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It’s important to keep your food at an optimal temperature—typically at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit—to ensure food stays fresh and free from bacteria. Though many refrigerators do have built-in thermometers, some don’t. If your refrigerator or freezer doesn’t have a thermometer, or you simply want to keep closer tabs on certain areas of the appliance (like the crisper or meat drawers, for example), a standalone thermometer can help. When looking for a fridge thermometer, take into account how it attaches (magnetic, hanging, clip, or standing), the display type, and whether or not it's waterproof.
These are the best fridge thermometers for the job.
Best Overall: ThermoWorks Fridge/Freezer Thermometer
Two sensors can be used simultaneously
Larger than some other models
We love that this fridge thermometer covers all of the bases—because it has two channels and two probes, it can be used simultaneously in both the refrigerator and the freezer. Simply insert one probe in the freezer and one in the fridge. You can also set high and low temperature limits so that the audible alarm will alert you to any changes—you don’t have to keep taking manual readings.
The thermometer also includes a convenient fold-out stand and magnetic rear-panel clips, so it’ll stay put wherever you place it. Plus, it has a very easy-to-read LCD display to ensure you get the temperature readings just right.
Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.77 x 0.9 inches | Range: -40 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit | Power Source: AAA batteries | What's Included: (2) AAA batteries, (2) suction cups
Best Budget: Rubbermaid Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer
Doesn’t require batteries
Narrower temperature range
This fridge thermometer is proof that you don’t have to spend big bucks to get a reliable temperature gauge for your appliance. Sure, you won’t get extras like an LCD display or magnet to hold it in place, but you’ll get exactly what you need: an accurate thermometer.
The small stainless steel thermometer reads between negative 20 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit—perfect for the vast majority of traditional refrigerators, mini-fridges, freezers, and even coolers (great to ensure your barbecue fare stays within a safe range). It also has a shatter-proof screen, so you won’t have to worry if it does accidentally tip over.
And as a big bonus, this model doesn’t require any batteries, so there will never be a lapse in readings.
Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 0.03 inches | Range: -20 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit | Power Source: Mechanical thermometer
Best Easy to Read: VOULOIR Fridge Thermometer
Wide temperature range
Simple to operate
The standout feature on this fridge thermometer is the 2.56-inch electronic LCD display that’s a cinch to read, even from a distance. And that’s not all the screen will tell you—the information on the screen simultaneously displays the maximum and minimum temperatures of the day as well as the current temperature (the bigger number).
It’s easy to operate and toggle between modes, too. The thermometer has just three buttons (all on the back), so all you have to do is press on, off, or the button that shifts the mode from Celcius to Fahrenheit. Still, the unit has a wide temperature range that makes it perfectly suitable for both the fridge and the freezer—the temperature spans from negative 4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dimensions: 3.3 x 2.5 x 1 inches | Range: -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit | Power Source: LR44 battery | What's Included: (1) LR44 battery
Best Multipurpose: AMIR Wireless Refrigerator Thermometer
Both visual and audible alarms
This thermometer (which is a new-and-improved version) has two sensors that allow you to monitor both the refrigerator and the freezer wirelessly at the same time. Simply stick the sensors where you want them (you can hang them, too!), and keep an eye on the temperature via the separate—and very large and easy to read—LCD display. The display unit can stand wherever you want it to, whether that’s on the table, tucked on a shelf, hung on the wall, or with a magnet on the refrigerator.
The display itself records minimum and maximum temperatures, historical temperature readings, and the current temperature. If anything’s amiss, both visual and audible alarms will alert you right away to minimize the chance of food spoilage.
But one of the best things about this thermometer is that you can use it outside of the kitchen, too. Use it to monitor the temperature of any space—like a baby’s nursery or the garage.
Dimensions: 3.1 x 3.7 inches (main unit) | Range: 14 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit | Power Source: AAA batteries | What's Included: (1) main unit, (2) transmitters, (1) user manual
Best Magnetic: Taylor Pro Series Digital Fridge/Freezer Thermometer
Multiple ways to install
No audible alarm
There’s a lot to love about a magnetic fridge thermometer: There’s no concern that your unit is going to tip over, making it harder to read. Plus, when you’re able to stick the unit onto the wall of your fridge, you conserve precious space. We love that this round device has that precious magnet, but also has a clip and a stand should you want to stash the device in one of the more traditional ways.
