Rib of beef served rare on a platter

The best digital thermometers for testing meat

Read our review of the top digital thermometers on the market so you get succulent meat, cooked exactly to your liking, every time.

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This page was last updated in August 2020.

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For juicy, succulent roasts, a meat thermometer is a kitchen must. It takes the guesswork out of reaching that perfect level of ‘doneness’, so if you’re looking forward to a medium-rare fillet of beef, that’s exactly what you get. For occasions, like Christmas, you can check a big bird is thoroughly cooked, taking the stress out of whether it’s safe to eat and know the meat will still be tender and moist.

Remember to test the thickest part of the meat, away from bones, fat or gristle for the most accurate reading. Digital probes can’t be immersed in wate, so a good tip is to clean them with an antibacterial wipe or sterilise in boiling water.

When choosing which meat thermometer to buy, first you need to decide if you want digital or not. Some people prefer a low-tech option and these work perfectly well.

Digital versions can vary from basic to elaborate. If you want a simple display, then you don’t need to spend a lot of money but gadget fans may opt for more. In either case, we think it’s useful having a guide to temperatures and what they equate to for different meats, so you know if the meat is cooked to your liking.

Keen cooks may want to choose a thermometer with a broad temperature range allowing them to test sugar, oil and perhaps also chilled dishes.

Read on to discover our top buys. For over 200 buyer’s guides, visit our product review section and find guides to everything from roasting tins to food processors.

The best meat thermometers

Meater+

Best meat thermometer for tech lovers

Pros: 

  • Wireless
  • Great app

Cons:

  • Very expensive

You can get an app for just about everything these days – yes, even one that measures the temperature of roast meat. When not in use, the clever little thermometer that goes with it sits in a box that charges the battery. When you want to use it, you have to connect it to the app.

Tap the screen to choose your meat and how well you want it done and it will select the temperature it needs to be cooked at. You can also choose the temperature manually, if you prefer.

The rather dinky probe needs to be inserted deeply into the meat and from there, it relays readings wirelessly. We placed it at the top of a joint of beef and pushed it into the side of a chicken leg. The app tells you the current temperature of the meat as it’s cooking, the target temperature, the oven temperature and how long there is to go, although it took a few minutes to calculate the latter.

You’ll get a five-minute warning before your meat is ready, and an alert to tell you when it’s done (as it cheerily wishes you ‘happy eating’). We were particularly impressed with the results of our roast beef, as it saved us from overcooking it – we decided to trust it, rather than the instructions on the packaging.

Specifications
Leave in oven: yes
Analogue or digital: digital
Needs an app: yes

Thermapen Professional

Best overall meat thermometer 

Pros:

  • Quick easy to read
  • Straightforward
  • Accurate

Cons:

  • Limited features

This simply reads the temperature of meat. There’s no on/off button; it springs into life when you open the probe, turning itself off when you close it or after a couple of minutes of inactivity to save the battery. The probe extends out of the body and folds back easily into place for storage.

Thermapens are individually calibrated for extra reassurance and we found this consistently accurate. We would have liked a guide to suggested temperature for meats on the thermometer, however.

The thermometer boasts a very clear display which takes just a few seconds to find the temperature. The display rotates (like a smartphone) so you can always read it easily without having to crane your neck.

It only needs to go 3mm into the meat so worked effectively on smaller pieces likes chicken thighs. We also liked the fact that the tip is very small, so you’re not left with a big hole in the meat.

This is nice to hold and satisfyingly chunky in the hand.  It wouldn’t take up much space in the drawer but wouldn’t be easy to lose either as it comes in a range of vibrant colours (ours was red). There’s a sensor that turns on if the ambient light is too dim.

Specifications
Leave in oven: no
Analogue or digital: digital
Needs an app: no

Lakeland oven probe thermometer

Best meat thermometer for ease of use

Lakeland meat thermometer on a white background

Pros:

  • Good value
  • Compact size

Cons:

  • No pre-set buttons for different meats

This is designed for cooks who like to know their meat has reached the correct temperature without having to take it out of the oven.

A probe at the end of a wire cord slots into the side of the main unit. You need to insert the probe into the meat as you place it in the oven, and shut the door leaving the main unit outside. It’s magnetic, so you can hang it on your oven door.

