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If you read old cookbooks, they’ll tell you to cook in a hot or slow oven, and they’ll give suggestions on how to test the doneness of foods by look and feel. That worked well enough for our ancestors, but you’re much more likely to get a perfectly-cooked roast if you can stab it with a thermometer and see exactly what temperature it is.
01 of 07
Best Overall: Taylor Precision Products Dual Temperature Thermometer
This two-in-one thermometer measures internal temperatures with its probe, and it also measures surface temperatures using infrared. The probe measures temperatures up to 626 degrees, so you can use it for checking your roast, monitoring hot sugar for candy, or checking your frying oil. The probe is five inches long, so you can reach deep into a roast, and it folds for safe storage.
The infrared can measure -67 to 482 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can use it for checking the surface temperature of a hot pan or checking food temperature in the freezer. It works well on dark surfaces, but can have trouble with light-colored shiny surfaces because of the reflectivity.
This has an auto shutoff and runs on two AAA batteries. It is splashproof but not waterproof, so it shouldn’t be submerged in water.
02 of 07
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Digital Talking Instant Thermometer
If you do a lot of grilling at night or your oven light is dim, this thermometer speaks the temperature, so you don’t need to bring a flashlight or squint at the numbers. It also has an LED night feature to help you see the numbers, if that’s your preference.
It takes about four seconds to get an accurate temperature, and the thermometer has an auto-shutoff feature so you won’t drain the battery. This can read from -58 degrees Fahrenheit to 572 degrees Fahrenheit.
03 of 07
Best Analog: OXO Good Grips Analog Instant Read Meat Thermometer
If you prefer analog over digital, this dial-style instant read meat thermometer can read from 0 degrees Fahrenheit to 220 degrees Fahrenheit. The shaded surface on the stem indicates the proper depth the probe should be inserted in the meat, and the probe cover lists proper cooking temperatures for different types of meat.
While this is much quicker than older thermometers, it’s not quite as fast as digital models — it can take up to seven seconds for the hand to stop moving on the dial. This should not be left in the oven during cooking. It has a silicone ring around the dial for a firm grip for inserting and removing the thermometer.
Because this doesn’t require batteries for operation and it’s not expensive, this is a good thermometer to keep on hand as a backup.
04 of 07
Best Combo: Taylor Precision Products Digital Cooking Thermometer/Timer
This thermometer-timer combo is designed for monitoring foods in your oven. While it’s meant to be left in the food rather than inserted for a quick read, you can check the temperature at a glance from the external unit that shows time, set temperature, and current temperature.
Like other thermometers of this type, the probes tend to go bad after time, from being kinked or bent, or from excessive heat. It’s a good idea to have extra probes on hand. It reads from 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 392 degrees Fahrenheit.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Best Bluetooth: ThermoPro Remote Wireless Digital Thermometer
You know it’s annoying to stand over a hot oven or grill to read a thermometer, right? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to check the temperature from across the room? You can do that with this wireless meat thermometer. It has a 300 foot range, so you can’t wander to the neighbor’s house, but it’s far enough to keep you away from the heat.
The transmitter and receiver are synched when they arrive, so there’s no setup or pairing required. Just put in the included batteries, and the thermometer is ready to use. It reads temperature from 32 to 572 degrees with an accuracy of +/- 1.5 degrees, and has a backlit screen for easy reading. The screen also changes color based on the temperature. The probe is 6 1/2 inches long to reach into the center of a large roast and has a step-down tip for quick temperature checks, if you don’t want to leave the probe in place.
The thermometer has preset temperatures for different types of meat, poultry, and fish, so you don’t need to look them up if you don’t remember. You can also reset the temperatures, to suit your personal preference. It also has a timer function.
The failing point for thermometers like this is usually the probe, but this company has you covered since they will replace the probe for free if it fails.
06 of 07
Best Infrared: Cuisinart CSG-625 Infrared Surface Thermometer, Silver/Black
For times when surface temperature is more important that internal temperature, an infrared surface thermometer is exactly what you need. It can measure the temperature of your grill grates, pizza stone, cast iron frying pan, oven walls, or check the exterior temperature of your grill to see if it’s safe to touch without mitts.
You can also to use it to check the interior of your refrigerator or freezer, or make sure that your chilled foods are still cold.
A visible laser light lets you target the point you want to check, and an LCD readout with a backlight makes it easy to read the results. This thermometer can read from -58 degrees Fahrenheit to 716 degrees Fahrenheit.
07 of 07
Best Compact: ThermoPro 5 Second Instant Read Digital Thermometer
This slim thermometer has many features as larger models but is not much bigger than a pen. It can measure temperatures from -58F to 572F with an accuracy of .9F between 32 and 212F, and display temperatures in C or F. To save battery life, it switches off automatically after 10 minutes.
There are just two buttons on the back of the thermometer to control it. One turns the thermometer on and off, and the other switches between C and F. A split ring on the handle lets you hang the thermometer on a hook, and the included sheath protects the probe in storage. The handle is plastic with a stainless steel finish. The battery is included.