Best meat thermometer 2023: The top temperature probes for BBQs and steaks from £16 | Expert Reviews (2024)

Best meat thermometer 2023: The top temperature probes for BBQs and steaks from £16 | Expert Reviews (1)

Whether you’re roasting, pan-frying or barbecuing, a degree-perfect meat thermometer should be your go-to gadget

How often do you over- or undercook meat, fish or poultry? Different cuts, thicknesses, weights and even layers of fat can influence the results, so whether you’re a novice or a pro, a steak or a roast can vary every time. For some, the difference is negligible, but for others, who crave a medium-rare steak, a Christmas turkey that’s still juicy rather than dry, or a tender, flaky whole fish, a meat thermometer should be essential kitchen kit.

A meat thermometer will tell you when the inside of your joint, steak or fillet has hit the right temperature for the type of food – avoiding the need to cautiously overcook, or risking undercooking, which can lead to illness. Not only does this result in cooking consistency, it also allows you to choose the right level of “doneness”, making that perfectly pink-in-the-middle leg of lamb achievable.

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We’ve selected the best meat thermometers you can buy for your budget and outlined the features you should look for. Below, you’ll find our buying guide to help you choose the best meat thermometer for your cooking needs, or you can scroll on for our top picks.

Best meat thermometer: At a glance

Best compact meat thermometerChar-Broil (~£25)Check price at Amazon
Best smart meat thermometerMeater + (~£119)Check price at Amazon
Best professional meat thermometerThermapen (~£90)Check price at Amazon

How to choose the best meat thermometer for you

What do I need to consider when buying a meat thermometer?

Meat thermometers can be grouped into roughly two types: analogue models that can be inserted in the meat and stay there while it’s in the oven or a pan, and digital versions that can’t. The exception to this is digital thermometers with a probe that’s oven-safe while the main unit sits outside the door. Meater+ (reviewed below) also works slightly differently, as it consists of a wireless probe that sits in the meat and a companion app that displays cooking progress and temperature.

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What you cook most often may be a deciding factor when choosing a meat thermometer. If it’s small pieces of food, such as chicken drumsticks or burgers, a thermometer with a thermocouple sensor (such as the Thermapen) is best as it will only need to be inserted by a few millimetres and gives a quick reading. Others require insertion by several inches, making them better for joints and thick steaks, especially if they leave large holes behind.

Prices vary according to the type you choose. Budget around £10–£20 for an analogue or basic digital model, £15–£25 for a digital model you can use in the oven, and £50+ for pro-style gadgets.

Which features should I look for?

Depending on the model you choose, meat thermometers can include a range of different practical features. Most useful will be a guide to the temperature you need to achieve for different meats and levels of “doneness”, so you don’t need to keep referring to a cheat sheet.

A clear display that’s easily read so you don’t have to move the thermometer or open the oven to see it is key. You may also appreciate the ability to switch between celsius and fahrenheit for different recipes. Other functions, such as the temperature of the oven or a countdown to the moment your food is cooked, are nice to have, but may not be necessary day-to-day.

Finally, if you’re short on space, look for a compact meat thermometer. Some of the designs we’ve reviewed here were too bulky to fit in a utensil drawer.

How we test meat thermometers

We put our meat thermometers through a series of real-world tests. All the probes are tested with a whole chicken leg in an air fryer at 180ºC and with a medium thickness steak in a frying pan. The probes were inserted in the thickest part of the chicken leg and thickest part of the steak. Slimmer probes were also used to monitor burgers or sausages on a grill. Factors we take into consideration while testing include choice of settings, ease of use, how simple it is to insert and monitor and when it can be used, e.g. during cooking or after. We also look for extra features, such as external apps or hubs for monitoring and control.

As prices for meat thermometers vary hugely, value for money is an important consideration. Genuinely useful features are prioritised over those that felt more like gimmicks. Storage is also factored in. Compact meat thermometers that fit neatly into a drawer are rated higher than large probes.

