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The Best Meat Thermometers for 2021

Everyone who takes cooking seriously knows how important a digital meat thermometer is in the kitchen.

You can take plenty of factors into account, like the thickness of what you’re cooking, the weight or temperature, but the only reliable tool that will allow you to make sure that the food is ready is an instant read or probe thermometer.

Choosing the best digital meat thermometer is not an easy or obvious task.

They differ in price, features and build, but what to pay attention to exactly? I spent many hours, time and money in order to give you the answer to that question.

Based on my research and tests, the best meat thermometers are:

The Best Meat Thermometers for 2021

1. Best instant read thermometer: Lavatools Javelin PRO

It’s a good idea to replace a cheap $10~ thermometer with something like Lavatools Javelin Pro.

It is a suggestion for those who want good quality and great results for the lowest possible price. When it comes to the accuracy and speed, it is just as good as its more expensive competitive models, and in many cases actually better.

The Javelin Pro model comes with a sensor that can measure the temperature in just 2-3 seconds with accuracy of ±0.9°F. It is truly a great result, a brilliant speed and accuracy.

Lavatools Javelin PRO

One huge advantage is certainly the thermometer’s splash-resistant construction and the display. A lot of different accidents can happen in the kitchen when cooking, which makes it very important.

Motion-Sense Backlight is another useful feature that will make sure that the display backlight feature is available more easily than ever, all you have to do is shake the thermometer for the backlight to turn on.

Javelin PRO comes with an intelligent system that automatically holds a stabilized temperature and sends an audio signal once it does. All it takes is to put the thermometer in water for example and then push a special button and wait for the signal.

What I Like:

  • Top Accuracy
  • Speed
  • Features & Quality

What I Don’t Like

  • The rotating screen doesn’t lock

Personally, I use this thermometer mostly to measure the temperature inside meat when grilling or smoking, but it will work great for all the other kitchen tasks.

2. Best leave-in style prboe thermometer: ThermoPro TP20

Are you interested in meat thermometer with a probe and the ability to remotely monitor the current temperature?

In that case, a great choice will be the very versatile ThermoPro TP20.

The set includes a transmitter and a receiver which allow you to monitor the temperature while being away from the main transmitter. It comes with two meat probes so that you can monitor the temperature inside meat and the temperature around at the same time.

ThermoPro TP20

When you look at the thermometer you can see “Meat” and “Taste” buttons, which you just have to click, and then choose the type of meat of your choice plus the level of being done. You’ll get information on what the internal meat temperature should be in order to achieve the expected results.

Once you program your thermometer you can focus on something else, and when the meat reaches the right temperature you will get a notification in form of an alarm.

The receiver is obviously splash-resistant which should always be kept in mind when choosing a thermometer. The construction is massive and well-built, while the temperature range is: 32°F to 572°F with accuracy of +/- 1.8°F.

What I Like:

  • 2 Probes
  • Large backlit display & Features
  • Solid Quality

What I Don’t Like

  • No Alarms

How does ThemroPro TP20 differ from Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo? It’s not an instant read thermometer, ThermoPro TP20 allows to monitor the temperature on an ongoing basis throughout the entire cooking process.

3. Best overall food thermometer: ThermoPro TP03A

Of course ThermoPro TP03A is slower and less accurate than for example Javelin Pro, but also several times cheaper which is its main advantage.

The temperature sensor shows the measurement in about 4-8 seconds. That’s a little long, but I can assure you that for this kind of money you won’t find anything better.

Most competitive models for this kind of money are junk not worth paying attention to.

ThermoPro TP03A

The display is big and clear enough, whereas the sensor has a big temperature range  (-58°F ~ 572°F) with accuracy of  ±0.9°F. 

After 10 minutes the thermometer automatically shuts down in order to converse the battery.

ThermoPro offers a one year warranty for this product with an option to extend it by another 3 years if you register the product after the purchase.

