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Best Smoker Thermometers for Accurate BBQ – Updated for 2020

Here are the best smoker thermometers available in 2020. Digital, wireless, Bluetooth and WiFi enabled, there’s something here to suit everybody, with the best in a few categories.

Last Updated: June 29, 2020 | 28 min read

6 smoker thermometers in a photo montage
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In this article, we’re going to look at the best smoker thermometers available on the market today.

Barbecue and grilling without a thermometer is nothing but a guessing game and one you are going to get wrong time and time again, potentially ruining your food, and serving meat dangerously under, or wastefully overcooked.

For consistently good results, you need to be able to monitor and see at a glance both the internal temperature of the meat you are cooking to know when it’s done, and that of your smoker or grill, to know what temperature you are cooking at.

Many people rely on their smokers built-in thermometer, but they are often woefully inaccurate, and they record temperatures many inches above where the food is placed, which can often be 30 F or more different.

And of course, a built-in thermometer can tell you nothing about the internal temperature of your meat.

Before we get into the reviews, here’s a summary of the top rated smoker thermometers we’re going to compare and review:

At a Glance: Our Top Choices for Best Smoker Thermometer

PHOTO PRODUCT PROPERTIES  
Our Top Pick
ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Remote Digital...
Our Top Pick
ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Remote Digital Meat Thermometer
  • Dual probe
  • 300 ft range
  • Free probe replacement if any issue
  • 3-year warranty (once registered)
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Runner up
Maverick Wireless BBQ Thermometer Set -...
Runner up
Maverick ET732 Wireless BBQ Thermometer Set
  • Dual probe
  • 300 ft range
  • Out of temp range alarms
  • 90-day warranty
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Upgrade Pick
FireBoard FBX11 Thermometer
Upgrade Pick
FireBoard FBX11 Thermometer
  • 3 probes: 1x pit, 2x meat
  • Infinite range - anywhere there's WiFi
  • Blower kit available for automatic temp control
  • 1-Year Warranty
Check Price at Fireboard
Best Budget
ThermoPro TP08S Wireless Digital Meat...
Best Budget
ThermoPro TP08S Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer
  • Dual probe
  • 300 ft range
  • Convenient timer and alarms
  • 3-year warranty (once registered.)
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Best for Professionals
Thermoworks Smoke 2-Channel Alarm Thermometer
Best for Professionals
Thermoworks Smoke 2-Channel Alarm Thermometer
  • Dual probe
  • 300 ft range
  • Can pair multiple receivers to one base
  • 2-year warranty
Check Price at Thermoworks
Best for Rotisserie
MEATER Plus | 165ft Long Range Smart Wireless...
Best for Rotisserie
New MEATER+ 165ft Long Range Smart Wireless Meat Thermometer
  • Single probe design
  • 2 sensors in one probe
  • Truly wireless - no wire in sight!
  • 1-year warranty
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We know, we know… shut up and take my money! But not so fast – there’s a bunch of information you need first to choose the right one for you.

First, we’ll take an in-depth look at 6 of the very best smoker thermometers on the market, share our number one choice and tell you why we think it’s the best.

After this, you can read on to learn why you really do need a digital thermometer, the different types to choose from, features to look for, and how to set yours up.

Best Smoker Thermometer Reviews

We’ve classified our picks as best overall, runner up, best upgrade pick for those who want quality with money with no object, an affordable model for those on a budget, and a few also-rans.

For each, we have a review, specs, and some simple pros and cons.

But before I start, I have a couple of very important points to make:

A note on temperature accuracy: Many manufacturers provide the accuracy of their product. Good grilling thermometers give accurate temperature readings to +/- 2.0 F or less. That might seem like a lot, but it’s not a huge deal unless you require scientific accuracy.

The degree of accuracy given generally applies to temperatures from right around the freezing mark up to around 250 F, which is as hot as you want to get if you’re smoking. Once you get past that point, accuracy decreases significantly.

