What’s the best steak meat thermometer? Let’s find out…
In the quest for the perfect steak, there’s one tool you’ll definitely need: the meat thermometer. This often-overlooked kitchen gadget is critical for ensuring your steak is cooked to the ideal degree of doneness. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the essentials of meat thermometers for steak, investigate their key features, and review some of the best models currently available. I’ll also share my favorite meat thermometer and explain why it’s been the perfect all-around solution for my meat-cooking obsession.
Table of Contents
Why Meat Thermometers are Essential for Cooking Steak
Steak doneness is a matter of personal preference, but regardless of whether you prefer your steak rare or well-done, a meat thermometer is a must-have tool. Not only does it eliminate the guesswork from cooking, but it also guarantees that your steak is cooked accurately to your preferred level of doneness.
And let’s be honest—a perfectly cooked steak is medium rare. If you’re cooking the same steak in the same way every time, you might have your process down so that you don’t need a meat thermometer. But on those occasions that you’re trying something new, it’s best to have a trustworthy meat thermometer for your steak.
Temperature and Steak Doneness
The temperature of your steak plays a pivotal role in determining its doneness. Here’s a breakdown of the internal temperatures for each level of doneness:
- Rare: 120-130°F
- Medium-Rare: 130-135°F
- Medium: 135-145°F
- Medium-Well: 145-155°F
- Well-Done: 155°F and above
These temperatures are not arbitrary; they correspond to distinct physical changes in the steak’s protein structure, affecting its color, texture, and juiciness.
Medium-rare is how I prefer to cook my steaks, and I’ve become pretty good at recognizing when a steak is cooked even if I don’t have a meat thermometer present—but I prefer to use one.
The Risks of Undercooking and Overcooking Steak
Undercooking steak can lead to potential health risks, including foodborne illnesses, particularly with certain cuts of meat. Conversely—and far worse, in my opinion—overcooking can result in a dry and tough steak that is far from the succulent and tender delight you had in mind.
A meat thermometer is your best defense against these culinary snafus, offering a precise measurement of your steak’s internal temperature and guiding you to the desired level of doneness… which should be somewhere around medium-rare.
The Role of a Meat Thermometer in Precision Cooking
Cooking steak is an art that requires precision, and a meat thermometer is an indispensable tool in this process. It allows you to monitor the internal temperature of the steak during the cooking process, making sure you remove it from the heat at the perfect moment. This not only promises a perfectly cooked steak but also brings consistency to your cooking and delivers the same stellar results every. single. time.
Key Features of a High-Quality Steak Thermometer
When it comes to selecting a meat thermometer for steak, there are several important factors to consider. Here, we break down the key features that define a high-quality steak thermometer.
Speed of Reading
A fast reading speed is crucial. Look for a thermometer that provides a temperature reading within seconds, allowing you to quickly check the steak’s internal temperature without leaving the oven or grill open for too long. This can prevent unnecessary heat loss, which can disrupt the cooking process. The thermometers I review below all provide an “instant reading.”
The accuracy of a thermometer is paramount. A discrepancy of just a few degrees can mean the difference between medium-rare and medium, or medium and well-done. In other words, your reputation hangs in the balance. Look for a thermometer with an accuracy of ±1°F to ensure precise readings.
Durability and Build Quality
A well-constructed thermometer should be able to withstand the rigors of a hot grill or a steamy kitchen. Thermometers with a high-quality build often feature materials like stainless steel for the probe and heat-resistant plastics for the body. Additionally, waterproof or water-resistant features can be beneficial for cleaning and accidental liquid spills.
When I buy a meat thermometer, I want to be sure that it can handle scorching hot searing temperatures or the long, slow grind of smoking something all day.
Ease of Use
The best thermometers are straightforward and intuitive to use. A large, easy-to-read display is essential, especially in low light conditions. Other factors to consider include a comfortable grip, easy battery replacement, and clear instructions for use.
Not to spoil the reviews, but I have yet to find a truly wireless thermometer that I LOVE. When it requires apps and bluetooth and the like, it sometimes overcomplicates an otherwise simple task.
Many modern thermometers come equipped with additional features that can enhance your cooking experience. This includes Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity for remote temperature monitoring, preset temperature settings for different levels of doneness, and an alarm to alert you when the desired temperature is reached.
In my opinion, alarms are key.
Now that we’ve covered the key features to look for in a steak thermometer, we’ll move on to our top picks for the best steak thermometers on the market.
