Best Meat Thermometers of 2021: Complete Reviews with Comparisons

From left to right: ThermoPro TP-19, Thermapen MK4, Inkbird IHT-1S, Classic Super-Fast Thermapen, Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo meat thermometers all reading 135 degrees Fahrenheit
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These are the best meat thermometers for 2021. To make this list, a meat thermometer needs to achieve high marks in its features, accuracy, usability, and durability.

I’ve included meat thermometers in every price range, not because of their price necessarily, but the value they bring at that price.

From left to right: ThermoPro TP-19, Thermapen MK4, Inkbird IHT-1S, Classic Super-Fast Thermapen, Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo meat thermometers all reading 135 degrees Fahrenheit

From left to right: ThermoPro TP-19, Thermapen MK4, Inkbird IHT-1S, Classic Super-Fast Thermapen, Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo meat thermometers all reading around 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here are my top five meat thermometer picks for 2021:

  1. Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 – See the full review of the Thermapen MK4 here.
  2. Thermoworks Classic Thermapen – See the full review of the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen here.
  3. Inkbird IHT-1S Instant-Read Meat Thermometer- See the full review of the Inkbird IHT-1S here.
  4. ThermoPro TP19 Meat Thermometer- See the full review of the ThermoPro TP19 here.
  5. Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Meat Thermometer- See the full review of the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo here.

Thermoworks Thermapen MK4

Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 reading 72.9 degrees Fahrenheit

The Thermapen MK4 is the best meat thermometer you can buy for 2021.

It has unbeatable speed and accuracy and top-notch features such as a 360-degree rotating screen, an IP67 waterproof body, and an intelligent backlight that turns on in low-light settings.

Other meat thermometer models have been playing catch up to the Thermoworks thermometers, with many mimicking the features of the Thermapen MK4 and its precursor, the Classic Thermapen.

Although some of these other meat thermometers have these updated features such as a 360-degree rotating screen and enhanced waterproofing, they still aren’t quite as fast and accurate as the Thermapens.

Testing the ThermoPro TP19, Thermoworks ThermaPen MK4, ThermoPro TP18, and the ThermoPro TP03H in a sous vide water bath.

The Thermapen MK4 showcasing its 360-degree rotating screen with other meat thermometers.

Here are all of the features that make the Thermapen MK4 the best meat thermometer you can buy for 2021.

  • Super-Fast Temperature Monitoring Technology
  • Auto-Rotating Display
  • IP67 Waterproof 
  • Made by Hand in the U.K. with a NIST-traceable calibration certificate
  • Light-sensing Intelligent Backlight with Motion-Sensing Sleep Mode
The Classic Super-Fast Thermapen (on the top) and the Thermapen MK4.(on the bottom)

The Classic Super-Fast Thermapen (on the top) and the Thermapen MK4.(on the bottom)

See the full review of the Thermoworks Thermapen MK4.

Thermoworks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen

The Classic Super-Fast Thermapen

It can be argued that the Thermoworks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen is single-handedly responsible for creating the market for digital meat thermometers today.

Up until the Classic Thermapen burst on the scene in 2009, there was nothing like it in the consumer meat thermometer market.

With its unparalleled speed and accuracy, the Classic Thermapen held the top spot as the best meat thermometer you could buy until it was supplanted by its newer sibling, the Thermapen MK4 in September 2015.

The Super-Fast Classic Thermapen and the Thermapen MK4 measuring sous vide water temperature.

The Super-Fast Classic Thermapen and the Thermapen MK4 measuring sous vide water temperature.

The Classic Thermapen is still, in my opinion, one of the top two meat thermometers you can buy.

It does lack many of the newer features that have become standard in the market now such as a rotating screen and a backlight, but its speed and accuracy are only a very close second to the Thermapen MK4.

I’ve also been using mine for 8.5 years, and only recently did I need to change the battery.

If there was a hall of fame for meat thermometers, this thermometer would be in the inaugural class.

The MK4, the Javelin PRO Duo, and the Classic Thermapen in a sous vide water bath.