That’s totally fine, however. Your meat will never come close to that internal temp, and a couple degrees difference in your smoker will be way more accurate still than your kitchen oven!

A note on receiver range: Most of these units boast of a signal range of up to 300 feet, and sometimes more. That’s fantastic, and no doubt they actually achieved those numbers in tests. In an open field.

However, obstacles (like walls, for example) will reduce the effective range. In most cases, though, you should have no trouble going inside to get a drink, watch TV, or use the facilities.

OK, let’s dive in and get these smoker thermometers reviewed.

Best Overall: Thermopro TP20 Wireless Remote Digital Meat Thermometer

ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Remote Digital...

So your situation is this: you’re not new to barbecue, but you are pretty new to smoking.

You want to make brisket like an expert pitmaster, and you know hitting and holding your temperature is crucial to success.

You’re ready to invest in the right equipment, but you’re practical – you need something you can work with now, but not feel like you’ve outgrown it once you’ve nailed your technique.

Buy it once, and forever love your ThermoPro TP20.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Number of probes: 2
  • Accuracy: +/- 1.8F (1C)
  • Temperature range: 32F – 572F (0C – 300C)
  • Maximum temperature: 716F (380C)
  • Probe length: 6.5 inches
  • Cable length: 40 inches
  • Power: 2 AAA batteries per unit
  • Remote range: 300 feet
  • Display size: 1.6 x 1.9 inches
  • Warranty: 1 year (register product for 3 year coverage)

ThermoPro has nailed the perfect combination of reliability, durability, and great features at a great price, earning it my pick as the best overall smoker thermometer.

Much as we love to memorize doneness temperatures (no seriously – quiz us!), we know not everyone feels this way. Being able to press a single, clearly marked button to set the right target temp for your meat selection and desired doneness to pre-programmed USDA specs, makes this a dream and easy to use.

The digital back lit display is easy to read, you get a countdown and count-up timer, and you can even switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius. All this at a price point we think is reasonable.

And, we can’t overlook the probe replacement guarantee – if yours fails (it does happen, especially when, despite being warned, people dunk them in water) just call them up, and they’ll send you a new one free of charge. We have total respect for a company that’s there for its customers.

What We Like

Contents of Thermopro tp20 thermometer box laid out on a chopping board

  • Wireless remote – Frees you up to walk away
  • Long cables – Provide more placement options
  • Rubber case – Protects against drops and bangs
  • Self-supporting kickstand – For easy placement of transmitter
  • Presets for different types of meat – So you can set alarms for different levels, removing any guesswork and any chance of overcooking

What We Don’t Like

  • Two probes max – Can’t connect additional probes
  • Large receiver – Great for reading, but fairly large for carrying around

If you’d like more information on this great bit of kit, you can check out my more in-depth and hands on Thermopro TP20 review.

Or if you’ve already decided that the ThermoPro TP20 Wireless meat thermometer sounds like the perfect investment for your BBQ adventures, follow the link below to check out more pictures, a short video, and to get yours in time for your next smoke.

 

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Runner up: Maverick Et-732 Wireless BBQ Thermometer

Maverick Wireless BBQ Thermometer Set -...

Historically one of the most popular smoker thermometers ever, we appreciate this unit for its simplicity and no-nonsense approach.

It may not have the most intuitive design, but if you familiarize yourself with the manual, you’ll master it in no time.

It does not have pre-sets for USDA temperature guidelines, meaning you’ll need to know what temperature you’re aiming for. That might be a deterrent for anyone new to smoking, but that’s something you should learn, anyway (and it’s only a quick google away.)

All the basic features are here, including lost signal alert to tell you to move back in range, and over- and under-temperature alarms.

Overall, we think there’s plenty of bang for your buck (or pound or Euro) packed into the Maverick ET-732. It’s a reliable unit perfect for anyone, but especially those with a bit more than beginner’s knowledge of smoking meat.

