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Thermoworks Thermapen One Review — Basically, You Won’t Find Better!

You ever buy a fancy do-dad and wonder if you’re just “paying for the name”? I often get that feeling when I drop some money on a big-name grilling gadget that at least a dozen other companies sell their version of for less. So, I’m putting one of my latest to the test to see if it’s worthy of the budget-bending price tag attached.

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Last Updated: September 12, 2022

A Thermoworks Thermapen One isolated on black, next to text describing this article as a review

To help you make an informed choice, we’re reviewing the Thermapen One digital instant-read thermometer, checking it for speed, accuracy, and value.

There are times when a “rule of thumb” is enough to go by, or simply “eyeing” something is sufficient. Knowing if your grilled meat is done to taste and safe to eat is not one of those times.

The only way to know for SURE your meat is either to the doneness you prefer or cooked to a minimum safe temperature is to use a thermometer. If you don’t have one in your barbecue tool kit, it’s time to get on that.

And, wouldn’t you know it, this is a thermometer review!

This time around, I’m going in-depth and in-person with the Thermapen One from ThermoWorks. I personally own this thermometer, so I’m going to put it through its paces and share my results with you.

I’ll let you know what I like about it and what, if anything, could be a little better. Of course, we’ll get into all the specs and features and their benefit in the real world. I’ll cover speed, accuracy, and overall quality and wrap up with my recommendation: is the Thermapen One worth owning?

Let’s start with a short explanation of what it is and what it does.

Overview

Thermoworks Thermapen One
Thermoworks Thermapen one isolated on white

With readings taken in a second or less, an accuracy of better than ±0.5 °F, and a host of features making use effortless — leaving you to concentrate fully on the task of cooking — you will struggle to find a better instant read thermometer.

Note: Thermoworks only sell through very limited outlets, and it’s always cheapest at the manufacturers own site.

The Thermapen One is a handheld digital instant-read thermometer. That means it’s the kind you poke into your meat for a quick temperature check rather than a leave-in probe-style digital grill and smoker thermometer.

It’s useful both in the kitchen and at the grill or smoker for reading the temperature of basically anything you can eat. Because it takes a reading quickly, an instant-read thermometer like this gets you the data you need in a flash, and then you can move on to another piece of meat or any of the many chores you’re tending to while you grill.

Running on just a single AAA battery, you’re not tethered to a power source with this type of thermometer, and the readout displays right there on the unit.

What We Like

Thermapen one in a woman's hand, inserted into a spatchcock chicken, displaying 172.5 degrees Fahrenheit

I’m certainly a fan of the 360-degree screen rotation; it’s going to save me a lot of neck strain from cocking my head to see the display.

I also like saving my batteries, and the auto-sleep mode will help with that, especially when I forget to fold up the probe. Plus, the intelligent backlight is only on when I need it, as well as being nice and bright and easy to read in all lighting conditions.

Thermapen One backlit display seen in the dark, displaying 59.2 degrees Celsius

Plus, I forget my gear outside occasionally, so knowing it’s IP67 waterproof gives me some peace of mind. It can sit out in the rain, and not be caused any damage.

Of course, mostly what I like about the Thermapen One is the speed and accuracy of the readings: Just 1 second to take a reading, and an accuracy of ±0.5 °F, which at the time of writing is the best in the industry. It even comes with a manufacturers certificate of calibration to prove it’s accuracy!

Thermapen one user guide and certificate of calibration side-by-side

What Could Be Improved

Honestly, I really cannot find anything I would like to see improved. I own many instant-read thermometers having bought them for review, and this one is the best of the lot.

If being picky, the only problem that comes to mind with the Thermapen One is what to do with it when it’s not in my hand.

There’s no hole or string to hang it on a hook, and no magnet to stick it to a metal shelf or something. It doesn’t impact performance, but these are convenience features I’d expect to see at least one of on a thermometer of this quality and price point.

Naturally, Thermapen sells solutions separately, including a wall-mountable stainless steel bracket, a silicone sleeve with a magnet, and a faux leather holster.

