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Here are the best meat thermometers for 2020. I use all of these meat thermometers and many more on a daily basis and this is the cream of the crop. If price is no object, then do yourself a favor and buy the Thermoworks Thermapen MK4, it is the best instant-read meat thermometer, hands down. The second best? The Thermoworks Thermapen Classic, the original Thermapen.
However, not everyone wants to pay $80 to $100 to buy a meat thermometer. Although no one can compete with the combination of features, accuracy, usability, and durability of the Thermapen MK4, there are some that come close at a much lower price.
Here are the best meat thermometers that you can get for an affordable price.
The Best Meat Thermometer for 2020: The ThermoPro TP19 Waterproof Meat Thermometer
No other meat thermometer offers the combination of features, accuracy, usability, and durability of the ThermoPro TP19 Waterproof Instant-Read Thermometer at its price point. Costing around a quarter of the price, the TP19 has a lot of similar features to the Thermapen MK4. Although not as fast and accurate as the MK4, the TP19 has plenty of great features. I place the TP19 just above the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo thermometer because although they share many of the same features, the TP19 costs around half the price.
- Fast and accurate thermocouple sensor
- A motion sensor that will activate the thermometer when moved when the probe is deployed
- Waterproof body rated IP 65 to withstand running water
- 180-degree auto-rotating display, nice for left-handed people or for coming at food from another angle.
- Calibration function
- Antimicrobial coated body to inhibit bacteria growth
- A large luminous display that you can see in the dark without pushing any buttons
You can read my full review of the ThermoPro TP19 here.
Your Next Best Option: The Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Instant Read Thermometer
The Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Instant-Read Thermometer is the closest you can get to owning a Thermapen. It is almost as fast and accurate but not quite. It is faster and more accurate than the ThermoPro TP19 by a little bit. However, it costs almost twice as much as the TP19.
With all of that being said, the Javelin PRO Duo is a great thermometer with plenty of awesome features.
- Three-second temperature reading response time.
- The closest in accuracy to the Thermapen MK4.
- Motion-sensor display. The display turns on when the thermometer probe is open and the body is moved.
- Splash resistant body.
- A rotating 180-degree display making it great for lefties and coming at food from another angle.
- Antimicrobial coating.
Here is my full review of the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Instant-Read Thermometer.
Here are three other meat thermometers that I rate as a buy. They are good thermometers but don’t have the combination of everything like the ThermoPro TP19 and the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo instant-read meat thermometers. These three models are all under $20 and are decent options for purchasing an inexpensive meat thermometer.
The Alpha Grillers Instant-Read Meat Thermometer/ Kizen Instant-Read Meat Thermometer
I combined the Alpha Grillers and the Kizen Instant-Read meat thermometers under one heading because they are the same thermometer made by different companies. Both companies have a good customer service track record so I suggest purchasing the lower-priced model. The Alpha Grillers thermometer has been consistently lower in price so I would rate them ahead of the Kizen model for now.
Here are the features that they both share:
- Waterproof body rated IP 67.
- Calibration button
- 2 to 4 second response time.
- Light button for display illuminates for 5 seconds.
- Lifetime warranty.
- A temperature hold button holds temperature readings.
The GDealer DT09 Waterproof Instant-Read Meat Thermometer
The GDealer DT09 might actually be a better thermometer than the Alpha Grillers/ Kizen meat thermometers.
Why is that? It reads temperatures just as fast if not faster than those models and it gives very close temperature readings to the Thermapen MK4. And it generally costs less than the Kizen and Alpha Grillers model.
Here are the important features of the GDealer DT09:
- Waterproof body rated IP 67.
- Lifetime Warranty.
- I like that the display lights up immediately after the probe is unfolded, you have to press a button on the Kizen and Alpha Grillers for that to occur.
- Fast and accurate readings in around 3 seconds.
- Calibration function
There can sometimes be a fine line between undercooked food and overcooked food, especially when it comes to meat. If your meat is undercooked, then you’re putting yourself, family, and friends at risk of contracting foodborne illnesses. However, if the meat and food are overcooked, it can be dry and chewy, as well as give you an unpleasant eating experience.
Buying the right meat thermometer is the best way to ensure that none of this happens. To help get you everything you need to know, we’ve created a buyer’s guide that you can follow while looking for the best meat thermometer.
There are a few different types of meat thermometers that you can buy, and it’s best to purchase the one that is suited to the kind of cooking you are going to be doing. There are four primary types, and of those types, they are relatively the same. However, some include more features than others.
- Instant-Read Digital Thermometers
With instant-read, digital thermometers, there isn’t much to it. They all come with instructions, and you merely turn them on and stick them into your food when it’s close to being finished.
The majority of them come with features such as automatic shut-off, temperature hold, larger LCDs, and the ability to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius. The probe of an instant-read thermometer isn’t designed to stay in your food during cooking.
- Instant-Read Analog Thermometers
The instant-read analog thermometer works in the same way as the first type. You stick the probe into the food, read the temperature, and then remove the thermometer.
Analog thermometers don’t read temperatures as quickly as their digital counterpart, and can also be more difficult to understand. Additionally, they don’t have many features.
- Leave-In Digital Thermometers
The leave-in digital thermometers have the most features since they are frequently used by chefs and more experienced cooks who are doing multiple things in the kitchen. These thermometers remain in the food while it’s cooking, and connect to a base unit by a long cord or a wireless or Bluetooth signal.
The base unit typically has LCD so that you can see the temperature as your food cooks. These thermometers sometimes come with timers, audible notifications, programmable temperatures, and more.
