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This updated Top 10 Instant Read Thermometer Ratings Guide for 2018 includes three new first time entries to this list that I am excited to share with you.

Can any of these new entries replace last year’s choice for best Instant Read Thermometer?  You will have to read on to find out.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever overcooked a chicken breast; left it sitting on the barbeque for two minutes too long, and suffered through a dry hunk of meat for dinner.

Overcooking or under-cooking meat is a common enough mistake to make, and especially worrisome in the name of food safety.  But there is a way to avoid this problem ever again, and that way is using an instant read food thermometer.

I put together this top 10 instant read thermometer rating guide to help you choose the best grilling and food thermometer to fit your budget and needs.

Why This Guide Will Be Helpful For You

Checking your food’s temperature has never been as easy as it is today.

Thanks to technology that is always improving, thermometers aren’t the analog probes of your parent’s kitchen.

The days of the pop-up turkey button or analog leave in meat thermometers are truly behind us.  The instant read electronic thermometers day in the sun has truly arrived.

“As always, my goal is to save you time and money by doing all the research and testing for you, so you don’t have to.”

Nowadays you have many options and one of best and most reliable of them are instant read thermometers.

With such a vast number of products to choose from, it comes down to being informed on the different instant read thermometer ratings to decide which is best for you.

There is a broad price range between brands, and the features change along with the price.  You can surely get exactly what you’re looking for in an instant read thermometer if you know what you are looking at.

But just in case you don’t know, that’s where I come in.

This product overview acts as a buyer’s guide to ten of the best instant read meat thermometers on the market today.

I’ll show you what features to look for, and give you many options of different instant read thermometers and price ranges along the way.

Why Are Instant Read Thermometers Needed?

To start with, they take the guesswork out of cooking and are hands down the most important and most used tool in any professional kitchen.

With an instant read digital thermometer, you can be sure about the timing during every step of the preparing and cooking process for every piece of meat you cook.

They are also a great way to increase your confidence in a wide range of grilling and kitchen cooking tasks.

But perhaps the most important and logical reason to invest in a good instant read thermometer starts with food safety 101.

There is no more second-guessing yourself when you have an instant read digital thermometer so you can avoid the foodborne bacterial “danger zone”.

There is nothing worse than getting yourself, or worse, one of your loved ones sick because of undercooked and contaminated meat.

Lastly, a professional chef friend of mine once told me:

“Being a good cook requires good ingredients, being a phenomenal cook requires an instant read thermometer!!!”

The Rating Criteria – Best Instant Read Thermometer Ratings

What matters most in a good instant read thermometer is speed, accuracy, and clarity.

The first questions to ask are how quickly can I turn it on and easily be able to see an accurate temperature reading of my food.

One that slowly inches upwards towards the current temperature and in some cases leaves you guessing could be the difference between your food is cooked perfectly and “oh crap, I left the meat on too long….again!”

The main criteria I took into consideration when reviewing these thermometers are:

Accuracy And Precision

Any instant read thermometer with an accuracy reading of under ±1°F is considered very good.

Anything between ±1°F and ±1.9°F is considered good.

Anything ±2.0°F and above is considered ok to bad.

I also took into account the ease of reading of said temperatures.

Speed

Any instant read thermometer with an average read time of 3 seconds or less is considered very good.

Anything between 4 and 5 seconds is considered good.

Anything between 5 and 7 seconds or above is considered ok to bad.

Temperature Range

Any instant read thermometer with a temperature range of -40 ~ 482°F or better is considered very good.

Anything between -4°F to 480°F is considered good.

Anything between 32 ºF to 392 ºF is considered ok to bad.

(Note: if you are planning to use your thermometer only for grilling and have no need for below freezing or up past hot frying oil readings, this may be something you can disregard.)

Build Quality And Battery life

I took into account the durability and longevity of the unit as well as battery life for each thermometer reviewed.

4,000 – 5,000-hour battery life is considered very good.

