I often mention in my other guides about how much useful a meat thermometer is both in grilling and smoking alike. I have owned a lot of different models throughout my lifetime, which is why I decided to prepare a guide on digital meat thermometers.
I have conducted research in order to collect as much information as possible that would help you pick the best meat thermometer. First and foremost, a good thermometer should be fast and accurate, interesting features are useful but not necessary.
A very important thing is quality of workmanship and durability, as well as how much it all costs. I focused on well-recognized in the BBQ world, proven models that are available in different price ranges.
If you have any doubts about which type of meat thermometer to choose then I invite you to read my tips and advice that will help you solve this problem.
Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo
Best Digital Meat Thermometer Reviews - ( Updated List )
1. Best Meat Thermometer for Smoking - ThermoPro TP20
ThermoPro is a well-established manufacturer of great thermometers, and their ThermoPro TP20 model can easily be considered one of the best selling digital meat thermometers and one of my favorites.
It earned the top position in my ranking thanks to many positive aspects.
I mostly picked it with real meat smoking in mind. ThermoPro TP20 comes with two probes that can measure the temperature in two different places at the same time.
Personally, I use one probe for measuring the temperature inside the smoker, and the other one to measure the temperature inside the meat.
What I really like about this thermometer is obviously the accuracy, but I also value its functionality. The temperature range: 32°F to 572°F (0°C to 300°C) with accuracy of +/- 1.8°F (+/- 1°C).
ThermoPro TP consists of two elements that are the transmitter and receiver. It makes it possible to monitor the smoking process from home while away from the smoker.
That’s not all – ThermoPro TP20 has the right temperatures programmed for different types of meats as well as selection of the level of being done. Of course it is possible to input your own settings, although this feature is still undoubtedly useful. After choosing the type of meat and a few hours of smoking, you will hear an alarm once the meat reaches the right temperature.
What I like:
What I don't like:
A big and clear display, useful features, remote monitoring of temperature and great quality confirmed by one year of warranty. I recommend registering your product upon purchase on the official website, that way you will extend your warranty to 3 years for free.
I have been using it for many years in smoking and I am very satisfied which is why I can easily recommend it to others.
2. Best Meat Thermometer for Grilling - Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo
Another great meat thermometer that every BBQ enthusiast should own as well. It takes second place due to the fact that I mostly use it during typical quick grilling and not smoking which in my case takes place definitely more often.
Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo ( instant read thermometer type ) works great during grilling for example, where you need to make quick measurements of a large amount of steaks or hamburgers.
It is an upside that it will be useful not only when grilling or smoking but also during any other kitchen activities.
It makes measurements in just 2-3 seconds with accuracy of 0.9 degree F ( temperature range of -40~482°F ).
Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo runner up ( best meat thermometer for grilling )
It also comes with several interesting features and solutions such as Auto-Rotating Ambidextrous Backlit Display for example. No matter what position you hold the thermometer in, the display will adapt to you by displaying the measurements in a position adjusted to you.
The display as well as the whole thermometer is resistant to splashes that happen often when cooking.
Motion-Sense Backlight is a feature that activates the backlight when you shake the thermometer.
Stabilization Alert will notify you when the temperature stabilizes during a measurement.
Auto Off System will make sure that you don’t forget about turning the thermometer off when not using it.
What I like:
What I don't like:
As you can see, Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo is not just a well-built, fast and accurate thermometer, but also one that is rich in useful features. It is my second favorite meat thermometer in my collection and I use it a lot.
3. Trusted BBQ Brand - Maverick ET-733
A well-known and trusted brand in the world of BBQ, it is, just like ThermoPro TP20, a leave in meat thermometer with two probes. Also included is a transmitter and receiver which allows you to remotely monitor the temperature.
It also comes with programmed settings for different types of meats in accordance with safety guidelines. Personally, I mostly input my own settings manually but in many cases it has been a useful feature.
After programming the thermometer you don’t have to control the temperature all the time, the system will notify you on its own with an alarm when the meat reaches a temperature that matches your settings.
Sadly, I have a feeling that it is a little complicated when it comes to all the settings. I know that plenty of people prefer a simple thermometer and Maverick ET-733 is not exactly among them.
What I like:
What I don't like:
The wireless feature has worked without a problem for many years in my case, I did own this model but I didn’t use it often as personally I prefer ThermoPro TP20.
