Why you need a Meat Thermometer

Aug 10, 2020

I’m at my friends for his birthday grilling steaks when he asks me why you need a meat thermometer?

The reason you need a Meat Thermometer is to measure your meat’s internal temperature to determine doneness and food safety. Not all meat is the same, and different bacteria and foodborne pathogens may be present. Various meats will need different temperatures to kill all bacteria that may be present.

Serve Safe Meat

Taking the meat’s temperature is the only way to make sure it’s cooked enough to eliminate any potentially harmful bacteria that could cause food poisoning. Bacteria is naturally present in all meats, and there are as manas as 48 million cases of foodborne illness each year reported by the CDC. That is roughly 1 in every 6 Americans get sick, hospitalized, or can even die. Don’t risk getting food poisoning and take the guesswork out of searing, grilling, or roasting meat.

Having a meat thermometer is critical if working in a commercial setting like a hotel or restaurant. The meat thermometer will give you the confidence that you are serving steak in the safest way possible while verifying you are cooking it to the temperature the customer wants.

If you want to learn how to use an BBQ Smoker, Electric Smoker, or Pellet Smoker, view our posts. To see a full list of Smokers and their specs, view our post on how much does a BBQ Smoker weigh.

ThermoPop in brisket

How to take Meat Temperature

Take the meat’s temperature near the end of the cooking time, but before you expect the meat to be ready. Stick your meat thermometer into the tickets part of the meat. Be careful not to hit any bone or fat. Try to aim for the meaty flesh.

If you are taking the temperature of hamburger patties or chicken breasts, go in at the side but don’t puncture thru the meat. When cooking multiple pieces of meat, you will need to check every piece to ensure they all are safe to eat.

Thermapen MK4 in Wrapped Brisket

Different Types of Meat Thermometers

Overall there are five different thermometers used for taking temperatures of meats, but only two that we would recommend.

    • Digital Instant Read Thermometers – These are placed a half-inch deep into the flesh of the meat. Do not leave these in the meat while cooking, but use it to get an instant, accurate temperature where you probe.
    • Oven Safe Thermometers – Place this thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and see the results on a handheld device or through a smart app. These usually come with multiple probes to get the temperature of different positions on the same meat or in separate meats.

The other three thermometers will get the job done if you have them lying around, but we wouldn’t suggest buying them for your permanent solution.

  • Dial Thermometers – Place these thermometers into the flesh and watch the dial move to indicate the temperature. There are not digital or instant and should not be left in the meat while cooking.
  • Pop-up Thermometers – These thermometers are found in poultry primarily in turkeys and sometimes chickens. It will automatically pop up when the inside has reached an internal safe temperature. There is no actual temperature reading, so these are easy to overcook.
  • Disposable – These thermometers are one-time use readers designed to reach specific temperature ranges and then change color. After one use, they are no longer functional, and you should throw them away.

Meat Thermometer Features

Meat Thermometers have many different features and will go up in price with the more features you get. The most important thing to remember is accuracy. If it isn’t accurate, then what good is it?

Our Recommendations

You cant how done meat is without measuring the temperature you can try to guess, but eating undercooked meat can make you extremely sick. Even an inexpensive digital thermometer can help.

Do yourself a favor and buy a ThermoWorks thermometer. You can only purchase these thermometers from their website. Please don’t get scammed by similar names or looking models on Amazon like me. They have a wide range of products, but you will rest easy knowing it is accurate. ThermoWorks has an accredited calibration laboratory, and certificates come with new purchases.

Thermapen MK4

  • 2-3 second readings
  • High accuracy to ±0.7°F (±0.4°C)
  • Includes NIST-Traceable calibration certificate with test data
  • Foldaway thermocouple probe
  • Auto-Rotating display
  • Use in either hand
  • Motion-sensing sleep & wake mode
  • Automatic backlight
  • Waterproof to IP67
  • 3,000-hour battery life (AAA Battery)
  • Display temps in °C or °F


Thermoworks ThermoPop

  • Rotating display
  • Left and right-handed use
  • 3 to 4-second readings
  • Splash-proof design
  • Big backlit digits
  • Temp range: -58 to 572°F (-50 to 300°C) 
  • Switchable °C/°F
  • 5,000 hours of typical performance with included lithium battery, replacement batteries available


Thermoworks Dash

  • Includes NIST-traceable calibration certificate 
  • Large, 180° auto-rotating display
  • Left and right-handed use
  • 3 to 4-second readings
  • Waterproof to IP67
  • Accuracy to ±0.9°F (0.5°C)
  • 5,000-hour battery life
  • Two probe sizes available

Smoke X

Thermoworks Smoke X Red

  • Next-generation RF wireless technology, guaranteed to reach anywhere in your home or yard
  • Pro-Series commercial-grade probes
  • Splash-proof sealed design for outdoor use rated to IP66
  • Stays in place with a sturdy base and strong magnets on the back
  • Backlit dashboard-style display to track temps, alarms, Min/Max
  • Includes control circuitry for Billows BBQ Temperature Control Fan


Thermoworks Signals

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® wireless technology built-in for seamless connection and easy setup
  • Four channels
  • Pro-Series commercial-grade probes
  • Works with ThermoWorks app and standalone
  • Splash-proof sealed design for outdoor use rated to IP66
  • Stays in place with a sturdy base and strong magnets on the back
  • Backlit dashboard-style display to track temps, alarms, Min/Max
  • Rechargeable battery with included power adapter

Heavy Duty Waterproof Thermometer

Thermoworks Heavy Duty Waterproof Thermometer

  • Temperatures up to 392°F (200°C)
  • Rubberized front panel to seal out moisture
  • IP66/67 waterproof rating
  • Large and clear display
  • Automatic shutoff

Minimum Food Temperatures

Please follow the minimum food safety guidelines when cooking meat, poultry, and any other prepared foods. Be sure to allow the meat to rest and check with a thermometer to ensure the food has reached a safe internal temperature.
Food TypeInternal Temperature
Beef, ground160°F (70°C)
Beef, fresh (rest 3 mins)145°F (65°C)
Pork, ground160°F (70°C)
Pork, fresh (including Ham)145°F (65°C)
Pork, pre-cooked Ham 165°F (75°C)
Veal, ground160°F (70°C)
Veal, fresh (rest 3 mins)145°F (65°C)
Lamb, ground160°F (70°C)
Lamb, fresh (rest 3 mins)145°F (65°C)

Tips and Tricks

Pull the meat just before you reach the desired temperature and allow the meat to rest. The meat will still cook for a few more degrees during the resting period.

Try covering and adding butter or seasoning while it is resting. The flavors will absorb into the meat as it rests.

Guessing can work sometimes, but if you like your meat perfect, you need a digital meat thermometer. Don’t risk getting you or your family and guests sick. Know the temperature of your meat.

We hope you found this info helpful, and please follow us to stay up to date on all of our latest posts.

OmahaSteaks.com, Inc.

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

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