The ThermoPro TP-20 is just slightly easier to use in my opinion, and also has that rubberized casing that protects it from drops and falls, otherwise these two units are similar. And that’s why I’ve given the ET-732 my pick as runner up best smoker thermometer.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Number of probes: 2
  • Temperature range: up to 572F (300C)
  • Max temperature use: 716F (380C)
  • Probe length: >6 inches
  • Cable length: 6 feet
  • Power: 2 AAA batteries per unit
  • Remote range: 300 feet
  • LCD display
  • Dimensions: 4.75” x 2.5” x 1”
  • Warranty: 90 days
Maverick ET732 box contents laid out on a chopping board

What We Like

  • Small receiver – easy to carry around.
  • Audible alerts – When temperature is too high or too low.
  • Count-up and countdown timers – Always comes in handy.
  • Belt clip and kickstand on receiver – So you can carry it around, or stand it up.

What We Don’t Like

  • Only 2 Probes – limits you to monitoring a single piece of meat
  • Low on convenience features – No preset temperature settings for meat doneness and alarms.
  • Learning curve to set up – Minimal buttons means less intuitive operation
  • 90-day warranty – This is lower than others we looked at, but should be enough to reveal manufacturer’s defects

If having the basics to get the job done is all that matters to you, you want a thermometer that’s low on bells and whistles, easy to use, but high on functionality, this might be the model for you.

There’s nothing fancy about this unit, but it ticks all the boxes for basic features and does what it’s supposed to do.

For a closer look (it comes in white, too!), check out our Maverick ET-732 review, or just follow the convenient link below. Click, order, own, cook, eat, enjoy. Seriously. It’s that easy.

 

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Upgrade Pick: Fireboard FBX11 Smoker and Grill Thermometer

Fireboard FB11 smoker thermometer isolated on white

With a functional temperature range spanning 784 F (330 C) you could use this thermometer from the Arctic Circle to the equator. Good to know if you live in an extreme weather zone and don’t want to wait all year for optimal weather!

That’s just one of a ton of remarkable features jammed into this top-rated device.

This thermometer has both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and cloud-connected, so you can monitor it from your smartphone directly or over WiFi or 3G / 4G.

The advantages of using an app to monitor your smoke session are many. First off, you’re carrying your phone around anyway, so why add another device to your load?

Secondly, the versatile app records data from your cooks for you to review later. Make notes, edit data, and learn what worked and what didn’t. It’s like having a notebook to help keep track of your smoking sessions, except you won’t need a pen handy.

What a great way to develop your skills!

Third, you can attach and monitor up to 6 probes from one unit. This means you can hook it up to many different meats inside of your one smoker, or monitor perhaps 5 meats on 5 different smokers. What a beast!

Also available as an add on is a control cable and blower that turns the FBX11 into a capable temperature controller.

With this kit attached, program in your desired temperature, and the FBX11 and blower work together to keep your smoker at whatever level you’ve chosen by controlling the oxygen levels to the coals, for true set-it-and-forget-it BBQ.

The FBX11 can be like having a mentor and an assistant at your beck and call at all times. If you’re really, really serious about smoking and mastering the craft, the FireBoard FBX11 is the one for you.

Yes, this thermometer is 2 or 3 times more expensive than some of our other recommendations. But, if you don’t mind dropping the money, it really is the best unit you can buy and easily wins for my pick as the best high end smoker thermometer.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Number of probes: 3 included, supports up to 6
  • Accuracy: +/- 0.7F (0.4C)
  • Temperature range: -58F – 716F (-50C – 380C)
  • Probe length: 2.25” ambient, 5” food
  • Cable length: 6 feet
  • Power: 5VDC via Micro USD, or on-board rechargeable batteries
  • Remote range: 100 feet (Bluetooth); WiFi range depends on your home set up
  • Display size: Main display is on your phone or tablet
  • Warranty: 1 year

