meat thermometer

How to Find the Best Meat Thermometer For Making Perfect Dishes

When you’re cooking chicken and you want it to fully cook while remaining juicy, and you need the gadget to tell you exactly when to take it off the heat, you need a meat thermometer. We’re here to let you know how to find the best meat thermometer and why they’re a great tool to have in the kitchen.

We’ll give you our top 7 picks for the best meat thermometers you can buy online, based on their overall functionality, price range, and quality of materials. Have we piqued your interest? Let’s get started!

What is a Meat Thermometer?

A meat thermometer is simply a thermometer created to give you an accurate reading on a cut of meat’s internal temperature. They are usually small, silver, and have a sharp end you can poke into the meat while you cook it. It’s a good idea to never use your meat thermometer for other kinds of foods, like candy. To prevent cross-contamination, it’s always wise to only use a meat thermometer for what it’s made for.

Do You Need a Meat Thermometer?

We say yes. It can be incredibly hard to know when a cut of meat is done and still juicy. We’ve all cooked something too long thinking it was raw when really it was done 20 minutes ago. A meat thermometer will spare you the heartcare by letting you know exactly when your meat dishes are done so you won’t overcook or undercook anything.

Importance of Checking the Temperature of Your Meat

It can be dangerous to eat undercooked meat, which is why it is important to get an accurate reading with a meat thermometer. Salmonella and e coli are 2 foodborne illnesses known to make people sick from eating raw meat, not to mention the risk for parasites.

We compiled a quick list to reference to make sure you’re cooking meat to the right temperature.

  • All poultry should be cooked to 165°F
  • All fresh ground meat should be cooked to 160°F
  • All fresh steaks, chops, and roasts should be cooked to at least 145°F  
  • All fish and shellfish should be cooked to 145°F
  • Raw ham or shoulder should be cooked to 160°F
  • Precooked ham should be reheated to 140°F
  • Rabbit should be cooked to 160°F

How to Use a Meat Thermometer

Using a meat thermometer is super easy! Of course, there are different kinds of meat thermometers, and you always want to read the thermometer’s instructions to make sure you’re using it correctly.

For general use with most meat thermometers, here’s what you do:

  1. Make sure the meat thermometer has been thoroughly cleaned.
  2. Poke your meat thermometer so that the end is sitting in the middle of a cut of meat.
  3. Be careful not to touch the end of the thermometer to a bone or the bottom of the pan.
  4. Let the thermometer adjust itself until it settles on 1 temperature for more than 5 seconds.
  5. Use the temperature reading as a reference to gauge if your meat is done. 

What to Look for in a Good Meat Thermometer

Now that you know the basics of meat thermometers, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. Next, we’ll let you in on how to tell if the meat thermometer you’re thinking about buying is a great choice or falls short.

Quality

Making sure your meat thermometer is of good quality is important. You don’t want inaccurate readings, after all, because that can be dangerous. For the safest bet, choose a meat thermometer that:

  • Has good reviews online from at least multiple people
  • Is made by a trusted company
  • Is made from durable materials

Design

Many meat thermometers are designed similarly. They are often silver with a sharp end that you poke into meat. The top half will be a white circle with a red hand that points to the temperature like the hands of a clock. Some meat thermometers are digital, and the top half will read like an alarm clock.

For a great meat thermometer, make sure:

  • The end is long enough to poke into large cuts of meat
  • The scale of numbers it uses to gauge temperatures is precise
  • It can be easily cleaned

Ease of Use

One of the best things about meat thermometers is that they’re easy to use. At least, they should be. This is what you want out of a great meat thermometer:

  • Gives you an accurate reading
  • Gives you a quick reading
  • You don’t have to push any buttons for it to work
  • You don’t have to charge it or give it batteries often

Affordability

There are plenty of affordable meat thermometers! Some are as low as or below $10. Some are above $20, but we say most meat thermometers at or above $10 will do the trick. For as vital as they are to have in the kitchen, meat thermometers get props for not breaking the bank.

Ease of Cleaning

Cleaning your meat thermometers after you’re done using them is so, so important to make sure bacteria doesn’t linger and grow. Luckily, meat thermometers are very easy to clean and pretty small.

