The Best Meat Thermometers Under $50 (We List the Top 8 Choices)

If you’re new to low-and-slow cooking, then you’re going to need two accessories to get started: an instant-read thermometer and a wireless ‘leave-in’ thermometer. I’ve put together a list of the best high-quality, thermometers that are very affordable.

The best meat thermometers under $50 include four instant-read thermometers and four ‘leave-in’ thermometers. The lineup is as follows:

  1. TP20 by ThermoPro
  2. TP-08S by ThermoPro
  3. InkBird IBT-4XS
  4. Dot by ThermoWorks
  5. ThermoPop by ThermoWorks
  6. Dash by ThermoWorks
  7. TP19 by ThermoPro
  8. Javelin Pro by Lavatools

1. ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Meat Thermometer

TP20 Specs

  • Dual probe 
  • 300 feet range
  • Accuracy: ±1.8°F (±1°C)
  • Temperature Range: 32°F to 572°F
  • 4 x AAA batteries
  • Wires can withstand 716°F
  • LCD screen 
  • Back light in display
  • Preset temperature, different meats. 
  • Fahrenheit and Celsius
  • Splash proof
  • Ready to use out of the box
  • 3-Year Warranty

ThermoPro TP20 For Smoking

The ThermoPro TP20 has been one of the most popular thermometers for meat smokers and barbecue enthusiasts. The TP20 is still the best-selling wireless duel-probe thermometer on Amazon. The reason this ThermoPro thermometer is so successful is it is so simple to use, its fast, reliable and its very affordable. 

ThermoPro make quality products and the TP20 is very durable. 

If you want the most bang for your buck, then the TP20 is the best meat thermometer you will get in the $50 price range. The TP20 is the number one choice and the best meat smoking thermometer for under $50. Check out the latest price here.

The ThermoPro TP20 has two probes; either you can measure two roasts or use one for measuring the meat and the other for measuring the pit temperature. 

The TP20 has two units: a transmitter and a receiver. It uses radio frequency (RF) to transmit the temperatures between the receiver and transmitter. The TP20 has a 300 foot range so you can be inside the house while your meat is smoking away in your yard. There is nothing wrong with RF. 

Newer, more expensive thermometers don’t use RF but have shifted to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Wi-Fi thermometers are reliable but more expensive. Bluetooth thermometers are affordable, but the signal is unreliable and frustrates people more than anything.

ThermoPro TP20 Build Quality and Display 

The TP20 is a solid unit and is only available in orange. It has a protective rubber cover to keep moisture off the unit. The display is simple to understand, and it has no hidden functions unlike many other thermometers on the market. The display flashes the temperatures and the probe names. You can switch between F° or Cº. Unfortunately there is no back light on the display, but it illuminates once the alarms go off. 

ThermoPro TP20 Probes

The TP20 uses high-quality probes that should last a long time if you look after them. Try to avoid kinking and feed the wires through holes in your cooker rather than squashing them with the lid. Probes have a tendency to break because they endure so much pressure. Good probes can stand up to the pressure, but the cheap probes break easily. ThermoPro make strong probes, but if you smoke meat regularly, it doesn’t hurt to have a spare probe handy. Even the best probes break down, eventually. Probes are easy to replace and relatively cheap. 

The TP20 has long probe cables and contain grill clips for attaching to the grill grate and measuring the ambient temperature of the cooking chamber. 

ThermoPro TP20 Function

The TP20 is easy to use with only a few buttons to push. There is no programming required, no complicated settings or menus to navigate. The TP20 is ready to cook out of the box.

There are similar models available. There is the TP07, which is a similar thermometer but without the pre-set temperatures. The TP07 is much cheaper and can be purchased for well under $50.

2. ThermoPro TP-08S

The ThermoPro TP-08S is a wireless meat thermometer suitable for log-form cooking such as smoking and roasting. This model is like the TP20, but with some minor differences. Both models use remote wireless functions using RF, but the major difference between the two ThermoPro thermometers is the preset temperatures. The TP20 has pre-programmed meat settings, while in the TP08; you manually set the temperatures.  

The TP08 is more suited to low-and-slow cooking such as smoking because it has high/low temperature alarms. The TP20 doesn’t have a low temperature alarm. See the latest price here.

3. InkBird IBT-4XS

The Inkbird 1BT-4XS has been a popular choice in under $50 range of thermometers. The Inkbird is a Bluetooth thermometer with 4 probes, which is more than enough for what you need. 

The unit itself is compact, and it has only a few buttons. The Inkbird has a 60-hour battery life, a rotating display, and can connect to the InkBird App. The app allows the user to track temperatures through graphs and access pre-programmed meat temperature alarms. The app is also color-coded to match the different colored probes. 

