Updated: June 8, 2015
Meat Thermometer Reviews:Meat thermometers used to be a product that only the die hard chefs would have in their kitchens, but with the rise of E. coli and salmonella many cooks at home have started using these devices. The leave in thermometers are great for oven use when you need to heat meats up to a certain temperature and keep them there for a specific period of time. Just put the probe into the cut of meat and let it sit while the readout monitor gives you details on temperatures. Many of the thermometers also come with built in timers to help you with the process. The instand read thermometers are perfect for outdoor BBQ's when you need to know that the hamburger or chicken has been cooked to a certain temperature throughout. It's not always easy cooking sausages, ribs, burgers, and hot dogs on the same grill and getting them cooked to the exact temperature required for safe eating. The majority of these meat and kitchen thermometers are only about $15 to $30 but some of the more expensive models can reach up to $90 or above. Accuracy is the feature that should be important and then response time. Ratings on meat thermometers vary by source so we tried to break down the findings and come up with some clear cut winners.
Buying Guide - We tried to find the most relevant reviews in magazines and online for meat thermometer testing and surveys. The most recent article was in Consumer Reports and it was comprehensive with 11 different meat thermometers being tested in their labs. They tested both leave in and instant read thermometers with and found clear winners in each category. However, when we went online to see what owners have to say about their picks on Amazon.com, we found contradictory comments. Polder and Taylor are definitely 2 of the more well known meat thermometer brands, but other ones like AcuRite, ThermoWorks, and Maverick were also given high marks for their respective products. Cook's Illustrated Magazine did a similar test with 9 instant read thermometers and they rated all of them based on readability, response time, accuracy, design/features, and temperature range. They too came up with a 'best thermometer' award and several "best buys". When you are looking to purchase a meat thermometer you should consider things like readability - most of the newer digital meat thermometers have easy to read LCD display screens. For accuracy, the CR article mentioned that the best meat thermometers are only off by 1 degree or less and the lower rated models were often off by more than 4 degrees. Temperature range is key if you plan on working with freezing foods all the way up to those in a deep fryer which require temperatures from 0 degrees up to 450. Response time varies from under 10 seconds to over 30 seconds in some instances. Leave in thermometers don't need a particularly fast response time since they will be in the meat and can adjust accordlingly, but the instant read thermometers need a quick response time.
The Taylor Weekend Warrior 806 had the best response time in the CR article as well as the best range of temperatures. The response time on the Super Fast Thermapen was 5 seconds which is very fast compared to the others. You will pay a premium though for the Thermapen ($89.99) compared to the much cheaper $16 Taylor meat thermometer (Weekend Warrior). If you are a weekend BBQ type of guy, then you want a meat thermometer that is easy to read and works quickly. The Weekend Warrior is a great pick along with the RediFork Pro LCD Matrix and the Taylor Professional Digital Fork Thermometer. All are under $20 and receive average to good reviews from consumers. The leave in thermometers have a probe that gets placed into the meat (chicken, beef, pork) and the wire leading from the probe leads back to a monitored unit with a good sized LCD display for easy reading. Some have magnets that let you place the unit on the front of your oven or on a countertop near it. The Polder THM-360 Dual Probe Cooking Thermometer ($30) has two heat resistant silicon coated probes so you can keep track of two items at once which works great during those busy holiday parties when you are cooking turkey, roasts, and tenderloins, and more. The Polder received top billing from Consumer Reports but the owner reviews on Amazon show a different story with several consumers noting that the probes stopped working altogether. The ThermoWorks The Original Cooking Thermometer/Timer ($20) receives great reviews online as well as in magazines for being a basic cooking thermometer with a digital readout that is accurate. I'm not sure why Consumer Reports didn't include the ThermoWorks products in their studies, but hopefully in the future they will throw them in as well in the test group. Cooking.com has some great reviews on their website too for all the top rated meat thermometers. In online cooking forums we found mixed reviews on the meat thermometers that come with remotes. Even Consumer Reports noted that the Weber wireless probe was less than average in it's performance. We saw another review online for a similar product on Brookstone.com called the Grill Alert Talking Remote Meat Thermometer ($75) and it received high praise from users. View the list of best-selling meat thermometers here.