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Best Instant Read Thermometer For Smoking

If you like smoking meat, an instant read thermometer is an essential tool to avoid undercooked or overcooked meat. A thermometer checks the internal temperature of your meat so it reaches a food-safe temperature without overcooking. The best instant read meat thermometers are easy to read, simple to use, extremely accurate, and affordable. To use an instant read thermometer, you simply stick the probe into the center of your meat and wait a few seconds for a reading. Even if you have years of experience grilling or smoking, the best way to deliver perfectly smoked meat every time is by using an instant read digital thermometer.

After testing over 30 instant read meat thermometers on my Masterbuilt 560 smoker, the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE and the Javelin Pro Duo are the best. They have a super fast read time and a high-resolution display that’s easy to read, lights up, and rotates so you can check your meat from multiple angles. They also has an extremely high level of accuracy so you can trust your meat is always at the correct temperature.

Every cook needs a high-quality instant-read thermometer to ensure their smoked meat turns out perfectly. Even if you only use your smoker once or twice a year, an instant read meat thermometer can also be used for grilling, deep-frying, poaching, pan-frying, and baking meat.

The Best Instant Read Thermometers For Smoking

I tested over 30 instant read thermometers specifically for smoking, and these were the very best.

The Best Instant Read Thermometers For Smoking: ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE & Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo: These are thetwo best thermometers I tested. Both have fantastic read times, are extremely accurate, easy to use and have great displays. The Thermapen is faster but costs almost twice as much, so for the money the Javelin Pro Duo is a better buy.

Most Waterproof Instant Read Thermometer: Maverick-55: This is a great instant read thermometer that’s fast, accurate, versatile and fully waterproof.

The Best Budget Meat Thermometer: Lavatools Javelin: This was one of the best all around meat thermometers I tested for only $27.

Best Grips: ThermoPro Lightning Instant Read Thermometer: This thermometer has anti-slip grips that are great if you grill with wet hands or gloves.

Best Looking: OXO Good Grips Thermocouple Thermometer: This was the best looking thermometer I tested and also one of the best performing. It’s equal to the Thermapen ONE and Javelin Pro Duo, but costs $87, which is hard to justify considering it doesn’t do anything better than the other two other than look good.

Great For The Money: ThermoPro TP19 Digital Meat Thermometer: This was a fantastic performer consider it only costs $30.

Scroll down for an in depth review of each thermometer along with lots of information about using an instant read meat thermometer for smoking.

Best Instant Read Thermometer -ThermaPen ONE 1.0

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Best Instant Read Thermometer For Smoking: ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE

I’ve been using the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE for several weeks, and it’s the best instant read meat thermometer I’ve tested. The Thermapen is ultra-fast, delivering readings in a remarkable one-second and to-the-degree accurate, which makes it a fantastic choice if you’re serious about smoking the best meat. Its accuracy guarantees temperature measurements within ±0.5°F (±0.3°C) in the range of 4 to 248°F, ensuring perfectly cooked smoked meat. However, it’s very expensive at over $100 with shipping and tax.

If you’re a serious chef that smokes all the time, it’s worth the money. Otherwise I’d go with the Javelin Pro Duo which is just as good at about half the price.

The ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE instant read thermometer is buttonless and completely automatic. It powers on when you pull out the probe, and the backlit and rotating screen is motion-activated.

Because it’s incredibly accurate, fast, and easy to use with a fold-out to power-on function and easy-to-read display, it’s no surprise that many professional chefs use this thermometer.

Best of all, for smoking, the probe is really long, which makes it ideal for thick cuts of meat.

The only downside to the ThermaPen is the price. But if you’re serious about smoking and want the best, this is the thermometer you should use.


  • Exceptional accuracy and rapid read times: Achieve precise temperature measurements within ±0.5°F in just one second when you’re working with a loaded grill.
  • Large, auto-rotating LCD display: The 1 H x 1.54 W inch screen ensures clear visibility regardless of the time, lighting, or viewing angle.
  • Durability and warranty: Its robust casing meets the IP67 waterproof standard, proving its resilience against accidental knocks. Plus, ThermoWorks offers a reassuring five-year warranty.


  • Price: Reflecting its professional-grade quality, the ONE demands a premium for its robust build, precision, and speed.

Currently, the ONE is available in red, with more colors arriving soon.


  • Price at time of publishing: $99
  • Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 0.74 inches
  • Temperature range: – 58.0°F to 572.0°F
  • Waterproof: Yes

Opting for the cheaper ThermoPop isn’t a bad choice for budget-conscious cooks. However, for serious grillers, barbecue enthusiasts, and meat smokers, the ONE justifies every penny with its outstanding performance.

