You can test your meat by pressing it slightly for doneness, but why rely on that when you can know instantly—and accurately—the exact temperature? Instant read thermometers are a necessary tool in the kitchen arsenal: They ensure a quick, reliable reading that lets you know the precise time to take the roast from the oven or pull the chicken off the grill.
There are a couple of technical specifications to keep in mind when shopping for an instant read thermometer. The Ingress Protection (IP) rating was developed to let consumers know the level of protection the product provides against physical debris, such dust and liquids. Most instant read thermometers will have a two-digit rating (e.g., IP65). The first number refers to barriers against solids; the second number refers to the resistance to liquid penetration. Most instant read thermometers will have a rating of 6 for physical debris, which means they are completely protected.
The second number is where these devices vary. The lowest you would want is 3, meaning it’s resistant to water spray; what’s even better (especially if you use the tool to grill outside, where it might experience rain or a drop in a pool) is a 7 or 8, meaning it can withstand immersion.
Instant read thermometers range from old-fashioned analog probes to Bluetooth versions you can read from 300 feet away. In addition to looking at customer reviews and online ratings, we had our own editors take our top picks and put them to the test in their home cooking. Our staff looked at such factors as how accurately and quickly the tools read ice water and boiling water temperatures, how easy the display was to read (for example, when taking the temperature of bone-in chicken thighs or medium-rare steak), and how convenient they are to use (such as when you’re moving around when grilling). In the end, the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo was our top choice thanks to its convenient swivel design and nearly instant temperature readings.
Here, we list some of the best instant read thermometers—with some tested in our home kitchens!—for all your cooking needs.