The unit itself has an easy-to-read digital screen that displays both the temperature and the remaining time. Below it are buttons allowing you to set the temperature you want your meat to reach and the timer. It will beep when it reaches the correct temperature (which is up to you to decide), and when time is up.

On the back are switches so you can change between Fahrenheit and Celsius and another one to allow you to mute the alarm if you wish.

There’s also a handy guide to the temperature beef, lamb, pork, poultry and (surprisingly) fish need to reach. Five different taste options are given for beef and lamb – rare, medium rare, medium, medium well and well.

We found this to be accurate and easy to use, although the long wire did make getting it out of the oven a little tricky. We also liked the fact the battery compartment was easy to open, with no screwdriver required.

Specifications
Leave in oven: yes (probe only)
Analogue or digital: digital
Needs an app: no

Terraillon Thermo Chef measuring fork digital meat thermometer

Best meat thermometer for large joints

Pros:

  • Dual use
  • Effective

Cons:

  • Not easy to store

This is completely different to the other meat thermometers we tried, as it doubles up as a big fork, with the temperature reading and control buttons set in the handle. Take the temperature, then use it to keep the meat steady as you carve your joint.

A digital screen shows you the temperature of your meat, and below it are two buttons. Press the top one to scroll through different types of meat – turkey, beef, veal, lamb, pork and chicken – and select the one you need.

A second button, marked ‘taste’ allows you to choose how well done you like most meats – rare, medium rare, medium and well done (you can’t do this for poultry where rare meat would be unsafe to eat). It also shows the temperature. A switch at the back lets you flick easily between Celsius and Fahrenheit, and there’s even a little light at the front.

This is a big, solid, no-nonsense thermometer that performed well in accuracy tests. The prongs are long so it is best on a very meaty joint rather than an individual chicken portion. It still works for the latter, but the prongs are also quite broad, so you will be left with some big holes.

Specifications
Leave in oven: no
Analogue or digital: digital
Needs an app: no

OXO Good Grips Chef’s Precision digital instant-read thermometer

Best meat thermometer for quick reading

Pros:

  • Speedy reading

Cons:

  • Battery awkward to change

This is a fast-acting digital thermometer that we found consistently accurate when testing beef, roast chicken thighs and a whole chicken. The head tilts into three different positions, making it easy to read, and the digital display is large and clear. Press a button at the top to turn it on or off and another at the back to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius.

We liked the size of this thermometer; the probe is thin but the chunky head means it’s hard to lose in your utensil drawer while still taking up minimal space. There’s a protective sheath to slot it into for safety.

The cover has cooking temperatures for red meat, ground meat, pork, ham and poultry, with different temperatures for different levels of done-ness. There are also different temperature settings for thigh and breast meat when cooking poultry. General cooking times are listed on the other side for a ballpark figure.

Specifications
Leave in oven: no
Analogue or digital: digital
Needs an app: no

Available from Cookware Store: £25

Polder dual sensor in-oven thermometer

Best analogue meat thermometer

Pros:

  • Easy to read
  • Shows both meat and oven temperature

Cons:

  • Not ideal for smaller pieces of meat

If you’ve decided to invest in a meat thermometer because you’re concerned your oven isn’t hot enough, while simultaneously worrying whether your meat is cooked thoroughly, this does both jobs.

The larger face at the top shows you the internal temperature of your meat while it’s cooking, which means you don’t need to remove it to check. The temperature you need for different meats and tastes is written between the two faces, making a handy reference check.

The second face shows the temperature of the oven, which may or may not reassure you that all is well with that.

The probe is quite long so it works best for a whole chicken or a joint of meat. We had to get creative with a chicken leg and push it in at the side, or it would have fallen over.

This is an effective, simple to use, no nonsense thermometer – and one that is perfect for technophobes.

Specifications
Leave in oven: yes
Analogue or digital: analogue
Needs an app: no

Voice Prompts digital instant waterproof instant-read meat thermometer

Best meat thermometer for the elderly 

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Coloured lights show at a glance whether meat is cooked

Cons:

  • Always defaults to the same setting when started

If your eyesight isn’t as good as it was, and you can’t read the temperature easily on a screen or dial, this could be the answer. First of all, you can select the meat you want from a choice of eight including lamb, hamburgers and fish, and also choose how well you’d like it cooked. This is very easy to use.