I guess the price point of an MSRP over $100 could be a pain point, but considering the quality, speed, accuracy, and the 5-year warranty, you do get what you pay for.

Who is the Thermapen One Best Suited to?

Thermapen one on a wooden chopping board, opened and displaying 23.1 degrees Celsius

This thermometer is for anybody who cooks, inside the home or outdoors grilling and smoking.

No matter what you’re cooking, you need a reliable and accurate instant-read thermometer to be sure your food is at safe minimum temps, to hit your desired doneness levels, and to make sure you accurately follow temperatures of recipes, not serving food under- or over-cooked.

Yes, there are cheaper models available — many of them can be seen in our guide to the best instant read meat thermometers — but this is the Rolls Royce of instant-read thermometers, the best of the best, and has a price tag to go with it.

Thermoworks Thermapen One
Thermoworks Thermapen one isolated on white

With readings taken in a second or less, an accuracy of better than ±0.5 °F, and a host of features making use effortless — leaving you to concentrate fully on the task of cooking — you will struggle to find a better instant read thermometer.

Note: Thermoworks only sell through very limited outlets, and it’s always cheapest at the manufacturers own site.

Features and Benefits

Thermapen one in a woman's hand, inserted into chicken on a cutting board, displaying 168.2 degrees Fahrenheit

The key to being a great thermometer is to be accurate. Why? Because the difference of just a few degrees can also be the difference between the medium rare you want and the medium you don’t want (or any other doneness levels).

I’ll get into more detail about how accurate the Thermopen One is a bit later, but suffice to say it exceeds most other thermometers of this type.

Of course, the key to being a great instant-read thermometer is to be fast as well as accurate! Getting your temperature in a hurry means less time with your hand over the flames and less time losing heat with the lid open. If you feel the need for speed, this unit is lightning fast!

One noteworthy physical feature of the Thermapen One is the large LCD screen. Not only is it bigger and with taller characters than most competitors’ displays, it also auto-rotates the readout to match the orientation of the unit. That means if it’s standing straight up and down, the display runs the width of the LCD. Some units flip the reading 180 degrees for correct orientation for left or right readings, but I can’t think of another that displays in all four directions.

Four photos of the Thermapen One in 4 orientations, rotated 90 degrees in each photo
An excellent feature I’ve not seen on any other thermometer is the ability for the screen to rotate in 4 directions!

To help ease the strain on the single AAA battery, ThermoWorks added motion-sensing sleep and wake functionality. After a defined period of inactivity (which you can adjust in the Settings mode), the unit automatically turns off. It will stay off until you move it again, at which point it powers up and is ready to read. Folding away or unfolding the probe also turns the unit off and on.

Additionally, the backlight comes on automatically when the unit senses low-light conditions. This is awesome when you’re cooking at night, since you won’t have to click on your phone flashlight and try to manipulate both devices at the same time. Here’s a tip: if you need the light on but the sensor thinks you don’t, just cover it with your thumb.

And, since this is primarily meant for outdoor use, I’m happy to report the Thermopen One is IP67 waterproof. That means dust and rain are shut out, and it can even withstand being underwater for a spell. You’ll also appreciate this feature if you happen to drop yours in a sink full of water by accident.

Manufacturers Specs

The Thermapen One runs on a single AAA with a projected operating life of 2000 hours before you have to swap out the battery. That’s without the backlight on, mind you; using the backlight a lot will significantly reduce the life expectancy of your battery.

The K thermocouple sensor is supposed to be accurate to ±0.5°F (±0.3°C) from -4 to 248°F (-20 to 120°C), and ±1.8°F (±1.0°C) outside that range. Don’t worry about the drop in accuracy above 248°F; you’re never going to cook anything even close to that hot.

Want to take the temperature of a glacier? You’re in luck! The Thermapen One boasts a reading range of -58 to 572°F (-49.9 to 299.9°C).

And how instant is instant? In this case, it’s reported to take just 1 second to get a reading.

What’s in the Box?

