I Bought the $13 Meat Thermometer That Amazon Shoppers Are Obsessed With

published Feb 11, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

When a product on Amazon gets reviews numbering in the thousands, I take note. When it gets reviews numbering in the tens of thousands, I take out my wallet. That’s how I ended up with this $13 ThermoPro digital meat thermometer. Right now it has more than 16,000 reviews — with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. People love this thing! Although there are a few unhappy souls who got a bum version or whose thermometer broke within a year, the vast majority of the reviews are beyond glowing. So, I decided to put it to the test. (And, yes, you do need a digital meat thermometer!)

Read more: The $13 Meat Thermometer That Amazon Shoppers Are Obsessed With

Credit: Danielle Centoni

I already have the chef-recommended ThermaPen MK4, which I splurged on several years ago and have used so much, and with such great results, that I’ve never had a second of buyer’s remorse. I do a lot of recipe testing, so an accurate and durable thermometer is crucial to my work. My ThermaPen has never let me down. But I’d love to have a cheaper version to take on vacations, so I had high hopes for the less expensive ThermoPro.

ThermoPro vs. ThermaPen: First Impression

When it arrived I was surprised by how lightweight it is. The good news is, it’s light enough that the little magnets on the back can indeed hold it up, if you wanted to stick it on the side of the fridge. The bad news is it’s so light, it feels cheap and flimsy. 

It didn’t help that I nearly broke it trying to deploy the probe. Unlike the ThermaPen, you can’t just pull it out, you have to press a button to release it. I didn’t know this because I didn’t read the instruction booklet (who needs an instruction booklet to take a temp?), so I pulled on the probe until I felt a faint crack — uh oh. I stopped before any damage was done and figured out how to release it. 

Despite its flimsiness, the ThermoPro has some cool features: the magnets, for one, and the light up display, which is quite bright and makes it easy to see the numbers. It has a push button to toggle between Celsius and Fahrenheit. And the temp range is -58°F to 572°F, which means it can be used for candy-making, too — although in my experience the clip-on thermometers are way better, as they keep your hands free to stir. 

By comparison, the pricier ThermaPen lacks the magnets, but has the same temp range, and a larger display (though mine’s not as bright). Changing from Fahrenheit to Celsius requires more work with the ThermaPen (removing the battery and toggling a switch), but it can also be calibrated, is water resistant, has a longer probe, and its heavy, commercial-grade construction seems more durable.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

ThermoPro vs. ThermaPen: Performance

But what about performance? The cheaper ThermoPro was definitely a bit faster at taking temps. However, the accuracy was not quite as dialed-in. For example, when taking the temp of boiling water, which should be 212°F, it held pretty steady at 213°F. The ThermaPen mostly held steady at 212°F, though sometimes very briefly dropped down to 211°F. 

The ThermoPro also registered the internal temp of burger patties a couple degrees higher. The company says it’s accurate to ±0.9°F, and my unit seems to consistently measure things at least 1 degree hotter than they are. ThermaPen says it’s accurate to ±0.7°F and comes with a NIST-Traceable calibration certificate and a two-year warranty.

ThermoPro vs. ThermaPen: Final Thoughts

Though my ThermaPen is a second slower at registering temps than the ThermoPro, I’ve found it to be plenty fast enough, and I’d rather have accuracy than lightning speed. But at $80, the ThermaPen costs nearly six times more than the $13 ThermoPro, which performs almost as well. It may need to be replaced more often, but if you’re on a budget or looking for a travel-ready option, this cheaper thermometer is well worth adding to your kitchen toolkit

Do you have an instant-read thermometer that you love? Tell us about it in the comments below.