Updated January 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Best of the Best
Meater Plus Smart Meat Thermometer
Plus Smart Meat Thermometer
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Smart & Wireless
Bottom Line

This smart thermometer boasts a fully wireless design and dual sensors.


Separate sensors measure food interior and ambient exterior temperature. Completely wireless design connects to smartphone app via Bluetooth to monitor temperature and estimate cooking time.


No way to get readings without the smartphone app.

Best Bang for the Buck
Taylor Precision Products Programmable Kitchen Thermometer
Taylor Precision Products
Programmable Kitchen Thermometer
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Classic Design
Bottom Line

Affordable meat thermometer and timer with a compact design.


Set desired temperature and timer with this simple-to-use device. The probe has a 4-foot-long cord for convenient usage. Adjustable screen with large numbers that are easy to see.


Max temperature of 392 degrees. Feels a bit flimsy.

ThermoPro TP-17 Dual Probe Digital Meat Thermometer
TP-17 Dual Probe Digital Meat Thermometer
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Bottom Line

Fast temperature readings and practical features.


An attractive model with a vivid backlit screen that can be easily seen from a distance. Registers temperatures quickly. Comes with 2 probes. Owners love its built-in timer.


Some users report units malfunctioning after several uses.

ThermoPro TP-18 Ultra Fast Thermometer
TP-18 Ultra Fast Thermometer
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Fast & Effective
Bottom Line

Simple, sleek, and comes with great customer service.


Users say this thermometer lives up to the claims of its speed and accuracy, getting a temperature reading in as little as 3 seconds. Temperature is easy to read and can be locked in.


Thermometer can break easily if handled incorrectly.

Char-Broil Instant-Read Digital Thermometer
Instant-Read Digital Thermometer
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Instant Readings
Bottom Line

This sleek and compact thermometer will offer temperature readings in 10 seconds or less.


Auto-off function. Alarm setting. Stainless steel probe is reliable. Foldable design for easy storage. Seven different selectable meat types. Can be set to 7 different languages, too.


Is not water-resistant, so be careful about washing grease or other substances off it.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best meat thermometers

When it comes to your safety and your health, you should never just guess. Not cooking meat to the proper temperature puts you (and your loved ones) at risk for salmonella, listeria, E. coli, and other bacteria, infections, and parasites. A properly functioning meat thermometer is a great solution to be certain that your meat is safe to eat.

Instant-read analog thermometers are a good choice. However, if you are truly looking for the best, a wireless digital probe that you can leave in the meat as it cooks is great. This thermometer sends a signal to a handheld device so you can monitor the entire cooking process.

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A meat thermometer with a folding probe is a great accessory to have when grilling at a picnic, the beach, or while camping.

Meat thermometer types

Although it’s a simple tool, there are actually several different kinds of meat thermometers available for today’s cook.

Leave-in analog meat thermometers

These old-fashioned dial thermometers remain in the meat while it cooks. While inexpensive and easy to use, they’re also difficult to read without removing the meat from the oven — and sometimes they read higher than the actual meat temperature.

Instant-read analog meat thermometers

Inexpensive and readily available, these dial-top thermometers require a minute or less to provide a temperature reading once you insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat. It can be difficult to read the temperature, however, and you’ll get a false reading if you insert the thermometer incorrectly. Instant-read analog thermometers do not remain in the meat while it cooks.

Digital instant-read meat thermometers

Just push the probe into the thickest part of the meat, wait a few seconds, and read the temperature. Digital instant-read meat thermometers don’t stay inside the oven while the meat cooks.

"A leave-in digital probe thermometer has a very thin cord that connects the base unit to the thermometer. It is so thin that you can close your oven door on it without breaking the door’s seal."

Thermometer forks

Shaped like a large, two-prong cooking fork, these thermometers are especially useful for outdoor grilling. They provide a nearly instant reading at the end of cooking time.

Leave-in digital probes

These thermometers provide the best of both worlds: the probe remains inside the meat as it cooks, while the base unit sits on the nearby counter where you can easily read it. A cord, which is thin enough not to break the oven door’s seal, connects the two.  These are accurate, easy to use, and often have additional features such as timers and alarms.

Disposable pop-up indicators

You’ll most often use these in whole turkeys, and some meatpackers sell their turkeys with the pop-up indicator already in place. The indicator should pop up when the bird’s interior reaches the recommended temperature of 165°F, but they aren’t always reliable.

Leave-in wireless digital probes

These thermometers are similar to digital leave-in probes, but they transmit wirelessly to the base unit. That makes this type of thermometer a great choice for both outdoor grilling and indoor cooking.

Valuable meat thermometer features

Some meat thermometers do nothing more than indicate temperature; others have lots of bells and whistles. Every meat thermometer, whether simple or fancy, should provide accurate, easy-to-read results in a timely manner. If you prefer something beyond basic, however, here are some of the handiest features to look for.

