We should all be aware of how important it is to own a quick, accurate, and easy-to-use digital best meat probe thermometer. It’s the only way to really know whether your meat is finished cooking.
The only problem with a digital thermometer?
You need to open the oven or smoker door to check the temperature, letting out precious heat or smoke in the process. It would be so much easier to stick a probe into the meat before you start cooking and let it do all the work for you.
Our top pick for probe thermometers—the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm (available at ThermoWorks for $64.00)—does just that.
A probe thermometer is incredibly helpful when cooking large cuts of meat. It will prevent you from overcooking your Thanksgiving turkey. Sunday roast, or pulled pork on the smoker, by alerting you when the meat reaches the right temperature. But, it can do so much more than that.
If you’re a cheesemaker or dabble in candy making, you can dangle the probe over the side of the pot when heating milk or sugar. Keeping your hands safely far away from those dangerously hot temperatures. We wanted to find the best overall probe thermometer good for meat and more.
So, we ordered seven top-rated digital probe thermometers and put them through a series of tests. In the end, there was only one model that we don’t recommend.
These are the Best Meat Probe Thermometer We Tested Ranked – in Order
1. ThermoWorks ChefAlarm
2. ThermoWorks DOT
3. ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Remote Digital Meat Thermometer with Dual Probe
4. ThermoPro TP-16 Large LCD Digital Meat Thermometer
5. Polder 362-90 Digital In-Oven Thermometer/Timer
6. MEATER – The Original True Wireless Smart Meat Thermometer
7. Anpro Touchscreen Digital Meat Cooking Thermometer and Timer
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewer’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
1. ThermoWorks ChefAlarm
It really doesn’t get much better than the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm. In addition to being the most accurate probe in the group, it’s also the only one that you can calibrate. It has a nice backlight display that might appear to be a little crowded at first, but the “current temp” reading is the largest and easiest number to read.
You can use it as a timer, adjust the alarm’s volume, and it keeps track of the minimum and maximum readings. It even has a high- and low-temperature alarm, which I really appreciate as a cheesemaker.
We especially love that it has a hinged, tilting screen for easy viewing on the countertop (but, it also has a magnet and a clip). Spending $60 on a thermometer might not be for everyone, but it’s well worth it if you’re serious about barbecue, making cheese, or boiling sugar for candy.
The cable is heat resistant to over 700° F so there’s no reason to think that this model won’t last a lifetime. Since it aced every single one of our tests, this probe thermometer was a no-trainer choice for our Best Overall.
2. ThermoWorks DOT
The ThermoWorks DOT does one thing and one thing only: It alerts you when your food reaches the target temperature. It doesn’t have a timer or any fancy bells and whistles. In fact, it only has three buttons: Increase temperature, decrease the temperature, and an on/off button that doubles as the back light button.
That being said, this probe thermometer is accurate, fast, and easy to read. Like the ChefAlarm, the cable is heat resistant to up to 700° F, and it’s long enough to reach the furthest point in our grill. It can stand up on the counter, it has a magnet that will stick itself to the grill, or you can buy an accessory clip to attach it to the side of your pot.
We found the DOT to be just as accurate as our top winner, but its lower price tag makes it more attractive for cooks who just want to measure temperatures. Because of that, this one landed itself as our Best Value.
After selecting seven top-rated wired and wireless probe thermometers, we put them through a series of tests to see if they would earn our seal of approval. We were looking for thermometers that were accurate, fast, and easy to use.
Accuracy is the most important aspect of any thermometer. You need to be able to trust that your food is the temperature it says, otherwise, there’s no point in using a thermometer at all!
We dropped the thermometers in ice water to make sure they read 32° F before testing them in boiling water (which should register 212° F at sea level, or 200.5° F at my elevation).
Next up were our speed tests. Speed isn’t as important for a meat probe thermometer as it is for an instant-read thermometer, but it still gives us a good indicator of how well-constructed the product is.
We clocked the speed at which each probe measured ice and boiling water and averaged the results. Finally, a probe thermometer is no good if it’s not easy to use. We stuck the probes in a pork loin and threw it in the smoker.
We tried to set the target temperatures without consulting the manual and listened to make sure the alarm was loud enough to hear. If the probe was a wireless model, we assessed whether the sync was intuitive and how far it would work away from the probe itself.
If you need a thermometer that has more than one probe and you want to monitor the temperature remotely without any fancy apps or gadgets. Look to the ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Remote Digital Meat Thermometer with Dual Probe.
It comes with two pieces: a probe base and a wireless transmitter. After you stick your meat with the probe, you can walk away with the transmitter which still worked. When I was 100 feet away in the house and it will alert you when you’re smoked food is finished.
The display numbers are smaller than some of the other products, but it has a nice backlight and a clear, loud alarm. The only problem we found is that this model doesn’t have any magnets and it chews through batteries faster than we expected.