The 5 Best Steak Meat Thermometers of 2023
After thorough research and consideration, we have compiled a list of the best meat thermometers for steak as of 2023. These devices are highly rated by consumers and experts alike for their accuracy, durability, and ease of use. Here are our top recommendations:
Best All-Around Meat Thermometer: ThermoPro TP27 500FT Long Range Wireless Meat Thermometer
The ThermoPro Wireless Digital Cooking Thermometer stands out with its feature-rich design, perfectly calibrated for the barbecue enthusiast or steak obsessed.
Key Features include:
- 4 Color-Coded Probes: I love that I can use a few probes to monitor the meat and a few probes to monitor the ambient temperate of the grill or smoker. The color-coded probes make it effortless to identify which probe corresponds to each piece of meat.
- Extended Remote Range: This is key. I can comfortably hang out inside my house and the receive a clear signal to the receiver from almost any room.
- Standalone Transmitter: ThermoPro’s unique design puts all key programmable buttons on the transmitter, allowing use of the BBQ thermometer for grill without the receiver. This feature is perfect for quickly cooked foods like fish or steak, where you’re operating at a shorter distance. I love that the transmitter is easy to use and has a magnetic back so it stays secure on the side of the grill or smoker.
- Optimal Accuracy & Simple Setup: With 6.2-inch stainless steel probes and a 43-inch mesh cable, this digital meat thermometer for grill promises an accuracy of ±1.8 Fahrenheit, ensuring your meat is always cooked to perfection.
- Smart Temperature Alarm: The grilling thermometer includes a unique alarm mode that vibrates and flashes on both the receiver and transmitter when your meat or BBQ temperature reaches your preset setting. You’ll never miss the perfect moment to take your meat off the heat. This has been KEY when smoking meat overnight or over long stretches of time.
In all, the ThermoPro Wireless Digital Cooking Thermometer delivers a combination of precision, convenience, and smart features that make it a valuable addition to any cooking setup. If you’re a meat cooking enthusiast that dabbles in all sorts of styles (smoking, grilling, etc.), this is an excellent purchase.
I don’t really have anything to list here. I suppose that anything with wires can occasionally be a hassle (you know, untangling stuff), but as you’ll see I often use this wired solution over these wireless alternatives.
Price: Usually around $75. I’ve seen it on sale for as little as $60, but have also seen it as high as $90.
Where to buy: Buy on Amazon
MEATER Plus Long Range Smart Wireless Meat Thermometer Review
The MEATER Plus Long Range Smart Wireless Meat Thermometer is a superb addition to any cooking enthusiast’s arsenal, whether you prefer to cook indoors or make the most of the great outdoors with a barbecue. This unit sets itself apart by being entirely wire-free, giving you the freedom and flexibility to cook as you please.
Key Features include:
- Wireless Freedom: Sort of. As long as you’re within range, you can access the meat temperature and ambient temperature.
- Dual Temperature Sensors: With two sensors on a single probe, this thermometer can monitor the internal meat temperature (up to 212°F) and the ambient/external temperature (up to 527°F) simultaneously.
- Guided Cook System: This feature is pretty cool. You can select the type and cut of meat, and it will give you a recommended temperature. Since meat continues to cook even after it comes off the heat, it will tell you when to take the meat off the heat to hit that target temp.
- Extended Range over WiFi with MEATER Link: It’s convenient to extend the range with Meater Link—because the range out of the box is pretty weak.
- Quality Construction: The probe is made from stainless steel, making it water-resistant and easy to clean. It has a Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connection with a range of up to 165 feet.
- Rechargeable: The thermometer provides over 24 hours of continuous cooking per charge, and includes an LED indicator that shows the battery state of the charger and the probe.
I find that I often use my MEATER to monitor the resting temperature of meat after it comes off the smoker. However, it’s not my go to tool for a number of reasons…
While the MEATER Plus Long Range Smart Wireless Meat Thermometer is an excellent device, it’s important to note that it requires a smartphone or tablet for operation, as it relies on an app for most of its features. This might not appeal to those who prefer a more traditional, standalone thermometer. However, for the tech-savvy chef, this could be an exciting feature that brings a whole new level of interaction to the cooking experience.
I don’t particularly like having to open up an app to monitor the temperature, but the notifications are helpful. It’s a great tool if you’re only cooking one piece of meat; otherwise, it gets pricey to add MEATER thermometers to your meat thermometer arsenal.