The MK4, the Javelin PRO Duo, and the Classic Thermapen in a sous vide water bath.

The best part is that you can sometimes get the Classic Thermapen in the $50 range when Thermoworks runs a sale. This is a steal at those prices.

Here’s the full review of the Thermoworks Classic Super-Fast Thermapen.

Inkbird IHT-1S Meat Thermometer

Inkbird IHT-1S Instant-Read Meat Thermometer's body and probe totally submerged in ice water displaying 32.9 degrees Fahrenheit on its display

I felt compelled to dunk the Inkbird IHT-1s meat thermometer in ice water to show you how hard it is to try and outdo a Thermoworks Thermapen.

Don’t try that at home. By the grace of the meat thermometer gods, the IHT-1s still works.

A newcomer to the scene, the Inkbird IHT-1s looks suspiciously like a Thermapen.

Inkbird IHT-1S and Thermapen MK4 meat thermometers side-by-side

The million-dollar question would be is it as good as a Thermapen? It’s close, but no, it’s not.

Although it has many updated features such as a 360-degree rotating screen, motion-sensing backlight, USB-charging, and an IP67 waterproof rating, it is a tad less responsive and accurate as the Thermapens.

But it is a very, very, close third to the Thermapens. It is still too soon to tell the durability of the IHT-1s but I can tell you the early results are promising.

At a price point in the $50 range, the Inkbird IHT-1S makes a compelling purchase.

See the full review of the InkBird IHT-1s.

The ThermoPro TP19 Waterproof Meat Thermometer

View on Amazon

The ThermoPro TP19 Waterproof Instant-Read Thermometer has a lot of great features at its price point. Although not as fast and accurate as the top three thermometers, the TP19 has plenty of great features.

I place the TP19 just above the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo thermometer in terms of value for your money. I’ll be honest, you could go either way with the TP19 and the Javelin PRO Duo.

Both are great thermometers, but the tie-breaker for me is the TP19’s easy-to-read red digital display and the fact it is around $25 less than the Javelin PRO Duo.

  • 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.

The Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Instant Read Thermometer

Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Ambidextrous Backlit Professional Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer for Kitchen, Food Cooking, Grill, BBQ, Smoker, Candy, Home Brewing, Coffee, and Oil Deep Frying

The Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Instant-Read Thermometer is a touch 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.
  • Top five in accuracy.
  • 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.

Honorable Mentions

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

Alpha Grillers Instant Read Meat Thermometer for Grill and Cooking. Best Waterproof Ultra Fast Thermometer with Backlight & Calibration. Digital Food Probe for Kitchen, Outdoor Grilling and BBQ!Kizen Instant Read Meat Thermometer - Best Waterproof Ultra Fast Thermometer with Backlight & Calibration. Kizen Digital Food Thermometer for Kitchen, Outdoor Cooking, BBQ, and Grill!

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.

Here are my reviews of the Alpha Grillers and the Kizen Instant-Read Thermometers.

The GDealer DT09 Waterproof Instant-Read Meat Thermometer

GDEALER DT09 Waterproof Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer with 4.6” Folding Probe Calibration Function for Cooking Food Candy, BBQ Grill, Smokers

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

BUYER’S GUIDE

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.

Type

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.

Features

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
  • Timer

Brand

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.

Model

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.

Working Voltage

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.

Measuring Frequency

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

  1. Fill a glass with ice cubes, followed by cold water
  2. Stir the water and then let stand for three minutes before stirring again
  3. Insert your thermometer, being careful not to let the probe touch the sides of the glass
  4. The temperature should read 32ºF (0ºC).
  5. Record any temperature differences and adjust the thermometer as required.

Boiling Water Method

  1. Heat a pot of water until it reaches a rolling boil
  2. Insert your thermometer, ensuring it doesn’t touch the sides or the bottom of the pot
  3. The temperature should read at 212ºF (100ºC).
  4. 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.

FINAL VERDICT

When it comes to determining which meat thermometer is the best, the Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is the best meat thermometer for 2021, hands-down.

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 Inkbird IHT-1S, 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.