The ThermoWorks Super-Fast Thermapen isn't cheap, but it may last a lot longer than less expensive instant-read thermometers. Experts and owners give it top scores for accuracy, functionality and speed. Its temperature range of -58 to 572 degrees is the widest we found, and that's high enough to be used to measure hot oil safely. The sensor is very close to the tip of the probe, so it can accurately measure a thin hamburger patty or liquid that is as little as 1/8-inch deep. The compact design has a 4.5-inch-long probe that folds against the handle so it can be slipped into a pocket. Additionally, the thermometer automatically turns on or off when the probe is unfolded or closed, or after being left on for more than six minutes. If this thermometer is out of your price range, the CDN ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer (*Est. $20) is a less expensive alternative.
We found the best professional reviews at Cook's Illustrated magazine where editors compare the ThermoWorks Super-Fast Thermapen and eight other digital instant-read thermometers. Experts also present information about choosing an instant-read thermometer in a video. We also read a short article by Joe Yonan at the Washington Post. This thermometer also receives praise from owners posting reviews at Amazon.com.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
This recent review compares the ThermoWorks Super-Fast Thermapen and eight other digital instant-read thermometers for more than just a speedy and accurate readout. They look for the broadest temperature range, a probe that's long enough to reach the center of large cuts of meat, and a way to calibrate slips in accuracy. Editors highly recommend one model and recommend four less expensive models, two of which are discontinued. Editors say the main difference in price is the speed -- the higher priced models use a thermocouple sensor, whereas the less expensive models use a thermistor.
Review: Inexpensive Instant-Read Thermometers, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, June 2008
2. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
This video explains the important characteristics of instant-read thermometers, such as a broad range of temperatures and long probe to reach the interior of large cuts of meat. They prefer digital thermometers to dial because they are faster and easier to read. It names the favorite instant-read thermometer and the best inexpensive alternative.
Review: Choosing an Instant-Read Thermometer, Jan. 2008
3. The Washington Post
Washington Post writer Joe Yonan has used the ThermoWorks Super-Fast Thermapen for years and regularly gives it as a gift. Although it costs more than many other meat thermometers, he says the "speed, ease of use, accuracy and durability can't be beat."
Review: Holiday Favorites: Equip Yourself, Joe Yonan, Nov. 2009
Amazon.com is where owners can rate and post reviews about their meat thermometers. ThermoWorks Super-Fast Thermapen averages an impressive rating of 4.9 stars out of five from 40 owners. They agree it's worth the extra money because cheaper thermometers they have used in the past pale in comparison to the speed and accuracy of the Thermapen. Owners caution against using it to grill in the rain because it's not waterproof. Although it doesn't have a calibration adjustment, owners say it remains accurate and doesn't seem to need one.
Review: Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer (RED) - Thermoworks, Contributors to Amazon.com