The Best Infrared Thermometers of 2022

These infrared thermometers will level up your barbecue and grilling game instantly.

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Mar 30, 2022 8:45 AM

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The Best Infrared Thermometer Options

Photo: amazon.com

Getting an immediate, accurate read on the temperature of cooking surfaces is important, especially when searing steaks or burgers or using equipment that needs to reach a specific temperature, such as a grill or a pizza stone. Instead of trying to guess the temperature, consider investing in an infrared thermometer that can provide an accurate reading.

Using infrared temperature readings will help home chefs take accurate temperature readings and ultimately make better food. The best infrared (Ir) thermometer allows grillers and chefs to check the temperature of their grill, smoker, griddle, or water, as well as their food’s external temperature, without physically touching it.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Klein Tools IR5 Dual Laser 12:1 Infrared Thermometer
  2. BEST VALUE: Etekcity Infrared Thermometer 774 Temperature Gun
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Fluke 568 Duel Infrared Thermometer
  4. BEST FOR GRILLING: Taylor Precision Products Infrared Thermometer
  5. BEST FOR THE KITCHEN: Cuisinart CSG-625 Infrared Surface Thermometer
  6. BEST FOR ACCURACY: Fluke 62 Max+ Infrared Thermometer
  7. EASIEST TO USE: INKBIRDPLUS Infrared Thermometer
The Best Infrared Thermometer Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Infrared Thermometer

Equipping a kitchen with the best infrared thermometer is a sure way to step up a barbecue. But knowing what to look for in an Ir thermometer is key. These little tools can be complex, so be sure to give each point some thought while shopping.

Thermocouple Probes vs. Infrared

Before deciding on an infrared surface temperature gun, it’s important to understand what they can and cannot do. It’s also a good idea to know which tools to use when the infrared falls short.

Infrared thermometers will only display the surface temperature of an object. An infrared thermometer measures the temperature of grates on grills, cast-iron pans, or even freezer temperatures. Every object emits a particular amount of radiation, which the infrared thermometer collects and converts to electricity to then provide a reading based on the electricity. However, even the best no-contact thermometer cannot provide an internal temperature reading.

Internal readings are the function of thermocouple probes, such as a typical oven thermometer or meat thermometer. These probes insert directly into the meat, soup, sauce, or other food item, providing an accurate reading from inside. They work best when the probe is inside the item, which is why they don’t function well for surface temperature readings.

Application

Infrared thermometers are tools. As tools, there are different infrared thermometers for different situations. There are standard infrared thermometers, which can be used in cooking or mechanical applications, and then there are infrared temporal scanners used in the medical field.

Temporal scanners aren’t useful for cooking applications, because their temperature windows are too small to be useful. Standard infrared thermometers can sense a much larger temperature range than a temporal scanner. These devices provide readings far beyond the scope of a typical chef’s cooking range (both hot and cold).

Temperature Range

An infrared thermometer is helpful for myriad uses in the kitchen, such as determining the temperature of a freezer, a refrigerator, a cooking surface, an oven’s internal temperature, and more.

This multifunctionality requires a working range that will encompass all of those temperatures. Generally speaking, an infrared thermometer with a range of roughly -20 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit should provide plenty of range for checking anything from a deep-freeze freezer to a commercial kitchen fryer. Most infrared thermometers will display their working range in plain sight on the side of the thermometer.

Emissivity

Emissivity sounds complicated, but in this context, it really boils down to just one thing: how easily an infrared thermometer can read the temperature of certain materials. For a more scientific explanation, it refers to the efficiency with which a surface emits thermal energy.

Certain cooking surfaces, like copper or polished stainless steel, can be difficult for an infrared thermometer to measure. Models with adjustable emissivity capability can be useful, as you can adjust the thermometer until you can get an accurate reading.

Without an adjustable emissivity rating, an Ir thermometer might struggle to detect temperatures on stainless steel, copper, anodized aluminum, and other typical cooking surfaces.

Accuracy

Controlling the temperature of the surface on which food is being prepared is important. For example, achieving the perfect sear on an expensive steak requires a specific surface temperature that you simply can’t judge with an inaccurate thermometer.

The best infrared thermometers focus on accuracy. The manufacturer will typically list the accuracy—described as a plus-or-minus percentage—on the unit. A thermometer with an accuracy of around 2 percent can be considered very accurate. If a recipe calls for a surface temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, an accurate thermometer will only be off by a possibility of 7 degrees, plus or minus. That’s plenty accurate for the purpose of cooking or grilling.

Manufacturers often use a ratio to describe the area size a thermometer will measure from a specific distance. For instance, 12:1 means an infrared thermometer can test a 1-inch diameter circle of a surface from a 12-inch distance. When it comes to cooking and grilling, this 12:1 distance is usually more than sufficient.

Ease of Use

One of the most desirable facets of owning an infrared thermometer is how easy they are to use. In most cases, all they require is a somewhat steady hand and a squeeze of the trigger. Simply lift the grill cover or open the oven, point it at your food, and take note of the reading.

Most infrared thermometers have the ability to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius, which can be toggled between with the press of a button. Others even have features that temporarily save the previous temperature on the screen, providing an easily accessible reference.

