I used to be nervous about grilling for my family and friends, never sure if the steak, burgers, or chicken would be cooked to the proper, or even safe, temperature. With the Thermoworks Thermapen IR, my confidence has grown immensely knowing that I’m getting an accurate internal (or surface) temperature reading within seconds of inserting the probe.
Thermoworks is well known for their high-quality thermometers; earning praise from celebrity chefs such as Alton Brown, cooking sites such as Serious Eats, and kitchen gadget reviewers such as America’s Test Kitchen. They are acclaimed for the accuracy and speed at which the readings are attained. I recently had the pleasure of testing out one of their newest Thermapen products, the Thermapen IR.
The Thermapen IR is an innovative device that allows you to do two jobs with a single thermometer. The Thermapen IR combines the speed and accuracy of their popular Thermapen Mk4 with the adaptability of a professional infrared thermometer. When you once needed to carry two thermometers to measure the internal temperature of meat and the surface temperature of your grill, now you need only the Thermapen IR.
Here’s a quick video from Thermoworks perfectly illustrating the versatility of the Thermapen IR:
The Thermapen IR has a fold-out thermocouple probe that’s accurate to about 0.7F and gives you an accurate reading within 2-3 seconds. In order to use the infrared functionality, you point the IR reader at the surface you’re looking to measure, hold the button, and you’ll see the temperature displayed. The infrared sensor is accurate to within 1.8F. What’s great about Thermoworks products is that they have a patented auto-rotating display that will rotate automatically depending on how you’re holding the Thermapen. I can’t overstate how nice this is while in use. I can’t count the times that I’ve used other instant-read thermometers where I’ve had to adjust the positioning of the thermometer in order for me to be able to read the display.
The Thermapen IR is IP54 rated, not completely waterproof like the Thermapen Mk4. This is because the IR sensor needs to be open to the environment in order to read properly. It also has a nice sleep mode that saves battery life automatically when you set the Thermapen down and senses when you pick it back up. The Thermapen IR also comes with an NIST-traceable calibration certificate, so you can trust that your thermometer is accurate.
I was excited to test out the Thermapen IR because I had just received a set of Grillgrates to replace the old rusted porcelain-enameled grates on my Weber Genesis gas grill. Grillgrates are designed to get super-hot in order to sear your meat better, so this was the perfect opportunity to put the Thermapen IR to the test.
After pre-heating the Grillgrates for about 20 minutes, the Thermapen IR was telling me that the grates were around 635F, perfect for grilling chicken breasts at high heat for nice grill marks. I put the marinated breasts on the grill and let them cook for around 8 minutes total, 4 minutes each side with a 45-degree turn for professional-looking grill marks. As soon as the Thermapen IR told me that the breasts hit 165F internally at the thickest part, I took them off of the grill and they were some of the juiciest chicken breasts we’ve ever had.
That’s the beauty of the Thermapen IR, you know exactly when your cooking surface is ready and then you can use the same tool to let you know exactly when your food is ready as well. I could tell how accurate both the IR component was as well as the internal probe component was because of the great grill marks as well as the juiciness of the chicken breast. I was also able to use the infrared capability to confirm that the pizza stone in my oven was ready to bake up some homemade pita bread, which led to some great rise in the bread as well as a crispy exterior.
My only complaint, if I had to be picky, is that the IR thermometer doesn’t work for wood-fired pizza ovens. These ovens get up to 900F to make Neapolitan pizzas in 90 seconds and you want to make sure the oven floor is between 700F-800F before putting your pizza in the oven.
I am testing the Backyardbrickovens.com Forno Bravo wood-fired pizza oven and was not able to confirm the oven floor temperature because the Thermapen IR’s IR range only goes up to 662F. When I tried to measure the oven floor, the display read “HI,” meaning it’s above the measurable range.
Again, it’s a fairly nitpicky comment, as a pizza oven is a specialty use, but you should know that if you’re looking to measure the temperature in your wood-fired oven, it won’t measure over 662F. If you’re looking to measure something like this, you’ll probably want to reach for something like Thermoworks’ Industrial IR Gun, which has a range of over 1,000F.
If you’re in the market for either an instant-read, probe-style thermometer, and you think you could use an IR thermometer as well, you should absolutely check out the Thermapen IR from Thermoworks. As Alton Brown says, there’s nothing worse than a uni-tasker, and the Thermapen IR is the ultimate in multi-function kitchen gadgets.
You can purchase your Thermapen IR from the Thermoworks website.
Source: The Thermoworks Thermapen IR was a manufacturer supplied review sample. Affiliate links have been used throughout this review.
What I Like: Simple to use; Rotating display; Multi-functional; Super accurate; Fast readings
What Needs Improvement: I’d love it if the IR range was increased