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Best Instant Read Thermometer: 12 Fast + Accurate Options


Lavatools PX1D Javelin Pro
Javelin PRO Duo


OXO Thermocouple Instant Read Thermometer
OXO Thermocouple


ThermoPro TP19H
ThermoPro TP19H


ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE
Thermapen ONE


Inkbird IHT-2XP3
Inkbird IHT-2XP3


Taylor Dual Temp Infrared Thermocouple Thermometer
Taylor Dual Temp

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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How We Tested the Best Instant Read Thermometers

We can’t confidently recommend products unless we’ve used them ourselves. So, although we do use an instant read thermometer we love in our kitchen and to help us review smokers, we set about testing a wider range of instant read thermometers to find the best ones out there.

The market is absolutely saturated with instant read thermometers offering different fancy features at a whole range of price points. And, there’s so many available that the choice is very overwhelming.

For the purpose of this review, we bought 25 of the most popular models currently available.

Then we set about testing each and every one, making notes on the following features:

An instant read thermometer’s sole job is to measure temperature. So, it’s very important it does this.

There’s a big difference between different models and makes of instant read thermometers in how ‘instant’ they are.

We tested how fast each of these thermometers were at giving us a temperature reading and comment on each one below.

There’s no point spending your hard earned cash on a product that’s going to fall apart or fail a few months down the line.

We assessed the quality of each instant read thermometer we tested to gauge how durable each of them are.

Some instant read thermometers have an AA or AAA battery while some aren’t meant to be change and others are rechargeable.

We made notes on how long each battery lasted for us so that you have a better idea of what to expect.

Some instant read thermometers are really hard to read in bright light like when you’re outside grilling. Others have an automatically rotating screen so that the temperature is the right way up no matter how you stick it into the meat.

We noted any of these features that made a thermometer particularly easy to use.

Like all electronic products, thing do occassionally go wrong with instant read thermometers.

Below you’ll find details of how long the warranty period for each is so you know what you’re covered for if you choose that probe.

Not all of the instant read thermometers we tested made the cut here. Below you’ll find our favorite tried and tested recommendations.

Table of Contents

The Best Instant Read Thermometers: Our Top Choices

Take your pick of our favorite instant read thermometers. These have been tested and approved for accuracy, ease of use, and quality.


Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo


Accuracy: ±0.5°F

Speed: 2 seconds

Range: -40°F to 482°F 

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 a 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 ±0.5°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 haven’t got to that yet). 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 it’s certified free from lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous substances, something that I absolutely love when I’m cooking for my family. The body is also BPA-free.

The IP65 splash-proof body can handle a bit of water when it comes to washing but don’t run it directly under the water. 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 that we haven’t had to yet confirm.

And, it’s available in a choice of eight colors.

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.


OXO Good Grips Thermocouple


Accuracy: ±0.9°F

Speed: 2 – 3 seconds

Range: -58°F to 572°F

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 it’s 225° rotating probe and screen, this really isn’t all that the OXO Thermocouple’s got going for it.

OXO state the accuracy you can expect is to 0.9°F, and we found it to be very spot on. You get a reading in about 3 seconds. And, in our testing, we found the OXO’s unique white on black screen to be the easiest to read in really bright light.

It’s got one of the highest temperature ranges of between -58°F to 572°F (-50°C to 300°C). And, if you prefer to work in celsius, you can change it between the two modes.

The Thermocouple runs off of 2 x AAA batteries. We haven’t had to replace ours yet and do expect them to last a long time. They’re not rechargeable but, a cheaper battery to buy at least.

When it comes to clean up time, the OXO Thermocouple is waterproof rated to IP66 too.

Overall, the little bit of extra you’ll pay for this thermometer really does give you that next-level of quality and durability for a reliable instant read thermometer that lasts.


ThermoPro TP620


Accuracy: ±0.9°F

Speed: 2 – 3 seconds

Range: -58°F to 572°F

For the speed, accuracy, and a few extra features without the really high price tag, the ThermoPro TP620 is a top product.

We found it to be accurate as stated and give a reading in under 3 seconds which is the basics ticked off.

But, what we really like about the ThermoPro TP620 is the auto wake and sleep. You simply pick the thermometer up and it’ll turn on, making things so easy when your hands are full or you’re wearing bbq gloves.