Best Instant Read Thermometer - Javelin Pro Duo 1.0

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Best Instant Read Thermometer For Smoking: Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo

I liked the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Digital Instant Read Thermometer because it’s user-friendly with an excellent blue backlit display. The clear readability, speed, and accuracy are all fantastic for the money. Although the Javelin’s time to reach temperature was slightly longer than the Thermapen ONE, it’s an upgrade over other models from the same brand and not so long that it becomes a hassle to use.

  • Despite the slight delay, the thermometer has a near-perfect accuracy within just one degree, so the meat always came out just how I wanted it in all my tests.
  • It’s remarkably accurate, boasting a temperature read precision of +/- 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit and a response time of roughly 4 seconds.
  • Its battery life is good, with a respectable 4,000-hour lifespan before needing new batteries.

I really like the 4.5-inch probe because it’s long enough to reach the center of fat cuts of meat, which is a big plus when smoking a brisket. It also has a tapered design ensuring only minimal puncture in the meat. This is a nice touch that doesn’t drain the meat of juices if you have to make a few punctures.

The probe is coated with a silver-ion antimicrobial layer, inhibiting bacterial growth on its surface. This isn’t that important to me because I always wash my tools as soon as I use them, but this could be a big plus for some cooks.

The Javelin has a magnetized cover that’s also foldable which makes storage super easy. I usually fold mine up and stick it on the knife rack.

With a temperature range of -40 to 482°F, the Javelin has more than enough range for meat smoking, barbecue, grilling, and any other way you can cook meat.


The thermometer’s extensive temperature range makes it adaptable for various culinary tasks.

  • Cost-effectiveness: At a remarkably reasonable price, this reliable, super-fast thermometer offers accuracy to +/- 0.9°F.
  • Splashproof construction: The Javelin’s splashproof design is a must-have if you cook with lots of sauces.
  • Speed: It’s extremely accurate with a temperature read precision of +/- 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit and a response time of roughly 4 seconds.


  • None: I couldn’t find any cons when testing the Javelin Pro Duo. It’s a little slower than the Thermapen ONE but it was never an issue because it’s still very fast and extremely accurate.

Despite a few areas where the Javelin slightly lags behind the Thermapen, it’s still an excellent instant-read thermometer for anything but the thickest cuts.


  • Price at time of publish: $56
  • Dimensions: 4.3 x 4.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Temperature range: -40°F to 482°F
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant

The Lavatools Javelin Pro was accurate and almost as fast as the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE. It had a large screen with easy-to-read sharp digits and a great automatic backlight. It also could hold its temperature reading once taken, which can come in handy. At about half the cost of the Thermapen ONE, it’s definitely worth the money.

Best Instant Read Thermometer - Maverick-55 1.0

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Best Waterproof Instant Read Thermometer: Maverick-55

The Maverick PT-55  is the best waterproof digital probe thermometer for smoking. It has a fast 4-second response time, a fairly long probe, and can withstand up to 572° Fahrenheit, which are all great features to have if you’re smoking meat. The display is large and backlit which makes it easy to read in low-light conditions. And you can measure the temperature of meat in both Fahrenheit & Celsius.

The thermometer is waterproof & has a variety of special features, including an automatic shutdown mechanism, and fold-up probe for easy storage.

  • Display: The Maverick PT-55 waterproof digital probe thermometer is an instant-read thermometer with an easy-to-read display.
  • Foldable: the Maverick PT-55  is foldable so it’s very easy to store.
  • Waterproof: This meat thermometer is fully waterproof, so it can withstand water, sauces, and meat drippings.
  • Heat resistance: The temperature probe can withstand temperatures up to 572 degrees Fahrenheit which is more than enough for meat smoking.
  • Variety: This Maverick thermometer has a variety of features, including an easy-to-use power button, auto shutdown, and a backlit display for smoking meat in low light.

I really like cooking with this thermometer. At around $40, it was priced right for a fully waterproof instant read thermometer and had all the features I needed. The response time is fast, it’s accurate, and can withstand high levels of heat. I also like that it folds up for easy storage. It’s not the best thermometer I tested, but it performs well and is worth a look if you want something fully waterproof.

Best Instant Read Thermometer - Javelin 1.0

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Best Budget Meat Thermometer: Lavatools Javelin

The Javelin is extremely accurate with a temperature read accuracy of +/- 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit and can deliver a reading in around 4 seconds. That’s fast enough for use in a smoker but not as fast as the best instant read thermometers. However, it’s not backlit which makes smoking at night more difficult and it lacks a rotating display so it’s harder to use on large cuts of meat. But for around $25 at the time I tested it, this thermometer’s speed and accuracy make it well worth the money.

