsius.
This is convenient to grab whenever you need it – the magnetic backing lets you stick it on your fridge or grill, and the hang-hook design makes it easy to keep next to you.
Night-grilling is no problem either, as the Honjan’s bright backlight button lets you see the temperature no matter how dark it is outside. It’ll automatically turn off after 10 minutes too, in order to conserve battery life.
Finally, and possibly the best feature, the Honjan is completely waterproof. Seriously. Don’t be afraid to wash it under a running tap, or completely submerge it in the sink (not dishwasher-safe, though).
When the grill has closed for good and the thermometer’s been washed, simply fold it up and stash it away in a pocket or drawer.
PROS: Waterproof. Comes with a built-in metal bottle opener, and a handy meat-temperature guide too.
CONS: Can’t be left inside a grill or oven while cooking. Not dishwasher-safe.
2. Kizen Instant Read Meat Thermometer
Furthering the quest for grilling perfection, when seconds matter, the Kizen steps up. The temperature reading here is ultra-fast – under three seconds and within one degree, and easily readable thanks to its big, bright LCD screen.
It’s mostly waterproof – washing it under running water is no problem, but it’s best to avoid submerging it. This is also ideal for the chef who may be juggling multiple tasks and gadgets at once: The Kizen is durable, and can stand up to being dropped and knocked around a bit.
Save the packaging too – the original box can be used for a safe storage spot. And don’t be afraid to go beyond the grill, as this digital thermometer also works great with baking, beverages, and even deep frying.
PROS: Fast and accurate reading for food — you can even use it to test your bathwater temp. This set includes a bonus battery, and a “Modern Cooking” e-Cookbook for some new recipe ideas.
CONS: Not really fully waterproof, but rather water-resistant. It takes a few extra seconds to “climb” to to the right temperature.
3. ThermoPro TP-16S Digital Meat Thermometer
When opening the oven isn’t an option and you want to retain the heat inside, the ThermoPro can tell you the temperature without needing to lift a finger (or the grill lid).
ThermoPro lets you monitor your meat from a safe distance, thanks to its 40-inch stainless steel cable. Push the precise 6.5-inch probe to the center of whatever you’re cooking, select one of the seven pre-set meat options, and close the oven door or grill top with the main unit outside (it’s also magnetic and easily sticks).
The brightly illuminated display is activated with a light touch, and lets you quickly view everything at once, including the current cooking temperature, as well as the countdown to how much longer is left. It’ll even loudly let you know when everything’s done.
Its accuracy is usually within 1.7°F, and covers a wide temperature range, from 14°F to 572°F. The wire itself is extra durable, and has no problems holding up in heat up to 714°F.
PROS: For slow-cook recipes that call for keeping a constant eye on the internal temp, this is a top choice.
CONS: A common complaint is that the connecting wire is too short. Also since the probe is curved, it can be difficult to accurately push it into the deep center of thick cuts.
4. GDEALER DT15 Digital Meat Thermometer
The GDealer’s screen is big, bright, backlit, and easily viewable, making it ideal when peering inside a dark oven or grilling at night.
The food-grade, foldable, stainless-steel probe is a decent length at 4.6 inches, and the automatic shutoff is a helpful battery-saving feature as well, say, if your food is done and you accidentally leave the thermometer running on the countertop.
Another great attribute here is the audible temperature reading. Its accuracy is on-point too: after calibrating, we found that the measurement was correct within 0.4°F.
Cleaning is simple. Wipe it down and hang it up when you’re done, or slap it onto a magnetic surface thanks to its internal magnet. And if you’re getting the GDealer as a gift for friends or family outside the U.S., it also easily switches from Fahrenheit to Celsius too.
PROS: Easy to figure out and calibrate, even easier to read the display. Great for grilling and baking. Other thermometers have external magnets which can come loose and fall off over time, whereas the GDealer’s is internal and avoids that issue altogether.
CONS: It’s advertised as waterproof, but you shouldn’t submerge it in water. The reading takes about 3-5 seconds – not bad, but not “instant” either.