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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Instant-Read Thermometers



It seems like everyone out there wants to be known as the “go-to” when it comes to cooking the perfect meal on the grill.

And who can blame us really?

Is that burger done? Know for sure with an instant-read thermometer.
Is that burger done? Know for sure with an instant-read thermometer.

My favorite is the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo because it’s built to last—feels sturdy. See it at Amazon.

It is something that seems to be unique to men. We all want to be the one everybody looks at when they want a good outdoors meal. Maybe it’s the pageantry that comes with it, or the camaraderie of gathering around the grill with a group of friends. Opening a case of beer and firing up the grill is something I most definitely look forward to in the summer months. I imagine lots of other people out there feel the same.

If you would like to be the friend that hosts the events this summer, there are a few tools that are necessary for you to get to make sure that you are competent on the grill.

One of the first things I recommend a new pit boss to get is a grilling thermometer. The last thing you want to do is overcook the steaks or take the chicken off the grill only to find out that, while it looks cooked on the outside, it’s still raw on the inside.

That is why I have decided to put together a list of my favorite instant-read thermometers for the barbecue.

Difference between leave-in and instant-read thermometers

A leave-in thermometer is an excellent tool for being able to determine the temperature of your grill, and sometimes even for controlling the temperature. Instant-read thermometers are geared more towards the food temperature.

An instant-read is capable of giving you an accurate temperature while only having to use the tip of the probe, which is essential to keeping the integrity of the meat you are cooking. Alright, so let’s get onto the list of products.

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ThermoPro Meat Thermometer

The first and the most economical instant read thermometer is the ThermoPro Meat Thermometer. If you are looking for a thermometer for the sole purpose of having your food cooked around a specific temperature, this one will work for you.


  • It has an accuracy range of 1 – 2 degrees Fahrenheit, not the most accurate thermometer. I wouldn’t use it for temperature specific product, but it gets the job done for most foods.
  • The response time will give you the temperature of your meat between four and seven seconds.
  • The compact folding design lets you keep it with you without taking up too much room. ThermoPro TP03 Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer Kitchen Cooking Food Candy Thermometer with Backlight and Magnet for Oil Deep Fry BBQ Grill Smoker Thermometer

You can check the ThermoPro out for yourself at Amazon.

This is not my favorite thermometer, but I would recommend it to anybody who is new to grilling and wants to make sure they are cooking their food to a proper temperature.

Get the right thermometer and grill a better burger.
Get the right thermometer and grill a better burger.

Lavatools PT12 Javelin Instant-Read Thermometer

The next thermometer that I would recommend to a fellow pit boss is the Lavatools PT12 Javelin Instant Read. This model is great for the beginning barbecue chef.


  • This has a price point that is fairly economical, yet will probably last you a long time.
  • My favorite feature of the PT12 is the extremely thin probe. (A probe’s width is important because piercing your meat can cause it to dry out, and nobody wants that.) This product has a thin design that will ensure you do not have that problem.
  • It is also a quick reading thermometer that will give your reading within 4 seconds. The battery life is significantly longer than the previously mentioned product with 5,000 hours of cook time. That’s a lot of burgers.
  • It features backlit technology allowing you to see the display when it’s dark, and its most convenient feature is the integrated magnet that lets you hang it on the grill for easy access. Lavatools PT12 Javelin Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer for Kitchen, Food Cooking, Grill, BBQ, Smoker, Candy, Home Brewing, Coffee, and Oil Deep Frying

Take a look at the Lavatools PT12 at Amazon.

I would recommend the Javelin one to anybody who is just beginning their barbecue adventures.

You could always go with an
infrared thermometer.

Javelin Pro Duo Thermometer

The final thermometer I am going to recommend is for those who are looking for a sturdy, good quality thermometer they can rely on for years to come. Introducing the Javelin Pro Duo.

If you are already comfortable with barbecuing (but still not looking to cook on a professional level) and are looking for a thermometer that you will be using on temperature-sensitive dishes, this is the product for you.

I like this because it is a little more accurate than the lower priced models, meaning it is going to give you a more precise cook.

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  • This thermometer is capable of reading temperature ranging from -40 to 482 degrees Fahrenheit with an accuracy within 0.9 degrees.
  • It gives you a reading within 2 – 3 seconds, and the sharp digital display automatically rotates to the orientation that it is being held.
  • Perhaps the best part of this thermometer is the 3-year warranty that the manufacturer will give you with the purchase of this product. Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Ambidextrous Backlit Professional Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer for Kitchen, Food Cooking, Grill, BBQ, Smoker, Candy, Home Brewing, Coffee, and Oil Deep Frying

See more features of the Javelin Pro Duo at Amazon.


Remember, more than anything else, barbecuing is all about temperature. From the temperature of your grill to the temperature of your food, it is the single most important aspect of preparing that summertime feast for friends and family.

More so than the seasoning, the cuts of meat, and even more important than the actual equipment you grill on (although quality gear will make it much easier to control temperatures). If you mistakenly undercook your food, you are putting people at risk of getting sick. Conversely, if you overcook your food, then you will have a tough, chewy piece of meat that nobody will enjoy. Either way, both scenarios mean that you likely won’t be having anybody coming back over when you plan your next event.

Do yourself a favor, get an instant read thermometer and have the perfect dish, for a perfect summer afternoon, cooked at the perfect temperature.

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Additional Resources

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Nick A. and @NickMKE

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Alexis DeAnda

Alexis DeAnda is a food fanatic, library card user, and cast iron hunter, in that order. She has been cooking for anyone that will taste it ever since her mom let her make doughnuts on Saturday mornings at the age of 7.

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