ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 Review | To Buy or Not to Buy?

January 23, 2023

If you’re like me and you bake, cook, smoke, or grill foods regularly, you must have a food thermometer. Until the release of Thermapen One, the Thermapen MK4 was ThermoWorks’ flagship instant-read thermometer. Its speed and accurate temperature readings are why this is one of the best cooking thermometers on the market. Professional chefs swear by its reliability. Many grill masters can’t do without it. 

However, should you still get the MK4 in 2023, considering it now has an upgraded version, the Thermapen One? How well does the MK4 perform as an instant-read thermometer? Well, I’ve used the MK4 digital thermometer in the past and I also recently tested it again. So based on my experience, I’ll tell you what I think of the MK4 while also comparing it with the Thermapen One. 

Thermapen MK4 Review

Is the Thermapen MK4 Worth It?

Yes, the Thermapen is worth getting. It is a great thermometer for analyzing temperature data in real time. Instant meat thermometers like this are of excellent value because they save you time. 

However, I must be honest with you. It’s an expensive device. This thermometer currently sells under $150, although it has a 2-year warranty, which is great. Most digital instant-read thermometers on the market come with a one-year warranty. 

Still, there are cheaper options out there that are as effective. For example, the replacement model, the Thermapen One, is a more affordable, faster, and better thermometer with a more extended warranty. Later on, I’ll show you how the MK4 compares with the Thermapen One. First, here are the pros and cons:

Pros and Cons

What I Like 

  • It can read temperatures accurately 
  • The meat thermometer is waterproof, dustproof, and heat resistant
  • Automatically lights up or shuts down when picked up or put down
  • Can get readings up to 600 degrees in two seconds 
  • Battery life lasts up to 3,000 hours, 1,000 hours longer than the Thermapen One 

What I Don’t Like 

  • Although a warranty backs it, it is pretty expensive to get
  • It’s not dishwasher-safe

Thermapen MK4: An Overview 

Key Specs 

Preview
ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4
New! ThermoWorks Backlit Thermapen Mk4...
Reading Time
2-3 second readings
Accuracy
High accuracy to ± 0.7°F
Certification
NIST-Traceable calibration certificate
Backlight
Yes
IP Rating
Waterproof to IP67
Warranty
2 years
Other Features
Motion-sensing sleep and wake mode. Patented autorotating display
ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4
Preview
New! ThermoWorks Backlit Thermapen Mk4...
Reading Time
2-3 second readings
Accuracy
High accuracy to ± 0.7°F
Certification
NIST-Traceable calibration certificate
Backlight
Yes
IP Rating
Waterproof to IP67
Warranty
2 years
Other Features
Motion-sensing sleep and wake mode. Patented autorotating display

The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is a super fast instant-read cooking thermometer made by ThermoWorks. For protection from heat, humidity, and dust, the part where you hold is made of plastic. This also has a digital auto-rotating display screen that reads the result boldly. 

Once you insert it into the food, the digital meat thermometer reads out the result in 2 seconds – or 3 seconds max. 

Unfortunately, the Thermapen is now being discontinued by ThermoWorks and replaced with the Thermapen One, the faster version. The original Thermapen MK4 is still available on the market and still used by some of the world’s top professional cooks. 

The thermometer has a four-and-a-half-inch metal probe that can be inserted into any food. The auto-rotating display screen is also backlit for easy readings at night or in the dark. 

What I also like about the thermometer is that it has a waterproof feature with an IP rating of IP 67. The thermometer is available in up to 10 distinct colors and has no buttons, making it highly user-friendly. 

ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 vs. Thermapen One: A Side-by-side Comparison 

Here’s how the ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 compares to the newer Thermapen One:

Product Reading Time Accuracy Temperature Protection Warranty More Information
Thermoworks Thermapen MK4
Thermoworks Thermapen MK4
2 to 3 seconds ± 0.7°F -58° to 572° F IP66/67 2 years Buy on Amazon
Thermapen One
Thermapen One
1 second ± 0.5°F -58.0 to 572°F IP67 5 years Buy on ThermoWorks

Is the Thermapen One Better Than the MK4?

Anyone who sees the above would want to go for the Thermapen One in a heartbeat due to the improved features. Here are some caveats:

While the Thermapen One looks like a major upgrade, it’s not been tested much. Also, it’s still rare to find. As of January 2023, it’s not yet on major retailers like Amazon except on the Thermoworks website. 