3,000 – 3,999 is considered good.

2,999 and below is considered ok to bad.

Usability And Features

Is the thermometer easy to use and are the controls easily accessible and user-friendly?

Does it come with any extra features like backlighting readouts, rotating display to be able to read them in any position, an auto shut-off feature and are they splash proof?  This is just to name a few.

While extra features are by no means a deal killer on what makes the best-rated instant read thermometers, there are considered “nice to haves” and factor into my ultimate decision.

Price

I considered price compared to the value you receive when comprising this list and provided a wide range of options ranging from top of the line high-end models to ultra-low cost but highly rated and functional models.

Real User Feedback And Reviews

Lastly, I took into account verified purchasers feedback and reviews.

I scoured manufacture and Amazon sites for feedback and comments on 40 plus instant read thermometers to help narrow down this list of the best of the best.

I don’t think any review is complete without taking into consideration actual long-term users and their experiences with using a product.

Top 10 Instant Read Thermometer Ratings

I broke down the ten best instant read meat thermometers using the criteria mentioned above.  These thermometers come in a range of prices and come with a variety of features.  Let’s check them out!

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“Editor’s Choice – Best Overall Instant Read Thermometer”

– 2nd Year On My List –

 

You can’t have a top 10 instant read thermometer list without including at least a couple entries from Thermaworks.

They set the gold standard by which all other thermometers are compared.

The Thermaworks Thermapen MK4 has to be my pick of the best quality and best overall performance in an instant read grill thermometer.

Unfortunately, that quality comes at a price.  When you’re shopping for a digital thermometer, you should look at the MK4, if nothing else, as a comparison to some of the best quality available.

The MK4 has one of the most accurate reads around.  It shows within ±0.7°F of the exact temperature.

It also reads the temperature quickly.  There is no waiting for the right read with the MK4, just insert and wait a maximum of three seconds for the temperature to read out.

The Thermaworks MK4 has an automatically rotating display, getting rid of any neck twisting or head turning to read your thermometer.  This feature alongside the rotating probe makes it an ambidextrous piece of equipment.

Not only does the MK4 have an automatic power feature, it goes off sensing being set down.  No more wasting your battery as you wait for the thermometer to turn off, just set it on the table and the thermometer turns itself off.  Pick it up and it turns back on.  It is a simple, elegant perk, and really adds to the overall worth.

The MK4 comes in a variety of colors, whether you want a subtle color or a bright one that really sticks out, the MK4 is available for you.

Extra Features Include:

  • Foldaway thermocouple probe
  • Intelligent backlight
  • Waterproof to IP67
  • Patented auto-rotating display
  • 10 colors to choose from

The biggest downside to the MK4 is its price.  It comes in at nearly $100 per unit.  You are getting a high-quality product, that is sure, but you are paying for those extra perks.

 

“Editor’s Choice – Best Mid-Range Instant Read Thermometer”

– 2nd Year On My List –

 

The Lavatools Javelin pro is a staple of the digital thermometer world.

It has all the features you could want, at an understandable price.  It is a worthy upgrade from the original Javelin, which also made our list.

Things to look for in the Javelin Pro Ambidextrous Thermometer vary, and give it an overall fair value.

The reading speed is at the top of the list when it comes to the Javelin Pro.  It reads the temperature of a food in two to three seconds.  That is a fast cash in and allows for little time wasted when checking your food.

The temperature accuracy is one feature that is quite good in the Javelin Pro.  It certainly gets the job done; giving a reading that is within ±0.9°F of perfect.  Incredibly, that isn’t even at the top for an instant read grill thermometer on this list.

The Javelin pro has some nice extra features though.  An automatically rotating display means it is no lie when the Javelin Pro says it is “ambidextrous”.  You can rotate the probe around to easily use it in either left or right hand.  You can even point it straight up, and the display will fix itself for you.

A built-in magnet is another nice perk.  Though it seems simple, a magnet really adds to the worth of a thermometer.  It will undoubtedly come in handy down the road.

