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If your cooking involves more than flipping burgers—or if you’ve ever had to work your way through a terribly overdone venison steak—you need a meat thermometer. The types and abilities vary widely, from simple instant read meat thermometers to remote meat thermometers that transmit temperatures to your phone. There’s never been a time with more choice, so we’ll help you dig through the mess to find the best meat thermometer for you.

How to Choose the Best Meat Thermometer

The best meat thermometer depends on your cooking apparatus. That is to say, the best oven thermometer is not necessarily the best grill thermometer. There may of course be overlap, but your success with a thermometer depends on you knowing how you’ll most frequently be cooking. 

Additionally, consider your cooking personality: Do you lock yourself in the kitchen or onto the grill from start to finish, or do you need to be able to move about? Can you focus on what you are making, or do you need to turn your attention to other dishes? Do you cook steaks that take 5 to 10 minutes, or smoke a hog shoulder for 5 to 10 hours? All of these questions will factor into your decision.

Are you in the market for the overall best meat thermometer?

The best meat thermometer for general use gives a super accurate temperature read almost immediately. You can check several areas quickly, so you’ll be able to check for minimum safe temperatures, and prepare larger cuts to different levels of doneness (important if you’re cooking a large piece of meat for a crowd that has different preferences, from well done to bloody rare). You don’t need to spend a fortune, but accuracy and speed (a.k.a., the reasons you need a cooking thermometer in the first place) do come at something of a cost, so do not race to the bottom price-wise, either.

Best Instant Read Meat Thermometer: Lavatools Javelin PRO

Highly Accurate, Super Fast

Compact, quick, and spot-on temperature measurements. Lavatools

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Takes your meat’s temperature in one to three seconds, and within ±0.9 degrees — an extremely accurate read — with a large enough backlit display for you to read the temp that quickly, too. This instant read thermometer is more affordable than many at that accuracy level, and will earn its keep in a saved dinner or two.

Do you want to be able to move around?

The whole “there’s an app for that” thing has reached whole new levels—including the heat levels of your meat, wherever it may be cooking. If you need to mingle with company, make other dishes, even go grab a shower, a Bluetooth meat thermometer that allows you to monitor the cooking temperature with a thermometer app on your phone is the best choice.

Best Wireless Meat Thermometer: MEATER Plus

MVP Across Cooking Methods

Where your phone goes, your meat’s temperature and remaining cooking time goes. MEATER

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Meet the MEATER Plus. This is the best wireless meat thermometer and it’s got the full tech treatment. Sleek design, efficient performance, and pleasant user experience — down to the magnet-backed probe holder that charges the probe 100 times on one AAA battery — this Bluetooth meat thermometer is impressive. The MEATER thermometer’s small size is possible because it’s monitored and operated through an app on your phone, and you can get as far away as 165 feet and still monitor the temperature.

Are you looking for a grill thermometer?

You can use an instant-read meat thermometer like the Lavatools Javelin PRO on the grill, but that means putting your hand over the heat source every time. For a grill, you’ll do better with a wireless or leave-in grill thermometer.

Best Meat Thermometer for Grilling: ThermoPro TP20

Calculates Temperature by Taste

A leave-in meat thermometer with two probes and a second, wireless base. ThermoPro

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This digital meat thermometer is pre-programed with the USDA recommendations for nine proteins at five doneness levels, with the option to reprogram any of the numbers according to your preference or experience. The steel wire that leads from the probes to the monitor can withstand temps over 700 degrees, and the dual monitor system means you can stray up to 500 feet. If you need to grab another beer out of the cooler while you’re grilling, go for it. (That quality alone makes this the best meat thermometer for grilling.)

Are you looking for a meat thermometer for a smoker?

When you’re cooking meat or fish in a smoker, that lid has to stay shut, making a wireless or leave-in meat thermometer non-negotiable. Beyond that, the best meat thermometer for a smoker will offer multiple probes for multiple cuts of meat (or multiple locations in one big cut. It’ll also monitor the smoker’s temperature.

Best Meat Thermometer for a Smoker: ThermoPro TP27

Four Probes, Wireless Equipped

Clear, ample displays of information. ThermoPro

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This leave-in meat thermometer is equipped with four probes that are color coded for easy identificatIon at a glance. One probe can be set to monitor the ambient temperature, so you can monitor the smoker’s interior temperature while keeping an eye on the temperature of the meat or fish. This edition also has a full display screen of all four probes on both the main monitor and the wireless portable monitor, so you can step away and still keep tabs on what’s going on. It measures temps within ±1.8 degrees.

What You Get for Under $15

If you’re a constant cook or if you use a smoker often, investing in a good thermometer is a wise choice. But if you’re just tired of going from bleeding to burnt on everything you put in your oven, you can get away with something much more affordable. There will be a trade-off in  either read time or accuracy from the top tier of thermometers, but that may not be an issue for the casual home cook.

Best Cheap Meat Thermometer: Lavatools PT09

Compact and Accurate

A very accurate meat thermometer at an exceptionally good price. Lavatools

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Get the ± 0.9 degree accuracy of our top pick for less than $15 — albeit a few seconds delayed, as it takes 4–6 seconds to read. It’s pocket-sized, and comes with either  a 3-inch or a 4.5-inch probe, and is exceedingly simple to use.

FAQs

Q: Can I leave a meat thermometer in the oven?

You can leave a meat thermometer in the oven if it is designed to be left in. Leave-in meat thermometers are either probes connected by a metal wire to an external monitor, a probe that stays in and communicates the temperature reading via Bluetooth (like the MEATER Plus), or the old-school metal meat thermometers with a simple oven-safe analog dial.

Q: What meat thermometer do chefs use?

Many chefs use metal, analog meat thermometers, but digital thermometers are better options for home cooks, as they’re not cooking in quantity — and don’t have a support staff or extensive training and experience to keep a close, observant eye on the meat’s progress.

Q: Which wireless meat thermometer is the best?

The best wireless meat thermometer is the MEATER Plus if you’ll control it from your phone, and the ThermoPro TP27 if you’ll control it with the device itself.

The Takeaway on Choosing the Best Meat Thermometer for You

Know which cooking method you’re most likely to use, and if you want the thermometer to alert you when the meat reaches a certain temperature, or if you can simply insert a probe once in a while. Those simple determinations will steer you toward the best meat thermometer for you.

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