The 7 Best Instant Read Thermometers of 2022, Tested and Reviewed

The ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE earned the top spot on our list.

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Best Instant Read Thermometers
Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Whether making a favorite weeknight grilled chicken recipe or prepping a Thanksgiving turkey feast, an instant-read thermometer is an essential tool for home cooks. Although more experienced chefs might be able to gauge the internal temperature with nothing more than the touch of a finger, an instant-read thermometer ensures safety and accuracy for home cooks. A thermometer helps ensure ingredients are cooked to a food-safe temperature and not overcooked. James Beard nominated chef and restauranteur Kevin Gillespie of Red Beard Restaurants and Top Chef fame says speed, accuracy, and size are all factors he considers when looking for a thermometer. He uses one when he needs "something to reach a precise temperature in order for a chemical reaction to take place, like in candy."

To evaluate the best instant-read thermometers, we tested 23 different infrared and probe models in our labs to measure accuracy, speed, and consistency in controlled temperature environments such as sous vide cooking. The ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE was our Best Overall pick due to its superior performance across all our tests.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE

Best Instant Read Thermometers
Courtesy of ThermoWorks

Pros: The Thermapen is easy to use and accurate within a degree.

Cons: The screen is not as easy to read due to the lack of contrast.

"My favorite, by far, is the Thermoworks Thermapen One," says Gillespie. The ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE outperformed the competition, only falling short of a perfect score due to its price point. Our testers found the Thermapen One incredibly accurate, fast, and easy to use thanks to its fold-out to power-on function. It is no surprise that many professional chefs also use this thermometer.

Price at time of publish: $105

  • Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 0.74 inches
  • Temperature range: - 58.0°F to 572.0°F
  • Waterproof: Yes
Best Instant Read Thermometers
Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Easiest to Read: Lavatools Javelin PRO Digital Instant Read Thermometer

Best Instant Read Thermometers
Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: Due to its wide temperature range, this thermometer is suitable for many tasks.

Cons: If the hinge is not closed during storage, the probe could break or get stuck.

Testers loved the the easy-to-read blue backlit display on the Lavatools Javelin PRO Digital Instant Read Thermometer. Its readability is what scored high marks with this probe-style thermometer. Testers did not like how long it took for the Javelin to come to temperature but still found it to be a step up from other models from the same manufacturer. Even though it took longer than desired to come to temperature, the thermometer's accuracy was a big plus, with readings within only one degree.

Price at time of publish: $56

  • Dimensions: 4.3 x 4.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Temperature range: -40°F to 482°F
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant
Best Instant Read Thermometers
Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Best Meat Thermometer: Maverick PT-55 Digital Meat Thermometer

Best Instant Read Thermometers
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Target and Ace Hardware.

Pros: The thermometer is fast, waterproof, and suitable for use in both residential and commercial kitchens.

Cons: This thermometer does not have a rotating display.

Testers found the Maverick PT-55 Digitat Meat Thermometer a solid choice for "green-eyed starter cooks to a professional chef to serious culinary enthusiasts." The Maverick is easy to use and takes fast and accurate readings every time. Testers also found it comfortable to hold and gave it high marks for its overall performance and design. Given that it is sold as a thermometer well-suited for cooking, grilling, and smoking, it is a good choice for meat lovers looking for accuracy and speed in high-heat situations.

Price at time of publish: $39

  • Dimensions: 6 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Temperature range: 572° F
  • Waterproof: Yes

Related: 10 Essential Grilling Tools, According to Chefs

Best Instant Read Thermometers
Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Best Splurge: Oxo Thermocouple Thermometer

Best Instant Read Thermometers
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Oxo and Macy's.

Pros: This thermometer features an easy-to-read temperature display with an auto-rotate feature.

Cons: The smooth exterior might pose a problem with wet or greasy hands.

The Oxo Thermocouple Thermometer has a helpful auto-rotate display that shows white digital numbers against a black background. While there is no backlight, testers did not consider it a negative or miss the light. The length of the thermometer makes it easy to handle, but testers were worried the handle's material would be problematic for some. The Oxo was super accurate within 2 degrees, and testers found it similar to the Thermapen in terms of features.

Price at time of publish: $88

  • Dimensions: 1.6 x 3.45 x 8.75 inches
  • Temperature range: -58°F to572° F
  • Waterproof: Yes
Best Instant Read Thermometers
Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Best Value: Kizen Digital Meat Thermometer

Best Instant Read Thermometers
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Target.

Pros: The thermometer is super accurate within a degree and is incredibly easy to read.

Cons: There is no rotating display feature.

The Kizen Digital Meat Thermometer earned a top spot on our list because it has many of the same features as the more professional-style thermometer in this lower-priced model. If special features aren't important, and the need is for something that works well and is durable, the Kizen is a great budget-friendly choice. The thermometer gets to temperature very quickly and is consistent among readings. Testers praised its ease of readability and loved the large digital numbers illuminated by a blue backlight. The design of the thermometer makes it easy to hold and maneuver, even with more awkwardly shaped cooking vessels.

Price at time of publish: $25

  • Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.99 x 0.2 inches
  • Temperature range: -58°F - 572°F
  • Waterproof: Yes
Best Instant Read Thermometers
Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Best for Grilling: Alpha Grills Instant Read Meat Thermometer

Best Instant Read Thermometers
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

Pros: This thermometer is easy to use and has an automatic power-on feature.

Cons: The thermometer takes longer to get up to temperature, which is a downside with items that need to test quickly in the oven.