Opening the box reveals the Thermapen One thermometer, a small owner’s manual, an information brochure about the thermometer, and a certificate of calibration.

Plus, Thermapen has kindly included a AAA battery, and it’s already installed.

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed is the relative chunkiness of the Thermapen One compared to many other instant-read thermometers on the market. It looks and feels more robust, more like a tool than a toy. And that’s a good thing when you’re banging stuff around in the backyard (or kitchen).

Being so chunky allows for a much larger screen than you typically see on this type of thermometer, and that’s definitely a plus.

It isn’t a flashy unit, with the logo subtly raised from the body of the thermometer and nothing else in terms of ornamentation. Again, it’s a tool, not a toy.

You do have the option to choose from ten colors: grey, white, yellow, green, red, blue, black, orange, pink, and purple, which is fun, and can also help to separate thermometers for different uses in kitchens, such as is done with cutting boards.

All units have a grey stripe running lengthwise through the middle, joining the two halves together.

Design and Build Quality

Thermapen One, closed and turned off, sitting on a cutting board

By and large, all digital instant-read thermometers look pretty much the same. There’s not much to distinguish the Thermapen One from the crowd in terms of appearance. But, it’s notably more robust than the cheaper models, feeling solid in the hand and proven to be more water-resistant than the bulk of the field.

It’s easy to get a grip on, and between the 180-degree motion of the probe and the 360 rotation of the display, that grip can be left- or right-handed.

There are two buttons on the Thermapen One, neatly located inside the battery compartment, so you’ll never accidentally make changes on the fly — which I have done MANY times on other models.

inside the Thermapen One battery compartment, showing the battery and buttons

One button is for changing the Mode and one for Settings. Using these, you can change the scale from F to C, adjust the display accuracy to include or exclude 10ths of degrees, toggle between 360- and 180-degree screen rotation or fix the display in one orientation, and adjust the duration of the sleep mode timer from 10 to 180 seconds or turn it off.

Thermoworks Thermapen One displaying C or F

You’ll note that, unlike on some instant read thermometers, the probe does not tuck fully into the body of the unit. However, the tip, the most sensitive and vital part of the probe tucks away into a neat little slot at the back, protecting it from damage, or from potentially spiking someone, when it’s not in use or in storage.

Ease of Use

The only way the Thermopen One could be easier to use would be if it worked via mental telepathy.

Seriously, the automatic features are my new best friends; I don’t have to turn it on or off, I don’t have to worry about what angle I stick it in from, and I don’t have to switch the backlight on when it’s dark.

Basically, ThermoWorks has automated everything you normally have to think about to make this as user-friendly as possible.

Speed and Accuracy

Sometimes, there’s what the manufacturer claims, and there’s what’s the case in real life. So, I put my Thermapen One to the test to check their supplied stats.

Thermoworks claim an accuracy of ±0.5 °F, an improvement from the already excellent ±0.7 °F of their previous models, and class leading for instant read thermometers.

It’s hard to test this kind of accuracy without proper lab equipment costing many thousands of pounds, but an ice bath and boiling water test is good enough for our needs. We basically hope to see temps within 1 °F for our needs, so let’s see how it fares.

Ice Bath Test

Thermapen one in a large glass of iced water, displaying 31.9 degrees Fahrenheit

Water freezes at 32 °F. The Thermapen One measured our iced water 31.9 °F. Suffice to say, that is incredibly accurate at just 0.1 °F difference.

Boiling Water Test

Thermapen one in a pan of boiling water, displaying 212.1 degrees Fahrenheit

Water boils at 212 °F at sea level, then at decreasingly lower temperatures depending on your height above sea level. Where I live, I am under 500 feet above sea level, so would expect to see figures very close to or at 212 °F.

The Thermapen One measured my pan of water at a rolling boil to be 212.1 °F. Again, this is incredibly accurate!

Ice water and boiling water bath tests passed with flying colors!

Speed of Reading

Thermoworks claim a 1 second read time. I have many other thermometers that claim read times between 2 and 3 seconds, including a previous model from Thermoworks, the Thermapen MK3.