Another extra feature allows you to “hold” your temperature.  Once your thermometer is reading the temperature, you can press “hold” and then the Javelin pro will continue to show the temperature until you press “hold” again.

Extra Features Include:

  • Large 2″ Auto-Rotating Ambidextrous Backlit Display
  • IP65 Splash Resistant Construction
  • Intelligent Stabilization Alert + Temperature Hold
  • Integrated Magnet for Convenient Storage
  • Auto Shut Off When Not In Use

The Javelin Pro sells at about $49 but varies slightly depending on the color you want.  If you are just dying for an Olive Drab colored case, you will have to drop an extra $5 to realize your dream.

 

“Best Overall Instant Read Thermometer on a Budget”

– 2nd Year On My List –

 

The ThermoPop is another product by Thermoworks, but it is barely even comparable.

They follow their own necessities and are about as different as they can be while both being instant read thermometers.

The ThermoPop is a very effective small thermometer though.  Its probe comes straight out of a small round head and does not fold into the body.  It comes with a sleeve to cover the probe when not in use.

The display still rotates when the thermometer is turned and moved, which is a nice detail.  Reading from any angle is convenient.

The accuracy is not nearly as good with the ThermoPop, coming within 2°F of the temperature.  While not a deal killer, it could be better.

It also is a tad bit slower than the MK4, taking up to four seconds to give you a temperature reading.

The 5,000-hour battery life tops all thermometers on this list though and makes this an excellent choice if you are looking for the Thermoworks quality at a smaller price.

Extra Features Include:

  • Rotating display
  • Intelligent backlight
  • Splash-proof design
  • Big backlit digits
  • 9 colors to choose from

The ThermoPop comes in a variety of assorted colors, sells for about $29, and comes with Thermoworks excellent customer service and support.

 

“Runner Up Best Instant Read Thermometer On A Budget”

– 2nd Year On My List –

 

The Lavatools PT12 is like the Javelin Pro’s little brother.

Coming in with a bit fewer features, the PT12 is more of a bare-bones instant read grill thermometer.

It is still quite accurate, reading within .9°F of the exact temperature.  It takes a bit longer to read the temperature though, holding on point at between three and four seconds.  That is still pretty quick, but not quite so quick as the Javelin Pro.

The PT12 still comes with a built-in magnet, giving it that nice convenience that isn’t always available.

With a temperature range of -40 to 482°F, this meat thermometer is also effective for fryers, bread, candy, coffee, and homebrews.

Lavatools also provides a lifetime warranty on this product.

Extra Features Include:

  • Built-in magnet to stick it to your refrigerator or oven.
  • Auto-Off after 60 minutes of disuse
  • Splash-proof construction

While the PT12 is lacking a couple features, it comes at half the price of its big brother and its performance is still quite good.  You can grab one for about $25.

 

“Best 1st Generation Instant Read Thermometer”

– 2nd Year On My List –

 

The Classic Thermapen is the previous generation of instant-read grill thermometer by ThermoWorks.

This was the gold standard for instant-read thermometers before the ThermoWorks MK4 came along.  It comes a little cheaper but doesn’t have quite as many features as the MK4.

The accuracy still holds very well on the Classic, coming within .7°F of the exact temperature.

It’s folding probe still comes around and allows for left-handed use, but the display doesn’t automatically rotate on the Classic model.

It only takes two to three seconds to read the temperature though, giving the name “Super-Fast” some legitimacy.

Its array of colors is bright and pleasant, easily spotted in a cluttered cooking utensil drawer.

If you are looking for a highly accurate, quick reading thermometer, this might be the one for you.

Extra Features Include:

  • Auto-Off after 10 minutes
  • Water-resistant design
  • Auto on/off when you fold or unfold the probe —no buttons!

The Classic Thermapen costs about $79, putting it in the higher price range.  That price comes with quality, durability, and accuracy we have come to expect from ThermoWorks though.

