Reviews you can trust.

See why.

The Best Instant-Read Thermometers

We've recommended a Thermapen for more than a decade, but there's new competition. Is it still the best digital food and meat thermometer?

By , , and

Last Updated Sept. 1, 2023.

Update, September 2023

We tested the ThermoWorks Thermopop 2; it is our new Best Buy. Our winner remains the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE and our favorite midprice option is the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo.

See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

The ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE is our favorite instant-read thermometer and has been for years. It’s fast, accurate, and easy to use. It has all the handy extra features we like (a long folding probe, a simple backlit display that rotates depending on your orientation, and an automatic sleep mode) and none that we don’t. It’s expensive, but it’s incredibly durable and should last a long time. Our favorite midprice option is the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo. It’s a tad slower and a tiny bit less accurate than our top choice, but it still has many of the features we like in a thermometer. Finally, the best inexpensive option is the ThermoWorks ThermoPop 2. This no-frills model is quick, accurate, and dead simple to use—a bargain for the price. 

What You Need to Know

Every cook should have an instant-read thermometer. A good thermometer is a kitchen essential that takes the guesswork out of cooking and baking. It reads the internal temperature of your food quickly, letting you know exactly what’s going on in your food as it heats up and making it less likely that it’ll over- or undercook. Many of us put out our thermometers to work on a daily basis, using them to take the temperature of everything from expensive prime rib roast to simple caramel sauce

There are different types of instant-read thermometers, but we stopped evaluating old-school dial thermometers long ago—they’re slow, imprecise, and often hard to read. For quick, accurate measurements, digital models are the only way to go. 

We’ve tested dozens of digital instant-read thermometers over the years. All the models we tested have two basic parts: a metal probe that sticks into the food and a handle that houses any controls. And there can be a big difference between the best models and the worst. Here’s what we’ve learned.

What to Look For

  • Accuracy: If your thermometer is inaccurate, what's the point? We prefer models that are accurate within 1 degree of the correct temperature, no matter whether we’re temping a custard, frying oil, or a steak. 
  • Speed: The best instant-read thermometers read in just 1 to 3 seconds, allowing us to get in and check the temperature quickly, so our hands didn’t have to hover too long over a hot roast or pot of bubbling sauce or oil. 
  • Large, Simple, Rotating Displays: We like thermometers with large, easy-to-read displays that show the temperature alone in large numerals, with no unnecessary additional buttons or data to clutter the interface. We also preferred those that displayed the temperature in whole numbers rather than decimal points, which we found distracting; after all, it doesn't matter if your steak is cooked...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
accolades badge

Reviews you can trust

Reviews you can trust

The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.