There’s also a handy lock button which will hold the temperature reading on the screen so that you can pull the probe out of a piece of meat and still see how hot it was. We’ve used this feature many times when smoking in harder to reach smokers.

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.


ThermoPro TP19H


Accuracy: ±0.9°F

Speed: 3 – 4 seconds

Range: -58°F to 572°F

This ThermoPro TP19H has been a very popular instant read thermometer for years!

It’s not the fastest out there. The TP19H takes a little longer than the more expensive options with a 3-4 second reading time. But, we’ve always found it to be very accurate. And, you can calibrate it although we’ve never had to as of yet.

The display on the ThermoPro TP19H auto-rotates 180° for odd angles or left-handed users. It’s backlit display is pretty easy to read when the sun’s out. And, when it’s cleanup time, the whole unit is waterproof, rated IP65 so you can run it under the tap without thinking.

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.


Thermapen® ONE


Accuracy: ±0.5°F

Speed: 1 second

Range: -58°F to 572°F

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) that we’ve confirmed, a folding probe, a backlight that automatically dims depending on the outside light, 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.


Inkbird IHT-1S


Accuracy: ±0.9°F

Speed: 2 – 3 seconds

Range: -58°F to 572°F

Don’t want to buy a battery for a meat thermometer ever?

The Inkbird IHT-1S Rechargeable and Waterproof Instant Read Meat Thermometer will give you just that.

Now, this IHT-1S model isn’t as popular as the better looking IHT-1P. But, we prefer it because it’s faster and more accurate with a 2-3 second readout range within 1°F, versus 3-5 seconds with a 2℉ discrepancy.

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 us about 15 uses on a full charge. I mean, an instant read thermometer isn’t on for long so you’d expect to get more than a couple of uses out of it. We probably plug it in about once a month just so we know it’s always charged.

But, what we also like about this model is that you can calibrate it within 5℉ if it does need any minor adjustments to it’s temperature readings. We haven’t had to test the calibration function yet.

There’s also 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.


Inkbird IHT-2XP3


Accuracy: ±0.9°F

Speed: 2 seconds

Range: -58°F to 572°F

This one’s ideal for both grilling and smoking.

The Inkbird 3-in-1 IHT-2XP3 Instant Read Thermometer gives you not only the single, folding, instant-read probe but, you also get 2 external probes that plug into the side ports.

You can keep these probes in a piece of meat to continuously monitor it’s internal temperature so you don’t need to keep opening the bbq’s lid to check if it’s almost done. There’s even an alarm that’ll warn you when it’s almost at your target temperature.

It’s very accurate. Our testing shows that it’s really close to the advertised 1°F. But, you can calibrate it within 9.9°F if you ever need to. And, a reading takes about 2 seconds which is up there with most of the best of competition.

But, the most impressive thing about the Inkbird IHT-2XP3 is it’s price! This thing is great value for money for what you’re getting. It’s an awesome deal.

The Inkbird IHT-2XP3’s body is rated IPX5 splash proof so little accidents don’t ruin your gear. You’ve just go to watch those external probe ports because even though there’s port covers, water can get in there.

There’s a hook to hang plus a magnetic backing as well.

The battery is rechargeable. Simply plug it in with the supplied USB cord. One charge should see you through a few cooks at least but isn’t quite as good as the other instant read thermometers on this list simply because this model does the continuous monitoring as well.


Taylor Dual Temp Infrared Thermocouple Thermometer


Accuracy: +/-2°F

Speed: 2 seconds

Range: -67°F to 626°F

For a completely hands-off, infrared temperature reading, this is our favorite thermometer.

It’s got a regular, fold out probe just like any other quality instant read thermometer but, the infrared sensor reads the surface temperature of anything you point it as well.

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, the screen isn’t backlit so it can be hard to read in bright sunshine. Like most infrared thermometers, the 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 for a decent price.


ThermoPro TP420


Accuracy: +/-1.8°F

Speed: 2 – 3 seconds

Range: -58°F to 572°F

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.

ThermoPro 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 inaccurate 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, especially for the price.


ThermoPro TP03


Accuracy: ±0.9°F

Speed: 3 – 5 seconds

Range: -58°F to 572°F

The ThermoPro TP03 has been around for YEARS and has consistently performed as a basic fan favorite (there’s more than 124,700 reviews with a 4.6 star average).