The only drawback is the Inkbird uses Bluetooth, which can frustrate. The InkBird has a 150 foot range but when dealing with Bluetooth; the signal isn’t always reliable, depending on the design of your house. 

The Inkbird has a Wi-Fi version of the thermometer but expect to pay over $100. However, if you want something reliable and affordable, then the InkBird IBT-4XS is a solid thermometer for under $50. See the latest price here.

InkBird IBT-4XS Features

  • 4×4.9 Inch Probes
  • Two probe clips
  • Bluetooth
  • 150 foot range
  • USB Charger
  • Celsius or Fahrenheit
  • 60 hours mAh Lithium-ion battery
  • Battery fully charges in 2-hours
  • Rotating Display
  • BBQ Go App
  • Preset temperature
  • Multiple Languages
  • Magnetic Back

4. ThermoWorks Dot

ThermoWorks Dot Specs

  • 1x Pro-Series 4.5 inch Probe
  • 47 inch probe cable.
  • Temperature range -58 to 572°F (-50 to 300°C)
  • Cable Range Max 700°F (370°C)
  • Thermistor sensor
  • 2xAAA 5000 hours
  • Splash-Proof
  • Large Digit display
  • Backlight 
  • Simple two button operation (Up and Down)
  • Pot Clip (optional)

What is a Dot Thermometer?

Dot is a simple alarm thermometer produced by ThermoWorks, the leading company in thermometers. Dot has a single 4.5 inch probe with a 47 inch cable. Dot has one simple function: it alerts you when your meat is done. All you need to do is set your target temperature and the little thermometer will alert you when it’s done. 

ThermoWorks intended for the Dot to be used in commercial kitchens, so it’s very durable. It’s sealed in well in a splash-proof plastic body. Then Dot strips away all the luxurious features. America’s Test Kitchen tested the Dot, and they found it to be as accurate as the other ThermoWorks thermometers. 

Dot is small and designed to easily fit onto pots with a clip. The tiny thermometer only uses two buttons but has large digits on the display. Dot is splash proof and now includes a back light. As with all ThermoWorks products, the Dot uses Pro-Series temperature probes and the cable can withstand 700°F. Dot 

Dot has two buttons-Up and Down. There is no programming requires, no pairing with Bluetooth, no App that needs to be installed. ThermoWorks make a variety of different thermometers to suit all kinds of people. Not everyone wants complicated, high-tech thermometers. Some people want minimalism and simplicity. 

Dot Thermometer Probe

The only issue with the Dot is it is a single probe thermometer. It is almost always recommended that you get a thermometer with at least two probes: one to measure the meat and the other to measure the ambient temperature of the cooker. However, the second probe isn’t necessary if you are smoking meat in an electric, gas or pellet smoker. These types of smokers don’t need temperature control, they are as simple to control heat as a conventional oven. Charcoal smokers are more unpredictable and the in-built smoker thermometers are not reliable, therefore a decent two-probe thermometer is essential. 

Best Instant Read Thermometers Under $50

An instant-read must be fast and accurate, otherwise it’s just a waste of time. The best instant-read thermometers give a reading within 2-4 seconds. The longer the thermometer takes to read temperatures, the longer this lid is going to be off your smoker. And the longer your lid is off your smoker, the more heat is escaping and the more oxygen is fueling your fire. Some cheap thermometers will take 20 -seconds to give a reading, which is way too long. You should be able to open the lid, probe two or three areas of the roast and have the lid back on in 20-seconds. 

Another important feature is accuracy. Poor-quality thermometers can be several degrees out, which makes using it a waste of time. If a thermometer isn’t accurate, then it is pointless. 

5. ThermoPop Meat Thermometer

ThermoPop Specs

  • Rotating display
  • Left- and right-handed use
  • Reads Super-Fast 3 to 4 seconds
  • Splash-proof
  • Large back-lit digits
  • Temp range: -58 to 572°F (-50 to 300°C)
  • Change between °C/°F
  • 5,000 hours battery life

ThermoPop Instant-Read Thermometer

ThermoPop by ThermoWorks is one of the most celebrated instant-read thermometers on the market. The ThermaPen MK4 is the most famous thermometer out there, but it comes with a hefty price tag. The ThermoPop is the ThermaPen’s little brother. It has many of the same features of the MK4, but just a little smaller and slightly slower. 

The ThermoPop can give an accurate temperature reading in 3-4 seconds, which is super fast. ThermoWorks make the best thermometers on the market so you know you are getting quality probes that are accurate. 

The ThermoPop has a rotating display, has large digits that can be read at all angles. The thermometer is simple to use with a simple push button. 

ThermoPop is splash proof and has 5000 hours of battery life. ThermoPop thermometers are available in 10 different colors, which is fun for some people.