Here are some quick cleaning tips:

  • Use dish soap and warm water
  • Thoroughly scrub your meat thermometer
  • Let it air dry or dry it with a paper towel
  • Never put your meat thermometer in the dishwasher

Types of Meat Thermometers to Consider

We love choices! There are a variety of different types of meat thermometers you can choose from. When you’re trying to find the right style for your cooking, you can use what we’ve compiled below as a fast and easy reference.

Analog

Chefs and home cooks alike use analog meat thermometers because they’re so easy to use. Analog meat thermometers are accurate, and you won’t have to worry about charging or calibrating it. As soon as you pull an analog thermometer out of the box it’s ready to use.

Digital

A lot of people also like digital thermometers because of how easy it is to read them. With a digital meat thermometer, all you do is poke the sharp end in the meat and an exact number that tells the meat’s temperature should pop up fairly quickly.

Leave-In

There are some thermometers you can leave inside the meat as it cooks. With a leave-in meat thermometer, it’s recommended to poke it 2 ½” into the cut of meat you’re cooking. With this kind of thermometer, you can ensure roasted turkey never dries out in the oven, which is perfect for the holidays.

Nowadays, there are even Bluetooth leave-in thermometers that alert you when meat is done cooking. Wouldn’t this be perfect for family BBQs when everyone’s prone to distraction?

The Best Meat Thermometers

We’ve searched and searched for the best meat thermometers to give you our top 7 suggestions. These meat thermometers are a cut above the rest in terms of design, ease of use, and accuracy. With so many thermometers to choose from, we’re proud to show you these.

KULUNER TP-01 Waterproof Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer with 4.6” Folding Probe Backlight & Calibration Function

Best For: Versatility

About

This is a unique waterproof meat thermometer that comes with an LCD backlight. You can buy this thermometer in black, but it also comes in red and orange, too. A battery is included in the box. You’ll be able to use it as soon as you buy it. With this particular product, you’ll be given an accurate temperature within 2-3 seconds of using it.

  • Material: Plastic and metal  
  • Warranty: Please contact the seller directly
  • Best Feature: Can be used with any kind of meat preparation method  

Care

Even though this meat thermometer is waterproof, you should never put it in the dishwasher. Instead, hand wash your meat thermometer with hot water and dish soap. You can dry the device by hand or set it out to airdry. Occasionally, you may need a battery replacement.

Pros

  • Long probe and quick readings
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to use and clean

Cons

  • Needs a battery to function

Kizen Digital Meat Thermometer for Cooking

Best For: Great value for affordability

About

This is a meat thermometer packed with great features that is available for a low price. This is another waterproof thermometer with a long probe, which makes it ideal for taking the temperature of meat. This product boasts being able to give you an accurate temperature reading in as little as 3 seconds.

  • Material: Plastic and metal
  • Warranty: Please contact seller directly
  • Best Feature: Amazing product sold at a low price  

Care

Please remember to never put your meat thermometer in the dishwasher, even if it is waterproof like this one. Always hand wash your meat thermometer with dish soap and warm water, making sure to thoroughly scrub any traces of meat away. You can dry your thermometer by hand or let it air dry.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Long probe and accurate readings
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • You need a battery to make it work

Rubbermaid Commercial Products Food/Meat Instant Read Thermometer

Best For: Price

About

This is the least expensive meat thermometer on the list, and it’s also the easiest to use! You won’t need batteries to power this analog thermometer, so it will be ready to use right out of the box. Being made of stainless steel and shatterproof glass, this is an incredibly durable product. Measuring at 8”, it is the perfect size for gauging the temperature of meat.

  • Material: Stainless steel and shatterproof glass
  • Warranty: Please contact the seller directly
  • Best Feature: Low Price  

Care

This particular thermometer is dishwasher safe! Even though you can wash it in the dishwasher, we recommend washing any traces of meat away by hand before giving it a thorough cleaning in the dishwasher. You’ll never need to replace a battery

Pros

  • Easy to use and doesn’t require a battery
  • Low price
  • Easy to clean and is dishwasher safe

Cons

  • Not as accurate as a digital one

ThermoPro TP01A Digital Meat Thermometer with Long Probe

Best For: Easy Maintenance

About

This is a long, thin digital thermometer that will always give you an accurate temperature reading. You’ll have to keep LR44 batteries on hand because this product takes 2 of them to work. With this particular model, you’ll only have to wait 4-6 seconds to get an accurate reading on a cut of meat’s internal temperature.