Our Top Picks

That might be a lot of information on infrared thermometers, but this guide isn’t cooling off yet. The following is a list of some of the best infrared thermometers on the market. Be sure to keep these shopping considerations in mind while comparing the top models.

Best Overall

The Best Infrared Thermometer Options: Klein Tools IR5 Dual Laser Infrared Thermometer
Photo: amazon.com

Home chefs and grill masters on the hunt for a high-quality infrared thermometer should consider this durable option from Klein Tools. With an accuracy rating of plus-or-minus 2 percent, a 12:1 measurement distance, and adjustable emissivity for materials that are difficult to measure, this thermometer carries on the company’s tradition of high-quality tools.

Thanks to a wide temperature range—between -22 degrees and 752 degrees Fahrenheit—this thermometer offers plenty of flexibility for all kinds of cooking, grilling, and smoking needs. An easy-to-read backlit display and dual laser targeting provides a reliable user experience. The auto-off function promotes a long battery life; the included 9-volt battery should last for up to 10 hours of continuous use.

Product Specs

  • Type: Non-contact
  • Accuracy: 2 percent
  • Range Ratio: 12:1

Pros

  • Wide temperature range
  • Adjustable emissivity for accurate readings on different surfaces
  • Backlit display is easy to read

Cons

  • Thermocouple probe not suitable for food

Get the Klein Tools infrared thermometer at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Best Value

The Best Infrared Thermometer Options: Etekcity Infrared Thermometer 774 Temperature Gun
Photo: amazon.com

Etekcity’s Infrared Thermometer has impressive features usually reserved for more expensive models. A temperature range between -58 degrees and 716 degrees Fahrenheit is suitable for most cooking needs (other than some pizza ovens). The 12:1 measurement distance is comparable to high-end models, as is the plus-or-minus 2 percent accuracy reading. Its built-in laser helps pinpoint the user’s aim, offering even more accuracy from a steady hand.

This infrared thermometer has additional features to boast, as well. It has a backlit LCD display that is easy to read, a hold feature, low battery indicator, and adjustable emissivity. And, it even includes a 9-volt battery with purchase.

Product Specs

  • Type: Non-contact
  • Accuracy: 2 percent
  • Range Ratio: 12:1

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Accurate range for a budget-friendly pick
  • Hold feature for reviewing previous readings

Cons

  • Lower maximum temp questionable for pizza ovens

Get the Etekcity infrared thermometer on Amazon and at Walmart.

Upgrade Pick

best intrafared thermometer fluke 568
Photo: amazon.com

Whether it’s for improved accuracy or a smoking hot high temperature, shoppers looking for a high-end infrared thermometer should check out Fluke’s 568 Dual Infrared Thermometer. This model features a working range of -40 to 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit, giving it the ability to check any cooking surface. Also, with its 50:1 range ratio, it takes readings from very small, exact locations for accurate readings.

This machine has other features to mention as well, such as its included K-Type thermocouple and ability to hold up to 99 previous readings at a time. It even interfaces with a computer with the included USB cable. While it is expensive, folks who need top-level accuracy will find this infrared thermometer worth the investment.

Product Specs

  • Type: Non-contact
  • Accuracy: 1 percent
  • Range Ratio: 50:1

Pros

  • 1,472-degree maximum temperature
  • 1 percent accuracy
  • Holds up to 99 previous readings
  • Long-range accuracy

Cons

  • It is an expensive thermometer

Get the Fluke infrared thermometer on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best for Grilling

The Best Infrared Thermometer Options: Taylor Precision Products Dual Temperature
Photo: amazon.com

With the Taylor Precision Products Dual Temperature Thermometer, grilling aficionados won’t have to worry about tossing their meat on the grill before it’s hot enough—or having to guess when their steaks are done. This model has an infrared thermometer as well as a thermocouple probe, providing accurate temperature measurements for both the cooking surface and the food within seconds.

The infrared thermometer checks temperatures between -67 degrees and 482 degrees Fahrenheit, while the thermocouple can measure temperatures between -67 degrees and 626 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, the range ratio isn’t readily available. However, food safety is top of mind here, thanks to a pass/fail function that sets off an alert if the food temperature isn’t safe for consumption.

Other key features that make this a solid infrared thermometer for grilling include a hold function and an auto-off display that helps preserve battery life. A 9-volt battery and nylon storage case are also included.

Product Specs

  • Type: Infrared and thermocouple probe
  • Accuracy: Varies; 1 percent for over 149 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Range Ratio: Unlisted

Pros

  • Pass/fail function for quick, accurate reference
  • Built-in meat thermometer
  • Hold function for checking previous readings

Cons

  • Range ratio not readily available

Get the Taylor Precision Products infrared thermometer on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best for the Kitchen

The Best Infrared Thermometer Options: Cuisinart CSG-625 Infrared Surface Thermometer
Photo: amazon.com

Many busy chefs and home cooks prefer streamlined tools that get the job done without a lot of hassle. The Cuisinart CSG-625 Infrared Surface Thermometer fits that bill, offering quick and simple measurement checks with just a trigger pull. This infrared thermometer measures temperatures on surfaces as low as -58 degrees and up to 716 degrees Fahrenheit, making it useful for checking grill grates, cast-iron cookware, some pizza ovens or stones, and griddles.

