OXO’s Chef’s Precision Digital Instant Thermometer is one of Karmel’s budget picks ($19.99, oxo.com). “It has a very large face, so the digital read comes out very, very large,” she says. “Even when it’s dark outside, it’s easy to read.” The on-off button is easy to find and use, and the narrow probe tip helps make the smallest of holes in the meat. “And you want to make as few holes as possible, because the more holes you make, the more chances for the juice to run out,” explains Karmel, who also runs an online barbecue shack called Carolina Cue To-Go.
Nearly everyone we talked to recommended the Thermapen by ThermoWorks. Aaron Hutcherson, blogger at the Hungry Hutch, explains that its digital nature, clean design, compact shape and big numbers are winning points for this thermometer.
“I’m a fan of those with a folding probe, as it’s much easier to insert at the proper angle than with linear pens,” he says. Hutcherson uses the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen, but Thermoworks also has the updated Mk4 version, in which the display rotates right-side-up when turned, preventing cocked necks and upside-down readings ($79-$99, thermoworks.com).
Michelle Smith, author of “The Whole Smiths Good Food Cookbook
” and a proponent of the Whole30 regimen, makes a lot of meat-centered recipes for her family. She finds that Lavatools’ Javelin is always fast — with a four-second response time — and accurate, “not to mention compact” ($24.99, lavatools.com). It features a large display, magnetic back and a water-resistant, antimicrobial construction.
When Marnie Hanel and Jen Stevenson, co-authors of “The Campout Cookbook: Inspired Recipes for Cooking Around the Fire and Under the Stars,” cook a “medium-rare ember-grilled rib-eye” over a fire, Hanel says they use the ThermoPop ($29, thermoworks.com). “It’s lightning-bug fast,” Hanel says. “Its backlight is helpful for cooking after dark, it comes in an array of colors unlikely to get lost in the woods and, most importantly, it’s less expensive than many similar-quality thermometers.” She keeps a separate one with her camp-cooking supplies so that she always remembers to pack it.
Even during grilling season, recipe developer Elkus uses her Candy and Deep Fry Thermometer to make sweet treats ($17.99, oxo.com). “It clips easily onto the side of a pot, making it perfect for frying doughnuts or making homemade caramels,” she says. “It’s also very easy to read.” A large opening at the top is perfect for sliding a wooden spoon in to lift the thermometer out of hot oil.