The Javelin boasts a -40 to 482°F temperature range which isn’t as wide as the ThermoPop’s range, but still more than enough for smoking meat. And I can’t think of any meats that need to get hotter internally than 482°F.

  • The battery life is very good and should last around 4,000 hours before it needs to be replaced.
  • What I don’t like is that the probe is a little short, which means it might not get to the middle of thicker cuts of meat. This isn’t a problem when grilling but can be an issue for smoking large cuts, which I like to do.
  • The probe has a tapered design so the puncture is minimal to help keep juices inside the meat.
  • The probe is coated with a silver-ion antimicrobial coating that helps prevent bacterial growth. I wash my equipment after every use so this isn’t that big a factor for me.

The thermometer’s housing is magnetic, so you can stock it to metal, and it folds closed for easy storage. These are both nice features because the thermometer is easy to store. I fold mine up and stick it to my knife rack. I like this design better than the case that comes with the ThermoPop 2.


  • Value: A top-notch instant read meat thermometer that’s accurate to +/- 0.9°F at an affordable price.
  • Splashproof: A splashproof thermometer is very important for smoking if you use sauces like I do.


  • Screen: There’s no rotating backlit screen. This doesn’t bother me because I don’t smoke that much at night, but if you do, I’d use the Thermopop instead.
  • Short Probe: This is a big issue for smoking meat if you like thick cuts. The probe is just too short to penetrate really large cuts of meat which is what I like to smoke.

While I really like the Javelin because it’s cheap, accurate, and fast, the probe is too short to use on really thick cuts of meat, which is what I like to smoke. I’d only use it for smoking small to medium size cuts or grilling.

Best Instant Read Thermometer - Lightning 1.0

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Best Grips: ThermoPro Lightning Instant Read Thermometer

ThermoPro Lighting is a “lightning fast” instant-read thermometer with the ability to read meat temperature in less than a second. It has some great advanced features, a sleek design, and a reasonable price tag compared to similar instant read meat thermometers on the market. But what makes it stand out is it’s sleek design, bright red 180° rotating display that’s easy to read in any light, and high-quality anti-slip grips,

The Anti-Slip Grip is the feature I like most because it’s something other instant read thermometers don’t have. I don’t use sauces until the meat is basically done and ready to serve, but at that point, your hands/gloves can get slippery. The anti-slip grip makes the probe easy to hold whether my hands were clean or covered in brisket drippings.

A rotating display is really nice when you’re smoking so you can probe the meat from different angles. This is a great feature if you smoke thick cuts of meat.

The Smart Sleep/Wake Mode detects motion and turns the thermometer on as soon as you pick it up, then shuts it down automatically after 90 seconds of inactivity, even if the probe is still extended. This is a cool feature that I like more than I thought I would and it can save some battery life if you forget to turn off the thermometer.


  • Sleek Design
  • Good value considering the features
  • Anti-Slip Grip
  • 180° Rotating Display
  • Fast Response Time
  • Automatic Shut Off Feature
  • Accuracy


  • Slower response time when probing large cuts of meat which is what I like to smoke


  • Temperature Read Time: <1 second
  • Improved Accuracy: ± 0.5°F (± 0.3°C)
  • 180° Ambidextrous Rotating Display
  • Large 2” Backlight Display Screen
  • Smart Sleep/Wake Mode
  • IP65 Waterproof
  • Hanging Mount + Built-in Magnet
  • Anti-Slip Grip
  • Battery included
  • 10 Year Warranty

This a really nice instant read meat thermometer for smoking with a super fast read time and a great design. But what I really like is the rotating display and anti-slip grips, which is why it’s on my list. Getting a similar read time on a meat thermometer that’s about 2/3 the price of a Thermapen is very impressive. If you’re looking to save a little money on an instant read thermometer, ThermoPro Lightning is definitely worth a look.

Best Instant Read Thermometer -OXO 1.0

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Best Looking: OXO Good Grips Thermocouple Thermometer

The OXO Good Grips Thermocouple Instant Read thermometer offers professional-grade results with at-home ease. It provides temperature readings in 2-3 seconds with an accuracy of 0.9°F, so your smoked meat will always turn out perfectly. The Thermometer is very easy to use with a probe that rotates automatically and an easy to read backlit screen.

The thermocouple tip means you don’t have to insert the probe very far in to get a quick and accurate reading, and the fully rotating probe and screen mean you can use it at any angle, whether you’re right or left-handed. This is a big plus when you use it for smoking large cuts that may need readings from multiple angles.

It’s easy to change between °F and °C settings, and 1° or 1.0° resolution, and the waterproof body is easy to clean. And in my opinion it’s the best looking thermometer on my list.