Fireboard FBX11 isolated on white

What We Like

  • Up to 6 Probes – Buy extra cables and keep tabs on up to 5 cuts of meat plus the grate (or 6 cuts and no ambient temperature)
  • Infinite Range – Monitor your smoker from your smartphone instead of a radio receiver
  • Highly connected – Works on Wifi and Bluetooth
  • Incredibly accurate –  For precision control over your smoke
  • Extra-long cables –  For convenient placement of the transmitter

What We Don’t Like

  • Cost – It’s one of the more expensive units out there (but you get what you pay for)
  • Only two probes are included –  others are sold separately, and it’s (comparatively) expensive as it is. However, I guess it keeps costs down for people who don’t want 3+ probes.

Some people take their smoking very seriously – it’s more than just a hobby or weekend pursuit. They love everything about barbecue smoking, including the gear. For them, it’s essential to have the best of the best, and to get it, money is no object.

If this sounds like you, if having one of the very best smoker and grill thermometers you can buy matters, and you’re ready to open up your wallet, this is the product for you. Check out our more in depth Fireboard review, or click here for current prices:

 

Check Current Price at FireBoard

 

Best Affordable: Thermopro TP-08S Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer

ThermoPro TP08S Wireless Digital Meat...

The thing about a good hobby is it should be accessible to anyone. You don’t have to own a BGE to smoke meat, or a $200 digital smoker thermometer.

If you’re just thinking about dipping your toes and seeing what smoking is all about, or if you know you’re going to be a “casual” barbecuer, you probably want to save some money.

Does that mean giving up on essential features? Not with this thermometer!

The ThermoPro TP08 has a great mix of features, rugged design and durability at an affordable price point, making it our best budget smoker thermometer.

Thermopro TP08 in use with a red kamado Joe classic

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Number of probes: 2
  • Accuracy: +/- 1.8F (1C)
  • Temperature range: 32F – 572F (0C – 300C)
  • Maximum temperature: 716F (380C)
  • Probe length: 8.5 inch food / 3 inch grate
  • Cable length: 40 inches
  • Power: 2 AAA batteries per unit
  • Remote range: 300 feet
  • Display size: 1.5” x 1.3” receiver / 1.5” x 0.55” transmitter
  • Warranty: 1 year (register product for 3 year coverage)

The ThermoPro TP-08S does almost everything its big brother, the TP-20 does. Basically, all you’re giving up are the safe temperature and doneness presets, plus a small amount of LCD real estate.

While we love the preset temperatures, they are not essential, just helpful. You can easily download a temperature chart (ThermoPro has a nice one available) and then manually set your targets.

With a long list of great features, like your choice of temperature units, countdown and count-up timers, a backlit LCD, and a rubberized housing, it’s honestly hard to tell the difference between this and the more expensive units.

If you already know the targets and want to save a few bucks, or if you just want good equipment without breaking the bank, this modest investment could pay for you in mouth-watering smoked meat.

What We Like

  • Extra long food probe –  is great for large cuts like briskets and shoulders
  • Ease of Use – Automatically pairs, and buttons are clearly labeled and easy to press
  • Ample features –  with temperature alarm and lost signal alarms, etc.

What We Don’t Like

  • Dual probe only – Limited to monitoring just one cut of meat
  • Short pit probe cable – At only 3 1/2 feet, this could be a problem for some BBQs.
  • No meat doneness presets – Doesn’t have the pre-set USDA temperature guidelines like the more expensive ThermoPro
  • Not magnetized – but it does have a hanger on the back of the transmitter

I love this little thermometer, have owned one for a couple of years and use it all the time. It’s incredibly simple to use and does a great job. You can learn of my thoughts in my hands-on review of the Thermopro TP-08.

My only gripe and warning is to be aware that the pit probe cable is only 3.5 foot long, and the transmitter is not magnetic.

