The $29 Thermopop Digital Thermometer Measures Up

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The new $29 Thermopop is the Thermapen's precocious kid brother. Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Anyone who reads this site regularly has heard me talk about the Splashproof Thermapen countless times. It's the Cadillac of thermometers with a huge, easy-to-read display, simple button-free operation, great accuracy and precision, a slim probe, a huge range, and temperature read times of under two seconds. It simply can't be beat, and it's an indispensable tool for anyone who roasts meat, cooks steaks or chicken, barbecues, makes candy, or deep fries.

But at nearly $100, it ain't cheap.

Enter the ThermoPop, the new $29* digital thermometer from the makers of the Thermapen, which offers many of the same features for a fraction of the price. The real question: how well does it work?

I've been playing around with one for the last couple months, stacking up its performance against the original Splashproof Thermapen as well as a host of other digital thermometers I've collected over the years. In all cases it performed at least as well as advertised, and in some cases beat out its own specs with read times in under five seconds instead of the five to six listed, and accuracy well within the ±2°F (1°C) range.

Simply put, it's the best inexpensive thermometer on the market, and for you home cooks who don't want to shell out $96 for the original, it may well be the solution you were looking for.

The Features

The compact thermometer has a thin probe with a carrying case that fits into a chef coat's pen pocket. The dial is relatively large and easy to read with a built-in soft backlight for when you have to reach into the oven. A click of a small button rotates the display 90 degrees, making it easy to read from any angle, including upside down.

The Stats

So what do you lose when you go with the ThermoPop? The most obvious is speed. Temperature reads that used to take two seconds now take four to five. It's not a huge deal, but it's noticeable if you're used to the performance of the Thermapen. Its accuracy and precision are also slightly downgraded, but for all but the most finicky of home cooking tasks, this should make no difference in the final outcome.

Here's a quick closer look at the two products side-by-side:

Splashproof Thermapen Vs. ThermoPop

Feature  Splashproof Thermapen  ThermoPop 
Price  $96  $29 
Read Time  2 to 3 seconds  5 to 6 seconds 
Range  -58 to 572°F (-50 to 300°C)  -58 to 572°F (-50 to 300°C) 
Precision  0.1°  1° 
Accuracy  ±0.7°F (±0.4°C)  ±2°F (1°C) 

I know a lot of friends who are gonna be getting the promise of perfectly cooked steaks and roast chicken in their stockings this year.

*At the time of writing, the ThermoPop was available for $29. As of 2018, it retails at $34.