  • Speed & Accuracy: Provides temperature readings in 2-3 seconds with an accuracy of 0.9°F
  • Versatility: 225° rotating probe and automatic screen rotation which is great for smoking thick cuts
  • Durability: Waterproof body is easy to clean and safe to use around sauces and dripping meat
  • Options: Customizable between °F and °C settings, and 1° or 1.0° resolution
  • Range: Registers temperatures between -58 F to 572 F (-50 C to 300 C)


  • High-cost: This device ranks as one of the priciest instant-read thermometers I tested at $87 .

This is one of my favorite instant read thermometers that I tested, but it sits at an odd price between my two favorites, the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE at $99 and the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo at $56. All three are top notch thermometers, but the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE is the fastest, the Javelin PRO Duo is the best deal, and the OXO is the best looking. Other than that they all perform extremely well in all my tests.

Best Instant Read Thermometer - ThermoPro 1.0

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Great For The Money: ThermoPro TP19 Digital Meat Thermometer

The ThermoPro TP19 Digital Meat Thermometer showcases impressive specifications, standing out in its field with its rapid read time of just 2-3 seconds and boasting an exceptional accuracy within ±0.9 degrees Fahrenheit. This precision is essential when smoking meats to ensure both perfect doneness and food safety.

The device is designed with a user-friendly LCD screen that intuitively illuminates as soon as you unfold the probe.

  • A light-up display not only enhances visibility under any light condition but also simplifies the overall user experience, making it extremely accessible even for those new to digital meat thermometers.
  • It’s a nice feature if you smoke meat during the night which is common since some meats require a 24 hour smoke time.

The ThermoPro TP19 also exhibits energy efficiency.

  • It’s programmed to enter sleep mode after 90 seconds of inactivity, preserving battery life over time.
  • The device will also go into sleep mode if you fold the probe back into its storage position. This smart design contributes to the thermometer’s longevity and ensures it’s ready to use whenever you need it.

The ThermoPro TP19 Digital Meat Thermometer presents a blend of speedy performance, excellent accuracy, intuitive design, and energy efficiency, making it a noteworthy consideration for anyone who smokes meat.


  • Value for Money: When it comes to features, the TP19 closely matches the best thermometers I tested but at a much lower cost. The construction quality may not be the best, but the TP-19’s performance is commendable and worth a look if you’re on a budget.
  • Fully Waterproof: The convenience of washing the probe under running water is a significant advantage. Plus, there’s no need to fret about accidental splashes or exposure to rain.


  • Read Time: The read time of this thermometer doesn’t quite reach the speed of some of the top-performing thermometers we’ve evaluated.
  • Build Quality: The overall construction feels a bit cheap which isn’t a surprise for an instant read meat thermometer of this price.

Best Instant Read Thermometer 1.0

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Instant Read Thermometer for Smoking

There are several factors I considered when I tested over 30 instant read thermometers for smoking meat. Things like appearance, speed, durability, the display, accuracy and price were all important factors to me. Some things like speed and accuracy were more important than appearances because they effect the quality of the meat.


The display quality of an instant-read thermometer is an important consideration. Some thermometers feature rotating displays, which greatly facilitate temperature readings when the thermometer is held at unusual angles or positions. This can be very helpful when smoking large cuts of meat because you make have to probe it from different angles. It also significantly aids left-handed individuals, making it more user-friendly and accessible.

  • The contrast of the display can greatly impact readability. During our evaluation, we carefully assessed the contrast levels of various thermometer displays. If the contrast is too low, distinguishing the temperature readings can become strenuous, leading to potential inaccuracies or inefficiencies in cooking.
  • Consider thermometers that feature backlit displays or larger digit sizes. Backlit displays can be particularly useful in low light conditions such as evening barbecues or dimly lit kitchens, while larger digit sizes are easier to read.

When selecting an instant-read thermometer, consider one with user-friendly features such as rotating, backlighting, and high-contrast displays to ensure maximum visibility and ease of use, regardless of your cooking circumstances.

Temperature Range

The versatility of a thermometer for smoking meat hinges on its temperature range. Smoking involves slow cooking at lower temperatures, typically ranging from 200°F to 275°F, over several hours to achieve tender, flavorful meat. But, it’s also crucial that the thermometer can measure higher temperatures, as some smoking techniques or recipes may require them.

  • An instant read thermometer for smoking should accurately measure the internal temperature of the meat to ensure its cooked to the correct level of doneness and food safety standards. For instance, poultry needs to reach an internal temperature of 165°F, while a brisket might be smoked until it reaches an internal temperature of 200°F for optimum tenderness.
  • When smoking different types of meats simultaneously, a wide-ranging thermometer can accommodate varied temperature requirements. For instance, fish and poultry smoke best at different temperatures.