Therefore, you need to be able to set the transmitter down within 3.5 feet of where the probe will be inside your smoker. Perfectly fine for me with 2x Kamados and on Weber kettles, but maybe an issue on some larger offsets, for example. (Note: The meat probe cable is 6 foot and gives more leeway.)

If you think this is the product for you, use the link to browse more info, pics, and a handy video showing how easy it is to use.

 

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OK, so you’ve seen our top two overall picks, plus our best-of-the-best-at-any-cost and budget-friendly selections. Here are a few other worthy contenders for you to think about, any one of which will do the job well.

Best for Professionals: Thermoworks Smoke 2-Channel Alarm Thermometer

Thermoworks smoke, charcoal color, isolated on white

Thermoworks are best known for their (arguably) industry-standard Thermapen instant-read thermometers.

Widely respected for making well thought out, quality products aimed at professionals, Thermoworks say themselves about the ‘Smoke’:

“Designed for competition BBQ teams and professional chefs, Smoke outlasts and outperforms every competitor. Not a cheaply-made housewares product, Smoke features a rugged housing with molded-in seals for splashproof protection.”

The Thermoworks come in at over 1.5x the price of our top pick and runner up, and it’s for this reason alone that the Thermoworks was not our winner.

Because it’s made for and marketed toward professionals, it’s maybe a bit overkill for the weekend warrior as it were.

Carry on reading for the low down on specs, features and performance.

Thermoworks smoke sitting on a wooden table

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Number of probes: 2
  • Accuracy: +/- 1.8F (1.0C)
  • Temperature range: -58F – 572F (-50C – 300C)
  • Max temperature use: 700F (370C)
  • Probe length: 6 inches
  • Cable length: 47 inches
  • Power: 2 AA batteries per unit
  • Remote range: 300 feet
  • Display size: 2.15” x 1.3” receiver / 2” x 2.95” transmitter
  • Warranty: 2 years

We may have indulged in a little hyperbole in the intro to the ThermoWorks Smoke. But, the truth is this is a well-designed, information-heavy unit.

For a start, it’s one of a few you’ll find that gives the complete range of information on the transmitter and the receiver. It’s almost like the receiver is a bonus and not the reason to buy it.

It’s actually nice not to have to look at the remote unit to get the full picture. If you’re right beside the smoker, doesn’t that make more sense than digging in your pocket?

Speaking of which, the remote has a nifty lanyard, allowing you to hang it conveniently around your neck. Not stylish, but very practical.

But speaking of style: The transmitter and receiver are very well built and designed. They are rugged, sealed, and splashproof to IP65, and even the probes are commercial grade and a cut above the rest!

Owners of all digital smoker thermometers complain about probes becoming faulty over time, it’s par for the course. But I’m yet to see a single failure with Thermoworks Smoke probes!

By the way, just did the math, and apparently, the batteries will last through 75 days of continuous usage. Nice to know you won’t run out of juice during an extended smoke!

What We Like

  • Info at Both Ends – Complete easy to read display on both the base unit and the remote
  • Lanyard – for wearing the remote included
  • Comes in 9 colors – Match your apron and gloves!
  • Built to last – Splash-proof housing and industry topping quality, commercial-grade probes

What We Don’t Like

  • Only 2 probes – With just two probes, you can only monitor one cut
  • Price – Costs a little more than most on this list. But it’s not overpriced, it is great quality and value.

So, what you’ve got here is a competition-grade digital smoker thermometer. You can even sync multiple remotes to the base so an entire team can keep track of cooks at once. But, even if you’re not on a team, you can still get a lot of value out of this unit.

Want non-stop info at the pit with a handy remote on the side? Grab a ThermoWorks Smoke. Browse the pictures and reviews, choose your color, and place your order all on one handy page – right at the other side of this link.

 

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Best for Rotisserie: The Meater+ Wireless Smoker Thermometer

MEATER Plus | 165ft Long Range Smart Wireless...