If you want a thermometer under $50, you are going to have to sacrifice some luxury features of a high-end thermometer, but that doesn’t mean you miss out on the bare essentials. The non-negotiables with instant-read thermometers is speed and accuracy. If you want more than that, then it’s a luxury. Some expensive thermometers have automatic sleep/wake sensors. 

The ThermoPop also uses a thermistor sensor rather than a thermocouple sensor, which the high-end thermometers use. The difference between the sensors is only a one second slower reading time. 

The ThermoPop is highly accurate. ThermoWorks guarantees the ThermoPop to be within ±2°F (1°C) up to 248°F (120°C).

The ThermoPop is good value and can perform almost and any other thermometer in most categories. As with all ThermoWorks products, you get the security of dealing with an excellent company that will replace a faulty product, no questions asked. 

6. Dash

Dash Thermometer Specs

  • Range: -40 to 572°F
  • Ppeed: 3-4 Seconds
  • Accuracy: ±0.9°F ( 14 to 212°F) and ±4.5° (392 to 572°F)
  • Auto rotating display (180°).
  • Screen 0.7 H x 1.3 W inches
  • Waterproof IP67 
  • Auto Sleep 
  • Backlight
  • Thermometer housing operation temperature 32 to 122°F.
  • Magnetic
  • 2-Year warranty
  • Calibration certificate
  • 3V lithium battery
  • Probe dimensions D 4.5 L x 0.12 inch diameter.
  • DASH Mini probe dimensions: 2.8 L x 0.12 inches

ThermoWorks Dash Thermometer

Dash is a very similar thermometer to the ThermoPop. Made by the same company, Dash is ThermoWorks latest instant-read thermometer. Dash is a similar price to the ThermoPop and is of the same quality but with some added features. 

Dash has a large 180° auto-rotating display, waterproof, 3-4 second fast read and highly accurate readings (±0.9°F). It has a 5000 hour battery life. It also has two different probe sizes and is also available as Dash Mini, an even smaller version. ThermoWorks says the Dash is fit for commercial use, as well as home use. Other useful feature include a lanyard so can wear it around your neck, and a built-in magnet to attach the Dash for storage.

7. ThermoPro TP19

ThermoPro TP19 Specs

  • Waterproof
  • Auto Rotating Display
  • 360° viewing angle
  • Motion Sensor Sleep/Wake Mode
  • Thermocouple 
  • Fast Read (2-3 seconds)
  • Back-lit display
  • 2-Inch screen
  • ON/OFF Retracting Probe
  • Sleeps after 90 seconds.  
  • Wakes when picked up.  
  • Temperature lock function. 
  • Magnet and hanging hole for storage. 

TP19 ThermoPro Review

ThermoPro are a well-established company that has made some exceptional thermometers. The TP19 is ThermoPro’s affordable but high-quality instant-read thermometer. When ThermoPro released the TP19, the company said they wanted to produce a thermometer that had all the features of a high-end thermometer but without the steep price. ThermoPro claim its competitors work with a 90% profit margin and they believe they can deliver the same quality of the high-end thermometer but for a fraction of the cost. 

The TP19 is just as fast as the competition and can give readings in 2-3 seconds. It uses a thermocouple sensor, which matches the Thermapen and other top-rated instant-reads. The TP19 also has many of the advanced features of its competitors such as auto-rotating display, 360° viewing angle, motion sensor sleep/wake mode, back-lit display and a retractable probe. See the latest price on Amazon here.

The TP19 has a self-illuminating back-lit display that can adapt between night and day. The TP19 is well built and doesn’t feel like a poor quality thermometer. It’s suitable for left- and right-handed users, is very simple to operate and takes one AA battery. To turn the thermometer on, all you need to do is flick open the probe. 

8. Lavatools Javelin PRO

Javelin PRO Specs

  • Sleep after 10-minutes inactivity.  
  • Auto-wake up when picked up. 
  • Back-light switches on when shaken. 
  • Rotating display. 
  • 4.4 inch probe. 
  • 4000 hours of battery. 
  • 3-year warranty
  • Five different colors available. 
  • Sold on Amazon. 

The Lavatools Javelin PRO is a popular thermometer on Amazon and is highly rated. The Javelin Pro is always in the “best instant-read thermometer” conversation because it nearly matches the Thermapen in features, but for only half the price. 

The Javelin competitor, the Thermapen, was made for commercial kitchens and can withstand the pressure of daily use. One criticism of the Javelin is that it isn’t as durable. If you are just wanting a thermometer for backyard barbecue or weekend meat smoking, then the Javelin is suitable. 

The Javelin Pro is fast and can read temperatures in 2-3 seconds. It is only 1-second slower than the best thermometer on the market (The MK4 Thermapen) and only half the price. 

The Javelin has a large display that is easy to read and auto-rotates depending on your angle. See the latest price here.

