So, you’re looking for a quality instant read thermometer… good thinking.
An instant read thermometer is not only the best kept secret of a perfectly done steak, it makes baking, barbecuing, roasting, smoking and cooking almost anything in the kitchen so much easier!
By taking the guesswork out, you’ll have perfectly cooked meats every time and can get the right temperature spot on for yoghurts and yeast.
After all, a good chef, pitmaster or baker knows how to use the right tools well!
But, with so many instant read thermometers on the market, this review will take the guesswork out of buying one too.
We’ve tried and tested a really wide range of thermometers so you don’t have to.
There’s top of the line options, budget-friendly options, fully waterproof options, infrared options and even one that talks.
But, before we get stuck into the best instant read thermometers on the market, a quick note on accuracy…
Yes, being accurate is important. And, you definitely don’t want your thermometer giving readings that are a long way over or under the actual. But, a degree or so out is not going to make or break what you’re cooking.
So, the thermometers that we’re recommending will be accurate within a few degrees. But, we generally don’t obsess over getting things down to a 0.1° of accuracy.
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Table of Contents
Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo - Best Instant Meat Thermometer Overall
We’re starting off this list with not what’s the absolute top of the line. But, with an instant read thermometer that’s such a good mix of quality, functionality and price that it’s hard to ignore.
The Lavatools Javelin PRO Instant Read Thermometer has an ultra-sensitive Japanese sensor that gives you an accurate (to ±0.9°F) reading in 1-3 seconds. And, it’s always been on the lower end of that range for us when testing.
The screen is rotating for ambidextrous use.
The backlit display is easy to read in most lights. And, it’s got a hold function so the reading will stay on the screen after you pull the probe out as well.
Lavatools claim that one single battery should get you 4,000+ hours of continuous use (we’ve never changed it!). But, just note that the battery is Lithium, not your standard AA or AAA when/if it ever comes time to change it.
The Javelin PRO is also one of the only instant read thermometers on the market that’s NSF, CE and RoHS certified for it’s superior build quality. That also means the Lavatools Javelin PRO is certified that it’s free from lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous substances.
The IP65 splash-proof body can handle a bit of water when it comes to washing. And, the body is made from a BPA-free polycarbonate that’s impact resistant to prevent warping and cracking.
The probe folds away for easy, spike free storage. Plus, there’s a magnetic backing so you can stick the Javelin PRO on your barbecue, oven or fridge to keep it within easy access.
If that’s not enough, the Javelin PRO also has an industry-leading 3 year warranty. Their customer service has a great reputation.
And, it’s available in a choice of eight colours.
It’s pretty incredible how much there is to say about an instant read thermometer!
Basically, The Lavatools Javelin PRO has a lot of features that the top end instant read thermometers have. But, at about half the price.
It’s a clear winner in our kitchen and for most users.
What We Like About the Lavatools Javelin PRO
What We Don't Like About the Lavatools Javelin PRO
OXO Good Grips Thermocouple Instant Read Thermometer - Best High End
Now, if you are reading this to find out which instant read thermometer is the best regardless of price, we can’t go past the OXO Good Grips Thermocouple Instant Read Thermometer.
Marketed as a good choice for left-handed people, because of the rotating probe and screen, this really isn’t all that the OXO Thermocouple’s got going for it.
Accurate to 0.9°F, the Thermocouple will give you a reading within 2-3 seconds.
The pretty unique black screen with white writing is so easy to read, even in really sunny conditions.
You can change it between fahrenheit and degrees celsius. And, set the reading to give you to the nearest 1° or 1.0° resolution for anyone who values being able to see the details.
Use it anywhere in the range of -58°F to 572°F (-50°C to 300°C).
The Thermocouple runs off of AAA batteries.
The probe rotates 225° and the screen rotates with it too.
When it comes to clean up time, the OXO Thermocouple is waterproof rated to IP66 too.