I cannot verify the read time was just 1 second during my use. Again, it’s hard to measure accurately without scientific equipment costing many thousands of pounds, but going from boiling water to iced water, or iced water to boiling water, took approximately 2 seconds to settle at the correct temp, sometimes 3 seconds. Room temperature to iced water, or room temperature to boiling water temperature slightly faster.

Anyhow, what I can certainly say is that this thermometer provided readings far faster than everything else in my collection of instant read thermometers, so I’m willing to say that it’s the fastest I’ve ever seen.

Warranty and Support

ThermoWorks provides a 5-year warranty on defects, during which time they will replace or repair your unit as they deem necessary. The industry standard (as given by most competitors) is just a 12-month warranty period. So Thermoworks really stands by this product.

To set the ball rolling, you can call ThermoWorks toll-free or send them an email. There’s chat support through the week, too, available at their website.

Also at their website, you’ll find an array of FAQs to help you troubleshoot any problems or download the manual if you’ve misplaced it.

They’ve got all the social media accounts you’d expect, too, if you’re looking for other ways to interact with the company and the community of customers.

Final Verdict

Thermoworks Thermapen One
Thermoworks Thermapen one isolated on white

With readings taken in a second or less, an accuracy of better than ±0.5 °F, and a host of features making use effortless — leaving you to concentrate fully on the task of cooking — you will struggle to find a better instant read thermometer.

Note: Thermoworks only sell through very limited outlets, and it’s always cheapest at the manufacturers own site.

There’s no question this is an exceptional instant-read thermometer. In fact, I won’t hesitate to say it’s likely the BEST of the best. But, does that mean you should buy it?

Well, that really depends on your budget, how important it is to you to own top-of-the-line gear, and also how seriously you take your barbecue.

This is NOT an inexpensive thermometer and there are others that do the same job, though perhaps not quite as well, for a lot less money.

Summary of Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Super fast one second read time
  • Incredibly accurate, and supplied with calibration certificate
  • Large backlit screen easy to read in all lighting conditions
  • Rotating display works in 4 orientations, for easy reading at any angle
  • Durable design and water-resistant
  • Nice size and weight, feels good to grip in the hand
  • Motion sensor auto on and off saves battery life
  • Five year warranty

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Settings are a bit fiddly to access and change (though you only ever do it once!)

Value for Money

The combination of features the Thermapen One offers — from the 360-degree LCD to near-total automation to extreme accuracy — sets it above the crowd. You sincerely do get what you pay for in this instance.

Again, though, it really is the Rolls Royce or the Maybach or the Maclaren of thermometers; extreme quality, but with a much higher price tag than almost everything else in this category. So if you don’t need or want this level of quality, your money is maybe better spent on another digital instant-read thermometer.

Is the Thermapen One a Recommended Product?

Yes! If you have the means, and only care to own the very finest equipment, go for it; you’ll love it.

As I said, I own one, and it’s probably going to become the one I rely on daily, with all others relegated to the bottom kitchen drawer, where things go when they’re unused but not yet ready for the trash bin.

Conclusion

Just to say it one more time, I think the Thermapen One is a superior digital instant-read thermometer. It’s fast, it’s accurate, and loaded with features that make it a pleasure to use.

I totally get that it’s not for everyone. But, if you’re like me and you’re outside grilling and smoking almost daily, you’ll appreciate the cumulative time you save and the many ways it simplifies this vital part of barbecuing.

If you don’t think this is the right choice for you, I invite you to check out our reviews of the best digital instant-read thermometers available right now. I’m positive you’ll find a match for your needs and style.

As ever, you have my gratitude for trusting us with your BBQ needs and I hope to see you on our social channels. And don’t forget to browse the site for the best recipes, tricks, and reviews on the ‘net for everything barbecue.

I'm a self-proclaimed BBQ nut, and the founder and chief editor here at Food Fire Friends.

I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke whatever the weather, using various grills, smokers, and wood-fired ovens to produce epic food. My goal with this site is to help as many people as possible enjoy and be good at doing the same.

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