The ThermoPro TP-16 Large LCD Digital Meat Probe Thermometer is a great little budget thermometer. It’s small but the display numbers are large enough to see from across the kitchen.
It’s quick and easy to set the target temperature, and it even comes with a few preset temperatures (which, I would completely ignore unless you want seriously overcooked meat).
The readings are accurate and it has a magnet that can attach to the side of the grill or smoker. Our only complaint is there’s no way to prop this model up to see it on the countertop. That aside, if you’re looking for a probe thermometer for under $20, this is the one to get.
We love that you can use the Polder 362-90 Digital In-Oven Thermometer/Timer as a cooking timer and a meat probe thermometer, but unfortunately, it missed the mark a bit like a thermometer.
We liked that the magnet on the back was strong enough to clip onto the side of our grill and smoker, and it was nice that this product also has a tilting screen if you want to set it up on the countertop.
The numbers are nice and large on the display and the timer can be heard from across the room. But, compared to the other thermometers, it’s slow to read and not quite as accurate.
OK, here’s the good: The MEATER – The Original True Wireless Smart Meat Probe Thermometers is super easy to sync, has a really nice app interface. It reads the ambient temperature of the smoker as well as the probe inside the meat, and it has an algorithm that calculates an estimated cook time once you set your target temperature.
The bad: It can only be used for meat since it’s completely wireless (which means you can’t use it for cheese making or candy). I had to leave my smartphone within 50 feet of the smoker to maintain a connection, and the wide probe left a large hole in the food. All in all, since it’s only really useful for roasts, which placed it near the bottom of this list. But, we still liked the little thermometer.
7. Anpro Touchscreen Digital Meat Cooking Thermometer and Timer with 2 Stainless Steel Probes
We weren’t taken with the Anpro Touchscreen Digital Meat Cooking Thermometer and Timer from the moment we took it out of the packaging. The controls aren’t intuitive, requiring us to look up how to do something as simple as changing it from Celsius to Fahrenheit.
Every time we turned it on, it defaulted to Celsius (which was a minor annoyance). The screen wasn’t backlit, so it was hard to read, and the readings themselves were slow. All in all, this one isn’t worth it (even with the low price tag).
How to Use a Meat Probe Thermometer
To make sure the proper food temperatures are reached and maintained, you should use a probe thermometer. A meat probe thermometer is a thermometer that has a pointy metal stem that can be inserted into food.
There are different types of probe thermometers. Some are safe to use in an oven while others are not. Some provide instant digital readings while others use a dial to show the readings.
Make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions on how their thermometers work. Unless the thermometer is oven safe, never leave the thermometer in food that’s being cooked in an oven or on a stove.
Meat Probe thermometers must be cleaned and sanitized by using alcohol swabs or a sanitizing solution after each use. To sanitize, mix 5 ml (1 tsp) of unscented bleach with 750 ml (3 cups) of water. Sanitizing the probe thermometer will help you avoid cross-contamination.
How do I Use a Best Meat Probe Thermometer?
Insert the stem of a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the food, or in the center of the food if the food is even in thickness.
If the food is liquid (e.g., stew or soup) stir it to make sure the heat has been evenly distributed before inserting the thermometer in order to get an accurate temperature reading.
Wait at least 15 seconds for the reading to steady and then record the reading.
Don’t let the probe touch the bottom or sides of the food containers, because you won’t get an accurate temperature of your food.
Why do I Need to Re-Calibrate My Thermometer Regularly?
“Recalibrating” means adjusting the thermometer to make sure it’s reading the right temperature. You need to re-calibrate your thermometer regularly to make sure your temperature readings are accurate.
A Thermometer Should Be Re-Calibrated:
Before first use.
At least once a month.
When the thermometer is exposed to an extreme change in temperature during storage.
If the probe thermometer has been dropped.
How Do I Re-Calibrate My Best Meat Probe Thermometer?
We recommend the ice point method to calibrate your probe thermometer as it’s safe and easy to use. Fill a cup with crushed ice and add just enough water to barely float the ice. The temperature of the ice water will always be 0°C (32°F).
This is the temperature that you use as a guide to calibrating your probe thermometer. Place the stem of the thermometer in the mixture, making sure it doesn’t touch the sides or the bottom of the cup.
Wait until the needle stops moving. If the needle is not pointing at 0°C (32°F), it needs to be adjusted. If your thermometer has a calibration nut, use a small wrench to turn it until the temperature reads 0°C (32°F).
Keep the probe in the ice water to make sure the temperature is accurate.
Some thermometers, like the ones from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, can be adjusted in the same way by using its built-in wrench, while other types of digital probe thermometers can’t be recalibrated.
Make sure to read manufacturer’s instructions to find out if your digital thermometers can be recalibrated.
Infrared thermometers (laser thermometers) are convenient to use. They give you an instant reading of the surface temperature of the food or ambient temperature of the room, such as a cold storage unit.
However, it’s not effective when checking the internal food temperature as the infrared light does not penetrate the food.