Overall, the extra price you’ll pay for the OXO Thermocouple really does give you that extra quality and durability for a reliable instant read thermometer that lasts.
What We Like About the OXO Good Grips Thermocouple Thermometer
What We Don't Like About the OXO Good Grips Thermocouple Thermometer
ThermoPro TP620 - Best Cheaper High-End
For the speed, accuracy and a few extra features you only get with a high-end instant read thermometer but not the really high price tag, the ThermoPro TP620 is a top product.
A reading will take you between 1-3 seconds with a 0.9 °F accuracy and calibration mode if you ever find that’s off.
But, what we really like about the ThermoPro TP620 is the auto wake and sleep, making things so easy when your hands are full or you’re wearing gloves.
The Intelligent Motion-Sensor turns on when you pick it up or when the probe opens. Then simply close the probe or put it down and it’ll turn off, saving your battery too.
Like most high-end models, the backlit screen automatically rotates depending on how you’re holding it. There’s a magnetic backing and hook for multiple storage options. And, it’s waterproof to IP65 for peace of mind around spills or clean up time.
Overall, the TP620 is a well designed instant read thermometer. It performs well and consistently while the more rugged design is well suited to the rougher life of grilling or smoking, although the high temperature range means there’s nothing stopping you from it inside the kitchen too.
A single AAA battery should see you through about 3000 hours of use (although we haven’t got to the changing the battery point in testing yet).
The ThermoPro TP620 is ideal for anyone who wants the quality and features of the top end instant read thermometers without the super high price tag.
What We Like About the ThermoPro TP620
What We Don't Like About the ThermoPro TP620
ThermoPro TP19H - Best Popular Budget-Friendly Model
This ThermoPro TP19H has been a very popular instant read thermometer buy for years!
It’s not the fastest out there. The TP19H takes about 3-4 seconds for a reading which is a little longer than most newer models.
But, it’s ±0.9°F accuracy with the ability to calibrate it means that you’re getting good data back to help you serve that steak perfectly or ferment your yeast just right.
The display on the ThermoPro TP19H auto-rotates 180° for odd angles or left-handed users. It’s backlit so it reads well in bright light conditions.
When it’s cleanup time, the whole unit is waterproof, rated IP65 so you can run it under the tap safely.
There’s a hook and a magnetic backing to give you storage options that suit your setup.
Overall, the ThermoPro TP19H is a great choice for anyone who wants accuracy and ease at a great price and doesn’t mind that it takes an extra second or two to get it.
What We Like About the ThermoPro TP19H
What We Don't Like About the ThermoPro TP19H
Thermapen® ONE - Fastest Instant Read Thermometer
Unimpressed with the 2-4 second wait time of ‘instant’ read thermometers? The Thermapen ONE is the fastest out there.
ThermoWorks claim that the ONE will give you a reading in no more than one second, but we find it’s more like under two. Regardless, it’s the closest thing to actually being instant and it’s a good product too.
You’ve got accuracy to ± 0.5°F (± 0.3°C), a folding probe, a backlight that automatically turns on in dimmer conditions and a waterproof to IP67 rating.
The screen flips for ambidextrous use and it also automatically turns itself on and off so you don’t have to try to hit the button when you’re wearing gloves.
The Thermapen ONE also has a 5 year warranty for peace of mind which you’ll want because it’s more expensive than most of the other instant read thermometers in this review.
What We Like About the Thermapen ONE
What We Don't Like About the Thermapen ONE
Inkbird IHT-1S Instant Read Meat Thermometer - Best Rechargeable
Don’t want to buy a battery ever but still want digital?
The Inkbird IHT-1S Rechargeable and Waterproof Instant Read Meat Thermometer will give you just that.
You’ve got a backlit display for easy reading, a proper IP67 waterproof rating so you can fully submerge it when washing, and, there’s both a folding probe with magnetic backing plus the hook so you can hang and store this thermometer pretty much anywhere and way you want.