It’s one of the cheapest instant read thermometers out there, is very accurate in our testing, 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 what we found. But, if you want no a performer without the frills and extra cost, this is it.

ThermoPro TP03 Being used in the oven

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 accidentally leave it on.

Available in either red or black, you can’t go wrong with the ThermoPro TP03 for a value for money, does the job well instant read thermometer.


OXO Good Grips Chef's Precision


Accuracy: ±5°F

Speed: 5 seconds +

Range: 0°F to 220°F

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. We’ve had ours for 7 years plus and it looks brand new.

So, there’s a lot of good reasons to go old school with this. It’s not just an outdated device.

The OXO analog isn’t as fast as a digital instant read thermometer. Expect to be waiting 5 seconds or more for the dial to stop moving, depending on how high it’s going. But, the updated, bi-metallic coil does give a faster read than most 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 wide or 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.


ThermoPro TP15H


Accuracy: +/- 0.9°F

Speed: 4 – 5 seconds

Range: -58°F to 572°F

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 TP15H is as accurate as their more expensive models (and a lot of best instant read thermometers). In our tests, this thermometer measured within about 1°F of it’s actual. But, 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 4-5 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, accidentally leave it in the rain, it should still work just fine.

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.


Conclusion to Our Review of the Best Instant Read Thermometers

By trying and recommending our favorite instant read thermometers, I hope we’ve made your buying decision that much easier.

At the end of the day, remember that an instant meat probe has one main function, to tell you the temperature of whatever you’re measuring.

There are very budget-friendly models out there like the cheap as chips ThermoPro TP02-S, the well-loved ThermoPro TP19H or even a good old reliable OXO Good Grips Chef’s Precision Analog Thermometer.

You don’t need to buy a top of the line Thermapen ONE, although it’s certainly not a bad product if it fits your budget!

But, whatever you’ve chosen, look forward to making perfectly cooked meats, effortless breads and yoghurts or try your hand at your own candy.

An instant read thermometer really is one of the best tools you can add to your kitchen to become a better cook straight away. And, no, it’s not cheating because all the pros use them too! Knowledge is power.

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 it is you’re measuring.

Instant read thermometers can be used to give you the internal temperature of meat. But, they also work in water to find the right temperature to rise yeast, to melt chocolate without burning it, to ferment yoghurt safely or check oil temperature before deep frying.

There’s a lot of ways you can use an instant read thermometer.

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!

What’s the Difference Between An Analog and Digital Instant Read Thermometer?

You’ll notice these days that most instant read thermometers are digital. That means they’ve got a battery and display a precise temperature on an electronic display panel.

Back in the good old days, all you could get was analog. An analog instant read thermometer has a moving hand that slowly rises until the internal temperature of what you’re measuring is shown.

Some people say that analog instant read thermometers aren’t instant because they do take longer to give a reading.

Instead of waiting up to 5 seconds on a digital one, an analog one might take 10-15 seconds depending on how high the temperature is.

How Do You Use An Instant Read Thermometer?

You could say that using an instant read thermometer is as easy as sticking it in whatever you’re measuring the temperature of and waiting while it does it’s reading. But, there’s a few useful tips to keep in mind…

Firstly, if you’re using your instant read for meat, stick the probe into the thickest part.

You can even stick it all the way through and slowly back the probe out, watching the temperature rise and then fall again. The highest temperature is your internal temperature. Watch the video below to see exactly what we mean.

If it’s a thinner piece of meat you’re measuring, simply stick the probe in sideways.

And, keep the tip away from the bone because that will mess with your reading as well.

When using an instant read thermometer on liquids, make sure they’re mixed well before inserting your probe. And again, try to insert the probe into the center of the liquid, making sure not to touch the bottom or sides of the container it’s in.

What to Look for When Buying an Instant Read Thermometer

The major things that you should be looking at when buying an instant read thermometer are accuracy, speed, temperature range, the battery, how easy they are to use, and, the warranty of course.

Remember, every single feature doesn’t have to be top of the line for a thermometer to still be a good product.

So, if you want a good value for money instant read thermometer, look at which areas you’re not so fussed about to save yourself some cash.

We’ll talk about each in a little bit more detail…

An instant read thermometer is pretty much useless if it’s not giving you an accurate reading. You’ll either under or overcook you meat, leaving it pretty average tasting or unsafe to eat.

So, before you look at anything else, check what the manufacturer states is the thermometers degree of accuracy.