 

“Best Alternative To Higher Priced Foldable Thermometers”

– 1st Year On My List –

 

The Mister Chefer Food Thermometer is excellent for both Outdoor and Kitchen Cooking.

It is another lower priced instant read thermometer that comes with some nice extras.

The 180-degree rotatable probe comes within ±1°F, which is not bad at all.   The long foldable probe will safely read the temperature of any food quite easily.

One of the extras that make it stand out in this price category includes a convenient backlight button for reading temperatures in low light conditions.

It also includes a magnet attached to the back of the unit so you can stick it to your fridge or grill in between uses, or it can be hung on a hook by the hanging loop on the end.

The Mister Chefer takes three to four seconds to read your temperatures, which is pretty fast.  It offers a wide reading range of -58°F -572°F making it useful for more than just cooking and grilling.

There is also a calibrate function provided for maximum accuracy in case the temperature ever becomes unbalanced.

The thermometer is waterproof so you can easily wash it off without fear of getting water inside.  The step-down probe tip is thin enough so as to not leave a trace on the meat when piercing.

Mister Chefer offers an excellent lifetime warranty and 100% money back guarantee if you are unhappy with the thermometer.

You have to love a company that has the confidence in its product like that.

Extra Features Include:

  • Waterproof design
  • Auto off feature
  • Backlight function
  • Calibration function
  • Long 4.5-inch antibacterial probe
  • Built-in magnet
  • Loop for hanging
  • Easy to use design

The Mister Chefer thermometer is priced around $26 and has a nice list of extra features making it a solid alternative to some of the more expensive foldable thermometers.

With such an excellent warranty, this is a good buy.

 

“Best Dual Temperature Infrared / Thermocouple Thermometer”

– 1st Year On My List –

 

The Taylor Precision Products Thermometer is a dual temperature thermometer that can be used for infrared and standard thermocouple temperature readings.

This allows you to measure both internal and surface temperatures with this combination probe and infrared thermometer.

The surface infrared reader is great for checking for hotspots on everything from the stove, oven and your grill and features an adjustable emissivity for reading dark reflective surfaces.

The 5-inch long stainless steel probe is great for all types of food and folds closed when not in use.

The infrared can measure temperatures between -67 and 482℉, while the probe can handle between -67 and 626℉, making this a very versatile temperature-measuring device.

Additional features include a temperature hold button, a splash-proof design, and an auto shutoff after 15 minutes to help preserve battery life.  It runs off of two AAA batteries.

The Taylor isn’t cheap at around $58, but when you consider it is actually two thermometers in one, it helps take the sting out of the price somewhat.

 

“Best Low Cost Talking Instant Read Thermometer”

– 1st Year On My List –

 

The Surround Point Instant Read Thermometer has one unique feature not found in many fold down thermometers today.

It will actually speak the temperature out loud to you when checking your readings.

This is great when checking temperatures in awkward positions and hard to reach places.  It’s also nice for the visually impaired or if you just don’t feel like putting on your glasses.

The fold down probe design comes within ±1°F of perfect accuracy so you can be confident in your readouts.  You’ll love the wide measurement range of -58F to 572F (-50C- 300C) that makes this a versatile thermometer indeed.

Among its several extra features, it includes an automatic shut-off to prolong the battery life, and LED backlight function for low light conditions, push button voice temperature broadcasts and a hanging loop for storing.

This Surround Point thermometer will give fast and accurate readout results just in 4 seconds and comes with a free recipe EBOOK when ordering through Amazon.

The Surround Point Talking Instant Read Thermometer is priced around $18 making it a good value for a thermometer that has talking readouts.

Between the money back satisfaction guarantee and the offer of a free recipe e-book; this is a low risk, high reward item.

 

– 2nd Year On My List –

 

The DILISS Instant Read Meat Thermometer offers some cool extra perks while being a lower priced thermometer.

It has a foldable probe and comes within ±0.9°F of perfect accuracy.  While the lower accuracy is not bad at all, it comes with some extra stuff to make it even better.

