With the convenient features of these tools – letting you quickly read surface and sometimes internal temperatures at a glance – it’s not surprising that infrared thermometers have been getting increasingly incorporated into cooking. Swifter and sometimes more practical than using a probing thermometer you then have to pull out of your boiling saucepan and squint to read, everyone from professional chefs to home cooks have found themselves adding these tools to their repertoire.
Be it to check if your grill is evenly heated for the perfect medium rare steak, or your cooking oil has reached the best temperature for deep-frying, infrared thermometers can be pretty useful. So which infrared thermometers should you include in your kitchenware? Let’s take a look at our top picks.
Etekcity Lasergrip Infrared Thermometer
With a temperature sensitive range between -58 to 1022 degrees Fahrenheit, this thermometer gun reads temperatures accurately over longer distances than most IR thermometers, with a 12:1 distance to spot ratio. This makes it a handy tool to use when measuring super hot or cold surfaces, without risking touching them and hurting yourself. You can also switch the LCD display from Fahrenheit to Celsius and back to suit your convenience.
Moreover, the thermometer ensures greater precision with its in-built laser, letting you zero in to the specific spot on your grill or inside your oven that you wish to read the temperature of. With a built-in mechanism to automatically switch the thermometer off when it isn’t in use to prolong battery life, this efficient little tool reads and displays temperatures in roughly 500 milliseconds, making it great to use when you’re working with food requiring a quick hand, like grilling, baking or frying. They’re also great to help you identify if parts of your grill or oven are not heating up properly.
STAR BUDGET PICK
P-JING Non-Contact Digital Infrared Thermometer
Baking and grilling are both heat-sensitive cooking, and getting the temperature just so is critical to making sure you don’t over-bake your homemade bread, or undercook meat. This non-contact IR thermometer promises to let you do just that, using its SCAN mode to track temperatures accurately, but from a safe distance. Also equipped with a laser to let you lock on target the specific spot or surface you wish to read, this thermometer can scan and display its readings in less than a second, accurate give or take 2 degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit. With a temperature range of -58 to 752 degrees Fahrenheit, you can use this IR thermometer to read surface and fluid surface temperatures without risking hurting yourself by getting too close.
Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer
With a distance to spot ratio of 12:1, this thermometer comes with twelve laser points to help you zone in to the specific spot or surface you wish to read the temperature of, capable of taking readings anywhere between -58 and 1022 degrees Fahrenheit. Equipped with a backlight screen that lets you read temperatures in dark places, you can also switch the mode of reading from Fahrenheit to Celsius to suit your preferences.
The thermometer gun also comes with automatic settings for minimum and maximum temperature values for different objects and surfaces, using green and red light switches to indicate if temperatures exceed the maximum value. For cooking practices which require specific temperatures, such as baking, this is a handy non-contact thermometer to use without having to get too close to the source of the heat. It’s important to note, though, that since this is a surface thermometer, the accuracy of the readings is estimated to be a few degrees lower than the true temperature.
Etekcity Lasergrip 630 Digital Infrared Thermometer
Promising higher accuracy and thorough readings, this thermometer gun has a distance to spot ratio of 16:1 and a temperature sensitivity to ranges between -58 to 1076 degrees Fahrenheit. You get to control the accuracy of your readings by adjusting to emissivity levels depending on the type of surface you’re trying to get a reading from.
Meanwhile, the thermometer also comes with readings for Minimum, Average and Maximum temperatures for different surfaces, letting you determine if your grill or oven is too hot or to knuckle down on spots which are not warming or cooling evenly. Safe to use at a distance, this thermometer also registers readings at less than 500 milliseconds, using dual lasers to precisely target the spot you want to read and advising the appropriate reading distance.
Choosing the Best Infrared Thermometer for Cooking
There might be some debate to how effective infrared thermometers are – all objects emit heat or thermal radiation, and oftentimes measuring this can be finicky, e.g. trying to gauge the temperature of boiling water via the water vapor above it, which will have a lower temperature than the fluid. Nonetheless, if you keep a couple of hacks in mind when using infrared thermometers, you can improve their capacity for accuracy greatly.
Infrared thermometers have multiple functionalities that have made them ideal to use in cooking, whether you’re having a BBQ party in your backyard or are trying to make sure everything in your buffet line stays warm. Even though the accuracy of thermometers which only read surface temperatures tends to be more of an estimate than a precise number, IR thermometers can be adapted to use in plenty of ways to make them perfect tools to have around the kitchen.
Non-contact thermometers are especially handy when it comes to reading temperatures off of very hot or very cold surfaces, where a normal cooking thermometer won’t work. If you’re trying to nail that perfectly well-done or rare piece of steak, a non-contact thermometer lets you gauge if the grill is hot enough or if there are parts of it not warming up as evenly without risking burning yourself.
Thermometers with broad temperature sensitivity ranges also make for greater accuracy, while in-built laser mechanisms let you specifically select and confirm which spot you wish to read the temperature of to maximise precision. LCD backlit screens are another convenient feature of some of the best infrared thermometers, as they let you make accurate readings even in darker places, such as the interior of an unlit oven or when you’ve got your grill set up in your lawn in the evenings.