The weakest part of any system is where you’re most likely to have a failure. With smoker thermometers, that part is often the cables from the probes to the receivers.

What if you could eliminate that part entirely?

Also, if you rotisserie cook and want to monitor the internal temperature of your meat as it cooks, with a wire from the probe to the controller you’re out of luck. The wire will roll up and tangle. It’s unusable, so you have to stop the motor to periodically take a temp reading.

So if you like cool gadgets – or often use a rotisserie – or even if you know you’re the sort who doesn’t always put things away carefully, how about a genuinely wireless thermometer, with not a single wire in sight?

Well, the Meater+ truly wireless Bluetooth thermometer just might be the model for you.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Number of probes: 1 (monitors grate and food temp. simultaneously)
  • Temperature range: up to 527F (275C) ambient / up to 212F (100C) internal
  • Cable length: N/A
  • Power: 1 AAA battery in the block/charger
  • Remote range: 165 feet (Bluetooth), WiFi range will vary
  • Display size: How big is your phone?
  • Warranty: 1 year

For wireless that’s actually 100% wireless, there is no other choice. This is the only genuinely wireless smoker thermometer on the market (at the time of writing anyway) and is why it topped my best wireless meat thermometer roundup.

With the Meater+ there is no worrying about threading wires through holes, no setting up two separate probes, no positioning the transmitter and figuring out how to carry the receiver.

The Meater+ eliminates many of the minor hassles that all its competitors have in common.

How does it work?

MEATER Plus | 165ft Long Range Smart Wireless...

There are two sensors in the Meater+ probe, one at each end.

The sharp end is inserted into the meat you are cooking and takes the internal temperature of the meat, the black end left sticking out also has a sensor that makes a reading of your smoker or grill, so you know how hot you are cooking.

The probe sends this data via Bluetooth to the wooden block, which then works as a repeater to send this info via long-range Bluetooth – up top 165 feet – to be displayed on an app on your smartphone.

It’s tough to beat it for appearance, too. It looks like a stylus for a tablet, and the recharger/signal repeater seems like it’s been carved from a block of wood. If you appreciate good looks, you’re going to love this thermometer.

The Meater app is easy to use and can walk you through your cook, setting up temps for different doneness levels of many different cuts of meat with a few intuitive setting changes.

And after the first few minutes of cooking, it intelligently works out how long your cook will take before it’s finished, and works out variable ‘carryover cooking’ times, so you take your meat off early and it comes up to temp while resting, avoiding overcooked meat.

If you’re more advanced, it’s customizable to give you alerts and notifications for the temperature or time of your choice, too. It also saves info from previous cooks.

I have 2 of these units and have used them for over a year. I have one little gripe with their use, which means it’s not a great all-around smoker thermometer for all use cases – or at least you have to use it intelligently.

When you insert the thermometer into cold meat straight from the fridge, the black end only protrudes a small amount. This means it is somewhat trapped within a cold bubble of air that surrounds the chilled meat.

So initially, you get a measurement of a cold meat surface and NOT a measure of the ambient air temp. This can lead to you panicking and trying to raise the smoker temperature by opening vents due to a false reading.

As the cook progresses, the surface of the meat warms, this issue soon goes away. But it is something you need to be aware of, plan for. And does mean the Meater isn’t suitable for short cooks.

close up of Meater probe and block on wooden background

What We Like

  • True Wireless – No wires to worry about at all
  • Intelligent smartphone app display – All information is displayed on your phone, which you’re probably carrying anyway, and the Meater estimates cooking time well and makes decisions for you to take the meat off early for carryover cooking.
  • Presets for doneness – Walks you through the cook with presets for different meat types

What We Don’t Like

  • Single probe – Only keeps tabs on one cut at a time
  • Short-range – Smaller range than others on this list, but still plenty far
  • Non-replaceable probe battery – Though it rated for 1000+ cycles
  • Incorrect smoker temps at the start of cook – The pit measuring end is too close to the cold meat at the start of the cook, so gives false readings. Therefore, you have to guesstimate until the meat has warmed a little (do so roughly with the built-in thermometer.)