One reason why the ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 is getting discontinued for the Thermapen One is probably due to a marketing strategy (to upgrade it, reduce the price, and get more buyers). For now, the jury’s still out on the Thermapen One. 

What’s Special About the Thermapen?

The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is a fantastic thermometer that takes the guesswork out of cooking. Below are some of the main features that make this small pen thermometer so valuable:

Auto-off Function 

The Thermapen has an auto-off function that turns on automatically when you open it. If you let it lie still for 30 seconds, it will turn off. When you pick it back up, it will turn right back on automatically. 

Intelligent Backlight 

It has a light sensor for an automated and intelligent backlight. The light sensor turns on and off in dark situations when I’m grilling at night or cooking in a dark kitchen. 

Auto Screen Rotation 

The ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 easy-to-read display automatically rotates every 90 degrees without pressing a button. 

Reading Speed

The Thermapen is super accurate and fast but also really fun to use. However, it’s not a one-second thermometer like the Thermapen One. This thermometer reads in 2 to 3 seconds, which is still quite impressive. 

Sensor Location 

It’s essential to know the location of the sensor of your thermometer, especially when taking the temperature at several places as you go into food. 

The sensor of the Thermapen is in the tiny cone tip of the pen. That means you’re taking the temperature in a very precise location in the food.

Sleep and Wake Mode

It has a sleep and wake mode that turns off the thermometer when placed down. Once it’s picked up, it wakes. This saves battery power. 

However, I think this is unnecessary as the single AAA battery-powered thermometer has up to 3,000 hours of battery life

How the Thermapen Works? 

Unlike most meat thermometers that start at zero, Thermapen always reads the ambient temperature even when it’s not inserted in food. So it begins at room temperature or whatever temperature it happens to be. That’s the reading you have on your thermometer. It gives a live reading all the time. 

The Thermapen doesn’t measure doneness, but measures temperature level. 

If you like your steak well-done, the Thermapen won’t notify you of this unlike the BELANKO Digital Wireless Meat Thermometer or other instant-read thermometers that measure doneness level. 

It won’t show medium-rare either. It just gives you the temperature for what the steak actually is. It does this with a high degree of accuracy. So, you can hone in on exactly what temperature you want for your food. 

Since it won’t tell you when your food is done, you have to experiment with that and know how you prefer it. I like my steaks done at medium rare to medium – anywhere around 130 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature. However, it all depends on your recipe. For instance, poultry meats need more time, up to 165 degrees

What’s the Thermapen For?

Once you understand how the Thermapen works and what it’s capable of, it becomes the ideal meat thermometer for steaks, chicken, fish, and pork. It’s also great for bread candy, deep-frying, or soap-making. 

The Thermapen is perfect for every purpose where temperature reading is essential. 

How to Use the ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4?

The ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4 works like any other digital thermometer. Simply extend the metal probe from the plastic and insert the tip into the center of your food. It will read instantly on the digital screen. 

Remember, the sensor is right at the tip of the Thermapen. As you go into the steak, you’ll see the temperature change as you insert through the center. It could go from 130 to 120, 86, and 73. Then it starts to go up again when I get down to the bottom of the steak. 

So, when you’re checking the temp of steak or anything else with the thermometer, you want to push it all the way through and pull it back out slowly. 

When measuring temperature with the instant-read thermometer, look for the lowest temperature you see. This is the thermal center – the part of the meat that’s farthest away from the edges, which will take the longest to cook. 

New! ThermoWorks Backlit Thermapen Mk4...
103 Reviews
New! ThermoWorks Backlit Thermapen Mk4...
  • patented, automatic 360° rotational...
  • FREE traceable calibration certificate
  • motion-sensing sleep mode
  • easily configure display in °C or °F

Final Thoughts 

Despite the release of the Thermapen One, I highly recommend the ThermoWorks Thermapen MK4. As well as being accurate, instinctive, and nimble, it’s got a rotating screen, intelligent backlight, and motion-sensing sleep mode with automotive dimming for exceptional usability. The battery lasts longer as well. 

The Thermapen MK4 always takes a live temperature super fast as it goes through your food. Be sure to look for the thermal center in your food for the best results, and you’ll get perfect readings every time. 

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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