Cheap Meat Thermometers

Thermometers vary in complexity and price. If you are after an affordable thermometer and are prepared to give up some advanced features, then there are some fantastic choices on the market. Most of the thermometers on this list have simple two-button alarms and single or twin probes. The thermometers on this list are also suitable for smoking meat, which is typically done outdoors in the elements. 

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get set up for smoking meat. You can get an instant-read thermometer and a duel probe for well under $100. The only other necessity is a charcoal chimney and the smoker itself. So you can have everything you need to start for around $200. 

Choose Your Company First: ThermoWorks and ThermoPro

This list is dominated by ThermoWorks and ThermoPro thermometers. I’m a firm believer in choosing your company before choosing your thermometer. These two companies have produced multiple highly rated thermometers and you can’t go wrong with any ThermoWorks thermometer. 

High-Tech Meat Thermometers

There are so many options on the market at the moment. Technology has found its way into the kitchen and barbecue. The high-tech cooking gadgets are fantastic, but they can be expensive. When you are just starting out, start small. You don’t know if this hobby is going to stick just yet, so don’t waste hundreds of dollars on barbecue and smoking accessories. 

Wi-Fi Meat Thermometers

Wi-Fi thermometers are fantastic but expensive. They make smoking meat a breeze and are amazing for tracking your cook on an app and cloud. The advantage of app-based thermometers is to you don’t have to hang around the smoker, you can go out and about town and still know exactly what’s happening with your brisket. The high-tech thermometers are great, but work your way up to them once you are fully hooked into meat smoking. 

Are Cheap Meat Thermometers Worth It?

The $50 price range still has some brilliant products, but they have their limitations. What these thermometers lack is the convenience a high-tech thermometer will bring. If you are willing to sacrifice a few high-end features, then you can get a great product. A back-lit display or a rotating LCD screen in convenient but unnecessary. A cloud to graph and store all your cook data is a handy feature, but not the be all and end all. Having a 300-yard range so you can mow the front lawn while your smoker is cooking away in the backyard is helpful but not important. For $50 you can get an accurate and reliable duel-probe thermometer that will serve you well. You can also spend a little more and get an instant read. 

Do You Need an Instant Read Thermometer for Smoking?

What’s the difference between an instant-read thermometer and a wireless thermometer? Do you need both? Yes, you need both because they do different things. They both serve different purposes. 

You need an instant read and a duel probe thermometer. A duel-probe thermometer allows you to track the internal temperature of a piece of meat with one probe and track the ambient temperature of the smoker with the other probe. The ambient temperature is measured with a metal clip that usually comes with the thermometers. The probe slides into the clip and it remains there for the entire cook. It is important to track the ambient temperature of the cook chamber because temperatures can fluctuate, especially if you are using charcoal or offset smokers. 

Electric, gas and pellet grills are automated and the heat source doesn’t have the same temperature fluctuations as other smokers. So if you are rolling with a gas, electric or pellet, then you can get away with a one probe thermometer. 

Some smokers have reliable temperature gauges, but most of those temperature controls are unreliable. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a beginner is relying on the in-built temperature thermometers on a smoker. If you have a high-end pellet smoker or a gas or electric, those controls are just as reliable as an electric oven. If you use a charcoal smoker, a kettle grill, a Kamado style cooker or a stickburner, then a good thermometer will be your best friend.

Why Do I Need a Meat Thermometer for Smoking?

The last thing you want to do when smoking meat is keep opening the lid of your smoker. If you keep opening the lid, the smoker is going to receive a huge influx of oxygen and send your temperatures souring. The other thing frequently opening the lid can do is lose precious heat. Some smokers take forever to heat and can lose the heat that you took so long to build up. Especially on a wintry day. So a good thermometer will be your best friend. You won’t be operating blind. 

Even though a wireless probe thermometer will give you an internal temperature, it will only give a reading where the probe is inserted. Usually the probe is inserted into the thickest part of the meat. With large roasts, often they are uneven. For example, your turkey may have the thermometer probe stuck in the breast and read 165°F, but will in the thigh it may be underdone at 155°F. An instant-read-thermometer allows you to probe multiple locations within a few seconds to give you a clear picture of where the meat is at. The instant-read helps you double-check. These are the tools of the trade. 

Meat Thermometers – Your Most Important Tool

The Beginner’s Guide To Meat Thermometers

The Best Meat Thermometers Under $50 (We List the Top 8 Choices)

The Best Thermometers for Smoking Meat

Best Wi-Fi Meat Thermometers (We Review the 5 Top Models)

Best Instant-Read Thermometers for Smoking (Top 6 Picks)

What Are Automatic Barbeque Temperature Controllers? The Complete Buyers Guide

MEATER Wireless Thermometer – Is It Any Good?


Author and founder at Meat Smoking HQ

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