The 7 Best Instant Read Thermometers to Buy in 2018

Shop for the best instant read thermometers to use in your kitchen

Turkey in roaster
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If you read old cookbooks, they’ll tell you to cook in a hot or slow oven, and they’ll give suggestions on how to test the doneness of foods by look and feel. That worked well enough for our ancestors, but you’re much more likely to get a perfectly-cooked roast if you can stab it with a thermometer and see exactly what temperature it is.

Instant-read thermometers are a step up from previous versions that required the thermometer to remain in place for up to a minute while your arm started...MORE roasting from the hot oven. Instead of requiring one thermometer for meat and another to handle the high heat of candy-making, many thermometers today can read a wide range of temperatures, and give you the results in just a few seconds.

When you’re cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving or grilling up some expensive, it’s important to cook the food to the proper temperature — not overcooked and dry, and not undercooked and potentially unsafe to eat. An accurate thermometer is important for every kitchen, and here are the best ones on the market now.

  • 01 of 07

    This two-in-one thermometer measures internal temperatures with its probe, and it also measures surface temperatures using infrared. The probe measures temperatures up to 626 degrees, so you can use it for checking your roast, monitoring hot sugar for candy, or checking your frying oil. The probe is five inches long, so you can reach deep into a roast, and it folds for safe storage.

    The infrared can measure -67 to 482 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can use it for checking the surface temperature of a...MORE hot pan or checking food temperature in the freezer. It works well on dark surfaces, but can have trouble with light-colored shiny surfaces because of the reflectivity.

    This has an auto shutoff and runs on two AAA batteries. It is splashproof but not waterproof, so it shouldn’t be submerged in water.

  • 02 of 07

    If you do a lot of grilling at night or your oven light is dim, this thermometer speaks the temperature, so you don’t need to bring a flashlight or squint at the numbers. It also has an LED night feature to help you see the numbers, if that’s your preference.

    It takes about four seconds to get an accurate temperature, and the thermometer has an auto-shutoff feature so you won’t drain the battery. This can read from -58 degrees Fahrenheit to 572 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • 03 of 07

    If you prefer analog over digital, this dial-style instant read meat thermometer can read from 0 degrees Fahrenheit to 220 degrees Fahrenheit. The shaded surface on the stem indicates the proper depth the probe should be inserted in the meat, and the probe cover lists proper cooking temperatures for different types of meat.

    While this is much quicker than older thermometers, it’s not quite as fast as digital models — it can take up to seven seconds for the hand to stop moving on the dial. This...MORE should not be left in the oven during cooking. It has a silicone ring around the dial for a firm grip for inserting and removing the thermometer.

    Because this doesn’t require batteries for operation and it’s not expensive, this is a good thermometer to keep on hand as a backup.

  • 04 of 07

    This thermometer-timer combo is designed for monitoring foods in your oven. While it’s meant to be left in the food rather than inserted for a quick read, you can check the temperature at a glance from the external unit that shows time, set temperature, and current temperature.

    Like other thermometers of this type, the probes tend to go bad after time, from being kinked or bent, or from excessive heat. It’s a good idea to have extra probes on hand. It reads from 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 392...MORE degrees Fahrenheit.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    You know it’s annoying to stand over a hot oven or grill to read a thermometer, right? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to check the temperature from across the room? You can do that with this wireless meat thermometer. It has a 300 foot range, so you can’t wander to the neighbor’s house, but it’s far enough to keep you away from the heat.

    The transmitter and receiver are synched when they arrive, so there’s no setup or pairing required. Just put in the included batteries, and the thermometer is...MORE ready to use. It reads temperature from 32 to 572 degrees with an accuracy of +/- 1.5 degrees, and has a backlit screen for easy reading. The screen also changes color based on the temperature. The probe is 6 1/2 inches long to reach into the center of a large roast and has a step-down tip for quick temperature checks, if you don’t want to leave the probe in place.

    The thermometer has preset temperatures for different types of meat, poultry, and fish, so you don’t need to look them up if you don’t remember. You can also reset the temperatures, to suit your personal preference. It also has a timer function.

    The failing point for thermometers like this is usually the probe, but this company has you covered since they will replace the probe for free if it fails.

  • 06 of 07

    If you have food in the barbecue, chances are that you’re making salad in the kitchen or fetching drinks for guests. That’s when a wireless thermometer makes sense.

    This isn’t technically an instant-read, since it does its best work when probe is left in the food in a smoker, but the remote digital readout allows you to check the temperature at a glance.

    This model has two probes, so you can monitor the temperature of the meat as well as the temperature of your smoker. You can set audible alerts...MORE to let you know if the temperature has gone above or below the set temperatures, so you won’t overcook the meat, and you’ll know if the fire has gone out. It reads a maximum temperature of 572 degrees Fahrenheit.

    This also includes a timer, and it comes with “bear claws” for lifting, holding, or shredding meats. The downside to this type of thermometer is that the probes need to be replaced occasionally, because the wires get damaged by the heat or from getting kinked and crunched. It’s a good idea to order extra probes and have them on hand.

  • 07 of 07

    For times when surface temperature is more important that internal temperature, an infrared surface thermometer is exactly what you need. It can measure the temperature of your grill grates, pizza stone, cast iron frying pan, oven walls, or check the exterior temperature of your grill to see if it’s safe to touch without mitts.

    You can also to use it to check the interior of your refrigerator or freezer, or make sure that your chilled foods are still cold.

    A visible laser light lets you target the...MORE point you want to check, and an LCD readout with a backlight makes it easy to read the results. This thermometer can read from -58 degrees Fahrenheit to 716 degrees Fahrenheit.

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