ThermoPro TP03A is a very simple thermometer that comes with all the necessary features. For a regular cook it is a fully sufficient product, a professional chef might not be satisfied.

What I Like:

  • Low price
  • Good Accuracy
  • 1 year warranty with an option extend to 3 years if you register the product

What I Don’t Like

  • A little bit slow when compare to top models

4. The cheapest leave-in probe thermometer: ThermoPro TP17

This time it’s something for people with a heavily limited budget. I also recommend it to those who don’t use a meat thermometer that often, if you do use such tool very often.

ThermoPro TP17 is the best budget leave-in probe thermometer that comes with everything that is necessary plus several small downsides.

ThermoPro TP17

What was a very positive surprise to me was having as many as two probes and a big, clear display despite small size of the thermometer. A strong backlight feature allows you to read the temperature even in very dark places, it turns off automatically after 10 seconds.

Also just like in much more expensive competitive models, you can expect the ability to program temperatures for different types of meats here, as well as choosing the doneness levels.

There’s one very important thing that I need to point out, ThermoPro TP17 is sadly not waterproof which means that you have to be very careful when cooking.

It’s a very important aspect of thermometers and I always recommend making sure if your meat thermometer is waterproof, although at this kind of price you can’t expect miracles.

What I Like:

  • Price
  • Very Easy to use

What I Don’t Like

  • No waterproof

5. Best cheap instant-read thermometer: Thermoworks ThermoPop

Great suggestion for those who need a relatively fast and good quality thermometer from the lower price range.

ThermoPop is a convenient pocket instant-read thermometer that you can easily fit in a smaller drawer or a pocket of your shirt or pants. Due to its smaller size and the automatic shutdown feature the battery is more durable and can last for about 5000 hours.

I believe that this is a great alternative for the more technically perfected and faster Thermapen Mk4 or even Javelin Pro Duo.The main difference between these models is the size, speed and accuracy, but it doesn’t matter that much for a regular cook.

Thermoworks ThermoPop

Of course if you have more cash then I recommend Thermapen Mk4, but if you’re looking for something cheaper or smaller then pick ThermoPop, a slightly less accurate and slower, but still a good product for its price range.

One very convenient feature is the rotating digital display every 90 degrees. It allows to comfortably read the measurement from every point of view.

It reads the temperature fast and accurately (within 3-4 seconds), and all of that at a lower price range that is very affordable for most people. I really like its convenient size, which makes it possible to even keep the thermopop inside the pocket.

What I Like:

  • Price great for people with small budget
  • Features (rotating digital display etc)
  • Speed

What I Don’t Like

  • Small LCD display
  • A little too small accuracy.

6. Best overall meat thermometer: Thermapen Mk4

The highest quality instant-read meat thermometer available on the market.

A suggestion for those who not only need a fast and very accurate thermometer, but also a very well-made one with several useful features.

I recommend Thermapen Mk4 for those for whom cooking perfect food is very important (especially professional chefs at restaurants where time and accuracy matter a lot) and for those who want the highest-quality product in many regards.

The greatest advantage of this model is combining accuracy and speed of reading temperature, it is undoubtedly the highest level as of now. Thermapen Mk4 can boast 2-3 second temperature readings with accuracy of ±0.7°F (±0.4°C) within the range of -58.0 to 572.0°F.

A very big back-lit display with a feature of automatically rotating the view depending on how you hold the thermometer, this feature will allow you to read the temperature from every point of view.

Due to the big size of the display, the battery is slightly weaker than in other competitive models although at this size it is still a good result (about 3000 hours).

Another big advantage compared to competitive models is the fact that Thermapen Mk4 is waterproof.

What I Like:

  • Quality, Durable & waterproof
  • Speed & Great Accuracy
  • Big LCD display

What I Don’t Like

  • Price
  • Size

You’re looking for a top-of-the-line thermometer? There is currently nothing better in every regard. Innovative features, great efficiency, durability and many other positive words, and all of that for people who value quality and functionality.