One perk that the DILISS comes with is a meat temperature chart that is printed on the side of the thermometer.  The chart covers multiple types of meat.

It also comes with a magnet attached to the back so you can put in on your fridge, or wherever else seems comparable.

The DILISS takes four to six seconds to read the temperature, which is on the slower side for this list but still not bad.

It also has an automatic power switch that turns it off after ten minutes of inactivity.  The probe will rotate up to 180° so you can have it straight out, or at whatever other angle works best for the task at hand.

It works with both liquids and solids and advertises as a great thermometer for grilling and for making candy.

Extra Features Include:

  • Auto-Off after 10 minutes
  • Splash-proof body
  • Magnetic Refrigerator Attachment
  • Foldable design

The DILISS is priced around $20, making it a cheaper alternative to some of the other foldable thermometers.

 

“Best Overall Ultra Low-Cost Instant Read Thermometer”

– 2nd Year On My List –

 

Last, but not least, the ThermoPro TP03A is an Amazon Best Seller.

It is one of the cheapest foldable thermometers available, and still, offers many of the same features as others at the top of our instant read thermometer ratings.

The TP03A is a small, instant read thermometer that comes within  ±0.9°F of perfect accuracy in its temperature readings.  The readings can take up to four to seven seconds to come through though, meaning it is one of the slowest of the foldable thermometers on our list.

It has a ten-minute safeguard for the battery, turning itself off after ten minutes of inactivity.  It also has 180° of rotation in the probe itself.

The body also has a nice hook to hang the thermometer onto something when not in use, though it doesn’t have a built-in magnet.  If you are always trying to find your utensils, knowing it will be hanging on the wall is a sure way to make it easily located.

Extra Features Include:

  • Auto-Off after 10 minutes
  • Hook attachment for hanging
  • Foldable design

The TP03A costs around $10.  Really a steal at the price, though you don’t get quite the quality of some of the other thermometers available.

Buyer’s Guide – What To Look For In An Instant Read Thermometer

Instant read thermometer ratings depend greatly on the features of the thermometers.

With technology getting better every day, it can be tough to find the newest and best products out there.

Here are some of the features you should look for in an instant read thermometer.

Accuracy

The entire purpose of a thermometer is to know the temperature of your food.

An inaccurate thermometer won’t help you cook a sauce to perfection or grill up a steak to its most succulent temperature.  Luckily, most instant read thermometers come within 1°F of perfect accuracy.

When you are shopping for a thermometer, it shouldn’t have to be calibrated like older analog thermometers.  The product listing should also tell you how accurate it is.  If not, you can be pretty sure it isn’t a very accurate thermometer.

Speed Of Temperature Reading

The term ‘instant read’ is a bit of a hyperbole in the field.  No thermometer can read the temperature completely instantaneously. 

Even though that is a little exaggerated, some instant read grill thermometers give a faster read time than others do.  The range can be from two seconds to over ten seconds.

That is a quite a variance, so it is worth knowing the estimated read time of a thermometer before you purchase it.

Temperature Range

Temperature range is another feature that may mean different things to different purchasers.

You must first know how you plan to use your thermometer.

Grilling, baking, and roasting do not require extreme lows or extreme highs.  If that is all your planning to use the thermometer for, then anything ranging between 32°F and 350°F is sufficient.

If you are planning to use this for extremely hot or cold liquid, candy making or checking the temperature of hot frying oil, much wider temperature ranges from -58.0 to 572.0°F are required.

Durability

Do your homework and read reviews, especially from long-term owners.

If they say things like, “my last one lasted over 10 years before it finally gave up the ghost and I loved it!”, then you may have a winner.

Unfortunately, higher quality usually means higher cost, but not always.  Again, do your homework before making any purchases.

Extra Features

One of the biggest influences of instant read thermometer ratings are the new and improved features modern thermometers have.

As technology has become more and more approachable, the features of digital thermometers have improved drastically.

