Best Cooking Thermometers, More Than 150 Lab Tested And Reviewed

"Buy the best thermometers and you'll only cry once."Greg Rempe, BBQCentral Radio

A searchable database that can save you money and maybe your life

A digital thermometer is the most important tool in a cook’s arsenal. Thermometers save lives and money. They are the only reliable way to determine if food is safe and if you are cooking too hot or cold. In early 2014 Consumer Reports tested more than 300 chickens and found that 90% contained pathogenic bacteria and half of them had antibiotic resistant strains. They said "It's vital that you check using a meat thermometer." You cannot tell when chicken is safe by looking at the color of the juices. The difference between a medium rare and well-done steak is pretty narrow. The diff between moist tender turkey and a dry chalky bird is just a few degrees. Two pork chops sitting side by side can cook at different rates.

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A perfectly cooked steak can quickly become shoe leather if the internal temperature isn’t monitored. Poking with your finger or cutting the meat to determine doneness is just plain guessing. A filet mignon is much softer than a sirloin. The color of meat is vastly different under sunlight, incandescent, fluorescent, or LED light. And it changes when exposed to oxygen. And don't worry, poking it with a thermometer will not dry it out!

Thermometers are more sophisticated than they used to be. Hand-held instant-reads have gotten much faster and more accurate, and some thermometers come with apps that run on wireless devices such as a cell phone. The biggest changes have been in the in-food/in-oven products. Initially, a cabled thermometer would just read out the current temperature. Today’s units have programmable alarms that alert the user when the temperature reaches a set level. Many have separate receivers and transmitters that allow you to monitor temperatures from a distance. The more sophisticated units connect with the internet via Wi-Fi and allow you to view the cooking progress from anywhere you have internet access. Modern thermostatic controllers (similar to the devices that keep a steady temperature in your basic home oven) now allow you to change the cooking profile from an app that runs on both Apple and Android devices. Wireless connectivity has revolutionized the way outdoor cooking can be done. Bimetal dial thermometers are a technology more than 100 years old. They are slow and not nearly as precise as digital. Liquid thermometers can be very accurate, but they are also slow. They are best for refrigerators and freezers.

How to pick thermometers

1) READ UP ON THE DIFFERENT TYPES

You can't trust that round bi-metal temperature gauge that comes in the lid of most grills and smokers. It can be off my more than 30 degrees! To find out what kind of thermometer you need, bone up on thermometer basics.

Click here to learn how thermometers work, how to use them, why some are better than others, and how we test them

2) USE OUR SEARCHABLE DATABASE

Bill McGrath, our electrical engineer and thermometer expert has tested more than 150, rated and reviewed them, and built a searchable database located on this page. There is nothing like it in the world, and it's easy to use. Just check the search boxes and you're off. You can check our ratings on a thermometer you are considering, or search for top rated products by thermometer type. Bill uses precision equipment and real world scenarios to test and evaluate based on (1) accuracy, (2) speed, (3) features, (4) construction quality, and (5) value. Suppliers are never charged to have products reviewed and the website purchases almost all the products it tests. Here he explains some of how he does it:

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3) USE OUR PLATINUM MEDALS

Once a year, McGrath selects the best of the best and names our Platinum Medal winners. Each of these devices received a Gold Medal during our initial review and has now earned our highest accolade, a Platinum Medal. To see the absolute cream of the crop, click here for all of Platinum Medal Winning Thermometers. Get one! 

 

dial thermometers are unreliable
How to use our comprehensive buying guide and reviews of thermometers for barbecue, for cooking, for food, for the oven, for the grill and for the smoker. read more
ThermoWorks ThermoPop
Handheld with rapid readout, an instant read thermometer is probably the most important tool in a cook's arsenal. It provides the most accurate and direct indication of food's internal temperature and doneness. Here's what to look for and how to buy the best instant read thermometer. read more
ThermoWorks Industrial Infrared Gun
An infrared thermometer is a handy device to have, even if it's not essential. It differs from other thermometers in that it measures the temperature of your cooking surface, which can be useful when making things like pizza on a hot baking stone. Here's what to look for and how to buy the best infrared thermometer. read more
Fireboard FBX11
An in-food/in-cooker thermometer should be a part of every chef's tool collection. It displays the temperatures of the food(s) and the cooker simultaneously and is much more reliable than the dial thermometer that comes with most grills. Here's what to look for and how to buy the best in-food/in-cooker thermometer. read more
AmazingRibs.com Best Value Platinum Award
Here are our favorite cooking thermometers, both instant-read and leave-in varieties. Our experts have tested over 150 units and rated them in our searchable database. Once a year, we review everything and select the best of the best. The thermometers here have been selected as the cream of the crop. read more

AmazingRibs.com Platinum Medal for best thermometers

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.

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1) Please try the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

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