One of the most important tools for cooking is a high-quality instant read thermometer. In fact, we think an instant read thermometer is so essential, we hand-selected one with our favorite features to sell in our store.
We're going to show you why this is our favorite instant read thermometer and tell you how to use it so you'll get professional results every time you roast a chicken, sear a steak, or smoke some ribs.
What is a Digital Instant Read Thermometer?
These wonderful little tools are easy to use, and that's one of the main features that makes an instant read thermometer so useful. Essentially, you have a stainless steel probe attached to a housing with a digital readout. The most simple versions of instant read thermometers will show you the current temperature of our meat.
More advanced versions will also provide the correct temperature range for the type of meat you are cooking. Knowing the correct internal temperature lets you know when your meat is the perfect medium-rare without the guesswork. They work on anything from fish to wild game, and even are useful when measuring the temperature of liquids. In fact, our favorite one can read temps all the way up to 572 degrees.
Types of Thermometers
We are sure you are familiar with the classic kitchen thermometer with a dial gauge and questionable accuracy. Today's digital revolution has made those old things obsolete. There are a few different different types of digital thermometers in use these days.
This type of digital thermometer has a folding probe and a plastic handle with a digital screen. Some models have auto rotating displays for convenience. The key things to look for is a good backlit display that is large enough to easily read the temperature.
This type does not fold. Instead, the probe is fixed to the digital readout. These can be more comfortable to keep hands away from the heat, but also require the probe be protected from damage. Many people find them to be more convenient to check the temperature of meat. Many of these types end up with shorter battery life because they are accidentally left on.
How to Use the Bearded Butcher Instant Read Thermometer
This tool is so simple to use, it's like magic. Just flip the probe out into the open position and the thermometer turns on. Close the probe, and it's off. With the probe open, you'll only need to stick it in your piece of meat. You want to make sure to place the tip of the probe into the thickest part of the meat to get an accurate temperature reading. In less than five seconds you have accurate readings.
The large digital display provides easy to read temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, so anyone can use it. The digital meat thermometer includes a handy chart that shows you the ideal food safety temperatures of various types of meat.
Are Instant Read Thermometers Accurate?
A thermometer is only useful if it can provide accurate temperature readings. When you shop for an instant read thermometer, you will often find manufacturers claiming a specific temperature variance. This gives you a good idea how accurate the thermometer is. In general, the higher-priced units like the Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4 ($99) will have closer accuracy, typically below 1 degree Fahrenheit. Less expensive options like the OXO Good Grips ($20) instant read thermometer can vary by as much as 20 degrees, making them largely useless.
The Javelin Pro Duo ($55) instant read thermometer is similar to our Bearded Butcher thermometer, but a little more pricey. It boasts an accuracy of 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit and gives readings in three seconds.
How to Test the Accuracy of a Thermometer
There are a couple ways to test the level of accuracy of an instant read thermometer. The easiest is to use a known thermometer to test the unknown thermometer. Of course, this does create some complications since you'd need to have another thermometer that you know is accurate.
One way to get a reliable test result is to use a grill thermometer. The ThermoPro TP-16S is a good thermometer with an accuracy of plus or minus 1.8 degrees. It is not an instant read, and is designed to have the probe left in the meat while cooking.
Set up two tests, the first an ice bath and the second a pot of simmering water. With a board placed over the bath that has a hole drilled, the instant read thermometer probe can be placed into the test baths.
The Cold Test
The proper way to make an ice bath is to fill a container about 2/3 of the way with crushed ice. Crushed ice provides more surface area than cubed ice to more efficiently make ice water. Now, fill the container about 1" from the top with cold water and let it sit for a minute or two. If you see ice melting and water forming below the ice, pour off water and refill with cold water. Now, gently swirl the probe tip in the ice bath. The readout should indicate a temperature of 32 degrees. This makes it easy to test the accuracy of a thermometer.
The Hot Test
Bring a pot of water to a low simmer and test the temperature with the known thermometer. You can do this at any temperature, but 140 degrees is a good test temp. Measure the temperature of the hot water in the same way as the ice bath, swirl the probe gently until the temperature is steady.
What is the Best Instant Read Thermometer?
Bearded Butcher Instant Read Thermometer
We are not going to be bashful about how much we love the Bearded Butcher instant read thermometer. It's easy to hold, covers a wide temperature range, and it has an easy to read display. It's our top pick because it offers the features we want at a great price point. The thermometer comes with a temperature chart and a lifetime warranty.
Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4
If you need the most accurate digital instant read meat thermometer on the market, you'll want to look at the Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4. Yes, it's expensive, but it also gives accuracy levels of 0.7 degrees or better consistently. It's also IP67 rated for water resistance. It can take direct washing under running water and even handle occasional dunks in boiling water.
Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo
The Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo is one of our favorites. It blends accuracy with ease of use, all in a handy thermometer. It's NSF certified for accuracy and comes with a 3-year warranty. It has a rotating display.
You will find some good, low cost options online, and some of them are even good quality. We think the Bearded Butcher instant read thermometer is worth buying because it offers superior accuracy, it's easy to read, and it's wide temperature range means you get consistent results even on high heat items like caramel sauce.
Instant Read Thermometers are a Must-Have
When you start using a digital thermometer while cooking, you'll realize how indispensable this simple tool becomes. There is no greater satisfaction than slicing open a beautiful rib roast that's been smoking for hours and finding it perfectly juicy inside. Using the digital thermometer, you'll know just the right moment to pull the meat to get the level of doneness you want.
An instant read digital meat thermometer makes a great gift for anyone you know who enjoys cooking. Our Bearded Butcher instant read thermometer comes packaged in a nice box with instructions and a handy guide sheet to get you started cooking the perfect meals for your family and friends.
The Bearded Butchers are dedicated to providing as much information as we possibly can to help you understand how to best process and prepare meats of all kinds. To help you, we maintain a blog and Youtube channel with lots of free, high-quality information. The Bearded Butchers and Beardedbutchers.com are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means that The Bearded Butchers may receive a commission if you click on a link above and make a purchase on Amazon.com.