Thermapen MK4 Review

Thermapen MK4 Instant-Read Meat Thermometer
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The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is the best meat thermometer you can buy, period. I know that the ‘best you can buy’ claim gets thrown around quite a bit when exclaiming a product’s virtues, but this is the real deal.

I’ve tested and reviewed a lot of meat thermometers and the Thermapen MK4 is the gold standard by which I compare them. It is faster, more accurate, has more features, and is more durable than any other meat thermometer on the market.

The Thermapen MK4 doesn’t need me to review it any more than it has been by countless other authorities in the cooking space.

So this will be more of a list of reasons why the Thermapen MK4 is better than all the rest.

Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 reading 72.9 degrees Fahrenheit

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The Thermapen MK4

The Thermapen MK4 is the latest in the lineup of Thermapens by Thermoworks. Following on the footsteps of the previous best-in-class Classic Super-Fast Thermapen, the Thermapen MK4 raised the bar even higher with added features and functionality.

The previous versions of the Thermapen were groundbreaking meat thermometers with each new release. They are so far and above the others on the market that I still consider the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen the second-best meat thermometer you can buy.

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).

I’ve had the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen for over 7 years and it has been fast and accurate from day one.

Perhaps the best feature of a Thermapen is not listed on the box. What is it?

Piece of mind. I know it might sound corny but there is something to be said for the confidence you have in a piece of equipment.

Think of your go-to pan or skillet you use when you have company coming over. Or if you’re a golfer, the one club you trust not to let you down when people are watching you from the clubhouse.

There’s nothing worse than inviting people to your house and then serving them under-cooked or over-cooked food.

The Thermapen MK4 gives you the confidence that wherever you place the probe, that is the correct temperature at that spot.

Even when I’m monitoring food in the oven with an oven-safe meat thermometer, I still will double-check the internal temperature of it with the Thermapen when I pull the food out of the oven.

The Thermapen has saved me from serving under-cooked chicken more than once.

The Thermapen MK4 inserted into a whole roast chicken registering 159.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

Looking good.

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That’s enough of my open love letter to the Thermapen, let’s take a look at all of the specifications and features that make it so great.

Specifications

I will first list all of the basic specifications of the MK4 and then go more in-depth into the features and functions that set it apart from other meat thermometers.

Here are the important specifications of the Thermapen MK4:

  • -58 t0 572 degrees Fahrenheit (-49.9 to 300 degrees Celsius) temperature monitoring range.
  • Accurate to within +- 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit from -58 to 392 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 2 to 3-second response time.
  • 4.3 inch Probe with a 0.13-inch diameter reducing to a .06 inch diameter at the tip.
  • High-Performance Type-K Thermocouple Probe.
  • 3,000-hour battery life. Takes one, 1.5 volt AAA battery.
  • Adjustable Sleep Mode from 10 to 180 seconds.
  • Waterproof to IP67.
  • Rotating, Backlit Display that’s 1 inch high by 1.54 inches wide.
  • Comes with a NIST-traceable calibration certificate.
The Thermapen MK4 and the Fireboard 2 Drive thermometers monitoring water temperature around 140 degrees Fahrenheit

The Thermapen MK4 is the standard by which I measure the accuracy of the other meat thermometers I test.

Features

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

  • Super-Fast Temperature Monitoring Technology

The Thermapen MK4 is a high-performance Thermocouple Type K Thermometer. Along with its patented Super-Fast technology, the thermocouple probe is the fastest and most accurate thermometer on the market today. You simply won’t get the same kind of accuracy from the less-expensive thermistor type thermometers you’ll find on Amazon.

  • Intelligent Backlight

The backlight of the Thermapen MK4 will automatically turn on in low-light settings or when you cover the sensor window with your hand. This hands-free backlight is also another first for meat thermometers.

The Thermapen MK4 displaying its intelligent backlight in the dark.

I think my steak still needs more time on the grill, if that is the steak I’m temping.

  • Auto-Rotating Display

The Thermapen has the only 360-degree auto-rotating display on the market. No more craning your neck to follow the display. You can now easily read the digits in either hand or upside down.

Thermapen MK4 with upright display Thermapen MK4 with display upside down. Thermapen MK4 with display to the right. Thermapen MK4 with downward display.