This is an excellent and practical bit of gear that’s well worth the investment to help you achieve great meat smoking results every time. It’s pretty sweet for showing off to your grilling and smoking buddies, too. And if you rotisserie cook – as I do – then it’s a no brainer, there is no other choice and it’s highly recommended.

Have a look at my in-depth review of the Meater range if you’re not convinced the Meater+ isn’t just a gimmick, or if you are convinced that you’ve got to have one, click the following link:

 

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Why do You Need a Thermometer for Your Smoker?

A nice, dark colored piece of BBQ meat on a smoker

Ask any chef or any pitmaster, and they’ll tell you that cooking is part art, and part science.

The artistry comes in presentation, and even in making the creative choices behind selecting what to cook, how to cook it, and how to flavor it. The science? That’s pretty much all about hitting and holding the right temperatures and cooking for the right amount of time.

A scientist doesn’t measure anything by eye, and neither should you at the BBQ smoker. To get accurate temperature readings, you need a thermometer.

There are two key temperatures a serious pitmaster needs to know: the smoker, and that of the meat.

Why do you want to know these things? Knowing the temperature inside the grill at the grate height tells you that you have the right heat level for whatever style of cooking you’re doing. Since we’re talking about smokers, that is (usually) going to be somewhere between 225F and 250F (107C and 121C).

Of course, knowing the temperature of the meat tells you if it’s safe to eat yet, and what level of doneness it’s at. You don’t want to trust your all-day brisket to your eyes, do you? Or your health, and that of your family, either.

By keeping tabs on these two variables throughout the cook, you will significantly increase your odds of coming away with delicious meat.

Your Smokers Built-in Thermometer is all but Useless

Close up of a bbq lid thermometer on a black smoker
Your meat is grate level, and that is a different temperature to the up in the lid!

Yes, the lid thermometer is nice to have, but really only as an indicator whether the grill or smoker is hot or not. They tend to be wildly inaccurate.

But, let’s say you happen to have an abnormally accurate lid thermometer. Wouldn’t that be enough? Not a chance.

The lid thermometer shows temperature precisely where it says it is – up in the lid, or the dome. That’s way above the grate, meaning it’s also way above the heat source.

The difference in temperatures between the grate and the top of the lid can be as much as 50F (28C). That’s huge. Since the food is where the grate is, and not up in the lid, obviously the lid temperature is of no value.

Types of Digital Smoker Thermometers

A thermopro smoker thermometer, in a blue gloved hand reading some meat
There are a few types of smoker thermometer….here is what we recommend and why.

As with all gadgets and gear, there are many options to sift through. Here’s the breakdown of the major categories you’ll be choosing from.

Single Probe – Simply put, it’s a thermometer with just one sensor probe. This means you’ll have to decide between grate and meat temperature.

What you could do is use it to read the grate temperature until you hit your target and then shift it to the meat to monitor doneness. However, the price difference between dual and single probe thermometers is so small, there really is no reason to buy a single probe model.

Dual Probe (or More) – These have two probes and sensors, allowing you to read the temperature at grate level and inside the meat simultaneously. This makes a lot of sense.

But why stop there? You can also buy thermometers with 4 meat probes, or even 6. With so many probes, you’ll be able to monitor the temperature at multiple levels of your cooker, and lots of different meats.

If there’s any drawback to multi-probe thermometers, it’s just that there are a lot of wires to manage. If you already hate the back of your home theatre set up, you might not care to deal with so many plugs and leads.

Infrared Thermometers – This type of thermometer enables you to read the surface temperature of anything in your barbecue without making contact. They aren’t ‘leave in’ devices, but they are fantastic for quickly getting a reading of your grate, or particularly flat top griddles or a pizza stone.