Now, for most people using them at home, an instant read thermometer doesn’t have to be 100% accurate.

A lot of decent yet still well-priced instant read thermometers are accurate to +/-0.9°F which is a great accuracy to have. A degree or two out isn’t going to make or break your brisket.

But, the +/-20°F is what you want to avoid. Yes, those thermometers are out there. We, of course, haven’t included any in our recommendations above.

The other feature worth mentioning here is that you can calibrate some instant read thermometers yourself at home. Doing so usually involves placing them in ice and resetting the temperature.

But, a model that can be calibrated is a good option for anyone who likes exact and wants the power to be able to make sure they’re getting the right readings all of the time.

After accuracy, you’ll want to check out how long you’ll have to wait to see the temperature reading on any given thermometer.

Although most are termed ‘instant’, instant isn’t actually immediate.

Most instant read thermometers will take between 2-4 seconds to find the temperature. More expensive models will be faster and some cheaper models do take longer.

If you’re willing to negotiate on waiting a few seconds longer, there’s some cheap but still accurate models on the market.

Before you buy an instant read thermometer, think about what you’ll most likely be using it for and do a quick check to see if the temperature range of the probe you’re looking at will read that high or low.

For example, if you’re using one for smoking, you’ll need a thermometer that goes up to about 205°F.

Want to do candy as well? You’ll need something that can handle even higher temperatures up to maybe 350°F, depending on what you’re making.

If you’re checking yeast temperature while making bread, your thermometer will need to read as low as 80°F.

And, if you want something that does it all, check both the minimum and maximum temperatures of all the things you’ll be using your thermometer for to make sure the one product will handle them all.

Do you want a rechargeable battery where you can just plug in a USB cord? Do you mind having regular AAA or AA batteries to buy and replace occasionally? Or, do you want absolutely no batteries to mess around with at all?

Instant read thermometers are made with a range of different battery types with different life expectancies. So, check what you’re buying before you buy one.

The good news is, most instant read thermometers use such a small amount of battery (and have features to automatically turn them off after a certain amount of time), that most don’t need charging or changing very often.

From our experience, we find the battery won’t last quite as long as the manufacturer states. But, 6 months worth of pretty regular use is common.

If you’re left-handed, you’ll need an ambidextrous instant read thermometer that automatically flips it’s display.

If you cook in low light, look for a good backlit display.

If you might accidentally leave it out in the weather or get the body too wet when washing, grab one with some sort of waterproof rating.

If you like to make sure there’s no nasties in any of your cooking tools, grab the Javelin PRO that’s NSF certified that it doesn’t contain any lead, mercury, cadmium or other hazardous substances.

Do you want a magnetic backing so you can stick the thermometer to your fridge or bbq?

There’s a lot of extras you can look at when buying an instant read thermometer.

Instant read thermometers aren’t the toughest piece of kit.

So, we think getting a decent one, particularly on a mid-high end thermometer is pretty essential.

You can of course go for a cheapie without a warranty as well. The more expensive instant read thermometers might set you back 4 times what an inexpensive one would meaning you could replace it 4 times over the same period of time and be no worse off anyway.

How Do I Know If My Digital Thermometer is Accurate?

You don’t need multiple probes to tell if your digital thermometer is accurate. The easiest way to check if your thermometer is accurate is with an ice bath.

But, you’ve got to do it the right way to make sure you’re getting the temperature of the water all the way down to 32°F, not just creating an inaccurate reading that will make you believe it’s your thermometer that’s wrong.

But, what’s great about using this method instead of boiling water is that an ice bath will always read 32°F at all altitudes and atmospheric pressures.

So, how do you properly set up an ice bath for thermometer testing?

How To Set Up An Ice Bath To Test Thermometer Accuracy

  1. Fill a glass to the rim with ice
  2. Add water up to 1/2″ below the level of the ice
  3. Stir the icy water and let it sit for 1 minute
  4. Insert your instant read thermometer probe 2″ into the ice water, gently stir and take a reading

Your thermometer should read 32°F. If it doesn’t, your thermometer isn’t accurate.

To see an ice bath in action, watch the full video below.

FAQs About the Best Instant Read Thermometers

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 awful 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!

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.

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.

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.

For general use, we accept that a difference of up to 3-4°F between what your instant read thermometer says and the actual should not really affect the outcome of your cooking.