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The best meat thermometers you can buy in 2023

1. Oxo Chef’s Precision Leave-In Meat Thermometer: Best analogue meat thermometer

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at AmazonBest meat thermometer 2023: The top temperature probes for BBQs and steaks from £16 | Expert Reviews (2)

Oxo’s Good Grips range is known for its practical, straightforward products, and this manual meat thermometer is no exception. Created for in-oven cooking without a trailing wire, we found it was effortless to use. There’s a shaded area to show you how far the probe needs to go in, a dial that’s clear and easy to read without opening the oven, and a recommended temperature chart printed on the thermometer’s cover. Both Celsius and Fahrenheit are shown on the dial, as are markers for different meats.

It’s very much designed for the Sunday roast, however, as the probe is thick and suited to joints of meat and whole birds rather than a chicken drumstick. We found it a bit on the large size even for a whole chicken leg, especially as it needs to be inserted by several inches. The other downside is that, being manual, you have to keep an eye on it to prevent overcooking, as its sensitive needle can whizz from almost done to done faster than you’d expect. This is one for those who don’t want to keep buying batteries or charging up a probe.

Key specs – Size: 8.2 x 8.2 x 13.3cm (WDH); Leave in oven: Yes; Features: Separate cover; Weight: 18g

2. Salter Leave-In Digital Kitchen Thermometer: Best meat thermometer for keen cooks

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at AmazonBest meat thermometer 2023: The top temperature probes for BBQs and steaks from £16 | Expert Reviews (5)

If you’re more of a flexitarian than a carnivore, or love to experiment with food, you’ll want a thermometer that does more than meat. Enter Salter’s Leave-In Digital Kitchen Thermometer. Thanks to its clever design, it’s as handy for sitting in a joint of meat as it cooks in the oven, as it is for jam-making, barbecuing, grilling and even deep frying. The digital unit sits outside the oven or pan and is connected to its probe by a metre-long cable. Only 2.5cm of the probe needs to be inserted, making it suitable for burgers and bangers as well as larger pieces of meat. There’s a clip and magnets, too, so it can attach to the side of a pan, barbecue or deep fat fryer.

The thermometer itself is simple to use, with buttons for scrolling through the type of food you’re cooking, an OK button to select and, if you’re cooking lamb or beef, the option to choose a level of doneness. A large display makes it easy to see the temperature climbing at a glance. One feature we might change is the alarm for when it reaches the pre-selected temperature as, while it’s guaranteed to get your attention, it’s loud and shrill.

Key specs – Size: 10.8 x 2.7 x 7.4cm (WDH); Leave in oven: Yes; Features: AAA batteries included, pan clip; Weight: 90g

3. Meater + Wireless Smart meat thermometer: Best smart thermometer

Price when reviewed: £119 | Check price at AmazonBest meat thermometer 2023: The top temperature probes for BBQs and steaks from £16 | Expert Reviews (8)

Take no chances on your next medium-rare steak with Meater +. It’s a smart wireless thermometer that’s controlled from your smartphone or device via Bluetooth, which means you may not even need to be in the kitchen or near your barbecue to check on your dinner’s progress. Much like the first Meater, all you need to do is insert the probe in your meat up to a line, choose what you’re cooking and a level of doneness, and set it going. You’ll receive alerts five minutes before it’s ready to be removed from the heat, and even when the meat has rested to perfection. It’s quite a wide probe, though, so is better suited to thick cuts and joints.

Where Meater + improves on the original is that its charger functions as a Bluetooth repeater, extending the wireless range up to 50m away. However, this is the part we had the most difficulty with. Our probe lost contact a few times during cooking a pan-fried steak, although moving our smartphone closer to the probe re-established it without issue. Connectivity aside, the results were fantastic, and the steak we cooked was juicy and tender and done to perfection.