  • Motion-Sensing Sleep Mode

There is a motion sensor that will turn the Thermapen MK4 on or off whenever it is moved with the probe folded out. You can adjust the time it takes before it goes into sleep mode from 10 to 180 seconds.

  • Rated Waterproof to IP67

This version of the Thermapen is the most waterproof yet. The IP67 rating means that the Thermapen is okay to rinse off if you get it full of germs from handling raw chicken. The end of the Thermapen MK4 where you can access the battery and inner-workings is upgraded with a screw-down gasket seal.

The end of the Thermapen MK4 has a screw-down gasket seal to protect the inside from water.

The end of the Thermapen MK4 has a screw-down gasket seal to protect the inside from water.

  • Made by hand in the U.K.

Every Thermapen is made by hand in England by Thermoworks’ partners, ETI Ltd. Each and every one is built then inspected and professionally calibrated before it is shipped to you. Every Thermapen comes with its own certificate of calibration.

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The Classic Thermapen on the left with the Thermapen MK4 on the right

Thermapen MK4 vs the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen

So, is the Thermapen MK4 the same as the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen just with more features? Sort of. According to Thermoworks, the Thermapen MK4 has “improvements that were made in the sensor manufacturing process and the probe assembly that makes it just slightly faster than the original Super-Fast® Thermapen.”

In my testing, the MK4 is indeed a little bit faster but hardly noticeable. The Classic Super-Fast Thermapen is still a great meat thermometer and an incredible value at its lower price point.

Here are the main differences between the Thermapen MK4 and the Classic Thermapen:

  • The Mk4 has an automatic rotating 360-degree display, the Classic Thermapen’s display doesn’t rotate.
  • Whenever the probe is open on the MK4 it will go to sleep and wakeup whenever you pick it up, with the Classic Thermapen you need to fold the probe back in and then out to restart it.
  • The MK4 has a backlit display that turns on in low light, the Classic Thermapen has no backlight whatsoever.
  • The MK4 is waterproof while the Classic Thermapen is splashproof, which means it is a little less waterproof, but you can still rinse it off if need be.
  • As of this review, the Classic Thermapen is generally $20 dollars less than the MK4, retailing for $79. However, the Classic, as well as the MK4, do go on sale periodically throughout the year.
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.

Thermapen MK4 vs the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo

Whenever a lower-priced meat thermometer that mimics the Thermapen MK4 comes out, the inevitable comparison to the MK4 is made.

Although the Javelin PRO Duo is a good thermometer, it isn’t in the same league as the Thermapen MK4. The main differences being:

  • It is less accurate (+-0.9 degrees Fahrenheit compared to +-0.7 degrees Fahrenheit for the MK4).
  • A reported 3 to 4-second response time for the Javelin PRO Duo to the 2 to 3-second response time of the MK4.
  • The Javelin PRO Duo uses a thermistor probe while the Thermapen MK4 uses a Thermocouple Type-K probe.
  • The Javelin PRO Duo’s display only rotates 180 degrees compared to 360 degrees for the MK4.
  • In terms of waterproofing, the Javelin PRO Duo is splash-resistant with an IP65 rating while the MK4 is waterproof with an IP67 rating.
  • The MK4 is made by hand in England and comes with a NIST-traceable certificate of calibration, the Javelin PRO Duo is made in China.
Thermworks Signals and the Thermoworks DOT with the MK4 in a 140 degree water bath.

Family reunion. Hanging with the Thermoworks Signals and Thermoworks DOT thermometers.

Final Thoughts

You buy a meat thermometer so that you can accurately monitor the internal temperature of your food. That is the number one function of a meat thermometer, with accuracy being of utmost importance.

If your meat thermometer isn’t accurate your food isn’t going to be cooked to its best temperature. Having a meat thermometer that is fast and accurate makes you a better cook.

There is no more accurate meat thermometer than the Thermapen MK4.

Rather than rest on their laurels with the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen, Thermoworks raised the bar by adding even more intuitive functionality to the MK4.

When you add in the best-in-class customer service from the fine people at Thermoworks, you are getting an amazing piece of kitchen technology that will help you turn out some amazing food for years to come.

I know this. I’ve had my Classic Super-Fast Thermapen for over 7 years and I’m a better cook for it. I am certain the MK4 and the Classic Thermapen will grow old together in my kitchen drawer and be by my side for cooking many a delicious meal far into the future.

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