A high quality instant read thermometer is certainly one of those things that every enthusiast of grilling and barbecue should own.
During numerous discussions, it is one of the first things that I recommend to beginners, although everyone should actually have one regardless of their skills.
Imagine frying a large amount of steaks at the same time, how can you be sure if every steak is done just right? Let’s be honest, no special skills are going to help you much in such situation.
An instant read thermometer makes it possible to quickly read the temperature inside the meat and lets you be sure what stage you’re at. That way you can prepare perfect food with the right level of being done.
If you have found this article, it means that you’re ready to start using an instant-read thermometer, but don’t know what model to pick yet. In order to solve your problem, I have prepared a guide that will help you find the best instant read thermometer depending on your situation.
The 3 Best Instant Read Thermometers Reviewed
In theory, an instant-read thermometer is a simple device, but in practice it turns out that certain models offer a lot of interesting features. Of course the key parameters are those like the speed of reading the temperature and accuracy. Still, just for you I have picked several different options for everyone’s budget.
My favorite instant read thermometer in my collection. High quality of workmanship, durability, great parameters and useful features, and all of that at a decent price from one of the most renowned thermometer manufacturers.
First and foremost, I’ll start with the parameters, Lavatools Javelin Pro is impressively fast. It reads temperature in just 2-3 seconds with equally good precision (±0.9°F). In this regard it is without a doubt one of the best, in terms of speed it can actually rival the most expensive options.
It is big enough and comes with a pretty long probe that protects the hand from high temperatures when measuring.
Javelin Pro is an improved model for more demanding people. Not only were the quality of workmanship and parameters taken care of, but most of all the functionality.
Auto-Rotating Ambidextrous Backlit Display, splash resistance, temperature stabilizing and locking technology, alarm, Motion-Sense Backlight, Auto-Sleep & Motion-Wake mode – all of those are the features this model comes with.
At this kind of price they not only took care of the parameters but also the functionality. I’ll finish this by also mentioning 3 years of manufacturer’s warranty, which combined with all the advantages and the price makes this one of the best options to consider.
If, however, this model is out of your budget, you may consider its much simpler Javelin version. It comes with slightly poorer parameters and less features, which makes it cheaper while maintaining the same high quality of workmanship.
The parameters of the poorer model are 3-4 second fast temperature readings and accuracy of +/- 0.9 F. It also has a slightly smaller display and very few interesting features that would only improve convenience while significantly increasing the price.
One of the cheapest options that is perfect for those seeking the cheapest possible model. Despite the low price, it is a pretty precise and relatively fast thermometer. It doesn’t come with many extra features and isn’t quite massively built, which allows its price to be much lower.
The very simple structure consists of a long probe (14 cm ~) and sleek casing that includes three buttons. One of them is to turn on/off, another to backlight the display and the last one is there to lock the temperature.
The good news is certainly that you can calibrate the device by yourself, all the instructions are included on the back.
For such a low price, the parameters are satisfying as well, ThermoPro TP15 allows to read the temperature within 3-4 second with accuracy of +/- 0.9 F.
Another surprise for me is ThermoPro’s declaration of very good tightness that allows to wash this model under running water.
Of course by default, like with all thermometers from ThermoPro, you can expect 1 year of warranty with ability to extend it to 3 years for free.
That’s all I have to add about this model. It is a very simple and effective instant read thermometer that is available at a very low price. I believe that this is the best option in this price range.
It is small, solidly built, airtight, comes with a long probe, basic features and very good parameters. I most certainly recommend it for the start if you’re not sure about more expensive models.
Another suggestion of mine comes from the same manufacturer as the last one, it’s also among inexpensive instant-read thermometers but its parameters are slightly poorer.
Temperature reading takes 3-5 seconds, it is slightly longer but the accuracy is +/- 0.9 F which is the same as most models in this price range.
Remember that it’s an inexpensive thermometer that only comes with the essentials.
A pretty long but foldable probe makes the thermometer more convenient to store when not in use.
The casing comes with two buttons, one of them is to turn it on/off while the other to unfold the probe.
ThermoPro TP03 is a very cheap instant read thermometer where the focus was put mostly on parameters and quality of workmanship. All types of features were skipped which allows this model to be pretty fast and precise despite its price range.
