yards improved is a website devoted to advice on how to get the most out of your yard and outdoor areas
This article may contain links which lead to us earning commissions at no extra cost to you.

Best Digital Meat Thermometers for Barbecuing

Grilling your meat at the right temperature is key for both taste and health. Many types of meat have to reach a certain interior temperature to be sure that they won’t be harmful to you. At the same time, you have to know when your steak or burger has reached that perfect point of “medium rare” or “well done”, depending on who you’re feeding!

Sure, many of us do it by the seat of our pants and just guess. We might make a tiny incision into the heart of our piece of beef or pork to see how it looks. But a meat thermometer gives a more accurate and easier-to-understand measure of how “done” our food is!

Before you start searching online and in stores for one, though, there are some things to keep in mind. What do you need and what’s optional? We’ve summed it all up here, and have a few recommended products, too!

What To Look For

Accuracy

Above all, you want a meat thermometer that will tell you the precise temperature of the meal you’re preparing. A degree or two might not be a big deal. But to keep your reputation as a skilled backyard chef, you want the reading to be as close as possible.

Easy to Read

Of course, it doesn’t matter how accurate your thermometer is if you can’t read what it says. Look for large, easy-to-read displays.

Fortunately for all of us, nearly all modern meat thermometers have a digital readout. There’s no longer a need to squint to try to read the mercury level, or even to figure out where the arrow is pointing.

As with most LED devices, look for one that’s backlit and shows the temperature and other information large enough for you to read it.

Probe Length

The probe is the business end of your meat thermometer. They’re always narrow so they can be easily inserted into the meat. But the length varies.

A short probe is fine if all you cook is steaks or hamburgers. However, we recommend choosing one that’s 4 to 5 inches long so that it can reach the center of larger cuts of meat. It will still work fine with thinner cuts, so it will cover you all the way around!

Temperature Range

The proper temperature for the interior of your meat depends on the type of meat. For beef, there is an acceptable range from rare to well-done, as well.

The ideal meat thermometer will give a reliable reading across that entire range, and a little more so that you can know how far you have to go.

The minimum range is from 120° to 160° F (49° to 71° C). But most thermometers we’ve seen go far beyond that, accurately measuring temperatures from -40° to 472° F (-40°  – 250° C) or higher! 

Toughness

Grilling isn’t a contact sport, but your tools can still take a beating. They have to withstand extreme heat. It’s easy to drop them or knock them onto the ground. You probably don’t have a lot of working space, so it’s common to stack plates, trays, pots, and pans as you go about your preparation.

You want a meat thermometer that’s not going to break – or melt. It should be resistant to the temperatures your coals generate! It’s especially important to remember that inside, there are tiny wires and these could be the most vulnerable. The best units have even thought of this.

The Extras

There are a couple of features that aren’t exactly necessary, but they sure come in handy! Here’s what we like to see – but only when everything else is in place.

Programmable

Sure, a thermometer is supposed to tell the temperature. But some go a step or two beyond.

By configuration with a smartphone app or separate unit, you can tell your thermometer what kind of meat you’re cooking and what the target temperature is. It can then judge the cooking temperature, the interior temperature, and how long it will take to be ready!

Wireless Capability

One of the greatest features of many modern meat thermometers is that they use wireless technology to send information to a base unit or even to an app on your phone. And you don’t have to be right next to the grill to get the information!

Of course, you’re probably not going too far away while you’re cooking. But be sure to consider the range of your unit. A hundred feet should be a bare minimum, but we’ve seen some with a range of up to 500 feet.

Case

It’s always good to have a handy carrying case, too. This can help protect your unit from dirt, dust, and even from fall damage.

Our Recommendations

With all of these factors in mind, here are our recommendations for meat thermometers worth your time and money.

MEATER Plus | Smart Meat Thermometer with Bluetooth 

meater plus top ranked meat thermometer includes a cell phone app for monitoring meat on the grill

This Bluetooth-equipped meat thermometer is one of our favorites. It sends information right to your smartphone from up to 165 feet away!

It gives you a great readout that tells you the meat’s core temperature and the temperature of the air immediately around it. You let it know what kind of meat it’s cooking and the target core temperature, and it will let you know when it’s ready! You can even set other alarms so you can check your progress by time or temperature. That’s helpful to remind you to turn the meat or to know when to put other items on the grill.