No matter which way you choose to set up the thermometer, you’ll love how easy the display is to read. The temperature reading—a large digital number—is perfectly centered on the screen. But just in case there’s any confusion (maybe you don’t know exactly how cold the fridge or freezer should be), the device also displays a happy or sad face to indicate whether the temperature is in a safe zone or not.
Dimensions: 2.75 x 2.75 inches | Range: -40 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit | Power Source: Cr2032 battery | What's Included: (1) Cr2032 battery
Best Set: AcuRite Refrigerator Thermometer
If you have multiple appliances to monitor, try this refrigerator thermometer, which includes two sensors—one for the refrigerator and one for the freezer. The sensors are wireless, so all you need to do is place them inside the unit. You can put the standalone display anywhere you can easily spot it—on the counter or a shelf, perhaps—but it’s magnetic and has a keyhole for hanging, so you could also mount it straight onto the refrigerator or the wall.
The display is relatively large, too, so you can spot it from afar. Additionally, you can program alarms easily so that you’ll be notified when the temperature exceeds your desired maximum, reducing the chance that food spoils.
Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 2.4 inches (main unit) | Range: -40 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit | Power Source: AAA batteries | What's Included: (1) main unit, (2) wireless sensors, (1) user manual
Best Compact: ThermoWorks ThermoDrop Zipper-Pull Thermometer
Durable and waterproof
Can only be hung
When space is really at a premium—maybe you’re monitoring the temperature of a mini-fridge or a cooler, or maybe you just have a very packed refrigerator—this is the thermometer for you. It’s just as accurate as our overall pick, but it’s a fraction of the size. In fact, it’s so small you can wrap your whole hand around it.
But despite its size, this thermometer provides just as much information as others. The auto-rotating display reads the current temperature, as well as minimum and maximums. And the big digits mean it's incredibly easy to read the temperature from any angle.
The thermometer also has another very important added feature. It has an IP67 rating, meaning it’s water-resistant, plus it's strong enough to withstand dust and drops (great for campers!). There are several color options to choose from, too.
Dimensions: 49 x 33 x 12.5 millimeters | Range: -13 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit | Power Source: CR2025 battery | What's Included: (1) CR2025 battery, (1) split key ring
The best overall fridge thermometer is the ThermoWorks Fridge/Freezer Thermometer (view at ThermoWorks) because it’s a reliable and versatile option. The magnetic thermometer is highly accurate and can be used in both sections of your appliance—or even in a deep freezer. For a budget-friendly option, opt for the Rubbermaid Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Fridge Thermometer
Standalone thermometers may tip over, making it harder to read the thermometer. Look for options that are magnetic or feature hooks or clips. Some options feature multiple attachment options and are thus more versatile.
Fridge thermometers come with analog and digital displays. For easy readings, look for a thermometer that has a large digital display. Some thermometers offer LED displays or are backlit for easier reading.
For longevity, select a model that specifically states that it's waterproof. Similarly, an anti-fog display is another nice feature to have. Waterproof options are also ideal for outdoor coolers and camping, so consider how versatile you need this thermometer to be.
How do you use a refrigerator thermometer?
To use a refrigerator thermometer properly, place it inside the fridge. If you want to monitor a particular area of the appliance more closely, like the meat drawer, place your thermometer as close to it as possible. Then, close the door and let it sit for a few hours before checking the temperature for the first time. For the most accurate picture of the true temperature, take your reading first thing in the morning, since the appliance’s door will have been closed for hours at a time. (Frequent opening and closing the door can skew the temperature.)
How cold should you keep your refrigerator and freezer?
According to the FDA, you should keep the refrigerator temperature at—or below—40 degrees Fahrenheit. The freezer temperature should be 0 degrees.
Where’s the best place to put a refrigerator thermometer?
The best place to put a refrigerator thermometer is near the door, which is typically the warmest area of the fridge. But you can also target specific areas (like the meat drawer) by putting the thermometer there.
How long does it take for a refrigerator thermometer to work?
Though your refrigerator thermometer will begin to read temperature immediately, it’s best to wait a few hours before taking a read. For the greatest accuracy, read the thermometer first thing in the morning when the door has been closed for more than a couple of hours at a time.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This article was written by Brigitt Earley, a freelance writer who has spent the last 10-plus years researching the best home goods and kitchen items for various digital publications, including The Spruce and Good Housekeeping. Brigitt also has a degree in culinary arts from The French Culinary Institute.