Your kitchen may have all the latest and greatest kit (think chef’s knife, set of saucepans and a high-tech food processor) but there's one crucial accessory you’re likely to have missed off your list: a digital thermometer.
There’s no graver mistake than relying on your cook’s instinct for the perfect leg of lamb. A thermometer is the only way to ensure you get the cooking time spot on.
"The one thing that will ruin an expensive cut of meat is overcooking it," says James Rix, chef and owner of the Fox and Hounds in Hertfordshire. "A decent thermometer is essential for barbecuing, slow cooking beef brisket or roasting a beef wellington, as you can't see inside to check the meat is cooked."
But a digital thermometer is not just for Sunday roasts and barbecues. Whether you're making jam, confectionery or baking, a thermometer will not only help you achieve the best results, but ensure your food is thoroughly cooked too (the cardinal rule of food safety).
There are three key types of digital cooking thermometer:
- A temperature probe, which provides an instant temperature reading when inserted into meat, fish or poultry
- An in-oven thermometer, which allows you to take a temperature reading from outside the oven during cooking
- A high-tech wireless thermometer, controlled via Bluetooth or an app
Here are the best meat thermometers to buy now, starting with our favourite…
1. Thermapen Professional SuperFast Food Thermometer
Thermapen comes out on top for reliable and accurate temperature readings, as well as a high-quality design. It may not have all the bells and whistles – it’s simply a handheld reader with a foldable probe and backlit screen – but this model is a favourite among chefs.
When you look more closely, it has a range of clever features: a thin, stainless steel probe that folds for easy storage, a 360-degree rotational display and adjustable backlight. Not only is it waterproof, it gives accurate results in three seconds, has °C and °F measurement and 3,000 hours battery life.
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2. Inkbird IBT-2X Bluetooth Cooking Thermometer
This affordable Bluetooth thermometer is chef James Rix's favourite. It comes with a stainless steel probe (with the option to add a second, should you need to monitor two items at once) and a lightweight handheld thermometer. It can also connect to a free smartphone app which alerts you when your dish reaches the desired temperature. And the added bonus? It has a range of up to 50 metres and a temperature range of 0-300°C.
3. Polder Digital Meat & Poultry Probe In-Oven Thermometer
This in-oven thermometer is easy to use, with a range of pre-set cooking temperatures for different meats and a clear LCD display that has a built-in stand. The handiest feature? A bleep alert which goes off when your meat reaches your desired temperature – we’d say that’s a pretty fail-safe way of ensuring a juicy, perfectly cooked roast every time.
4. Apption Labs 'Meater' Smart Wireless Meat Thermometer
This app controlled wireless thermometer brings smart tech to your Sunday roast. This is definitely the most advanced cooking thermometer out there, but it’s the most expensive, too. The 12.5cm-long probe is to be left in your meat as it cooks. It syncs with a smartphone app to advise the chef on cooking time, resting time and more. It even offers a 50 metre range so, while your dinner is cooking, you can go elsewhere in your house – the app will notify you when dinner is ready.
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5. Heston Blumenthal by Salter Instant Read Digital Thermometer
Precision is the order of the day for this digital thermometer, which reads temperatures accurately to the nearest 0.1ºC. It has a straightforward display and a temperature range of -45ºC to 200ºC. Whilst it lacks other features – it does what it says on the tin, ie. measures temperature – but if you’re looking for a reliable, no-frills thermometer for under £25, this is the model we’d recommend.
6. DOQAUS Instant Read Cooking Thermometer
Look no further for an accurate, quick and affordable digital thermometer – this model gives you a reading within three seconds. It also has a temperature range of -50°C to 300°C, meaning it can be used not only to finesse your Sunday roast, but also in barbecue dishes, baking, confectionery and jam making. It's straightforward enough to use, with an auto on-off sensor and a foldable probe. The only downside? The three extra buttons are a little fiddly.
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7. ThermoPro TP02S Digital Meat Thermometer
This probe thermometer has over 5,900 five-star ratings on Amazon, which proves it’s a reliable, accurate cooking thermometer at a great price. It comes with a handy storage cover for the stainless steel probe, a reasonably quick reading time of five seconds and a temperature range of -50°C to 300°C. Although it’s marketed as a ‘meat thermometer’, enthusiastic reviewers say it’s great for everything from tempering chocolate to baking bread.
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