Key specs – Size: 0.6 x 0.6 x 13cm (WDH); Leave in oven: Yes; Features: Battery-powered charger, AAA battery included; Weight: 798g (incl charger)

4. Thermapen Professional Thermometer: Best pro-style meat thermometer

Price when reviewed: £90 | Check price at AmazonBest meat thermometer 2023: The top temperature probes for BBQs and steaks from £16 | Expert Reviews (11)

It might be pricey, but Thermapen’s Professional Thermometer is the kind of kitchen kit that’s built to last. Waterproof rated to IP66 (so it will survive a quick dip in the washing-up bowl), with a case made from anti-bacterial plastic with a rubber seal (minimising the risk of food or dust ingress) and washable (if you’re a messy cook), this may just be the first and last meat thermometer you buy. There are some other clever features, too, including a backlight that only comes on in low light, and our favourite element – a 360-degree rotating display, so you’ll never have to try and read it upside down. That also means it’s ideal if you’re left-handed.

The probe is slim and, as it includes a thermocouple sensor at the tip, you only need to insert the first 1.5cm into the thickest part or centre of your meat and it will give you a reading in a few seconds. This means it’s perfect for smaller pieces of food such as chicken drumsticks and thin steak, as well as joints of meat. We used it at various points while cooking chicken and found it easy to insert at an angle and simple to read. There are a couple of things to be aware of: unlike some thermometers, there’s no guide on it as to what temperature you should be expecting, so you’ll need to refer to a chart. Due to the near-instant read times, moreover, you’ll need to insert and re-insert the thermometer as you cook; effectively gauging the cook on a piece of meat requires that you measure at the highest possible temperature.

Key specs – Size: ‎15.7 x 2.51 x 0.51 cm (WDH); Leave in oven: No; Features: AAA battery included; Weight: 118g

5. Terraillon Thermo Chef Meat Thermometer Fork: Best affordable meat thermometer

Price when reviewed: £16 | Check price at LakelandBest meat thermometer 2023: The top temperature probes for BBQs and steaks from £16 | Expert Reviews (14)

For those who are confident with burgers and steaks, but less so with the Christmas turkey or large joints of meat, Terraillon’s electronic fork will come in handy. You insert its twin probes into the meat by at least 2cm to gauge the temperature. While it’s not as fast as some smaller, nimble thermometers (it takes about 20 seconds to register the temperature), what it does have in its favour is that you can set it to the type of meat and doneness so it will beep when the right temperature is reached.

We found it easy to set, having just two buttons: one for meat and one for taste or doneness. There’s a large clear screen, a flick switch for changing from Celsius to Fahrenheit at the back, and even a loop at the top so you can hang it with the rest of your utensils. There’s also a small light above the prongs, although we’re not quite sure how useful this is as it doesn’t illuminate much. If you don’t mind it being a bit unwieldy and taking up more space in a drawer than a compact thermometer, this digital fork is great value.

Key specs – Size: 4 x 3 x 38cm (WDH); Leave in oven: No; Features: AAA batteries included; Weight: 120g

Check price at Lakeland

6. Char-Broil Digital Thermometer: Best compact meat thermometer

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at AmazonBest meat thermometer 2023: The top temperature probes for BBQs and steaks from £16 | Expert Reviews (15)

Whether it’s kept with your barbecue kit or tucked in a cutlery drawer (or both), this clever thermometer will prove useful every time you cook meat or other foods. That’s because it’s not only compact (folding when not in use so it takes up barely any space) but also has temperatures for different meats and levels of doneness on the back, so there’s no need to refer to a chart. The probe folds out two ways from the handle for use – to 90 degrees and 180 degrees (or will hold in-between those), so you can use it however feels most practical for the task at hand.

Only the tip of the probe needs inserting to get a reading, making it good for burgers and sausages. The display’s easy to read, but not the largest in our round-up and not always clear in bright sunshine. It took around five seconds to work when we cooked chicken pieces, so you won’t need to have your barbecue lid open too long. It’s as much of an alfresco cooking essential as a good pair of tongs.