  • Material: Plastic and metal
  • Warranty: Please contact the seller directly
  • Best Feature: Easy to clean and use  

Care

Wash this meat thermometer by hand to make sure it won’t be damaged. Simply use warm water, soap, and a rag or sponge to scrub the thermometer clean. Don’t forget to keep LR44 batteries in stock in case your thermometer needs new ones.  

Pros

  • Backlight display and lock function
  • Affordable price
  • Easy to clean and use  

Cons

  • Requires 2 batteries to make it work

Digital Touchscreen Food Thermometer for Meat, Poultry, and Fish

Best For: Overall

About

This digital meat thermometer comes with a touch screen. This touch screen allows you to customize settings and select which type of meat you’re cooking so an alarm goes off when that cut of the meat reaches the right temperature. Its temperature readings are quick and accurate.

  • Material: Plastic and metal
  • Warranty: 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Best Feature: Best combinations of features

Care

Hand wash the part of this thermometer that is stuck into the meat with warm water and dish soap. You can let this thermometer airdry or you can dry it yourself.

Pros

  • Touchscreen and many options to select
  • Instantaneous and accurate temperature readings
  • Modern and trendy product

Cons

  • Could be more complicated to use than a simpler meat thermometer

ThermoPro TP16S Digital Meat Thermometer for Cooking and Grilling

Best For: BBQing

About

This meat thermometer is good if you want to leave the thermometer inside the meat as it cooks. You’ll be able to have fast and accurate readings along with an alarm that goes off when the meat is done. You can set your own timer, too, if this is something you’re interested in.

  • Material: Plastic and metal
  • Price Range: $17-$27
  • Warranty: Please contact seller directly
  • Best Feature: Great for grilling and BBQing meats

Care

Make sure to buy extra AAA batteries for this meat thermometer. Also, make sure to hand wash this product instead of putting it in the dishwasher.

Pros

  • Fast and accurate temperature readings
  • Modern design that’s easy to use
  • Can be left inside meat as it cooks

Cons

  • Requires 1 AAA battery to be functional

OXO Good Grips Chef’s Precision Digital Instant Read Thermometer

Best For: Simplicity

About

This is a simple, straightforward digital meat thermometer. It is designed very similarly to an analog thermometer in that it is a probe with a circle on top that tells the temperature. Being digital, it will give you a precise temperature reading.

  • Material: Plastic, stainless steel, and glass
  • Warranty: Please contact seller directly
  • Best Feature: Very simple ease of use  

Care

Hand wash this meat thermometer when you’re ready to clean it. Also, be aware this thermometer requires batteries to work.

Pros

  • Simple and straightforward design
  • Easy to keep clean
  • Speedy and precise temperature readings

Cons

  • Requires lithium batteries to operate

FAQs

Question: Can You Leave a Meat Thermometer in the Meat While It’s Cooking?

Answer: There are certain types of leave-in meat thermometers that you can leave inside meat as it cooks. You want to make sure a meat thermometer is a leave-in thermometer by checking the packaging or reading its description online first. Leaving a thermometer inside meat that wasn’t intended for that can be dangerous, so always use caution.

Question: Are Cheap Meat Thermometers Accurate?

Answer: If by “cheap” you mean $10-$30, then yes, cheap meat thermometers can be very accurate. We wouldn’t recommend buying a thermometer less than $5, only because you may end up sacrificing quality for the low price.

Question: Is a Meat Thermometer Worth It?

Answer: A meat thermometer is absolutely worth the purchase. After buying a meat thermometer, you’ll never have to overcook or undercook main entrees and meat dishes again! Meat thermometers take the guesswork out of preparing meat, which makes cooking easier and safer.

The Finale

Do you feel like you’ve learned a lot about how to find the best meat thermometer? We’ve given you all the facts about meat thermometers and let you know what to look for when buying one. We’ve also provided a quick guide to our top 7 meat thermometers you can buy right now.

The best choice, in my opinion, is the Digital Touchscreen Food Thermometer for Meat, Poultry, and Fish for its overall functionality.

Do you have any questions, or do you have advice about meat thermometers you’d like to share? Please leave us a comment below to let us know! For even more great tips about what handy gadgets everyone should have around the kitchen, check out our guide to the best frying pans!

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