To ensure perfectly cooked food at every meal, you’ll probably want to add a thermometer to your kitchen arsenal. The best instant-read thermometers have a maximum temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, a stainless steel probe, and the ability to give readings in five seconds or less.
While most meats don’t need to be cooked beyond 165 degrees Fahrenheit, having a thermometer with a higher maximum reading is useful for frying food, making candy, and some other high-heat recipes. It can also be helpful to have a thermometer with a low minimum temperature that can be recalibrated with a dip in ice water, so you can make sure your readings stay precise.
Thermometers should also have stainless steel probes, because it’s not only a durable material, but also rust-resistant and easy to clean. While most thermometers are not dishwasher-friendly, some are water-resistant, so you can wash them by hand without worry. To check water-resistance, look at the IP rating when available, which indicates how well a product can stand up to elements like water and dust. Thermometers with an IPX5 rating can withstand being sprayed with water, while thermometers with an IPX7 rating or higher can be fully submerged.
If you’ve ever tried to measure a steak’s temperature over a hot grill, you know that the speed of a temperature reading is also important. Good instant-read thermometers can give a reading in five seconds, but some thermometers are even faster, giving readings in as little as a second.
You may want a thermometer with additional features too, such as backlights for easy reading, or auto-off designs to save battery life. Thermometers with angled probes are easier to insert, and magnets and hanging holes make for easy storage. If you’re a lefty, you’ll also want one with a rotating reader that can be used with either hand.
With this list of the best instant-read thermometers on Amazon, you’ll be able to find the right thermometer as quickly as it can take a reading. Check it out below.
1. The Best Overall
- Temperature range: -58 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit
- Reading time: 2 to 3 seconds
This digital instant-read thermometer is easy to use and can give an accurate reading in both Fahrenheit and Celsius in three seconds or less. It comes pre-calibrated, but you can also recalibrate it with a glass of icy water. The stainless steel probe measures 4.6 inches, and it can be angled up to 180 degrees, so you can easily insert it into any foods and read the large, backlit screen. By pressing the hold button, the reading will remain on screen for 10 seconds, which can be a handy feature for some cooking situations. This thermometer also has a IP67 rating, so once you’re done using it, you can rinse it clean in the sink (just be sure not to soak it). Once it’s clean, it can be hung with the convenient hole or put on your fridge with the back magnet.
One fan raved: “I was very pleased with this thermometer. Out of the box, it just works. You flip open the temperature probe, and the screen turns on and begins giving readings that update quickly when exposed to hot or cold items. I placed the tip in a glass of ice water and quickly saw a temp measured right around 32 degrees, as expected. The screen and numbers are large and easy to read, but if you need backlighting, that's just one button press to turn on. Once you fold it back up, the screen automatically turns back off. The casing makes it comfortable to hold, and it has a nice brushed aluminum looking finish on the side.”
- Available colors: 2
2. The Fan-Favorite
- Temperature range: -58 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit
- Reading time: 3 to 5 seconds
This inexpensive instant-read thermometer is a fan favorite on Amazon, with a whopping 60,000 five-star ratings. Fans not only love this thermometer for the price, but also for the easy-to-read backlit screen and the 3.9-inch stainless steel probe, which extends by up to 180 degrees. This thermometer uses one included AAA battery, which won’t have to be replaced often thanks to the 10 minute auto-off feature. While a waterproof rating isn’t listed, the probe can be rinsed in the sink, then hung up with the hook hole or back magnet. On the back side of this thermometer is a convenient food safety temperature guide in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
One fan raved: “Ok, so I waited to write a review because I wanted to really test it before drawing any conclusions [...] I've used this on pork roasts, a turkey, a couple of baked chickens, and candy. Comparing the temps on this device with those from an older, differently branded thermometer, they are nearly identical. I'd say it's as accurate as any other similar price range thermometer and a bit better than my old, more expensive one. Easy to clean, small for storage, and a hook for hanging make it a great kitchen tool. I would definitely buy it again and would happily recommend it to anyone looking for a food thermometer.”
3. The Pro-Level Thermometer
- Temperature range: -40 to 482 degrees Fahrenheit
- Reading time: 1 to 3 seconds
This professional-grade instant-read thermometer is a great choice for anyone who wants ultra-precise temperature readings in a flash. Although it’s pricey, it can read temperatures in as little as a second, and it has an accuracy within 0.9 degree Fahrenheit. Designed for chefs who always have their hands full, this thermometer has a stainless steel probe and a backlight that can be turned on with a button or by shaking it, and the 2-inch, anti-fog screen automatically rotates to be face up, so you can use it with either hand. This thermometer also alerts you when the temperature has stabilized, so you won’t have to wait around watching it go up. Thanks to its IP65 rating, you can wash this thermometer in the sink. Like the previous picks on this list, this thermometer has a magnet and hanging hole, as well as an included battery, so it’s ready to use out of the box.
One fan raved: “It took me while to finally get one, but I am very glad I did! Very accurate and very fast. The end of the probe is also quite small, so makes a tiny hole in whatever you are cooking. There is a big difference between quicker and slower thermometers and this really helps get the job done fast.”
- Available colors: 8
4. The Best Top Reading Thermometer
- Temperature range: -40 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
- Reading time: 5 seconds
Another great budget-friendly pick, this waterproof instant-read thermometer has a simple, straight metal probe, and the brand notes that it’s designed to withstand splashes. The included sheath has antibacterial properties (though it’s still important to rinse the probe after each use), and the straightforward top-reading design is great for anyone with hand mobility issues who prefers not to use a folding thermometer. There’s a convenient clip, so you can attach it to your apron while cooking to always have it at the ready. A simple design with the essentials you need, the head on this thermometer has a 0.8 inch screen, a Fahrenheit and Celsius button, and an on/off button for easy use.
One fan raved: “I've owned two of these thermometers in the last 10 years, and my latest one is still going strong. I've come to depend on it and use it every day for cooking, making cheese, checking meat temperatures, even my kids' science experiments! I am ordering a third one now to have in case the one I have now breaks, as I just know I'd be lost without it - it's a good thing!”