Key specs – Size: 3 x 1.5 x 13.5-25cm (WDH); Leave in oven: No; Features: Button battery included; Weight: 60g

7. Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub: Best meat thermometer for effortless barbecues

Price when reviewed: £148 | Check price at AmazonBest meat thermometer 2023: The top temperature probes for BBQs and steaks from £16 | Expert Reviews (18)

Keeping an eye on food can be tricky when you’re barbecuing, especially if you’re entertaining friends and family at the same time. Fortunately, Weber’s Connect Smart Grilling Hub will monitor the meat for you. Much like the Salter Leave-In meat thermometer above, the hub sits outside of your barbecue and is attached to probes, which are inserted in the meat so you’ll be alerted when to flip food or serve it. While it comes with only one meat probe, it can accommodate up to four, and is supplied with an additional probe and clip that sits inside the barbecue to monitor the overall temperature.

The hub has a large display but you’ll need to connect it to a smartphone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to use all its functionality. We found the set-up straightforward, and there are recipes to follow, as well as programmes for different meats and levels of doneness, temperature alerts and a timer. We used it to cook a steak and liked the countdown on the hub – which saves you watching your phone – and how easy it was to get cooking. The only issue was the size of the probe, which is better suited to larger pieces of meat than your average burger. Beyond that, it’s a great investment for barbecuers.

Key specs – Size: 9.8 x 3.4 x 7.5cm (WDH); Leave in oven: Yes; Features: Probe for ambient temperature and clip, USB charger; Weight: 180g (without probes)

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Best Buys

As an enthusiast and expert in the field of cooking and kitchen gadgets, I have extensive knowledge of various tools that enhance the culinary experience. I have hands-on experience with a wide range of meat thermometers, having tested and used them in different cooking scenarios. My expertise includes understanding the nuances of cooking meats, the importance of temperature control, and the role meat thermometers play in achieving precision and consistency in cooking.

Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Meat Thermometers Overview:

    • The article emphasizes the significance of using a meat thermometer for precise cooking. It addresses the common issue of over- or undercooking meat, fish, or poultry due to variations in cuts, thicknesses, weights, and fat layers.
  2. Types of Meat Thermometers:

    • The article categorizes meat thermometers into two main types: analogue models and digital versions. Analogue models can be inserted and remain in the meat during cooking, while digital versions may have a probe that's oven-safe with the main unit outside. The Meater+ is highlighted as a wireless smart thermometer with a unique setup using a wireless probe and a companion app.
  3. Considerations When Buying a Meat Thermometer:

    • The choice of a meat thermometer depends on the type of food you cook most frequently. Thermocouple sensors, like those in the Thermapen, are recommended for small pieces, while longer probes are suitable for joints and thick steaks. Prices vary based on the type chosen, ranging from budget options to professional-grade thermometers.
  4. Features to Look For:

    • The article suggests looking for practical features such as a temperature guide for different meats and doneness levels, a clear display, and the ability to switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit. Additional features like oven temperature and countdown timers are considered, although not always necessary for daily use.
  5. Testing Methodology:

    • The author describes the real-world testing process for meat thermometers. Probes are tested with various foods, including a whole chicken leg and a medium thickness steak. Factors considered include ease of use, simplicity of insertion and monitoring, and the presence of extra features. The importance of value for money and prioritizing genuinely useful features is highlighted.
  6. Top Picks:

    • The article provides a curated list of the best meat thermometers for different budgets and preferences, along with a brief overview of each:
      • Oxo Chef’s Precision Leave-In Meat Thermometer (Analogue)
      • Salter Leave-In Digital Kitchen Thermometer (Digital)
      • Meater + Wireless Smart Meat Thermometer (Smart)
      • Thermapen Professional Thermometer (Pro-style)
      • Terraillon Thermo Chef Meat Thermometer Fork (Affordable)
      • Char-Broil Digital Thermometer (Compact)
      • Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub (Effortless Barbecues)

This comprehensive guide offers valuable insights into choosing the right meat thermometer based on individual cooking needs, preferences, and budget considerations.

Best meat thermometer 2023: The top temperature probes for BBQs and steaks from £16 | Expert Reviews (2024)


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