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ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4: A Hands-on Review

By Dylan Clay
Last Updated 
April 21, 2022

The ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 is one of the best meat thermometers on the market. So much so that if you go to literally any other thermometer and inspect the reviews there is guaranteed to a be at least one person recommending the MK4 or just ThermoWorks in general.

ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 Review: What to Expect

The ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 arrives in a compact package and contains the following:

  • ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4
  • Certificate of Calibration
  • Manual
  • *Jellybelly Jellybeans (nice touch) - I'm unsure of whether or not that's a regular occurrence or someone was just happy I ordered; Either way, I ate them.

There is no setup required in order to use the ThermoWorks Mk4. As soon as you take it out of the package it's ready to be used.

However, if you prefer Celsius, changing to the metric system is possible by doing the following:

  1. Open the probe to turn the device on.
  2. Remove the battery cover/housing with a screwdriver.
  3. Press "Menu."
  4. Press "Set" to change to Celsius.
  5. Then press the "Menu" button until the display says "End."

ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4: What I like

Over the years I've owned several instant read thermometers, most within the $10-20 range found at a local grocery store or at a home goods store like Target or Kohls.

The Thermapen MK4 is much different from these devices.

Testing the Thermapen MK4

In order to test the accuracy of a probe/meat thermometer, it's recommended to use an ice bath.

Note: The reason an ice bath is used to test temperature is because it is a known value - water freezes at 32 F.

When testing the probe I both checked the accuracy as well as the speed. Below is a photograph of the accuracy - The readout shows 32 F.

Here is a video demonstrating the read speed. That same video also showcases the intelligent backlight (we physically blocked the sunlight sensor when inserted into the ice bath).

As seen from the video above, the ThermaPen MK4 is put into an ice bath and goes from 66 F to 32 F in two seconds. Upon placing your thumb on the light sensor, the backlight is turned on and remains on until it detects sunlight again.

Auto-Adjusting Display

Something that I really like is its ability to auto-adjust the display based on the orientation of the probe itself. I will say that it makes checking temperatures inside enclosures like a smoker significantly easier.

testing thermapen on chicken
Testing the Thermapen on my Chicken on a Stick - Recipe coming soon!

Here is a compilation of photos showing the MK4 at different orientations. As you can see the display will auto-rotate to be either horizontally or vertically aligned - the same could be said for upside down and right-side up.

thermapen auto-rotating display

Color Options

I consider color sort of a tertiary consideration, however, for people who like to have consistency in their branding, getting a color that matches your brand or even your preference is pretty neat.

Their current color options are:

  • Yellow
  • Green (Lime Green)
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Black

I personally went with Red because Barbecue FAQ's color scheme is red; Barbecue brands typically use red and black color-ways too.

Well Documented

For someone who is an absolute "nerd" in regards to documentation, manuals, etc. It's nice to see that ThermoWorks has all of their products well documented on their website. Whether it's in the form of PDFs or a simple YouTube video. That sort of stuff is always nice to see, especially when customers have questions.

I also had a "question" before I purchased - The person from the chat responded super fast with an answer. My question was in regards to their spec. sheet where they list a "range" and an "operating range."

I essentially was just doing this to test support's response to a question but the person was nice enough to tell me that the "range" is the probe's range for measuring temperature and the "operating range" is the ambient temperature (outdoor temperature) the device can physically operate in.

ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4: What I Don't Like

To be frank, there really isn't much to not like; The Thermpen MK4 does exactly what it's advertised to do.


However, the only gripe I could foresee people having is the price. There's no way to really sugar coat this: It's expensive.

However, in comparison, I've owned roughly 5 different instant read thermometers in the past 6-7 years. One was washed by a member of my family in the dishwasher and no longer works. Two had the probe physically detach from the handle and the others no longer function appropriately - either they're no longer accurate or take too long to give a reading.

All of these probes have the same thing in common - I picked them up at a local retailer like Target, Kohls, Walmart, or K-mart and they cost $10-20. The saying of "you get what you pay for" sort of holds true here.

Just from holding the Thermapen MK4 you can tell it's going to last a long time. That's sort of hard to express but if you've owned a product that feels cheaply made and then compare it to a product that's clearly been engineered and though out, it becomes quite obvious - the differentiating factor here is seemingly always price but replacing a product over and over adds up too.

Changing from Fahrenheit to Celsius

I will note, while I'll never change from Fahrenheit to Celsius, I feel it should be a bit easier to select your preferred metric.

Why does it require me to physically detach a housing with a screwdriver and then cycle through a menu? Not to mention the menu is somewhat hard to click as my hands are like baseball mitts

I can only imagine an older person having to remove a housing and then attempting to click a small menu button, then the set button, and then cycling all the way till "end" is displayed - all while having arthritis in their fingers and wrists.

While I did get my 82 year old grandmother to successfully change it, she remarked the same sort of thoughts; Granted, she would never use Celsius either.

Note: The issue of cycling through the menu via the protruding motherboard was solved on the new ThermoWorks ONE - ThermoWorks latest iteration of their instant read thermometer. I can only assume other reviewers felt the same way I did above. However, these menu settings are also hid behind the battery compartment; I can only assume this is done just to have a minimalistic aesthetic.

Final Thoughts

As I said above, there really isn't much to harp on in terms of being lacking in features or functionality. The ThermoWorks MK4 works as described - it's accurate, outputs a temperature quickly, and is built to last.

Dylan Clay
I've grilled and smoked meat for roughly half my life. While i'm not a professional Pitmaster, I've worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands on guide to teach them BBQ. It's my hope that Barbecue FAQ can be that helping hand.

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