The USB rechargeable Lithium Ion battery lasts about 15 uses on a full charge.
You can calibrate it within 5℉ if it does need any minor adjustments. There’s a hold function to keep your temperature readout on the screen. And, the screen does rotate for lefties or when you’re using it in odd spaces like the smoker.
What We Like About the Inkbird IHT-1S Rechargeable Thermometer
What We Don't Like About the Inkbird IHT-1S Rechargeable Thermometer
Inkbird IHT-2XP3 3-in-1 Instant Read Thermometer - Best Multi-Probe
This one’s ideal for barbecue and smoking.
The Inkbird 3-in-1 IHT-2XP3 Instant Read Thermometer gives you not only the single, folding probe, but, you also get 2 external probes that plug into the side ports.
You get an accurate to the 1°F reading in just 2 seconds on any probe.
And, it’s still around the same price as any other value for money instant meat thermometer. It’s a great deal.
Use it as a regular instant read thermometer. Or, keep the external probes in the meat you’re cooking for a continuous readout. You can even set an alarm to be notified when your target internal temperature is reached so you’ll never burn that brisket again.
The Inkbird IHT-2XP3 body is rated IPX5 splash proof so little accidents don’t ruin your gear.
There’s a hook to hang plus a magnetic backing.
If the IHT-2XP3’s temperature reading is a little out, you can calibrate it within 9.9°F.
The battery is rechargeable. Simply plug it in with the supplied USB cord. One charge should see you through a few cooks at least.
If you’ve got the need for multiple probes with your instant read thermometer, the Inkbird IHT-2XP3 is an excellent all-round choice and incredible value for money.
What We Like About the Inkbird Multi-Probe IHT-2XP3
What We Don't Like About the Inkbird Multi-Probe IHT-2XP3
Taylor Dual Temp Infrared Thermometer with Fold-Out Thermocouple Probe - Best Infrared
The Taylor Dual Temperature is one the best instant read thermometer options with a big extra, an infrared sensor.
So, while the regular, fold out probe works just like any other quality instant read thermometer, the infrared sensor reads the surface temperature of anything you point it at for hands off, mess free testing.
If you’re cooking a brisket, you’ll still need the insert the probe for an accurate internal temperature. But, when it comes to making pizza dough for you Ooni, melting chocolate or even measuring the ambient temperature in your barbecue, the infrared sensor makes life even easier.
In terms of accuracy, the Taylor Dual Function Infrared Instant Read Thermometer gives a fair reading. And, it’s consistent between the probe and the infrared sensor.
Another plus about this choice is that it’s got a really wide temperature tolerance. The probe can measure anywhere between -67°F to 626°F while the infrared does -67°F to 482°F.
In terms of negatives, there are a few to note about the Taylor Dual Temp Infrared Thermometer with Thermocouple Probe.
It’s not backlit so the screen can be hard to read in bright lights. The infrared sensor has a hard time getting an accurate reading on reflective surfaces like a hot light colored frying pan. And, the screen doesn’t rotate so it’s upside down at times.
But, all in all, the Taylor Dual Temperature Thermometer is a solidly performing product that’s got that added two-in-one benefit.
What We Like About the Taylor Dual Temp Infrared Thermometer with Fold-Out Probe
What We Don't Like About the Taylor Dual Temp Infrared Thermometer with Fold-Out Probe
ThermoPro TP420 Two-in-One Infrared Thermometer with Meat Probe - Best Cheaper Infrared
Coming in quite a bit cheaper than the Taylor Infrared is this great, but not perfect one, the ThermoPro TP420 Two-in-One Infrared Thermometer with Meat Probe.
ThermaPro are known for their accuracy and the TP420 hits the mark within a couple of degrees fahrenheit.
And, while you can’t calibrate it, you can change the emissivity emission setting. What this does is adjusts the settings so you can get an accurate reading on both dull items (which will be closer to 1) and more shiny, reflective things (that’ll need to be reduced closer to 0).
