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The 4 best digital meat thermometers

Whether you're baking a pot roast or grilling up steaks, you need to know how hot things are when you're cooking meat, so you can be sure that it's done and safe to eat (and to avoid overcooking it, too). That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a reliable thermometer when you cook or grill. When searching for the best digital meat thermometers, there were two key factors that I kept in mind:

  1. Accuracy: There's no use having a thermometer if you can't trust what it says. High-quality options typically have a margin of error listed by the manufacturer. When shopping around, make sure the one you pick is accurate within 2 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
  2. Speed: This is also critical. If you have to wait forever to see the temperature on the screen, you're much more likely to burn your food. Look for digital thermometers that can render readings in five to six seconds or less.

Beyond accuracy and speed, it's helpful to consider the temperature range — particularly on the high end (up to 572 degrees is preferable) — and what kind of batteries the device takes. The latter is a matter of personal preference, but check before you buy so you know what type to keep on hand.

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, check out the best digital meat thermometers below to find the best fit for your kitchen.

1. The best overall

Temperature range: -40 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit

What's great about it: With top-grade technology at a mid-range price, this Taylor digital meat thermometer probe provides a superb blend of quality and value. The manufacturer says it's accurate within 2 degrees Fahrenheit, and reviewers consistently rate it among the best on the market. Not only that, but the 1.5-millimeter folding probe is also capable of rendering a reading in five seconds or less, making it fast and efficient, too. The device has a handy "Hold" button to freeze the temperature after removing the probe, and a clear backlit digital screen. The thermometer, which comes with two double A batteries, reads temperatures in Fahrenheit and Celsius, and it's encased in a plastic antimicrobial shell.

Fans say: "I love these thermometers! I work in food service and we started using these thermometers at the [beginning] of the year. Very fast accurate readings with a wide lighted display. I had to get one for myself to use in my kitchen! For the price, I highly recommend this brand"

2. The best budget thermometer

Temperature range: -58 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit

What's great about it: With a whopping 3,600-plus reviews, this exceptionally popular digital meat thermometer has a huge fan following, especially given the price. It costs less than 10 bucks, yet reviewers say it's fast, reliable, and precise. It takes roughly four to six seconds to get a reading and once you have it, the temperature is accurate within 2 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a simple-to-use 4.7-inch probe and a 10-minute auto-shut off function. The device, which can also be used for liquids and candies, is built with a durable, protective sheath for easy storage. It comes with an LR44 button battery, too.

Fans say: "I cooked a beef tenderloin to absolute perfection b/c of this. The button are easy to press, and love that there is an on and off button. Our old one would always have something on the display which I felt was a waste of battery. If this one ever dies, I will definitely purchase another."

3. The best splurge

Temperature range: 14 to 574 degrees Fahrenheit

What's great about it: If you're a top chef or someone who grills a lot — and you really want to spoil yourself — this wireless digital meat thermometer is basically the Cadillac of meat probes. In addition to having a wide temperature span of up to 574 Fahrenheit, the fast, accurate device has a wireless range of 500 feet that's much higher than the industry standard. While the brand doesn't give a margin of error, reviewers attest that it is reliably accurate.

It's constructed with high-quality, fully waterproof probes that are color-coded so you can easily tell them apart, and a crisp, backlit digital screen that gives you the current temperature, as well as high-low alarm settings. It's a great option for barbecuing, although it works well for ovens, too. Additionally, it has a quick-switch button to shift from Fahrenheit to Celsius, and it comes with four triple A batteries.

Fans say: "This thing is spot on! Checked it in boiling and freezing water and probes are accurate! I love this thermometer, i no longer have to tend to my stick burner near as much, i place a probe on the racks and one in the meat and both are spot on! It has great distance, never had an issue with being too far away. I sit inside and drink beer...got the receiver right next to me to see my temps and love the low/high temp setting!"

4. A Great Option For Grilling At Half The Price

Temperature range: 32 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit

What's great about it: For the barbecue masters out there, this ThermoPro wireless option is pretty much the best digital meat thermometer for grilling at this price point. It has a virtual cult following on Amazon (with an impressive 3,300-plus reviews), and glowing comments from customers. The device is specifically designed for grilling with one probe for the meat and another separate one for the smoker or barbecue. It's fully remote with the ability to function up to 300 feet away, which isn't quite as much distance as the previous pick but still gives you the freedom to wander around without worrying about burning your burgers. The grilling gadget is accurate within 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and it gives you the option of manually entering your own temperature settings. The probe and wire can withstand temperatures of up to 716 degrees Fahrenheit and, as a bonus, you can also use it in the kitchen or oven.

Fans say: "Wow, my father loved this. He was very skeptical how it would improve his smoking. He's been using a traditional thermometer for years and his smoker has a temp gauge. Thanks to this thermometer, the turkeys were done without over cooking far earlier than he thought."

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