You don’t have to be a grilling newbie to benefit from a meat thermometer. While the tool is undoubtedly helpful for fledgling meat-searers, everyone can benefit from checking the numbers when it comes to firing up the perfect steak, said Harris Mayer-Selinger, chef and founder of Creamline, a burger and milkshake spot in New York City.
“Thermometers are great tools; even for ‘meat masters’ and the most experienced cooks,” Meyer-Selinger told HuffPost. “Maybe you flipped too soon and can’t monitor the progression of color change on the side of the meat. Maybe you are just doubting your press and evaluating technique for a second. A thermometer is a great science-based backup.”
Whether you’re making burgers or brisket, Meyer-Selinger suggests keeping a meat thermometer on hand to help ensure your food is safe to eat and cooked to your liking.
For grilling, Joshua White, the executive chef at Brooklyn’s Turk’s Inn, a Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant with its own “Kebab Kiosk,” suggests picking up an instant-read digital thermometer. “Getting the temperature right can be tricky because of how fast of a cooking method it is,” White said. “I like to be able to check my meat quickly and be able to make adjustments as needed.”
Chef Rick Martinez, a James Beard Award winner, grill culture enthusiast and author of the New York Times bestselling cookbook “Mi Cocina,” agrees, saying an instant-read is a must for summer cooking. “Instant is very necessary if you are on the grill and checking a large piece of meat in multiple places,” Martinez told HuffPost. “You don’t have time to wait, or let the thermometer reset before you check another temp, as you’d be letting heat escape and you’re risking injury by keeping a hand close to the grill for an unnecessarily long time.”
We asked Mayer-Selinger, White, Martinez and other professional chefs about their favorite easy-to-read and speedy digital meat thermometers for grilling and general outdoor cooking.
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An ultra-fast and accurate thermometer that multiple chefs recommend
founder Harris Mayer-Selinger
and James Beard Award-winning chef Rick Martinez
suggested the ThermoWorks Thermapen One instant-read thermometer. While it's not a budget item, it's known for its precision and speed, giving you a temperature reading in just one second or less. It also has an automatic backlight that's easy to read in the sun or at night and is water-resistant, so it's great for outdoor use.
"At Creamline we use the ThermoWorks instant-read thermometer," Mayer-Selinger said. "The display is very clear, and it folds into a nice compact tool; not so small you will misplace it, but big enough that if it falls from your pants or chef coat, you will notice it’s missing.”
Martinez added that this tool isn't just his favorite for grilling or cooking meat — it's an all-season and all-food must-have. "I use it on everything, not just meat," he said. "It is highly accurate and super fast which sets it apart from every other thermometer out there. When you need something instant, this thermometer is the fastest!”
A budget-friendly option that displays a reading in 2 or 3 seconds
, executive chef at Turk’s Inn
in Brooklyn, likes this water-resistant and budget-friendly tool from Alpha Grillers.
"It has a large display that is easy to read and is very accurate within seconds," he said. "It has a thin probe that is easy to get into the center of the meat for the most accurate temperature. It also folds up, so it's easy to store and carry.”
A waterproof option from OXO
, a James Beard Award-winning chef and owner of New York City-based restaurants Spygold
, Loring Place,Washington Squares
and the rotisserie oven-focused Greywind
, recommends the Thermocouple thermometer from OXO for grilling and cooking outside.
"I find it reads incredibly fast and is always accurate," Kluger told HuffPost. "The display is also very easy to read, especially outside, whether it's sunny or dark."
An affordable thermometer that's magnetized for easy storage
For a grill-friendly, instant-read digital option, Bob Bennett
, head chef at Zingerman’s Roadhouse,
a Michigan-based restaurant that specializes in BBQ, loves the Lavatools Javelin. "It really stands up to the wear and tear of kitchen work," he said. "Also, it's accuracy and simple design really makes it a joy to use.”
An under-$15 digital instant read thermometer
Another affordable option that we chose based on excellent reviews, the ThermoPro TP03 has rechargeable batteries, plus it will fit in your pocket and take an accurate temperature in just a few seconds.
A probe-style digital thermometer that will keep tabs on temperature
If you’re looking for a corded probe-style option, this affordable ThermoPro TP-16 probe digital thermometer will monitor your meat the entire time it's in on the grill, meaning you can spend less time opening the lid and losing heat.