Despite small complications during the first contact, I believe that it is a good digital meat thermometer once you learn how to use it properly.
4. Budget Meat Thermometer - ThermoPro TP17
A digital meat thermometer for everyone’s budget, which ThermoPro TP17 is, equipped with as many as two probes. It is a model without unnecessary features or gadgets for those with a very limited budget. There’s no point expecting remote temperature monitoring here either, which is a really valuable feature.
ThermoPro TP17 is, in simplest words, a simple yet accurate meat thermometer that does exactly what it was made for.
Two probes make it possible to monitor two measurements at the same time until reaching the right temperature, which you will hear about thanks to the alarm.
A significant downside in my view is the fact that it is not resistant to splashes which means that you need to be careful with it so that it doesn’t get damaged.
Another upside, on the other hand, is a pretty big and clear display for such a small-sized thermometer.
At this kind of price you won’t find anything better, it is a basic thermometer the purpose of which is to make accurate measurements.
What I like:
What I don't like:
If you expect remote temperature monitoring or different interesting useful features then prepare much more money for something better ( such as ThermoPro TP20 ).
ThermoPro TP17 will fully satisfy a customer who doesn’t expect anything more than a simple device for monitoring the temperature when smoking or grilling.
First of all, what is a Digital Meat Thermometer ?
A Digital Meat Thermometer is a device that allows to easily and accurately monitor the temperature inside meat, but there’s more.
There are different types of meat thermometers that allow to monitor the temperature inside a smoker for example thanks to a special probe. Such measurement is much more accurate than with a simple dome thermometer, more on that can be read below.
When looking for a new thermometer at a store these days, you will face a serious problem choosing one. There’s a whole lot of manufacturers who have it in their offer which makes it difficult to find a really good model.
Below you will find a lot of valuable tips that will make it significantly easier for you to find the best digital meat thermometer depending on your needs.
The most popular types of Meat Thermometers
Instant Read Thermometer
As the name suggests, it is a thermometer that can take a very accurate temperature measurements in a very short time ( the best models as fast as 2-3 seconds ). In my guide I have presented models that will work great when grilling or smoking but this is such a versatile type of thermometer that you can also use it for many other tasks in the kitchen.
I have prepared a separate guide on instant-read thermometers that will help you pick the best instant-read thermometer depending on your budget.
Leave in Smoker/Grill Meat Thermometer
It is a thermometer known under two names, “grill thermometer” or “smoker thermometer”. Both names refer to the same thing which is a meat thermometer that was made with BBQ enthusiasts in mind. More expensive models make it possible to remotely monitor the temperature inside the smoker and meat while being away from the smoker.
It is a much more developed thermometer that was made for people connected to BBQ. I have prepared a comprehensive guide on it as well, complete with tips that will help you pick the best smoker thermometer.
Benefits of using a Meat Thermometer
A digital meat thermometer allows you to accurately measure the temperature inside the meat. It does it very fast and accurately, and even makes it possible to follow it in real time depending on the type of thermometer.
Either way, it always boils down to one thing, which is making sure that the meat is really ready. There is nothing worse than raw meat on the inside when you’re “done” cooking. I think that each of us has had a similar situation at one point in their life no matter how experienced they are in the kitchen.
It is an invaluable device when preparing steaks at the perfect level of being done. As everyone knows, steaks can be prepared at several different levels of being done. Back in the day, preparing a perfect steak required experience and focus, today all you need to do is quickly check the temperature inside the meat and you’re done.
It’s a useful device when grilling and in my view it’s essential when smoking which is why I always repeat that it is a must have right next to the grill/smoker.
Tips for buying a meat thermometer
Budget –Analyze your budget right at the start, do you prefer something cheap and simple? Or maybe actually you have a little more money to spend on a more functional model. Personally, I suggest you pay a little extra and buy something much better and most of all more durable.
Accuracy – An important aspect in case of every type of meat thermometer. The bigger the accuracy the better, you can be sure then that the measurement is as close to the reality as possible.
Speed – It makes no difference when it comes to leave in thermometers, but it matters in case of an instant read thermometer. About 2-3 seconds is the top result for the best manufacturers and although it seems that a few seconds of difference isn’t that much, imagine that you have to measure 10 pieces of meat at the same time.