A versatile instant-read thermometer should feature an extensive temperature range that can accurately measure both the lower temperatures required for smoking and the higher internal temperatures required for different types of meats. This broad temperature scope ensures the thermometer is suitable for a range of smoking conditions and culinary tasks, allowing for perfect and safe results every time.

Water Resistance

Cooking often places you near water sources like sinks, or involve the use of liquid ingredients, so the water resistance of a thermometer is important to its durability. This can be a factor when smoking meat if you use marinades and sauces, or are worried about natural meat juices potentially damaging a non-resistant device.

  • When smoking meat, the thermometer can also be exposed to outdoor weather conditions or the humid environment inside the smoker. A water-resistant or waterproof thermometer is better equipped to handle a variety of conditions.
  • Many of the thermometers in our selection come with either water-resistant or waterproof features. These models are designed to handle the challenges of a varied cooking landscape, including the low and slow method of smoking meat, where the thermometer is frequently exposed to moisture over extended periods.

Choosing a water-resistant or waterproof thermometer for smoking meat ensures your tool remains accurate and functional, making it a smart long-term investment for any pitmaster or barbecue enthusiast.

Special Features

When it comes to instant-read thermometers, especially for smoking meat, certain design aspects and unique features can make a device stand out. The most important thing to consider is the design of the probe: some thermometers offer a stationary probe, while others feature a fold-out design. And probes come in different lengths. For smoking large cuts of meat, you need a longer probe than when grilling steaks, chicken or fish.

  • For smoking meat, a fold-out probe design is my favorite. Fold-out probes usually activate the thermometer which eliminates the need for extra buttons. This feature is particularly handy when managing multiple tasks at once.
  • Fold-out probes often come with automatic shut-off functions. This feature is invaluable for preserving battery life, which is essential for long smoking sessions that can span hours or even the entire day.
  • Fold-out probes offer better protection when not in use, reducing the risk of accidental damage to the probe, which is the most critical part of the thermometer. This ensures the longevity and reliability of the device, making it a valuable tool for any serious pitmaster or smoker enthusiast.

The type and length of an instant read thermometer’s probe is very important to consider for smoking meat. Choose a device with a long enough probe to reach the center of the meat you’re smoking or the thermometer won’t be as accurate. The result could be under or overcooked meat.

Probe Type

The nature of the probe used in a thermometer plays a pivotal role in the speed and accuracy of temperature readings. The two main types used in culinary thermometers are thermocouple probes and thermistor type probes.

Thermocouple Probes: Renowned for their quick and precise readings, thermocouple probes operate using two small wires located at the probe tip. The heat induces a voltage difference across the metallic tips, which a meter then interprets to calculate the temperature. Due to their rapid response time and high accuracy, thermocouple probes are commonly employed in professional kitchens and food industries.

One example is the Thermapen ONE, which utilizes a thermocouple probe. It has gained a reputation for being a highly accurate thermometer, making it a popular choice among culinary professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Thermistor Type Probes: These probes, while not as efficient in delivering quick temperature readings, are still widely used. They work based on the principle that a material’s electrical resistance changes with temperature. As a result, they tend to have a slightly larger margin of error compared to thermocouple probes, making them slightly less accurate for instant readings.

However, they’re typically more affordable and can still provide reliable readings, making them suitable for home kitchens and casual cooking.

While both types of probes have their own set of strengths and weaknesses, thermocouple probes stand out when it comes to rapid and highly precise temperature readings. However, thermistor type probes still provide a viable option for those who prioritize affordability and are willing to trade off a bit of speed and precision.

Accuracy and Precision

Trust in your tools is vital when smoking meat. Without reliable readings from your instant read thermometer, your meat could turn out overcooked or undercooked. This could potentially lead to food safety issues.

  • The good news is that even budget-friendly thermometers, such as the Lavatools Javelin mentioned earlier, can deliver accurate readings. These thermometers can provide temperature readings with an accuracy of +/- 0.9°F, which is sufficient for smoking.
  • This level of precision allows you to smoke with confidence, knowing that your food will reach its optimal temperature for both taste and safety.

Remember, accuracy and precision in a thermometer are necessities that contribute to better tasting meals and meat that’s cooked well enough to eat. Even if you’re on a budget, options like the Lavatools Javelin mean your smoked meats will reach the perfect temperature every time.

Speed of Temperature Reading

The speed of temperature readings is a crucial feature of any instant-read thermometer. Any device that takes more than a few seconds to provide a temperature reading may end up being more of a hindrance than a help for smoking.