Price: About $80 (as high as $100)
Where to Buy: Buy on Amazon
Alpha Grillers Instant Read Meat Thermometer Review
The highest rated meat thermometer on Amazon? It’s up there! It also has a whopping 47,000+ review… The Alpha Grillers Instant Read Meat Thermometer is a highly versatile and accurate tool that can be used for BBQ, baking, cooking, deep frying, and candy making. This instant read thermometer features a temperature probe and advanced technology that provides a response time of 2-3 seconds, ensuring rapid and precise temperature readings. The package includes instructions, 2 CR2 button batteries, a meat temperature chart, and 4 hook and loop dots for easy storage. The thermometer comes pre-calibrated for your convenience and also offers a recalibrating function if needed.
If you’re in need of an affordable yet reliable solution, this very well may be the meat thermometer for you.
Key Features include…
- Instant Read: The thermometer provides a fast response time of 2-3 seconds, ensuring quick and accurate temperature readings.
- Multifunctional: This device is suitable for a variety of uses, from BBQ to baking, making it a versatile tool for any kitchen.
- Easy to Read: The large dial and bright blue backlight ensure that you can easily read the temperature, whether you’re grilling in the dark or baking in your brightly lit kitchen.
- Water-Resistant: With an IP66 rating, the thermometer is water-resistant and can be cleaned under running water, making it ideal for various kinds of food.
- Users seem to be mostly happy with this thermometer!
Final Thoughts The Alpha Grillers Instant Read Meat Thermometer is a top-of-the-line choice for those who require quick, accurate readings and a wide range of uses in their cooking thermometer. Its water-resistant design and easy-read display make it a convenient tool for any cook. Regardless of whether you’re a professional chef or a home cook, this thermometer is a great addition to your kitchen. Oh, and it’s affordable…
Where to Buy: Buy on Amazon
ThermoPro TempSpike Premium Wireless Meat Thermometer
The ThermoPro TempSpike Premium Truly Wireless Meat Thermometer is the wireless thermometer that I wish I would have bought.
Key Features include…
- Wireless Freedom: Like the MEATER, you don’t need to deal with wires on this unit.
- Dual Temperature Sensors: A single probe equipped with two sensors enables the TempSpike to monitor both the internal meat temperature and the ambient pit temperatures simultaneously.
- Effective Time Management: This is my favorite feature about the ThermoPro TempSpike and MEATER. Not only can you set alarms, but it will give you an idea of remaining cook time too.
- Extended Range with Advanced Bluetooth: The TempSpike uses the latest Bluetooth 5.2 technology, which allows for a greater range than the MEATER.
- Quality Construction: The TempSpike’s feels well-crafted like other ThermoPro products. I’ve really come to like this company.
- Rechargeable: The TempSpike’s probe provides over 48 hours of continuous cooking per charge, which is twice the amount of the MEATER.
One other benefit of app-based meat thermometers is that you can benefit from new features (rolled out to the app) without having to buy a new product.
See the review of the wireless MEATER thermometer. At the end of the day, you’re still tied to an app, which can be more trouble than it’s worth.
Price: $80ish (but depends on color)
Where to buy: Buy on Amazon
GORNEL Wireless Meat Thermometer
The GORNEL wireless meat thermometer has quickly become an indispensable tool in my kitchen. Whether I’m preparing a professional-grade meal or simply delighting friends and family with my traditional recipes, this device ensures perfect cooking results every time.
Key Features include…
- Wireless Freedom: Like the MEATER and ThermoPro wireless options, the GORNEL meat thermometer frees you of pesky cords.
- Multiple Probes: The fact that it comes with more than one probe is a huge plus. Adding probes to your MEATER or ThermoPro set-up gets expensive quick.
- Water Resistant Design: I should note that the probes are water resistant—not the unit itself. This does make it easy to wash the probes.
- Affordable: This is one of the more affordable wireless units out there.
I love the idea of wireless, but sometimes the trouble of setting it all up, figuring out what probe belongs to what temperature/piece of meat, etc. is just too much trouble than the technological coolness factor is worth. The probes have to be recharged, which can be annoying if you need to use them immediately.
Reviewers often also complain about the cheap-feeling design. If you put it side-by-side to the ThermoPro wired unit, you can definitely tell that it doesn’t feel as robust or well-made. Oh, and another big drawback: No ambient temperature on the probe. That’s something that really sets the ThermoPro and MEATER options apart.