When you put the probe inside the meat, it will flash blue, green or red according to whether it has reached the required temperature. You can also read the exact temperature on the screen and press a different button, which reads the temperature aloud to you.

This has a pleasingly small probe that folds back into the unit for easy storage.

Specifications
Leave in oven: no
Analogue or digital: digital
Needs an app: no

Heston Blumenthal Precision Kitchen BBQ meat thermometer by Salter

Best meat thermometer for versatility

Pros:

  • Good all-rounder

Cons:

  • Hard to switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit

This is a straightforward instant-read digital thermometer that is designed to work on everything from your Sunday roast to a barbecue. Its long probe means you don’t need to get too close to the heat on a barbie, and its removable waterproof silicone covering protects it from rain.

The digital display is easy to read and the main part of the unit is satisfyingly chunky in the hand and comfortable to hold. There’s a big, easy to use on/off button and the probe comes with a protective sheath.

The thermometer itself was pretty speedy to use and overall, this is a well designed piece of kit.

The only downside is the difficulty of changing between Celsius and Fahrenheit. The switch is located in the battery compartment, so you need to remove the silicone cover, take off the back of the battery compartment and remove the batteries to access it.

This will only be a problem is you like to know both temperatures – if you usually work in one of the other, you can just set it and leave it.

Specifications
Leave in oven: no
Analogue or digital: digital
Needs an app: no

How we tested meat thermometers

We tested a representative sample of gadgets on roasted meat and scored them on the following criteria.

Accuracy. We tested thermometers against each other.

Readability. We liked thermometers where you could see what the temperature was at a glance.

Ease of use. A meat thermometer is a kitchen staple and isn’t the kind of thing where you should expect to have to pore over the instructions.

Storage. With plenty of items jostling for space in kitchen drawers and cupboards, we looked for thermometers that were designed not to take up too much space.

Value for money. With our sample ranging from £3 to £99, we gave extra marks for those that were good value.

Rare roast beef served on a bed of roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding

Which type of meat thermometer to buy?

We tested a variety of different types so which one you choose depends on what you like to cook.

In-oven thermometers can be ideal if you just want to be able to see what the temperature is without having to check it and then possibly place it back in the oven.

Analogue models tend to be bulky so aren’t as good for small pieces of meat like chicken thighs. You’ll need to have an oven with a working light to be able to read these (or open the oven door).

Probe thermometers. These come with a probe which you insert when you put your meat in the oven and are attached by heat resistant wire to the unit which stays outside (they are usually magnetic so attach to the oven).

This means you can read the temperature at any time just by glancing at the unit. They will show you the current temperature of your meat and beep when it’s ready. If you are constantly opening the oven, for instance to baste, or put in different dishes, these can get in the way.

Instant read thermometers. Take your meat out the oven and insert the thermometer – these come in both analogue and digital. Some simply tell you the temperature, while others show requirements for different meats so you can see at a glance if your turkey, for instance, is cooked. Most show you the temperature in both C and F or allow you to switch between them.

Thermometers with apps. If you want the latest technology, these are probes you put in the oven and connect to an app you download on your phone. You can set your desired temperature through the app.

How to use a digital thermometer for meat

To get the most accurate reading with a digital thermometer, it needs to be inserted into the middle of the thickest part of the meat. If inserted too little or too far, the reading will be for the outer part and won’t give you the reading for the middle.

For joints of meat that are on the bone, like a rib of beef or leg of lamb, make sure the tip of the thermometer isn’t in contact with the bone, or you risk getting the bone temperature.

For pieces of meat cooking on the barbecue or in a pan, it’s best to measure the temperature out of the pan, so you don’t get the residual temperature from the hot surface.

For whole chickens and other birds, the most accurate place to take the temperature is the thickest part of the thigh, in the gap between the thigh and the breast, again, avoiding the bone.

Once you are happy with where you’ve probed your thermometer, always wait for the temperature to stop fluctuating to get an accurate reading.

Another thing to take into consideration, especially with large joints of meat or whole birds, is that the temperature will rise by at least another 5C as it rests, so if you’re after a certain temperature, you’re better to be slightly under.

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This review was last updated in August 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

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