For your everyday readings, doing a barbecue, melting chocolate or making sure your yeast is warm, you won’t have to touch it.
But, the innacurate readings on reflective surfaces is one of the biggest complaints with more expensive combo infrared instant read thermometers like the Taylor. So, the ThermoPro TP420 gives you the control to fix it if need be.
The TP420 takes 2-3 seconds to get a reading which is perfectly acceptable at this price point.
But, the negatives are that, one, there’s no laser light on the infrared gun so you can’t pinpoint exactly where you’re pointing it (although it’s not that hard to get it right and you can always take a couple of measurements to check).
And, two, the fixed screen display is almost always pointing the wrong way. It doesn’t automatically rotate so I feel would have been better set to the side. But, a minor complaint for a much cheaper product…
Everything else is pretty standard for a ThermoPro.
You’ve still got the hook and magnetic backing for endless storage options. There’s a really wide temperature range, automatic shut-off to save battery. And, there’s even a little internal meat temperature cheat-sheet on the back of the thermometer to save you time.
Overall, the ThermoPro TP420 is a good 2 in 1 product for the price.
What We Like About the ThermoPro TP420
What We Don't Like About the ThermoPro TP420
ThermoPro TP03 - Best Tried and True
The ThermoPro TP03 has been around for YEARS and has consistently performed as a basic fan favorite (there’s more than 114,000 reviews with a 4.6 star average).
It’s one of the cheapest instant read thermometers out there, is accurate to 0.9°F and has an easy to read backlit display.
It will take you a second longer to get a reading on the TP03 though. Between 3-5 seconds is normal. But, if you want no a performer without the frills and extra cost, this is it.
You’ve still got a magnetic backing to stick it to your barbecue, oven or fridge and a hook for hanging if that works better for you.
The single AAA battery will last A LONG time before it needs replacing. And, there’s an auto-off after 10 minute feature to make sure you don’t accidently leave it on.
Available in either red or black, as a single or double pack, you can’t go wrong with the ThermoPro TP03 for a value for money, does the job well instant read thermometer.
What We Like About the ThermoPro TP03
What We Don't Like About the ThermoPro TP03
OXO Good Grips Chef's Precision - Best Analog
For those who value the reliability of analog, the OXO Good Grips Chef’s Precision Meat Thermometer is a great choice.
It’s one of the cheapest instant read meat thermometer options, you’ll never run out of battery, you can always read the dial even in bright sunshine, and, there’s no electronic components to get broken.
There’s a lot of good reasons to go old school with this. It’s not just an outdated device.
We like the OXO Chef’s Precision because it’s made by one of the best brands out there.
It’s not as fast as a digital instant read thermometer. Expect to be waiting up to 7 seconds for the dial to stop moving. But, the updated, bi-metallic coil does give a faster read than the original analog thermometers.
There’s both fahrenheit and celsius degree’s marked on the face.
It maxes out at 220°F or 100°C so it’s not as versatile as most digital versions out there.
Nevertheless, the OXO Good Grips Chef’s Precision will always work. We keep one on hand as a backup for those times the battery is out on our digital model.
What We Like About the OXO Good Grips Chef's Precision Analog Meat Thermometer
What We Don't Like About the OXO Good Grips Chef's Precision Analog Meat Thermometer
ThermoPro TP15 - Best Fixed Probe
If you don’t like having folding probes to mess around with, the good news is, you can pick up a fixed probe instant meat thermometer pretty cheaply. And, this one is our favorite.
The ThermoPro TP15 is as accurate as their more expensive models (and a lot of top of the line instant thermometers). The reading should be within 0.9°F of it’s actual. And, if it’s not, you can calibrate the probe to read spot on.
Readings do take a little longer than some other options. But you’re still only talking a 3-4 second wait while the probe does it’s thing.
