We took an in-depth look at nine of the best digital meat thermometers on the market, including the expensive-yet-popular ThermoWorks Thermapen. While the Thermapen is certainly among the best digital meat thermometers on the market, ultimately we found that there are better options for most homes, such as the Lavatools Javelin PRO.
Read on to check out our review of the Thermapen, or take a look at our full review of the nine best digital meat thermometers on the market.
Finding the best digital meat thermometer
We used a series of tests to rank each of the nine thermometers and determine which one was the best overall. These tests included the following:
- Temperature accuracy in freezing water
- Temperature accuracy in boiling water
- Temperature stabilization in tempered dark chocolate
- Temperature stabilization and accuracy in a thick rib-eye steak
As well as several other tests and metric comparisons.
What made the Thermapen stand out
The Thermapen sits at the very top of the price range for all of the digital thermometers we tested. While we aren’t quite sure that it’s worth the $100+ cost, there were still plenty of things we liked about the Thermapen.
The Thermapen led the field in the temperature range it could handle. During our testing, it was able to measure temperatures as low as -60°F, the lowest of all nine thermometers we tested (by about 20 degrees).
While this wide of a range isn’t needed by everyone — including those who are just using the thermometer to cook steak — it does add to the overall versatility of the thermometer, and is a significant value add for those who need to measure a wide range of temperatures in the kitchen.
None of the thermometers we tested were particularly difficult to handle. However, one thing we really liked about the Thermapen was the fact that the display would automatically rotate depending on which direction the thermometer was being held.
Instead of needing to turn our head sideways to read the temperature, we could easily read the temperature from any direction.
According to the ThermoWorks website, this is a technology they have patented, which means if you want to look at your digital thermometer without looking sideways, you probably need to go with the Thermapen.
The Thermapen was among the top performers among our instant-read finalists when we tested the speed with which each could find the correct temperature.
The Thermapen came in second place when measuring the temperature of ice water, boiling water, and steak. It also came in third place for measuring the chocolate. While these numbers aren’t particularly outstanding, they should be more than sufficient for most kitchen applications.
What we didn’t like about the Thermapen
The most significant thing we disliked about the Thermapen was the cost. At more than $100 (including shipping, tax, etc.), the Thermapen commands a significant premium over other digital food thermometers in the market, including the other 8 finalists we tested.
While a high price isn’t in and of itself a disqualifier, we felt that, in conjunction with the Thermapen’s performance, it is difficult to justify the cost of the Thermapen for most consumers.
Good, but not the best
As we mentioned above, the Thermapen performs reasonably well. That being said, it is neither the fastest, nor the most accurate thermometer we tested.
One of the major selling points that ThermoWorks uses to justify the cost of the Thermapen is the fact that it utilizes a “thermocouple” sensor instead of a “thermistor” sensor. This is supposed to increase the speed and accuracy of the thermometer.
Nevertheless, Both the Javelin PRO and the Eat Smart thermometers performed better in each of those categories some of the time.
If the price point of the Thermapen were in the $40-60 range, we’d feel much more comfortable recommending it. However, for the price, we simply don’t think that it’s worth it — not when we consider our other finalists.
Thermapen vs. Lavatools Javelin PRO
As we mentioned, the Thermapen performs well, but not as well as our top pick; specifically, the Lavatools Javelin PRO.
Lavatools Javelin PRO
The Javelin PRO was the best digital meat thermometer we tested, everything considered.
The Thermapen has a larger temperature range on both the high and the low end when compared to the Javelin PRO.
On the high end, the Thermapen works up to temperatures close to 600°F, while the Javelin PRO is effective up to about 475°F. On the low end, the Thermapen is functional in temperatures as low as -60°F, compared to the Javelin PRO which stops functioning at -40°F.
Both the Thermapen and the Javelin PRO were essentially comparable with regard to temperature accuracy.
In our freezing water test, both thermometers registered 32°F, which is precisely correct. In our boiling water test, both thermometers registered 210°F, which is 1.5 degrees off from the correct measurement (at our elevation, water boils at 211.5°F).
Temperature read speed
Both the Lavatools Javelin PRO and the ThermoWorks Thermapen were among the best performers across this category.
However, the Thermapen was faster on three of the tests (ice water, boiling water, and steak), while the Javelin PRO was faster in the chocolate test.
While the edge does go to the Thermapen, it’s important to note that both thermometers were able to produce accurate readings very quickly. We consider the Thermapen’s edge to be marginal in real-world applications.
The price of these products does change from time to time. However, in general the price of the Thermapen is about double what you’d pay for a Javelin PRO. At the time of testing, this meant spending $50 versus spending $100. Unless you’re working in a professional or commercial kitchen, the marginal improvements of the Thermapen are probably overkill.
Winner: Javelin PRO
Should you buy a Thermapen?
While the Thermapen is undoubtedly an excellent product, overall we found the value to be unequal to the price for most buyers. It is possible that some of the Thermapen’s value is in it’s longevity, and we will conduct long-term testing to see if that’s the case.
Based on our testing data and 30+ hours of use gave us a pretty clear indication that the Thermapen does not offer the best value, unless you have a specific need for a very wide temperature range (which reaches well below freezing), or if you really need to shave an extra second or two off your (already quick) reading.
Unless there is a specific feature that the Thermapen offers that you must have, we think that the Lavatools Javelin PRO performs better, costs less, and is an overall better value.
We encourage you to check out our full review of the nine best digital meat thermometers, in order to see how we came to this conclusion in greater detail.
Good But Overpriced: ThermoWorks Thermapen
The fast and accurate ThermoWorks Thermapen offers unique features that lead to its high price point. This thermometer isn't for everyone, but those who need its specific features should find the price worthwhile.