Testers called the Alpha Grills Instant Read Meat Thermometer a perfect dupe for the pricier Thermapen. The thermometer includes a helpful feature that makes it turn on and off by simply unfolding and folding the probe. Testers loved how it felt in hand, calling attention to the material on the handle and the added loop to protect hands while holding the thermometer over hot substances. It comes to temperature quickly but tends to hover a beat before reaching a final temperature, which can be troublesome with hotter items.

Price at time of publish: $20

  • Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.97 x 1.57 inches
  • Temperature range: -58°F to 572°F
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant
Best Instant Read Thermometers
Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Best Infrared: Cuisinart CSG-200 Infrared Thermometer

Best Instant Read Thermometers
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Target and Lowe's.

Pros: This thermometer provides an incredibly fast temperature read.

Cons: There is no rotating display, making it difficult to read from certain angles.

The Cuisinart CSG-200 Infrared Thermometer is the only thermometer on our list that is both a probe and an infrared thermometer. The buttons are clear and intuitive for anyone, even beginner cooks. The swivel probe, large display, and dual functionality also add versatility. Though this thermometer looks high-end, it's water-resistant and durable enough to be thrown into a drawer after cleaning.

Price at time of publish: $40

  • Dimensions: 10 1.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Temperature range: Reads up to 932°F, and the probe can read up to 572°F
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant
Best Instant Read Thermometers
Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Our Favorite

Our Best Overall pick, the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE, performed better than the other 22 thermometers on our list across our tests. Testers love its accuracy, speed, ease of use, and longevity, citing it as an excellent choice for both home cooks and professionals.

The Tests

  • Sous Vide Bath: We used a sous vide water bath to test how quickly and accurately each thermometer is in a controlled-temperature environment.
  • Boiling Water: We measured a rolling boil of water (212℉) to measure how accurate each thermometer is when reading and the speed of the thermometer readout.
  • Chicken Thighs: We used chicken thighs to see how easy the thermometers are to use in an oven and test their usability features, such as their backlight and rotating display.
Best Instant Read Thermometers
Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

What Didn't Make the List

Strong Contenders

  • Taylor Precision Products Thermocouple Thermometer ($98 at Amazon)
  • Lavatools Javelin Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer ($27 at Amazon)
  • Weber Instant Read Meat Thermometer ($18 at Amazon)
  • All-Clad Instant Read H2O Proof Grill Thermometer ($50 at Williams Sonoma)
  • BBQ Dragon Read Digital Thermometer ($28 at Amazon)
  • Venigo Digital Meat and Food Thermometer for Grilling and Cooking ($11 at Amazon)
  • ThermoWorks ThermoPop ($21 at ThermoWorks)

Results Still Simmering

  • OXO Good Grips Chef's Precision Digital Instant Read Thermometer ($23 at Amazon)
  • Precision-Pro Commercial Thermometer Harbor ($105 at Williams Sonoma)

Low Performers

  • Cuisinart CSG-466 Digital Folding Probe Thermometer ($20 at Amazon)
  • Surround Point Digital Thermometer ($17 at Amazon)
  • Taylor Precision Products Instant Read Digital Thermometer ($13 at Amazon)
  • ThermoPro TP03 Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer ($14 at Amazon)

Q+A

How do you use an instant-read thermometer?

Find the thickest part of the food being cooked (especially important with meat) and insert the thermometer in 1-2 inches. If cooking bone-in proteins, avoid touching the bone because it will give a false reading. Most instant-read thermometers should take the temperature within 10-20 seconds. This is not the kind of thermometer to leave in the oven, and it should be removed immediately after achieving a reading.

What are the different types of instant-read thermometers?

Instant read thermometers come in the probe or infrared styles. The probe type inserts into the food item in question. The infrared thermometers do not need to make contact with the food to take the temperatures and are easier to clean.

How do you maintain an instant-read thermometer?

Most instant-read thermometers do not need much maintenance or calibration, and each manufacturer will have calibration instructions, if any. Some purport they are self-calibrating models. However, if an accuracy check is required, measure boiling water (212℉) and ice water (32℉). To care for most thermometers, wash the metal part with hot soapy water to sanitize the probe and dry well before storing.

Can you use an instant-read thermometer for making candy?

Yes, but it depends on the style. Infrared versions are best because they measure the higher temperatures required for candy-making and deep frying. Plus, they make less of a mess, so there's no need to insert anything into the food in question or clean it.

Factors to Consider

Appearance/Display

If you have vision problems, the display is an important consideration. Some thermometers have rotating displays, making it easier to take temperature readings in odd positions, and it is helpful for left-handed people as well. The contrast of the display is also something we evaluated in our tests, and when the contrast is too low, it can make reading temperatures difficult.

Temperature Range

For a thermometer to be versatile, it must have a wide enough temperature range, as certain foods like bread, pizza, and candy require much higher cooking temperatures.

Water Resistance

Since cooking often occurs next to sinks or liquid ingredients, a thermometer's water resistance is essential so it will last for a long time. Many of the picks on our list are either water-resistant or waterproof.

Special Features

Even within sub-categories of instant read thermometers, some separate themselves with design and unique features. For instance, some probe thermometers offer fold-out versus stationary probes. Fold-out is always best because most also turn on the unit when unfolded and have automatic shut-off functions to save the battery life.

Best Instant Read Thermometers
Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Our Expertise

Jennifer Zyman is a Senior Commerce Writer for Food & Wine and a recovering professional restaurant critic with a culinary school degree and 15 years of food writing experience. Her work has also appeared in Atlanta Magazine, Bon Appetit, Eater Atlanta, The Kitchn, Local Palate, National Geographic, Southern Living, and Thrillist. To write this story, she used our testers' results, her culinary expertise, and expert advice from chef Kevin Gillespie of Red Beard Restaurants.

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