Also worth mentioning is one year of warranty with the ability to extend it to three years for free.
It is not a phenomenal product, but for this kind of money it offers all the essentials plus good parameters. It’s an option for those definitely less demanding, thrifty or simply those who don’t cook a lot and don’t need all those extra features or the best accuracy and speed.
Why do you need an instant read thermometer ?
You take grilling and barbecue very seriously ? In that case it is your duty to buy an adequate thermometer. Why is it so important? Of course it is possible to cook without such accessories but once you cook with a thermometer for the first time, you will never stop using it.
The instant read thermometer is one of the most popular types out of all digital meat thermometers. It makes it possible to very quickly and accurately read the temperature inside meat, for example.
How can you be sure when the meat has reached the right temperature? Use the publicly available bbq temperature charts for each type of meat. That way you can prepare perfect food by knowing exactly what the temperature is inside the meat.
The best models can read the internal temperature in just 2-3 seconds with a very high accuracy. A thermometer of this type is perfect not only when smoking and grilling, but also in many other situations around the kitchen.
Personally, though, I mostly use it for fast smoking to make sure that the meat has a perfect internal temperature (a great solution especially when it comes to steaks).
Tips for buying a new instant read thermometer
Budget – Compared to most smokers, the price for a good quality thermometer isn’t that high. The huge price range means there’s a lot to choose from no matter what budget you have. If you want to save a lot of money then you need to search for very simple models that offer pretty decent parameters.
Reading speed – During regular cooking speed isn’t all that important, two or four seconds aren’t very visible in this kind of situations. If you cook very often, however, like during a party, then such differences are very noticeable here. The fastest models get the readings in just 2-3 seconds, but the slower ones taking 4-5 seconds will also meet the expectations of less demanding people.
Accuracy – It is also an important issue, of course it is the best for a thermometer to be as accurate as possible and for you to be able to calibrate it on your own if the readings start differing a lot.
Temperature range – Think carefully what purposes you need a thermometer for. The greatest benefit of this type of thermometer is versatility. It works perfectly when grilling where you need to check the meat temperature, as well as around the kitchen where you need to check the temperature of fluids and many other things.
Features – Backlit display, rotating display, alarm and others are features present in much more expensive models. They only increase convenience and functionality which should not be your priority if you want the cheapest possible thermometer. Personally, however, I recommend finding some extra money and buying something better and functional, it is really worth it.
Warranty – The probe is the most important element as well as the one most prone to malfunction. For that reason, you should check out the manufacturer’s opinions, only choose the proven and trusted brands and check the warranty period. Sometimes it happens that during the first few days something wrong already happens to the thermometer, only a reliable manufacturer will help you quickly and effectively solve the problem without trying to ignore you.
Length of probe and handle – Of course it’s not about the thermometer being very long, it limits convenience and movements, but it’s important for it to be the right length. It certainly can’t be too short because it causes a huge risk. When it comes to a very hot grill or boiling fluids, holding the hand too close might lead to burns. There are two solutions to this problem, protecting the hand by wearing a glove or buying a thermometer with a long enough handle and probe.
Instant read vs Leave in Probe Thermometer
An instant Read Thermometer means speed and accuracy – it will work in all the places where time and accuracy matter a lot. Mostly used when grilling, but will also come in handy when smoking or many other chores around the kitchen.
It is a thermometer that comes with a probe built into the handle. You just have to stick the probe in the meat, wait for a few seconds and take it out once the temperature reading stabilizes.
Leave in probe thermometer:
It is also used to measure temperature but here the way it works is completely different. It was mostly designed with smoking and long cooking in mind. It makes it possible to monitor the temperature inside the meat throughout the entire smoking process. It also makes it possible to monitor the temperature inside the smoker for example, depending where you place the probe.
The probe is plugged into separately, it is not integrated with the thermometer’s structure. A professional smoker thermometers comes with many valuable features for those into smoking or grilling. There are models that make it possible to remotely monitor the temperature which is a very valuable feature during long smoking.
The probe has to be left inside the meat or the smoker until cooking is over, it allows to accurately monitor the temperature fluctuations throughout the entire cooking process and what is most important, it allows to prepare perfect BBQ.
Nearly all options come with preprogrammed ready temperature parameters for all or for the most popular types of meats, but it is also possible to enter the settings manually.