A built-in laser helps users target exactly where they’d like to measure, and a backlit display makes reading the temperature easy. It also comes with the required 9-volt battery, and an automatic shutoff feature helps preserve battery life. The only real downside one might be able to muster is that the range ratio and accuracy for this model aren’t readily available.

Product Specs

  • Type: Non-contact
  • Accuracy: Unlisted
  • Range Ratio: Unlisted

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Laser helps guide reading location
  • Display features backlight for easy reading, even in the dark

Cons

  • Accuracy and range ratio aren’t available

Get the Cuisinart infrared thermometer on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best for Accuracy

The Best Infrared Thermometer Options: Fluke 62 Max+ Infrared Thermometer
Photo: amazon.com

When it comes to accuracy, the Fluke 62 Max is in a class of its own. This pick for most accurate infrared thermometer features a measurement range between -22 degrees and 1,202 degrees Fahrenheit, with an accuracy rating of 1 percent. With its 12:1 measurement distance, adjustable emissivity, and dual laser, achieving an accurate measurement is no problem.

In addition to its wide measurement range and accurate readings, the Fluke 62 Max Plus features a large backlit display that is easy to read. It quickly swaps between Celsius and Fahrenheit, is water and weather resistant, and can withstand a drop from 3 meters, or about 9.8 feet. Do keep in mind that the value of the accuracy might not exceed the higher price point for some buyers.

Product Specs

  • Type: Non-contact
  • Accuracy: 1 percent
  • Range Ratio: 12:1

Pros

  • High maximum temperature
  • Extremely accurate
  • Tough shock-, water-, and weather-resistant construction

Cons

  • Requires accuracy vs. cost comparison

Get the Fluke infrared thermometer on Amazon and at Walmart.

Easiest to Use

best intrafared thermometer INKBIRDPLUS
Photo: amazon.com

Anyone who finds themselves intimidated by technology and tons of buttons should check out this Inkbirdplus Infrared Thermometer. This model features a reading range between -26 degrees and 1,122 degrees Fahrenheit, an accuracy rating of 2 percent, and a range ratio of 12:1.

The Inkbirdplus might be easy to use, but it’s not short on features. It has adjustable emissivity as well as a backlit display, allowing users to get readings from any surface in any light. It even includes an auto-off function for saving battery life and a hold function for checking previous readings. If there’s room for a complaint, it’s that this model doesn’t feature a pouch or thermocouple probe, but that’s really splitting infrared hairs.

Product Specs

  • Type: Non-contact
  • Accuracy: 2 percent
  • Range Ratio: 12:1

Pros

  • Simple controls with just 3 buttons
  • 2 percent accuracy and 12:1 range ratio
  • Very wide temperature range

Cons

  • No bag or thermocouple probe included

Get the INKBIRDPLUS infrared thermometer on Amazon.

Our Verdict

The Klein Tools infrared thermometer is worth a look for its wide temperature range, adjustable emissivity, and easy-to-read display. But for those who prefer something a bit more affordable, the Etekcity infrared thermometer comes with a welcoming price point, accuracy, and other features worth checking out.

How We Chose the Best Infrared Thermometers

First, we drew upon our own experience in grilling, smoking, industrial machinery, and basic heating and cooling to determine which features we felt were the most important. Next, we performed extensive product research to put together a pool of candidates. Finally, we checked over each item to ensure that we were suggesting only the best infrared thermometers on the market and awarded the winners a spot on the list.

FAQs 

There’s a lot of information to take in about the best infrared thermometers. Below is a collection of common questions about how to choose the right infrared thermometer, so check to see if there’s an answer to your query below.

Q: How does an infrared thermometer work?

The concept of how infrared thermometers work is beyond the scope of this article, but here’s the gist: Everything produces a certain amount of heat radiation. An infrared thermometer measures that radiation by turning it into electricity and producing a measurement.

Q: What should I look for when buying an infrared thermometer?

There are a few things to look for when buying an infrared thermometer. They include:

  • Adjustable emissivity to combat shiny cooking surfaces.
  • An accuracy of 2 percent or less.
  • A range up to at least 700 degrees Fahrenheit (though you might have to sacrifice a bit of range for additional features like a thermocouple probe).

Q: Are infrared thermometers safe?

There are no proven risks involved with using an infrared thermometer. It is advised not to expose anyone’s eyesight to built-in lasers, however.

Q: How accurate are infrared thermometers?

The best infrared thermometers are accurate to within 2 percent or less of the measurement. So, for a 400-degree reading, the actual temperature will be between 392 and 408 degrees.

Q: How do I calibrate an infrared thermometer?

Most infrared thermometers cannot be calibrated. However, it’s easy to check a thermometer’s accuracy:

  1. Fill a glass with ice and then top it off with water
  2. Let it sit for five minutes
  3. Hold the thermometer directly over the ice bath and take a measurement

The measurement should read 32 degrees. If it doesn’t, contact the manufacturer.