The extra long probe is great for barbecue or candy where you want to keep your hand that much further away.
And, it’ll turn itself off after 10 minutes if you forget to.
With a IPX6 rating, the ThermoPro TP15 is 100% waterproof. Run it under water, accidently leave it in the rain, it should still work just fine.
And, when it comes to storage, hang it by it’s hook, throw it in a drawer or stick it straight to your fridge or barbecue with it’s magnetic backing.
The ThermoPro TP15 is a great value for money, no-nonsense instant read thermometer that’s wide temperature range will suit almost any job.
What We Like About the ThermoPro TP15
What We Don't Like About the ThermoPro TP15
ThermoPro TP02-S - Best Cheap as Chips
Looking for the cheapest but still accurate instant read thermometer?
The ThermoPro TP02-S gives you great accuracy, to ±0.9°F, with the downside of a slightly longer than more expensive models, 4-7 second read time.
The extra long fixed probe length keeps your hand away from the hot stuff. And, it comes with a sheath for safe storage in a drawer.
You can still change the TP02-S between fahrenheit and celsius depending on what you use.
And, the really wide temperature range of between -58 to 572°F means this thermometer should do you for pretty much anything you’ll ever be cooking in your kitchen or in your backyard.
The ThermoPro TP02-S is basic but unbeatable if all you want is an accurate temperature reading with a cheap price tag.
What We Like About the ThermoPro TP02-S
What We Don't Like About the ThermoPro TP02-S
What is an Instant Read Thermometer?
An instant read thermometer is a specific type of temperature probe that’s designed to tell you the current temperature of whatever you’re measuring.
What Can You Use an Instant Read Thermometer For?
Instant read thermometers are most often used to tell exactly when meat is cooked to your liking without overdoing it and drying out that perfect steak, brisket or pork.
But, using an instant thermometer is also the best way to precisely check if the meat you’re cooking is hot enough to eat safely. Check out the USDA’s recommended minimum internal meat temperatures for up to date information on how hot that chicken or any other type of meat should be cooked.
However, instant read thermometers can definitely be used for far more than just cooking meat!
Instant read thermometers make it easier to make bread by ensuring the yeast is the right temperature to rise, that yoghurt is warm enough to ferment safely, checking that the oil is the right temperature for frying, when melting chocolate, baking a cake, making candy and even candles.
They’re an essential tool that takes the guesswork out of cooking in every kitchen. And, yes, chef’s sure do use instant thermometers too!
Why Buy an Instant Read Thermometer?
Instant read thermometers just make life easy!
You won’t have to cut a steak open to see if it’s done or try to finish it off in the aweful microwave if it’s not. You’re brisket will never be burned again. Your bread will turn out each and every time.
Basically, an instant read thermometer will make you a better cook, griller, pitmaster and baker.
And, it’s not cheating! All chef’s use them. An instant read thermometer is just an extra tool you use to get what you’re cooking exactly right. And there ain’t no shame in that!
Do I Need an Instant Read Thermometer?
If you want to cook restaurant worthy steak every single time, competition grade barbecue, or, just have an easier time in the kitchen, you should buy an instant read thermometer.
They’re not an expensive piece of kit and a quality one as is recommended in this article should last years of regular use.
Are Instant Thermometers Instant?
They’re called instant read thermometers because they’re the fastest way to get an internal temperature reading. But, instant thermometers aren’t in fact instant.
The fastest ones out there can make a reading in under one second. But, most instant read thermometers are more in the 2-4 second range.
Poor quality instant read thermometers might even take more than 10 seconds to display a temperature reading.
Are Instant-Read Thermometers Accurate?
Just like other thermometers and electronic equipment, instant read thermometers aren’t 100% accurate.
Most, including those recommended in this review, will show a reading that’s within a few degrees fahrenheit of the actual.
Poor quality instant thermometers can be much further out than this, displaying readings that are 20 or more degrees out from the actual.