The best meat thermometers are slightly misnamed – meat may be their key use, but they are really the best cooking thermometers and very handy for baking, as well as cooking fish and even certain vegetables. With summer upon us, they really come into their own when grilling away on your trusty barbecue, ensuring you get delicious food instead of not-so-delicious food poisoning.
Cooking thermometers come in two varieties: the classic thermometer and the smart thermometer. Both show you the internal temperature of your meal, but the latter shows you on a phone app, via Bluetooth and can also tell you when it's cooked to perfection and ready to come out to rest and/or be eaten. We've got the best examples of both to choose from, coming right up.
The best meat thermometers to buy
Pick up the Thermapen One and fold out its sharp, slimline probe and you can see it means business. The screen turns on as you begin to use it, and will change orientation seamlessly, and very handily, as you move from holding it horizontally or vertically. The probe goes effortlessly into anything from the biggest joints of meat to the most sumptuous of cakes – although do give it a wipe in between doing those two things as it would be rather unhygienic otherwise.
Speaking of giving it a wipe, the Thermapen One is fully sealed and watertight, which makes it easy to clean. Most importantly, it takes temperature readings in well under a second. The Thermapen range is widely used by professional and enthusiastic amateur cooks and the Thermapen One is the current state of the art in cooking thermometers of the non-smart variety.
Salter is a well-known kitchenware brand with a long-established history of meeting cook’s needs. This Bluetooth thermometer is no exception. Its stylish and compact white ABS plastic body looks every inch the kitchen accessory, and includes two separate ports for connecting the stainless probes supplied – one for food temperature; and one for ambient oven temperature. Designed for temperatures ranging from -25 to 250-degrees C, it also includes a magnet on the back so you can easily attach it to your oven, cooker or barbecue.
Team the Salter Cook with your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth and you’ll soon see how well thought out this device is. The free Salter Cook app (for iOS and Android) is slick, easy to use and comes with a range of built-in recipes with easy-to-follow instructions and colourful pictures to inspire you. And you can easily add recipes from BBC Good Food, All Recipes and the Food Network, or manually enter your own.
Choose a recipe, and the app will automatically set the right temperature and cooking time for you, with LED lights by each port on the thermometer also lighting up when the food or your oven reaches the right level. The Salter Cook app also includes separate temperature and timer options. And if you team it with the Salter Cook scale (available separately) you’ll also be able to use it to weigh your ingredients.
The UK-designed Meater is a stylish cooking thermometer that not only looks fantastic, but is super-easy to set up and use, too. Its stainless steel probe is equipped with two sensors – one to monitor the temperature of what you’re cooking, and a second to keep tabs on the ambient temperature. Both are easily monitored using the free Meater app for iOS and Android, which also contains a Smart Guided Cook to help you with the cooking process.
The second part of the Meater system is the Charger, which resembles a wooden knife block. Powered itself by a AAA battery and with a magnet for easy attachment to metal surfaces, the Charger not only provides a stylish home for the Probe, but also juices up that device’s internal battery, which lasts for up to 24 hours between recharges.
Anything else? While Bluetooth 4.0 has a theoretical maximum range of 10 metres; you can extend the wireless range of the Meater by teaming it with the optional Meater Link WiFi and Meater Cloud.
Those who want to keep their BBQs fully locked down will be glad to know there's also a 4-probe boxset of Meaters available – dubbed the Meater Block, naturally.
- Read more about the Meater smart thermometer
Made from aircraft-grade aluminium and coloured a deep gorgeous red, the GrillEye is certainly one good-looking piece of kit.
It’s also one of the most fully-featured thermometers here: it comes with six ports, enabling to monitor up to six different food temperatures at any one time (although only two probes are included). It also boasts a dual LED display – with one portion showing the current temperature; the other the target temperature, enabling you to keep an eye on both.
As with the Maverick iChef ET-735 (below), having a built-in display lets you monitor your grub even if you don’t have your smartphone or tablet on you, which is a useful thing to have.
The GrillEye works best, of course, when it’s teamed with your smartphone or tablet via the free GrillEye app for iOS and Android. Happily this is one of the best smart thermometer apps out there, with a minimalist, uncluttered design that’s easy to use. Bluetooth connectivity is solid with little in the way of dropouts. The only real downer is the lack of a built-in magnet for attaching it to your oven, cooker, etc, although it comes with a rather natty kickstand instead.
The Weber iGrill 3 takes the guesswork out of summer BBQ cooking with the bespoke temperature sensor that seamlessly attaches to the company’s Genesis II and Genesis II LX series gas barbecues. This means that the accompanying Weber iGrill app – which is available to download free for IOS and Android – is able to do a lot more than just measure the temperature: it can even monitor the amount of fuel left in the BBQ’s tank and switch the BBQ’s knob lights on and off.
The Weber iGrill app (which is bit salesy and OTT, to be honest) also enables you to set up multiple timers – and even includes a social sharing element, so you can share your meat feast and see where other Weber BBQ users are, and what they’re cooking up. Or at least it would, if the app didn’t keep crashing all the time.
The iGrill 3 itself is a rounded black and silver Bluetooth thermometer, which includes a proximity sensor so it automatically powers up and down as a paired phone gets closer or further away from it. It also comes with four ports and two temperature probes, giving you plenty of options when it comes to monitoring the slabs of meat grilling away on the BBQ. It also has a wider-than-average operating range, with the probes measuring from -50 to 380-degrees C.
The WeGrill One is a smart thermometer that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Team it with the free WeGrill app for iOS and Android and you’ll be able to choose from three different cooking modes (rare, medium and well done) based on meat type, and then set the desired cooking time and temperature. The app comes with cooking presets for beef, veal, venison, lamb, pork, chicken, duck, fish and hamburgers.
Using the probe, you can measure the temperature of the meat as it cooks – the app lets you know when your food has reached the right level.
The WeGrill One itself is rather uninspiring to look at, but it does come with two different ports for attaching the probe to, plus you can always attach a second probe if you wish (available separately).
The WeGrill One has a magnet on the back so you can attach it to your oven, cooker or barbecue. The probe is capable of measuring spot temperatures of up to 300-degrees C, and up to 250-degrees C for prolonged monitoring.
It also has a temperature setting range of -25 to 200 degrees C, so you can use it to check the temperature when making ice cream and other cold food.
How to buy the best food thermometer for you
All smart thermometers use probes – long, needle-like devices that can be used to measure the temperature both inside and outside whatever it is that you’re cooking. Most smart thermometers come equipped with two probes, enabling you to either monitor two separate food items (handy if you’re grilling a steak for you and a mate), or to measure both the core temperature of the food, and the ambient temperature.
Each probe connects to the thermometer using a dedicated port, with the most expensive models coming with up to four or even six ports – although you’ll usually have to pay extra for the probes.
One of the best things about smart thermometers is that they take some of the guesswork out of cooking. Download the appropriate app for your smartphone or tablet and you’ll be able to choose from presets that include food type, temperature and cooking time – and whether you’d like your food rare, medium or well-done – with alarms alerting you when the food is up to temperature or the cooking time is up. Most apps also enable you to choose from these settings manually, too, and some even include recipes to inspire you.
Anything else? Many smart thermometers include grill or pan clips to ensure that the probes stay in the right position when you’re cooking, and some include magnets that enable you to securely attach it to the outside of your oven, cooker or barbecue.
Others also include separate displays – enabling you to keep tabs on your food without having to have your phone or tablet on you – handy if you’ve left it indoors, it’s wet out, or if your phone or tablet has simply run out of juice.