Features – Of course what matters the most is accurate measurements but it’s a good idea to invest in a slightly more expensive model that comes with some interesting features. They have no impact on measurements but in many situations they significantly increase the convenience.
What you need a thermometer for – Smoking or grilling may require a different type of thermometer. What will work perfectly during fast grilling is a fast and very accurate instant read thermometer that can make precise measurements in a flash. During long smoking, on the other hand, a much better choice will be a dedicated smoker thermometer that will notify you when the meat reaches the right internal temperature.
Temperature range – You only need a thermometer to monitor smoking? In that case, the temperature range in any model will be perfect. If you need a versatile thermometer that will work for different kitchen tasks, on the other hand, look for a bigger temperature range. For example, based on my guide the perfect choice will be Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo, which makes it possible to monitor even negative temperatures.
Warranty – When buying a more expensive model, you have the right to expect a fair warranty from the manufacturer for their product. Probes tend to break very often and it’s a good thing to have a warranty that will provide you with a fast and easy solution to your problems.
Wireless – Not every meat thermometer makes it possible to remotely control the temperature. If this feature is important to you then make sure that the model you’re interested in comes with this feature.
Upsides of a digital meat thermometer
Speed and convenience – Today’s thermometer models are fast and easy to use enough to make monitoring meat temperature incredibly convenient and easy. Measurements only take a few seconds and are very accurate, and the whole process is simple and intuitive.
Being sure that the meat is 100% ready – Nothing can make you as sure when cooking as a meat thermometer. When you have a very huge experience in the kitchen you can always make a mistake, when you have a good quality digital meat thermometer you will never make a mistake.
Price – Even the more expensive models are pretty much no burden on your budget. If you smoke a lot and really want to have perfect results or simply want to be sure that everything is okay then buy a meat thermometer.
Downsides of a digital meat thermometer
Warranty – Sadly, most of manufacturers don’t approach this topic seriously and they only offer very poor warranties. That’s why I encourage you to only buy products from trusted manufacturers in the industry so that you can avoid disappointment.
Probes breaking down – Sadly, when it comes to many thermometers, it is a pretty common thing, which makes it important to only choose products from trusted manufacturers with a decent warranty.
Digital vs analog thermometers
Some of you are certainly perfectly familiar with even older types of meat thermometers, such as analog ones. They are much cheaper, but is it still worth it to use them considering what modern meat thermometers have to offer?
Analogue Meat Thermometers
- They are much cheaper
- They work based on an older mechanism ( more durable )
- They are easy to calibrate and don’t require batteries
- The display is pretty hard to read and unclear, especially when there’s no lighting or you’re looking from afar
- They don’t have any additional features and gadgets
Digital Meat Thermometers
- More expensive models have a lot of very interesting and useful features that improve the convenience significantly when cooking
- They are much faster and more convenient when cooking
- Their displays are usually simpler, much bigger and clearer – on top of that, most models come with a backlit display, making it possible to make measurements even in poor light.
- These days, the digital technology is very popular and it works great in form of digital meat thermometers.
- Sadly, plenty of manufacturers offer models of such poor quality that it’s hard to blame people who don’t decide to buy such thermometer.
- They always require batteries in order to function
Don’t trust that dome thermometer
In reality, what a dome thermometer displays differs significantly from the actual conditions your food is in.
Why is it so ?
Measuring with a dome thermometer relies on many factors. It is only close to the conditions around the food when the smoker’s lid has been closed long enough.
By opening the lid often you let the hot air out very fast, and a dome thermometer takes a lot of time again to indicate the most real temperature.
Let’s take a closer look on that.
A dome thermometer is always located a lot higher above the grill grates where the food is placed ( in most cases close to the top of the smoker ), far below the grates is located the furnace.
So we have three important places – the location of the dome thermometer, grill grates and the furnace.
In each of these places, the temperature is different, the closer to the furnace the higher the temperature. Which means the further the thermometer is located, the bigger difference in temperature it will show.
I will add a link to an article where this phenomenon was described in detail.
When following a dome thermometer, the meat can sometimes be located in a slightly lower temperature, which makes the smoking process longer. It is actually these situation when a very useful tool is a meat thermometer that can let you be sure that the meat is 100% ready on the inside.