Nowadays, grilling has become an everyday thing in most homes.
Let’s admit it; it is fun sitting outside and enjoying a sunny afternoon as you grill some meat, the experience is simply thrilling.
Grilling or smoking meat can be fun, the only problem comes in when you overcook or undercook the meat. And since you are probably not as experienced as a chef, you cannot determine if the meat is ready by just a single look.
That is why you need a thermometer to help you determine if the meat is ready.
In this article, we’ll discuss the 5 best thermometers for grilling & smoking.
- 1 Choosing thermometers for grilling and smoking
- 2 What are the optimum meat cooking temperatures?
- 3 Tips when handling a grilling or smoking thermometer
- 4 Our Top Picks
- 5 Conclusion
Choosing thermometers for grilling and smoking
The sole purpose you intend to buy a grilling thermometer is to get accurate readings and cook your meat perfectly.
Therefore, you want a thermometer that can make precise readings with little or no variations.
Speed is the second most important feature in thermometer. You want your thermometer to be instant; that is, it stabilizes in less than 10 seconds.
You’ll need this speed, especially when grilling or reaching into a hot oven, as the temperatures there are not that accommodating.
The thermometers functionality will greatly enhance the cooking experience. You’ll need to have a clear picture of what you want.
Do you want a simple thermometer with an easy design? Are you fascinated by technology? Whichever your answer is, there is a thermometer that will fit your needs and preferences.
You might want a thermometer that can switch from °F to °C, as it will come in handy when preparing global recipes.
Some thermometers can display the temperature up to the 10th of a degree, while others can be pre-programmed with the minimum cooking temperatures and will alert the user once the temperatures are reached.
Thermometers with wide temperature ranges are better especially if you intend to use your thermometer for more than one use.
A thermometer with range is useful for both barbecuing at low temperatures and searing a steak at high temperatures.
Digital vs. Analog
Thanks to the continued advancement in technology, we now have digital thermometers that are not only more efficient but also accurate.
While analog thermometers were seen as efficient, their range wasn’t as approximate as their digital counterparts were.
Like earlier said, digital thermometers offer more precise readings such that you can now hit the recommended USDA’s Minimum temp without much hassle.
Digital thermometers are fancier than their analog counterparts, as they tend to be very helpful especially when dealing with finicky kitchen projects such as making cheese or tempering chocolate.
What are the optimum meat cooking temperatures?
Not all meat is cooked under the same temperature. There are different optimum temperatures for various types of meat.
You aren’t required to know them right off the top of your head so don’t worry, we’ll give you a little cheat sheet to go over every time you want to confirm:
- Beef, lamb or veal: The grilling thermometer should be placed away from the bone, cartilage or fat. Optimum temperature ranges between 63 °C (145 °F) for medium-rare meat and 77 °C (170 °F when it’s well done.
- Ground meat: You should insert the barbecue thermometer into the piece’s thickest part. For burgers, insert the probe from the side of the burger patty through to the middle. Be sure to check each piece because heat can sometimes be uneven. The temperature should reach 74 °C (165 °F) for poultry and 71 °C (160 °F) for beef, pork, lamb or veal.
- Pork: Pork should be treated with the same temperature targets that beef has around 71°C(160 °F).
- Poultry: Insert the barbecue thermometer into the thigh without touching the bone. The safe temperature for poultry to reach is 74 °C (165 °F).
- Seafood: 70 °C (158 °F) is the optimum temperature for fish. The temperature when cooking shellfish should be at 74 °C (165 °F). Discard any shellfish that had difficulty opening up and did not open during cooking.
Tips when handling a grilling or smoking thermometer
- Keep the probes dry: If water finds its way into the place where the braided cable and solid probe connect, some thermometers may fail. For this reason, you must not submerge them under any circumstances, especially when washing. The braid may get a little wet because it has wires within that are coated. The braid and the solid probe junction, however, are vulnerable.
- Use the right probe: Some probes like the K-type probes, are interchangeable and can work on any thermocouple meter, which takes K-type probes. This feature isn’t the same for most because they cannot be interchanged.
- Don’t go over the temperature rating: Thermometers that have cables indicate in the manual what the maximum temperature is. Many consumer cables are coated in Teflon, which has a melting point of 500°F. The air on your grill may only be 350°F, but the surface of the oven may be 600°F, which can melt the Teflon.
- Always ensure that the tips are clean: It is possible to get a false reading because of Carbon build-up on the tip of a grilling or smoking thermometer probe because it is insulated. Use a soapy sponge putting your focus on the 1 inch that’s near the tip when cleaning a smoker probe. Rinse the probe with a wet paper towel or under a faucet carefully keeping the water away from the braid particularly at the junction.
- Be sure not to drop them: If you do, it will break. Simple.
Our Top Picks
ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Food Meat Thermometer
The ThermoPro TP20 looks good and durable. It is a digital wireless thermometer, which features dual probe to help it monitor food temperature from up to 300 ft away.
This will enable the user to continue with the activities at hand without having to excuse themselves every now and then. Unlike the previous models, the ThermoPro does not require sync, which means that you will not have to go through the tedious process of setup.