Without any batteries or electronic parts, an analog instant read thermometer is a very reliable alternative to their digital counterparts. They’re also a cheaper option than most fancier models with backlit, rotating displays, alarms, calibration, etc.

That’s why we’ve given you a solid analog option (the OXO Good Grips Chef’s Precision Analog Thermometer) in this review of the best instant read thermometers.

Yes. Digital meat thermometers are more accurate than analog versions.

If nothing else, digital displays tell you the degree to the tenth of a degree (the first number after the decimal point) while you’ll just have to eyeball it to read the temperture on an analog thermometer’s dial.

Never leave an instant read thermometer inside the oven.

The plastic casing on an instant read thermometer isn’t designed to handle the high heat and will melt or get damaged.

If you want a thermometer that you can leave inside the oven to take a continuous temperature without having to open and close the oven door all the time, you’re looking for a wireless meat thermometer (you can use them for things other than meat too).

With a wireless meat thermometer, the probe is the only part that stays inside the high temperature area e.g.. oven, smoker, grill. That way the body or control part of the theremometer doesn’t get damaged and you get constant readings.

Our favorite wireless meat thermometer is the MEATER. You can read our full review here.

There’s a lot of instant thermometers out there that we’d say are the best.

And, that’s good for you because you can choose one that suits your budget and needs perfectly. Need a rotating screen because you’re left-handed? Want a backlit display because you’ll be using it to grill outside in the sun? Looking for the fastest instant read thermometer you can buy?

We’ve covered them all in this review so scroll up and look at the titles to steer you in the right direction.

And, if you’re just looking for the best overall instant read theremometer, we can’t go past the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo.

It’s not the top of the line in terms of features. But, the Lavatools Javelin gives you a great mix of speed and accuracy at a great price. Plus, it’s got a rotating backlit display, magnetic backing, is BPA free and certified to contain no lead, mercury or other hazardous substances.

Everyone is with the ‘therm’ thermometer names in this market. But, no, ThermoPro isn’t the same as Thermapen. They are different companies.

Thermapen make top of the line instant read thermometers while ThermoPro have a larger range of options to suit different budgets ranging from cheaper, high-end thermometers like the ThermoPro TP620 to the budget friendly TP19H.

We recommended the Thermapen ONE as the fastest instant read thermometer because it is the fastest option out there as well as being accurate and great quality. But, buying one will set you back considerably more than most of the other options on this list.

Yes, the Thermapen is good. But, it’s definitely not the ONLY great instant read thermometer out there.

So, if you’re questioning the price, check out the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo which has a lot of the same great features at about half the price of the uber popular Thermapen.

Not all digital thermometers can be calibrated. Some are cheapies that aren’t built with the extra feature while other digital thermometers are calibrated in the factory and simply shouldn’t need to be recalibrated again.

But, getting an instant read thermometer that can be calibrated gives you the control to check and keep your thermometer in good working order.

If you value accuracy above all else, definitely go for a calibratable model like the ThermoPro TP620 or the Thermapen ONE.

Calibrate your thermometer if it’s a model that can be calibrated.

But, if not, take note of how large the variance is. A thermometer that’s just a few degrees out can easily still be used. Simply remember what the discrepancy is and adjust your readings accordingly i.e. if it’s reading 3°F warmer than the actual, set your cooking target 3°F higher.

But, if your thermometer is reading way off, you might want to scroll up and choose yourself a new one. Or, get in touch with the manufacturer if it’s still under warranty.

To calibrate a digital thermometer, be sure to check and follow the manufacturers instructions. The process will vary between different makes and models of instant read thermometers.

But, it usually involves setting up and testing your thermometer in an ice bath and then pressing the reset button.

Some digital thermometers are rated as splashproof or waterproof. But, regardless of their rating, I always advise that you try to clean the probe only after using your thermometer.

The waterproof rating is always a good thing to have because it is so easy to get water on the body. But, it’s pretty easy to simply wipe down, brush down or soak the probe in a bit of warm soapy water to get any residue off without risking damaging your whole thermometer.

Making sure you always clean your probe after using it will not only help to extend the life of your thermometer, it also ensures good hygiene is maintained before using it the next time.

Note – Even waterproof instant read thermometers should not be cleaned in the dishwasher. They’re still hand wash only.


Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is committed to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.

About Burning Brisket

Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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