  • The primary reason for this is practicality. When you’re smoking meat, you don’t want to keep the smoker open for too long as you wait for a thermometer reading. It’s not just about heat loss, which can affect the cooking process, but also about your safety and comfort.
  • When taking a temperature reading, you’re often required to lean into or reach over a hot area to insert the thermometer probe into the meat. The quicker you can secure an accurate reading, the less time you’ll have to spend in uncomfortably close proximity to high heat.

A thermometer that provides swift readings streamlines the cooking process and enhances your comfort and safety while cooking.


An instant read thermometer is compact and easy to use. You simply stick the probe into the meat and wait for a reading. The best thermometers have longer probes, faster results, and more accurate readings. In general, the better the thermometer the higher the price. But most of the devices in my tests were really good but less expensive than top of the line models.

  • Therefore, there’s no need to spend a fortune for a reliable meat thermometer. You can find cost-effective options that perform efficiently without breaking the bank.

A good instant-read thermometer doesn’t have to be expensive. Affordable options exist that deliver reliable results, proving you don’t have to compromise quality for cost. It’s a case of practical value for money, where spending wisely can yield a tool that elevates your cooking experience without a hefty price tag.

Temperature Range

When you’re purchasing an instant-read thermometer specifically for smoking, it’s important to consider the temperature range it can measure. If you plan on using the thermometer solely for checking meat temperatures, a model with a range of 32°F to 392°F should suffice. Most meat smoking is done on a relatively low temperature for long periods of time. But some recipes require a higher temperature, so buying one with a wide range.

  • A high quality instant read thermometer can check a variety of items, not just meat. Whether it’s ensuring your homemade bread has baked through or checking the temperature of home-brewed beer, your instant-read thermometer can be used for all sorts of cooking.
  • If you like to experiment and get creative in the kitchen, a thermometer with a wider temperature range is essential. From checking the temperature of sugar for candy making, which can exceed 392°F, to verifying the temperature of ice cream mixture before churning, a broad temperature range allows you to explore an array of cooking techniques and recipes with confidence.

While you may initially purchase your thermometer with meat smoking, its versatility may come in handy for all sorts of cooking. Opting for a model with a wider temperature range can be a better return on your investment because you can use it for multiple tasks.

Best Instant Read Thermometer 2.0

The Tests

Even though I tested each instant read thermometer specifically for smoking meat, I performed a variety of tests to see how good each device was.

  • Sous Vide Bath: I used a sous vide water bath to test how quickly and accurately each thermometer is in a controlled-temperature environment.
  • Boiling Water: I measured a rolling boil of water (212℉) to measure how accurate and fast each thermometer is.
  • Brisket: I smoked a thick brisket to see how good each thermometer performed when the cuts were thick.

The first thing I wanted to test was accuracy, speed, and the probe length. These are the three most important factors to consider for smoking meat. I started by testing in a pot of water because it’s easier to control than a smoker.

But no matter how a thermometer does in water, it still has to perform when probing thick cuts in my smoker, so I ended the testing on a fat brisket.

My last test was during a 24-hour brisket smoke. I started probing the meat around 150°F internally and found that the response time was a little slower compared to the water test. However, the thermometers on my list all responded quickly and accurately.

I also tested other things like being waterproof, appearance, durability, overall design and backlighting which are important too, but in my opinion less crucial factors because they don’t effect the meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions that can help you choose the best instant read thermometers specifically for smoking.

How Do You Use an Instant Read Thermometer for Smoking Meat?

When using an instant-read thermometer, locating the thickest part of the food – particularly crucial with meat – is the first step. You should insert the thermometer about 1-2 inches into the food. If you’re cooking bone-in proteins, it’s vital to avoid touching the bone with the thermometer. This is because the bone conducts heat differently and might lead to a misleading temperature reading.

A typical instant-read thermometer should provide an accurate temperature reading within 10-20 seconds. It’s important to note that these thermometers are not designed to stay in the oven during the entire cooking process. They are meant to quickly gauge the temperature and should be removed promptly once the reading has been taken. Leaving them in the oven could potentially damage their sensitive components.

Moreover, for an accurate reading, make sure to place the thermometer into the food after it’s been removed from the heat source. This prevents the surrounding heat from influencing the thermometer’s reading. It’s also beneficial to take readings from multiple points, especially for larger cuts of meat, to ensure the entire piece is cooked evenly. Remember to clean your thermometer thoroughly after each use to maintain its precision and hygiene.

What are The Different Type of Instant Read Thermometers for Smoking Meat?

