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Some kitchen tools are about making your life easier, like a sharp knife that lets you effortlessly slice food or an Instant Pot that does the cooking for you. Other tools are there to simply make your food taste better—we’re talking restaurant-quality dishes.
A digital meat thermometer falls in the latter category, as it tells you when your meats have reached the optimal tenderness, and can also help you adhere to FDA food safety guidelines. And lucky for us temperature nerds, the brand behind our favorite meat thermometer just released a new and improved model: the Thermapen One.
About the Thermapen One
Touted as providing more accurate readings, faster speed, and new intuitive design features, the One may be one of the most advanced digital meat thermometers you can buy.
The battery-powered device boasts a more than 2,000-hour work time with one AAA 1.5-volt battery, which is plenty of time considering you only need a few seconds to get the temperature readings with each use. The new thermometer has a lot in common with its predecessor, the MK4, such as the display that can rotate 360° and full water-proofing.
The major difference between the two is speed and precision. While the MK4 has one of the fastest temperature readings at just four seconds, the One promises readings in one second. And, the One has improved its accuracy from ±0.7°F to ±0.5°F, which may be the most precise measurement available for home cooking. Intrigued by the claims, I bought the Thermapen One to test against my old MK4.
What I like
The screen has a backlight
I love my MK4, but I have to say the readings aren’t clear on rainy days or at night. The newest iteration is fitted with a backlight, which automatically turns on when the thermometer detects a change in temperature. It also shuts off on its own after a few seconds to save battery life.
It’s more sensitive than the MK4
No other meat thermometer can beat the One in speed. It delivers the temperature in a literal second, which is helpful for stovetop cooking that generally requires fast actions.
It has improved accuracy when it comes to hot objects
I’ve noticed lately that my MK4 might’ve been sending me wrong readings when I cooked steaks on the griddle because the steaks had been dry and overdone. So this time, I compared the readings and my speculation was true: The MK4 was a few degrees off (higher) when I poked both thermometers into a piece of chicken breast I was poaching. Thanks to the One's speedy and accurate reading, I was able to stop the cooking process and prevent the chicken breast from getting overcooked.
It's more ergonomic than its predecessors
The hand-held part of the thermometer is wider than the MK4, and has a curved side, which gives users a more comfortable grip. You probably won’t notice it until you compare the two side by side, but I can say with confidence that my hand felt less tired after trying the new Thermapen out for the first time. (To be fair, I was deep frying chicken tenders so I needed to regularly monitor the oil temperature.)
What I don’t like
The numbers may move faster on the One, as it’s more sensitive, but both thermometers arrived at the same conclusions in around the same time in our ice tests. However, the new model does work better in high temperatures than low as the readings come faster. That said, if you already own the MK4, you probably don't need to buy an additional meat thermometer, especially considering its price tag.
Is the Thermapen One worth it?
Yes, but only if you don't already own the MK4 as it's not that much of an upgrade. As I struggle with weak eyesight in my dimly lit kitchen, the backlit screen is a lifesaver. It looks and functions just like the MK4, but is $30 more expensive.
That being said, if you’re looking for a meat thermometer with the most user-friendly features, you’ll appreciate the convenience the One offers. If not, you’re better off with a MK4, which is significantly cheaper and delivers similarly precise results.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.