Things like automatically rotating screens, automatic power switches, and temperature holds all add to the value of a thermometer.  Of course, this also often comes with an added price as well.

Just about whatever you are looking for in a thermometer, though, you will find.

Instant Read Thermometer FAQ

User Tips And Product Care Guide For Your Thermometer Investment

How To Properly Insert A Meat Thermometer

The trick to getting the best reading when using an instant read thermometer is to find the coolest part of the meat or the thermometer sweet spot.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the dead center of the meat.  What you are shooting for is the center of the thickest part of the meat.

How To Test A Meat Thermometer

There are two easy ways to test your instant read thermometer to verify correct readings.  They are:

1. The Boiling Water Test – Fill a deep pot with water and bring it to a boil.  Insert the thermometer probe (not the device itself) halfway into the water without touching the sides or the bottom.  The thermometer should read 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. The Ice Water Test – Fill a pot or large drinking glass with crushed ice and water so that it is quite slushy.  Stir well.  Insert the thermometer probe (not the device itself) halfway into the water without touching the sides or the bottom.  The thermometer should read 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

If either of these readings is far off, then Houston, we have a problem.  Calibrating is in order.

Calibrating Instant Read Thermometers

Not all models can be calibrated, but for those that can (read your user’s manual), start by setting up either the boiling water or ice water scenario above.

Insert the probe in the water (only the metal probe, not the whole thermometer or the probe wire). 

Next, hold down the reset (or calibrate) button if there is one, or hold the On-Off button for 6 to 10 seconds or until the display reads the correct hot or cold temp.

Pro tip: If your thermometer does not come with a home calibration option, some manufacturers will do it for you if you send it to them.  It doesn’t hurt to reach out to them to inquire if they will help if your thermometer readings have become inaccurate.

How To Clean A BBQ Thermometer

A paper towel or sponge, a little warm water, and dish soap will normally do the trick.

But be careful not to get the actual probe, wires or body of the thermometer itself wet.

Another safe method is to hold the probe in boiling water for at least 30 seconds at 171 degrees Fahrenheit or more.  Harmful bacteria will die when exposed to the high heat.

Pro tip: Another nice method is using pre-made probe wipes sold online.  Think baby wipes but for your thermometer.  They are specifically made for food probes and are soaked with a cleaning solution that helps kill harmful bacteria that causes food safety issues.  The CDN PW-90 Thermometer Probe Wipes are a good example.

Final Verdict – Which Instant Read Thermometer Is Best?

Once again, the Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is my choice for the overall best instant read thermometer for 2018.

If you can afford the higher price, the MK4 is still the best digital thermometer money can buy.

A close second coming in at almost half the price is the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo as far as quality and features offered are concerned.

Whatever you are looking for in an instant read thermometer…

there is certainly a product here for you.

The highest rated products on this instant read thermometer rating list will give you an exceptional quality product that will last you nearly a lifetime.  They will give you every bell and whistle you could want.

The improvements in technology make things like automatically rotating screens very available on a digital thermometer.  The age-old ideas of looks and simplicity in design continue with many digital thermometers, giving you options of color, shape, and whether the probe is foldable or not.

The biggest factor in choosing a thermometer, though, is the price you want to spend.

You can spend between $8 and $100 easily.  The price you are willing to pay will dictate exactly which features you will get, but even the cheaper products on this list will get the job done.  They will at least give you a fairly accurate temperature in a reasonable amount of time.

I hope that this list will help you choose which product is right for you!

As always, if you or someone you know is interested in the latest Instant Read Thermometer ratings for 2018 or you find this information useful, please consider sharing with your cooking and grilling friends or on social media.  Sharing is caring my friends!

If you would like to leave a comment or have a review of your own to share on these Top 10 Instant Read Thermometers 2018 or others, please do so below. We always welcome your input.

Cheers,

Patrick

Disclosure

At The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs.  If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission.  This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue.  Your support is truly appreciated.