Price: $59-150 (depending on the number of probes)
Where to Buy: Buy on Amazon
How to Use a Meat Thermometer
Knowing the right temperature for your steak is just half the battle. The other half is knowing how to properly use your meat thermometer to ensure you’re getting an accurate reading. Here’s a step-by-step guide to using a meat thermometer correctly:
- In the thickest part: Insert the probe into the thickest part of the steak, avoiding any bone or fat for the most accurate reading.
- In the center: For thinner cuts, aim for the center of the steak.
- Not too deep, not too shallow: The tip of the probe should be in the center of the steak. If you go too deep, you might get a cooler reading from the other side.
- Give it time: It can take a few seconds for the thermometer to get an accurate reading. Patience is key!
- Check it: Regularly calibrate your thermometer according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it’s always accurate.
How to Clean a Meat Thermometer
A good meat thermometer is an investment, and like all investments, it needs to be taken care of. Here’s how to maintain your meat thermometer:
- Do not submerge: Most meat thermometers are not waterproof. Clean the metal probe with a damp cloth and mild detergent.
- No dishwasher: Never put your meat thermometer in the dishwasher.
- Safe place: Store your thermometer in a safe, dry place to avoid any potential damage.
- Avoid extreme temperatures: Extreme heat or cold can damage your thermometer and affect its accuracy.
- Keep extras on hand: Your thermometer is no good if the batteries are dead. Always have extra batteries on hand.
- Regular replacement: Even if they’re not dead, it’s a good idea to replace the batteries every six months to ensure they don’t leak and damage the device.
In the next section of the article, we’ll look at some common mistakes people make when using a meat thermometer and how to avoid them.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Meat Thermometer
Even with the best meat thermometer in hand, it’s possible to make mistakes that can lead to inaccurately cooked steak. Here are some of the most common mistakes and how you can avoid them:
Not Inserting the Thermometer Correctly
Problem: Inserting the thermometer too shallowly, too deeply, or into the fat or bone can lead to incorrect readings.
Solution: Always aim for the thickest part of the steak, and ensure the tip of the probe is in the center of the meat. For thinner cuts, try to get the probe into the very center.
Not Waiting Long Enough for a Reading
Problem: Pulling the thermometer out before it has had a chance to give an accurate reading can result in undercooked or overcooked steak.
Solution: Patience is key. Wait a few seconds for the thermometer to provide an accurate reading.
Not Calibrating the Thermometer
Problem: Over time, a thermometer’s calibration can drift, leading to inaccurate readings.
Solution: Regularly calibrate your thermometer according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it’s always accurate. This will ensure that your steak is cooked to your exact preference every time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Meat Thermometers
Can I leave the thermometer in the steak while it cooks?
While some thermometers are designed to be left in the meat while it cooks, others are not. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions. Using a leave-in thermometer can help you monitor the steak’s temperature without repeatedly opening the oven or grill, helping to maintain a consistent cooking temperature.
How do I know if my meat thermometer is accurate?
The best way to check the accuracy of a meat thermometer is to test it in boiling water, which should read around 212°F (100°C) at sea level, and in an ice water bath, which should read 32°F (0°C). If the readings are off, your thermometer may need to be recalibrated or replaced.
Can I use a meat thermometer on all types of meat?
Yes, a meat thermometer can be used on all types of meat, not just steak. However, different types of meat require different internal temperatures to be considered safely cooked, so be sure to refer to a reliable temperature guide for each type of meat.
What is the best type of meat thermometer for steak?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as the best thermometer for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. However, instant-read digital thermometers are often recommended and our favorite thermometer is the ThermoPro TP27 500FT Long Range Wireless Meat Thermometer.
What temperature should I cook a steak?
A steak should be cooked to at least a temperature of about 125°F, which would be considered rare. However, most people prefer their steak to be medium rare, which is an internal temperature of 130-135°F.
How do I use a meat thermometer on steak?
Stick the probe into the steak in the thickest section. If you’re using an instant-read thermometer, you should have an accurate reading within 5-10 seconds of inserting the probe.
Is a meat thermometer worth it for a steak?
Choosing the best meat thermometer for steak can significantly elevate your cooking game, ensuring that every cut of beef reaches the perfect level of doneness. Not only can a meat thermometer take the guesswork out of cooking steak, but it can also ensure that the meat is cooked safely.
We’ve covered a lot in this guide – from understanding the importance of a meat thermometer, to the various types available, how to use and maintain them, and common mistakes to avoid. Hopefully, you now feel equipped to make an informed decision about the best meat thermometer for your needs.
We definitely recommend finding a trustworthy and easy-to-use meat thermometer for cooking your next steak.
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