- Leave-In Analog Thermometers
These analog thermometers are safe for the oven, so they can remain in your food as it’s cooked. However, when used as an instant-read, it does take additional time to display the temperature.
There are multiple features that you can get when purchasing a meat thermometer, though the majority of those features only come with digital and not analog thermometers. Some of the most common benefits that you can find with the digital thermometer are listed below:
- Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature readings
- Audible notifications that indicate the food has reached the programmed temperature
- Programmable temperatures
- Automatic shut-off
- Temperature hold that typically displays the readout for five minutes or longer
Many brands manufacture and sell both analog and digital meat temperatures. The best way to ensure that you’re getting the most for your money is to look at the features the brand provides in their thermometer, and it’s also a great suggestion to look into the name of the brand itself. Ensuring that you’re purchasing a product from a reliable brand is always the best option.
Models are essential to look at when you’re looking to purchase a meat thermometer. Many of the brands that sell thermometers sell more than one, which can make it challenging to choose the best one for you. If it doesn’t include a model name or number, or any other distinct identifier, it’s likely that it’s your standard digital or analog thermometer. However, those that have model numbers are typically upgrades to the basic version and likely offer more features.
The majority of household meat thermometers consist of thermistors, which are used for continuous readings of larger food items and for leaving in the oven. They usually work by sending a current through the wire within the temperature probe that has a resistor embedded in the tip.
The resistance to the electrical flow changes alongside the temperature of the food and the meter measures the voltage used across the resistor.
The frequency that you should measure the temperature of your food is going to depend on the thermometer that you’re using, as well as the type of food that you’re cooking. If you are using a leave-in, digital thermometer, then there’s no need to measure it more than once. They usually have a base unit that always displays an accurate temperature for you. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, you can insert the probe into the food around the halfway mark to gauge the temperature, and once again, when you think it’s finished.
Also consider if your food is more water-based because if it is, the thermometer reads the temperature faster than other food. You also need to measure the number of times you read the temperature based on that.
Meat Thermometer F.A.Q’s.
How to Use a Meat Thermometer?
Using a meat thermometer is incredibly straightforward, even if you’ve purchased the most complicated model. The first thing that you need to do is take a look at the type of thermometer that you’ve purchased.
If the batteries aren’t already pre-loaded, you need to insert them and turn the power on. If your meat thermometer is analog and has a probe that tests the meat you’re cooking, you can just insert it into the meat and other food. If you have an instant-read thermometer, your temperature is going to display within a few seconds.
It’s essential that you avoid all steam when you’re checking your food’s temperature because it can interfere with the results (unless it’s a leave-in thermometer.) The majority of digital thermometers come with the ability to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius, so it’s also essential to ensure that you’re on the right measurement.
How to Measure Meat Temperature?
Measuring the temperature of the meat is just as simple as using the meat thermometer itself. If you have a digital, leave-in thermometer, then all you need to do is insert the probe into the meat before you even start cooking, and the temperature displays on the base unit.
If you have a leave-in analog thermometer, it works the same way, though you do need to open the oven periodically to check the temperature.
Instant-read thermometers allow you to probe the meat whenever you wish and take only a few seconds to give an accurate reading. However, you do really need to keep in mind that steam can interfere with the reading, and these thermometers are not oven safe.
How to Calibrate a Meat Thermometer?
Ensuring that your meat thermometer is calibrated correctly is vital when it comes to getting an accurate reading that results in perfectly cooked food. If you don’t have a digital thermometer with a calibration feature, you can use one of these two simple methods to calibrate.
Ice Water Method
- Fill a glass with ice cubes, followed by cold water
- Stir the water and then let stand for three minutes before stirring again
- Insert your thermometer, being careful not to let the probe touch the sides of the glass
- The temperature should read 32ºF (0ºC).
- Record any temperature differences and adjust the thermometer as required.
Boiling Water Method
- Heat a pot of water until it reaches a rolling boil
- Insert your thermometer, ensuring it doesn’t touch the sides or the bottom of the pot
- The temperature should read at 212ºF (100ºC).
- Record any temperature differences and adjust the thermometer as required.
How to Read a Meat Thermometer?
Reading your meat thermometer is incredibly simple. Meat thermometers come with LCD that displays the temperature once the calibrated probe has picked up on the degree. The temperature that displays is going to be in Fahrenheit or Celsius, whichever you choose, and from there, it’s as easy as reading the current weather temperature.
How Does a Meat Thermometer Work?
Thermometers are used to measure heat, and there are different types. As an example, a meat thermometer is what’s known as a bimetallic thermometer. Bimetallic means that it has two kinds of metals that either expand or contract depending on the temperature.
Lower temperatures cause the metal to expand, while the other contracts at a higher temperature. Depending on the heat, it forces the metal to bind together and twist, which prompts the dial and displays the reading.
When it comes to determining which meat thermometer is the best, the ThermoPro TP19 has the best combination of features and affordability. Yes, the Thermoworks Thermapens are the best thermometers that you can buy and you will indeed get your money’s worth, but the price might be a little steep for some.
If you are looking for a meat thermometer that will last you for years to come, then I would definitely recommend the Thermoworks thermometers. I purchased a Classic Thermapen 7 years ago and I have yet to change the battery or calibrate it. It is solid.
If you don’t want to pay that much for a meat thermometer then I would definitely recommend the ThermoPro TP19 or any of the others mentioned. They are good thermometers that I use on a daily basis. Like all of my reviews, I will continue to monitor the performance of all the meat thermometers mentioned and will update if any new information arises.