I know that the price is high, but if you’re a professional chef then this product is worth your money.

How did I pick the best meat thermometers?

My first task is always to analyze the potential thermometers at brick-and-mortar and online stores. For most people it is an annoying task because it takes a whole lot of time and nerves. 

The next step is comparing the features and gadgets that each of the thermometers offers. 

I check each one’s quality of workmanship and how it feels in my hand. I especially pay attention to the display and how clear it is and how fast it measures the temperature according to the manufacturer.

All of that allows me to give the initial rating for each of the thermometers, which will get updated after the practical tests.

How did I test?

I started by testing the temperature measurements, starting with cold water, I took five temperature measurements with each thermometer while measuring the time and I calculated the average for each thermometer.

Next I conducted a similar test, this time with hot oil warmed up to a high temperature. Here I could evaluate which of the thermometers has a long probe and is good at protecting hands from high temperatures in this case.

The last stage was testing every thermometer while cooking.

I cooked the chicken in an oven, the pork shoulder in a smoker and the steaks on a weber kettle grill. Finally, I analyze all the data and present them in this buyers guide.

What to look for in a meat thermometer

If you’ve never used an instant read or leave-in probe thermometer before and don’t really know what exactly to look for, let me list few key aspects to pay attention to before the purchase.

Once you read it, you’ll be able to make a decision which one meat thermometer will be the best for you depending on your situation.

  • Cooking Style – It is crucial when choosing a new meat thermometer. The cooking style impacts what type of thermometer you should buy. An instant read thermometer will work great with everything, showing an instant temperature measurement, whereas a leave-in probe thermometer is mostly directed towards those who want to monitor the temperature throughout the entire cooking process (BBQ, grilling, baking in the oven).
  • Accuracy – Precise temperature is very important which is why it is the best for your thermometer to be as accurate as possible
  • Speed – In many cases speed matters a lot not only because it saves time, but also imagine a situation where you’re waiting more than 10 seconds to get temperature reading for the meat you’re cooking. Holding your hand for so long around where the temperature is significantly higher isn’t exactly pleasant. 
  • Features – More expensive models come with many interesting features that significantly increase the ease of use of such tool. By useful features I mean a big back-lit rotating display, an automatic shutdown system, alarms, waterproof, ability to change units from C to F etc.
  • Quality – The quality mostly depends on the price, but it’s not always the case. Sometimes we overpay for the brand which is why it’s a good idea to pay attention to whether a new thermometer is solid. If you can’t check it out personally at the store then read customer reviews or just check the warranty.
  • Temperature Range – A bigger range makes your thermometer a more versatile tool. Think about what you’re going to need it for, if it’s meat then a smaller range will be enough but when it’s for checking hot liquids then a bigger temperature range will be useful.
  • Number of Probes – As long as you don’t have a limited budget, it is the best for your leave-in style thermometer to have at least 2 probes. Such number will allow you to monitor two sources of heat at the same time, like two different pieces of meat or one piece of meat plus the temperature inside the smoker.

Why should you have a meat thermometer?

There is nothing to be ashamed of in using a thermometer when cooking. Some chefs are self-conscious but the truth is that when a lot of things are happening in the kitchen during cooking, even the best chef may make a mistake or miscalculate the level of the meat being done.

Have you ever observed a meat that was good looking on the outside but turned out to be raw on the inside? I think that everyone has run into this kind of situation at least once in their life, which means we shouldn’t waste money and especially time and instead we should start using meat thermometers.

It is a relatively cheap kitchen tool compared to wasting time and expensive meat when it turns out that the food is badly prepared. A meat thermometer is useful not only during everyday cooking, smoking or grilling, but it also works well at many other tasks.

There are many types of thermometers, which is why I have prepared this guide so that you can easily and quickly choose the right meat thermometer depending on your cooking style and preferences.