  • Temperature Alarm/Alert: A beep, flashing light, or combination of the two alerts you when the meat reaches the recommended or programmed temperature.
  • Stabilization Alert: A beep lets you know that your instant-read thermometer has reached a stable temperature reading.
  • Timer: Counts down your cooking time.
  • Preset Temperatures: These thermometers are preset with the USDA recommendations for safe cooking temperatures.
  • Programmable Temperature: You can choose your own target temperature.

  • High-Temperature Alert: You’ll receive an audible alert or flashing light if the meat’s temperature goes above the programmed setting.

  • Dual Probes: One probe goes into the meat; the other monitors the temperature of your grill.

  • Rotating Display: The digital readout rotates to accommodate different angles. This is a useful feature if you cook a wide range of meats.

  • Temperature Range: The best meat thermometers have a wide temperature range. Some measure temps up to 600°F.

  • Backlight: It’s handy to have a backlight if you use your thermometer on the grill or want to be able to peer into the back of the oven.

  • Auto-Off: The thermometer shuts off when not in use to preserve battery life.

  • Water-Resistant or Waterproof: Your thermometer should be able to tolerate cooking juices, splashes of sauce, and occasional dunks in water for washing or calibrating.

  • Bluetooth-Compatible: Some wireless digital probes don’t even require a base; they connect right to your smartphone via Bluetooth.

  • Price: No need to break your budget on a meat thermometer. You can buy a good, albeit simple, digital thermometer for around $20. For a fancier model, expect to spend $50 or more.

"For ultimate control, choose a meat thermometer with a programmable target temperature feature."

How to use a meat thermometer

The key to accurate results with a meat thermometer is in placing it in the meat correctly. No matter what type of meat you’re cooking, the thermometer should not touch bone. Generally, you want the tip of the probe in the thickest portion of the meat.

  • If you’re cooking a turkey or chicken, check the temperature in the bird’s thigh right near the breast. It’s easy to find the perfect spot by pushing the probe in until it hits the bone, then drawing the probe back a couple of inches.

  • For a large, boneless roast or ham, slide the thermometer’s probe into the thickest section of meat, avoiding any gristle or fat.

  • When checking hamburgers or thin cuts of meat, push the probe in sideways.

  • Once the probe is positioned correctly, leave it in place until you have your reading. Even an instant-read thermometer takes a few seconds to reach peak temperature.

  • Remember that meat continues to cook for up to 10 minutes after you remove it from the oven or grill, so adjust your cooking time if necessary.

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Did you know?
Meat continues to cook for about 10 minutes after removal from the grill, stove, or oven. Take that into consideration for when to serve your dish.

Calibrating your meat thermometer

An inaccurate thermometer isn’t useful, but how do you know if yours is accurate or not? The answer: you should calibrate your thermometer before its first use and then at least yearly — or anytime the thermometer is dropped or otherwise treated roughly.

  1. Start by dipping the thermometer probe into a glass filled with ice and water. You should get a reading within a couple of degrees of 32°F.

  2. Next, dunk your thermometer into a pot of boiling water. The reading should be within a degree or two of 212°F.

  3. If your thermometer is out of calibration, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for recalibrating it. If your thermometer does not allow recalibrations, it’s time to buy a new one.

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Adding a meat thermometer to your cooking regimen doesn’t have to be complicated. Most meat thermometers are highly affordable and easy to use.

Tips & caution

  • As you approach the meat’s internal center, your thermometer’s reading may dip down. This is normal. You want to make sure the coolest part of the meat is within the safe temperature range before you consume it.

  • A meat thermometer and a candy thermometer are two different things. If you want to use a meat thermometer to make candy, first make sure the temperature goes high enough for your candy recipe.

  • Just about every professional chef and top cooking website recommend digital meat thermometers over analog meat thermometers, as digital devices tend to be far more accurate.

  • For accurate (and safe) cooking results, don’t forget to calibrate your meat thermometer when you first buy it and at regular intervals after that.

  • Sanitization is very important when it comes to meat thermometers. Sanitize your meat thermometer before use, after use, and in-between uses if you’re switching the thermometer from one dish to another.

  • Salmonella is a foodborne illness that you can contract by eating undercooked meat. The CDC of the U.S. tells us that approximately 380 Americans die per year of salmonella poisoning.

  • Trichinella spiralis is a worm larva found in some undercooked game and pork. Ingesting this larva causes Trichinosis, an illness that involves gastrointestinal issues and other symptoms. The severity of Trichinosis may be affected by how much of the larvae are ingested.

  • Wash your thermometer’s probe by hand with gentle dishwashing soap and warm water after every use. Few are safe for the dishwasher.

  • If you’re cooking stuffing inside a turkey, both the turkey and the stuffing need to reach at least 165°F before they are safe to eat.

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