When you're cooking meat, being able to gauge the precise temperature is not only a great way to make dinner taste better — it's safer, too. Having one of the best digital meat thermometers is essential for any kitchen. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a meat thermometer every time you cook beef, pork, poultry, or other animal products to help prevent the spread of Salmonella and other food-borne illnesses. So, what qualities should you look for when shopping around?
First, is accuracy. It doesn't do you any good to look at a number on a screen if there's a chance it isn't right. Most thermometers offer a margin-of-error range, so look for one that's within 2 degrees or less. Also, you'll want the reading to be fast. Waiting around for your thermometer to figure out the temperature of your meat is not only boring but an easy way to overcook your meat. A good meat thermometer can get an accurate reading in as little as 6 seconds.
On top of these two key factors, think about things like durability (is the material strong and robust?), temperature range (is it as wide as you need it to be?), and battery longevity (how long will it last on one charge?) With all of these elements in mind, take a look at my list of the best digital meat thermometers to find the right one for your kitchen.
1. The Best Overall
Temperature range: -40 to 482 degrees Fahrenheit
What's great about it: With more than 4,300 reviews and a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, this popular digital meat thermometer is a huge fan favorite. That's because it's extremely fast (clocking in at four seconds or less), exceptionally accurate (within 0.9 degrees), and splash-resistant (so you can get it moderately wet without doing any damage). It's constructed with top-grade, impact-resistant polymers that safeguard it from warping, as well as a battery that can run more than 4,000 hours on one charge. Best of all, it features a magnet that lets you stick it to your fridge for convenience.
What fans say: "I've been through numerous cooking thermometers and these are the best. It turns on when you open or unfold the probe and it reads temp within a few seconds ... The case has a magnet which makes it easy to store in a convenient location. I keep it on the refrigerator."
2. The Runner-Up
Temperature range: -40 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit
What's great about it: With a backlit 1-inch display and a tapered probe, this Taylor digital meat thermometer is a reliable pick that's backed by dozens of five-star reviews on Amazon. While it has a wider temperature range than my previous pick, it does have a slightly bigger margin of error (+/- 2 degrees) and take just a few seconds longer to give a reading (up to six seconds, to be exact). However, if a temperature with a range of up to 572 degrees is what you need, it's a great way to go. And even better: it comes with two AAA batteries.
What fans say: "This is my go-to thermometer when I do restaurant inspections. Affordable, quick, and accurate. The only problem I've had with it is forgetting it in someone else's refrigerator."
2. The Best Value
Temperature range: -58 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit
What's great about it: This digital meat thermometer, which has more than 2,500 reviews on Amazon, is another popular option that offers fantastic value for the price. The gadget works pretty quickly (in about four to six seconds, according to reviewers), and it's accurate within 2 degrees. Fans says it's fairly durable, especially given the price. It has a 4.7-inch probe that's long enough to reach the center of thick meat, and you can use it for liquids or candies, as well.
What fans say: "This thing reads the temperature of whatever you stab it into in about 5 seconds. So all of my chicken and steaks are coming out way more tender and juicy since I can cook them perfectly. LOVE IT!"
3. The Best Splurge
Temperature range: 32 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit
What's great about it: If you cook with meat a lot or just love having top-of-the-line kitchen gadgets, this high-quality remote thermometer is a great way to spoil yourself. With more than 5,300 reviews on Amazon, the hands-free device helps you monitor two types of meat at the same time. Best of all, it lets you do so from up to 300 feet away, so you don't have to hover over your food the whole time you're cooking. It features durable stainless steel, tough wires that can tolerate heat up to 716 degrees, and a large, backlit LCD display. Also, it has an accuracy within 1.8 degrees.
What fans say: "This thermometer is great! I used it today to cook a brisket. I put one probe in the meat and the other in the smoker. Set the alarm to go off at 160 degrees and it worked perfectly. I love having the receiver in the house while it cooks outside. Great product."
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