The probe is about 4 inches long. It’s rechargeable; a rechargeable base is included. The base has a magnetic back, so it’s easy to hang in a handy spot. The recharger runs on one “AAA” battery that can charge the probe hundreds of times.

The probe itself is stainless steel with a ceramic “handle” at the end to make it easy to grasp without burning yourself, even after it’s been left in the meat.

The app is easy to set up and intuitive. 

As long as you have a smartphone (or a Bluetooth-equipped computer), you’ll love this meat thermometer! The price tag is a bit high, but we feel it’s worth it considering the guidance you’ll get in preparing the perfect cookout.

ThermoPro TP20 500FT Wireless Meat Thermometer with Dual Meat Probe

thermopro meat probe and thermometer with receiver

ThermoPro makes an incredible meat thermometer that’s as tough and professional as it looks. 

This kit includes a transmitter and a receiver along with 2 probes. The probes are wired to the transmitter, but the receiver can be up to 500 feet away. It’s easy to track not just one, but two cuts of meat at the same time.

The interface is not as modern as a phone app, but it does have an easy-to-read display. You can set the type of meat and target temperature to get notified when your culinary masterpiece is ready. It just takes a little bit of cycling through the options to choose the right settings. Not hard, but not completely modern, either.

The unit is sturdy – in fact, it looks like something a road surveyor would use – both in color and design. It’s built to stand up to the heat and survive most drops.

It can read temperatures from 14°F to 572°F (-10°C to 300°C) and is accurate within about 3° F (1.8° C).

The unit does require 4 “AAA” batteries.

It’s a bit bulky but overall it does a great job. Having two long probes is fantastic, and it had no problem keeping track of both at once.

Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Meat Thermometer

lavatools javelin pro thermometer for cook outs

The Javelin Pro is a simpler meat thermometer but it offers an accurate, legible reading that will help you know how your meat is coming along and when it’s ready.

This unit folds like a pocketknife and is about the same size. The probe is 4.25 inches long and folds into the handle/readout section, which is slightly longer.

It takes just a couple of seconds to get a reading, and measures temperatures from -40°F~482°F ( -40°C~250°C). It’s accurate to within about 2° F (0.9° C).

It stands up well to the heat and is strong enough not to break with a drop from grill height or normal wear and tear.

It’s described as “ambidextrous,” meaning it easily swivels so you can read it from any direction. As a lefty, I never thought that necessary – and still don’t. I guess it’s a slight increase in convenience, though.

It’s also available in a variety of colors.

Biison Digital Meat Thermometer

biison meat thermometer with large LCD display

This digital meat thermometer sold by Bisson doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles, but it does provide a clear and accurate temperature reading.

It can measure in the range of -58°  to 572° F to within one degree (-50 C – 300 ° C).

It has a large backlit display that’s easy to read. It also has some helpful information printed on it, such as the proper temperature for cooking different types of meat.  

It only takes 2 to 3 seconds to give a reading, too.

It runs on a battery, which can be replaced by the user. However, it’s a CR2032 battery – a “watch battery.” Those are common, but at the same time, they’re not a size you’ll have lying around. 

Atefa Digital Meat Thermometer

atefa digital meat thermometer

Atefa’s digital meat thermometer is another solid entry. It does the job without fail, but also with no bells and whistles. But the price is great if you just want the basics!

You’ll get an accurate temperature reading in a couple of seconds within a range from -58°  to 572° F (-50 C – 300 ° C).

The readout is clear and large enough to be easy to understand. There’s a button to switch quickly from Celsius to Fahrenheit, and it has an auto-shutoff to help preserve battery life. 

The probe measures 4.3 inches, sufficient for almost any cut of meat you’d want to grill.

A magnet is built into the back, so you can quickly and easily hang it on the leg of your grill or another surface without worrying about it getting lost.

It uses a button battery (watch type) and a spare is included.

It does the job quickly – in three seconds you’ll have a firm reading. 

Conclusion

A great cookout depends on getting the meal cooked right. When you’re preparing meats, part of that is achieving the right interior temperature so that it’s both tasty and safe. A digital meat thermometer is an important tool for the task. There is a whole range of options, from simple readouts to advanced machines that can approximate the remaining cooking time and send alarms to your cell phone!