Probe thermometers work by inserting their sensor into the food. This type is particularly useful for internal temperature readings, essential for checking whether meat or poultry is thoroughly cooked. The use of a probe thermometer necessitates careful cleaning after each use to prevent cross-contamination and to maintain its accuracy.

On the other hand, infrared thermometers, also known as non-contact or laser thermometers, measure temperature from a distance. They function by detecting the infrared energy emitted by the food’s surface, eliminating the need for physical contact. This makes infrared thermometers more hygienic and easier to clean, as they don’t directly interact with the food. They are ideal for tasks like checking the surface temperature of a griddle, grill, or pizza stone.

While both types of thermometers have their distinct advantages, choosing the right one depends on your specific cooking needs. For most home cooks, a probe-style thermometer will serve their needs for precision and safety. But for certain tasks and ease of cleaning, an infrared thermometer may be a valuable addition to the kitchen toolkit.

How do you maintain an instant-read thermometer?

Most instant-read thermometers are designed to be low maintenance and rarely require calibration. If calibration is necessary, each manufacturer typically provides specific instructions for their models. Some even boast self-calibrating models that automatically adjust for accuracy.

Nonetheless, if you wish to perform a routine accuracy check, you can easily do so by measuring the temperature of boiling water, which should read 212℉ (or 100℃ if you’re using the Celsius scale), and ice water, which should register at 32℉ (or 0℃). These checks can assure you that your thermometer is accurate within a typical cooking range.

As for upkeep, the cleaning process for most thermometers is straightforward and crucial for hygiene. You should wash the metal probe with hot soapy water to sanitize it after each use. Ensure the thermometer is thoroughly dried before storing to prevent any moisture damage or bacterial growth.

Also, try to avoid immersing the thermometer entirely in water, especially if it isn’t waterproof, as this could damage the electronic components. For best results, refer to the care instructions provided by the manufacturer, as some may specify certain cleaning methods over others.

Should you use an instant-read thermometer for smoking meat?

Using an instant-read thermometer for smoking meat is highly recommended due to its precision and speed. The unique cooking process of smoking, which involves low and slow temperatures, necessitates accurate temperature readings to ensure the meat is cooked to perfection and safe to consume.

An instant-read thermometer offers fast and reliable temperature readings, enabling you to monitor the internal temperature of the meat without having to leave the thermometer in throughout the cooking process. This eliminates the risk of damaging the thermometer due to prolonged exposure to heat and smoke.

Moreover, smoking often involves larger cuts of meat where uniform cooking might be challenging. An instant-read thermometer can assist in checking various parts of the meat for consistent doneness.

However, keep in mind that the lid of the smoker should be opened as briefly as possible to maintain the cooking environment. Hence, the speed of an instant-read thermometer is of great benefit in this scenario.

An instant-read thermometer is a valuable tool for smoking meat, as it ensures optimal cooking results and food safety with its precise and rapid temperature readings.

Best Instant Read Thermometer 3.0

Instant Read Meat Thermometers for Smoking

Instant read meat thermometers are useful tools for both smoking and grilling; however, their application varies in these two methods due to fundamental differences in cooking techniques and goals. Smoking involves low-temperature, slow cooking over an extended period, typically many hours, even up to a whole day for larger cuts of meat. This process helps to break down connective tissue, tenderizing tougher cuts of meat and imparting deep, smoky flavors.

  • An instant read thermometer is essential in smoking because it allows the chef to monitor the internal temperature of the meat accurately without opening the smoker frequently, which could result in significant heat loss and disrupt the slow, steady cooking process.
  • On the other hand, grilling is a high-temperature, quick cooking method. It’s used to achieve a seared, flavorful crust on the exterior of the meat while ensuring it’s cooked to the desired doneness on the inside.
  • Using an instant read meat thermometer in grilling helps prevent overcooking or undercooking, leading to safer and more consistent results.

Additionally, smoking often involves maintaining a consistent temperature over a long period, so it’s crucial to monitor the smoker or grill’s temperature as well. Meanwhile, in grilling, the focus is primarily on the meat’s internal temperature, given the rapid cooking time.

While the use of an instant read meat thermometer is important in both scenarios, its function and the data it provides are used differently based on the cooking method and objectives.

How Instant Read Thermometers Work for Meat Smoking

Instant-read thermometers are an essential tool for accurately determining the temperature of smoked meat, ensuring it’s properly cooked for both taste and safety.

These thermometers work by using a probe with a temperature sensor at its tip. The probe is inserted into the meat, and within a few seconds (hence the term ‘instant-read’), the device provides an accurate temperature reading on its digital or analog display.

In the context of smoking meat, which is typically a slow and prolonged process, the instant-read thermometer plays a crucial role in identifying when the meat has reached the optimal internal temperature. This ensures that the meat is perfectly cooked and safe to eat.

