Wireless meat thermometers monitor your slow-cooking meat and let you attend to other things, like getting your home prepped for guests. Most=often marketed as barbecuing accessories, wireless thermometers consist of wired probes connected to a transmitter that sends temperature and timing information to a receiver you can clip to your belt.
A longtime leader in wireless thermometers, the Brookstone Grill Alert Talking Remote Meat Thermometer (Est. $70) offers a wide roaming area, accurate, consistent readings and easy preset temperatures for different kinds of meat. Better yet, an alarm tells you when dinner's ready. By far the simplest, most convenient wireless thermometer on the market, it's perhaps too easy for pitmasters or other advanced cooks. The temperature presets cook your steak to a few degrees above the USDA recommendations and are great if you don't know what temperature you like. However, those who adjust their cooking to get the most juiciness and flavor will prefer to ignore the presets and focus on self-monitoring the temperature, which is also displayed.
For easy, safe temperature monitoring that allows you to keep your mind on something else while your meat cooks, the Grill Alert is your best bet. But it's not the only good buy on the market. Another top-reviewed wireless thermometer, the Maverick Wireless Barbecue Thermometer Set ET-732 ($70) , also offers cooks a 300-foot roaming range and warns if the transmitter and receiver lose connection. The Maverick ET-732 and Brookstone Grill Alert are the same price, but the Maverick ET-732 has more features, including dual probes, a timer, the ability to use the transmitter as a monitor when you don't need to roam, and alarms for high and low temperature targets. These extra features are all useful to dedicated meat cooks, but they also complicate the use of the thermometer. The Grill Alert is simple to set up and use, but users say the ET-732's manual is a must-read before even syncing the transmitter and receiver.
The probes of an oven-safe and wireless meat thermometer stay inside the oven (in the meat) while the wires snake out and connect with the monitor. According to users, the fragile connection between the wire and the probe can be easily damaged by water during cleaning, oils from the cooked meat and rough handling (or even not-so-rough handling, some owners warn). Several reviewers recommend using alcohol wipes only to clean up and avoiding water entirely. Both models have user-replaceable probes.
Oven-safe meat thermometers stay inside the oven or grill when you close it and monitor the internal temperature of your entrée through a metal probe. Because the meat is monitored without opening the door or grill cover, heat can't escape. This is an especially important feature for slow-cooking roasts. While modern ovens usually return to cooking temperature in mere seconds, older styles and barbecue grills can experience enough heat loss during a temperature check to set your cooking time back a quarter of an hour or more.
According to expert and user reviews, the Polder Classic Digital Thermometer/Timer (Est. $25) is the best choice in leave-in thermometers for the average consumer. It provides accurate temperature readings on an easy-to-set monitor at a fraction of the price of wireless models. Plus, it has a timer function. On the downside, the Polder Classic is no exception to the durability issues found in most thermometers with a wire connecting the probe and monitor. The inexpensive price tag, however, makes purchasing extra probes more agreeable.