The ThermoPro comes with large LCD displays for both oven and food temperatures. It also has a timer that is designed to provide a seamless and intuitive experience.
The thermometer is also backlit for easy use especially in low light conditions. It is an ideal barbecue thermometer as it comes preset with temperatures for 9 different types of meat.
It also has the various doneness levels that are recommended by USDA. It is important to note that the preset temperature can be reset according to your preferences.
- It has an excellent range of 300 feet. If you are slow cooking something overnight, you can comfortably go to sleep
- The inbuilt alarm alerts you when your food has reached the desired temperature
- Dual probes allow you to track the temperature of two different types of meat or perhaps the meat and the oven temperature
- The thermometer has a one-year warranty while the probes have an entire lifetime’s warranty
- After using it for a while, the probes tend to read higher than the other when inserted in the same piece of meat
Check out Henry Armitage’s review of the ThermoPro TP-20 Below:
Habor Instant Read Thermometer
As its name suggests, the Habor Instant Read Thermometer is super fast; it can read the temperature in 4-6 seconds. With such speeds, you will not have to worry about overcooking or undercooking your meat.
The Habor thermometer is more accurate than the previous models as it comes with a thin probe tip and a super sensitive sensor chip. With these two features, the habor thermometer can now boast of a control error range of ± 1.8° F. With such performance, you are guaranteed of efficiency in your cooking or grilling.
The Habor thermometer comes with meat temperature chart that is printed on the backside of the thermometer. It comes in handy especially when cooking or BBQ.
It also features a probe that is not only foldable but also long. The 4.8” probe will ensure that you do not burn your fingers when checking the temperatures. As for the foldable design, it comes in handy when storing it.
It is easy to use, as you will only need to follow two steps to get it started. It also comes with a button battery, which the manufacturer recommends that you turn off after use.
- Easy to Use
- Reads in Less than 6 Seconds
- User-Friendly Features
- Some users reported the case melted when grilling
Polder THM390-39 BBQ Thermometer
The Polder THM390-39 is considered to be one of the fastest thermometers as it gives accurate readings in less than 8 seconds. It employs the use of speed-read technology to achieve this feat. It makes it easy for the user to cook food at the right temperatures according to the doneness and meat type.
It has a temperature range of 32° F to 212° F. Its probe is thinner than most probes thus making it ideal for sampling meat as it makes smaller holes. It has a 10” probe that is not only the perfect length for use, but it also ensures that your hands are at a safe distance when checking temperatures.
It is designed to work in ovens, which means that you will not be required to slide out the whole pan just to check the meat temperatures. Its size, and user-friendly features have made it one of the most popular meat thermometers. You will definitely like its simplicity.
- Simple features
- Replaceable Battery
- Some users have reported it failing after several uses
GDEALER Instant Read Thermometer
The GDEALER thermometer prides itself in its fast read of about 4-6 seconds. It has a large LCD display, an AUTO Shut-off & HOLD feature. It is quite light thus easy to carry around. It is not only ideal for outdoor cooking but also perfect for indoor kitchen use.
It has a wide temperature range of – 50°C to 300°C with a control error range of ± 0.1°F, which makes it very useful when grilling on a gas barbecue, deep-frying, making bread, cheese or even brewing beer. With its Auto shut-off feature, you can now save battery as it automatically shuts off when the thermometer stays on for more than 10 minutes without being used.
It has a stainless foldable 11 cm probe. It is quite easy to use, as you only need to pull out the probe then insert it into the food or meat and note the temperature readings. It comes with a temperature chart that you can use to confirm the perfect temperatures for your fish, lamb, beef, pork, steak, turkey or chicken.
- Reasonably Priced
- Fast & Accurate Readings
- User-friendly features & easy to use
- Some users have complained about its durability
Fast & Strong’s review of the GDEALER thermometer is shown below.
Lavatools Javelin PRO Thermometer
The Lavatools Javelin Pro is a food thermometer for professionals that has both Fahrenheit and Celsius readings. It’s a top-of-the-line gadget, which has a 4.2” probe that extends up to 10.5”. This assures the safety of the hands while cooking in an oven or grill. It maintains a simple appearance on the outside and has an intelligent software under the hood, which lets you know when the temperature has stabilized. This is done through audible chime. It’s very noticeable antifogging 2″ backlit feature display comes in handy when you find yourself cooking in the dark. The power saver and MIN/MAX functions keep the instant-read running longer. You can turn on the power saver mode to disable features that sap your battery life.
The display is always clear because it has an antifogging coating that works even when checking boiling liquids. It is backed by magnet enabling attachment to the oven or refrigerator for storage and supports a limited 3-year warranty.
- Accurate & Very Fast
- Solid Construction
- Backlight for Cooking at Night
- Splash Resistant
- Magnet is a bit Weak
The best thermometer for grilling on this list is the ThermoPro TP20. It is undoubtedly one of the most superior barbecue thermometers and it offers good value for money.
It’s simple enough for a novice to understand and get the job done right. The fact that it’s easy to use and its only downfall is that the probes may lose efficiency after some time, is easily solvable and the lifetime warranty makes it the ideal choice for you.