Here’s a quick rundown of the process:

  • Inserting the Probe: When you think your meat might be near completion, insert the thermometer’s probe into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding any bones as they can give an inaccurate reading.
  • Reading the Temperature: The thermometer will quickly display the internal temperature of the meat. The speed at which this occurs can vary, but most instant-read thermometers provide a result within 2-3 seconds.
  • Comparing to Target Temperature: Compare this reading to the target temperature for the type of meat you’re smoking. Different meats require different internal temperatures to be considered safe and optimally cooked.
  • Determining Doneness: If your meat hasn’t reached the target temperature, continue smoking and check again later. If it has, your meat is done and ready to rest before serving.

An instant-read thermometer eliminates guesswork and ensures consistency in your smoking process, resulting in delicious and safe meat every time. It’s a tool that brings science into your smoking process, bridging the gap between art and precision in the pursuit of perfect smoked meat.

Why You Need an Instant Read Thermometer for Smoke Meat

While a leave-in thermometer may appear sufficient for your cooking needs, especially during long smoking sessions, the utility of an instant-read meat thermometer shouldn’t be underestimated. It proves to be an indispensable tool in various cooking scenarios. Even if you primarily smoke meat low and slow, there will inevitably be times when you’ll grill thinner cuts, like steaks. Leave-in thermometers don’t excel here due to their slower temperature readings, whereas instant-read thermometers offer quicker, precise readings, crucial for perfecting these cuts.

  • When simultaneously cooking multiple items, an instant-read thermometer becomes a crucial assistant. As all grills have hot spots, different items finish cooking at different times. Quick temperature checks of each item using an instant-read thermometer ensure you serve each dish at its ideal doneness.
  • From a safety standpoint, these thermometers are critical too. They allow you to confidently serve your food, knowing it has reached a safe internal temperature.

A quality instant-read thermometer typically provides accurate readings within 3 to 4 seconds, making it an invaluable tool for achieving cooking perfection. Its utility extends beyond smoking, proving essential in a broad spectrum of cooking situations.

Instant Read vs Leave in Style Probe Thermometers

When it comes to smoking meat, both instant-read and leave-in style probe thermometers offer their unique advantages, but they serve distinct roles in the process.

Instant-Read Thermometers: These are designed to provide quick and accurate temperature readings within a few seconds. They’re especially useful when you need to check the temperature of several different pieces of meat simultaneously, or when grilling thinner cuts.

The quick read time ensures you can promptly assess the doneness of each item, promoting perfectly cooked results. Their portability also makes them convenient for spot-checking a variety of foods across different cooking methods, not just smoking.

Leave-In Style Probe Thermometers: These thermometers are ideal for extended, slow-cooking processes like smoking. You insert the probe into the meat and leave it there throughout the cooking process. They often feature wires leading to a digital monitor, or even wireless connectivity, allowing you to constantly monitor the temperature without opening the smoker and losing heat.

Continual monitoring is particularly useful for larger cuts of meat where reaching the correct internal temperature is critical for both flavor and safety.

The choice between an instant-read and a leave-in style probe thermometer often depends on the cooking scenario.

  • Instant-read thermometers are great for quick, accurate temperature checks across a range of items.
  • Leave-in style probe thermometers excel at long-term monitoring for slow-cooking processes.

Many seasoned cooks find value in having both types on hand for the versatility they offer in different cooking situations.

Summary: Best Instant Read Thermometer For Smoking

If you like smoking meat, an instant read thermometer is an essential tool to avoid undercooked or overcooked meat. A thermometer checks the internal temperature of your meat so it reaches a food-safe temperature without overcooking. The best instant read meat thermometers are easy to read, simple to use, extremely accurate, and affordable. To use an instant read thermometer, you simply stick the probe into the center of your meat and wait a few seconds for a reading. Even if you have years of experience grilling or smoking, the best way to deliver perfectly smoked meat every time is by using an instant read digital thermometer.

After testing over 30 instant read meat thermometers on my Masterbuilt 560 smoker, the ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE and the Javelin Pro Duo are the best. They have a super fast read time and a high-resolution display that’s easy to read, lights up, and rotates so you can check your meat from multiple angles. They also has an extremely high level of accuracy so you can trust your meat is always at the correct temperature.

Every cook needs a high-quality instant-read thermometer to ensure their smoked meat turns out perfectly. Even if you only use your smoker once or twice a year, an instant read meat thermometer can also be used for grilling, deep-frying, poaching, pan-frying, and baking meat.

If you have any questions or comments about the best instant read thermometers for smoking meat, email any time.

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