What they can’t do is read the internal temperature of your meat and let you know if you’re done cooking or not. You could use one in conjunction with a single probe thermometer to monitor both the meat and the grate? You can see some great examples in our detailed guide to the best infrared thermometers.

Wired or Wireless – It seems like there’s a wireless option for everything, including wireless smoker thermometers. You can opt for a wired unit, whereby you have to be present to check on the situation of your cook. However, with a wireless thermometer, you can monitor the temperature of the smoker and the meat remotely, typically on your smartphone.

Both types of units do the same thing, and if you plan on sticking close to your smoker anyway, you might be fine with a wired thermometer. For longer cooks, or for busy hosts who are entertaining, the freedom to walk away makes a wireless receiver on your thermometer a great choice.

We Recommend Wireless Digital Dual Probe Thermometers as Best

A white dual probe smoker thermometer stuck to the leg of a BBQ
Dual probe will allow you to monitor your pit temp and your food. This severely reduces any risks of something going wrong.

We recommend wireless – because there’s no reason in this day and age why you should have to be tethered to your grill!

Wouldn’t you rather chill in front of your TV with the game on than stand outside either sweating or freezing? On a nice day, you could be mingling with guests, or taking a dip in the pool. Cut the wires, and enjoy the freedom to live your life while dinner cooks.

We recommend digital – because we’re deep into the 21st century! Seriously, though, analog thermometers cannot compete with digital when it comes to speed and accuracy. And, frankly, price doesn’t make much of a difference – digital technology isn’t a premium option anymore, it’s the norm. In fact, hyper accurate temperature reading analog thermometers are available, but they’re also hyper-expensive!

This isn’t like buying a fancy analog watch; no one is going to be impressed with the fine craftsmanship and Swiss movement. Just get the digital.

We recommend dual probe – for the sheer convenience. It’s like plug-and-play: once your grate is up to temp, just plug a probe into your meat (or meats, if you have more than two probes), close the lid, and walk away.

Using multiple probes means you’ll be opening the lid a lot less often to check on things, or to switch the probe from the grate to the meat. That means faster, more effective smoking sessions because every time you lift the lid you lose heat and smoke. We firmly believe that the extra money spent on a multi-probe thermometer will pay off. How many probes you get is entirely up to you.

How to Choose the Best Smoker Thermometer for You

A smoker thermometer probe in a pork butt on a smoker

let’s review some of the criteria we considered in making our choices above. You can use this to help you make the best selection for your needs.

Number of Probes

We’ve already established that it’s best to have at least two probes. How many you have beyond that will depend on your particular needs. If you reserve your smoker for pork shoulders and briskets, then two probes might be all you need – one for the grate and one for the single cut of meat you’re cooking.

However, if you plan on loading up with thick steaks, multiple racks of ribs or a couple of chickens, you’ll want to monitor each item individually. If this sounds like you, or like that might be an option you want to have, choose a thermometer with 4 or more probes.

Accuracy

The difference of just a few degrees can mean the difference between smoked to perfection and overdone. Accuracy is critical when it comes to digital smoker thermometers. Don’t let a bargain price tempt you (hey, we love deals, too!) away from what you really need.

Speed

The ability to deliver real-time information is essential in a thermometer. If your unit is always playing catch-up, you’re not getting the real picture of what’s happening inside your meat. Also, if you’re not using a leave-in thermometer (which we highly recommend), you need to get a reading as fast as possible to minimize time spent with the lid open.

Durability

Your average thermometer for outdoor cooking will be handled a lot. Think about it; unpack before every use, repack after every use, probes in, probes out, exposure to heat and the elements, and so on. As with any outdoor gear, durability is a key consideration. Features to look for include braided cables to flex without kinking and a rubber cover to protect sensitive electronics from the inevitable bumps and bangs.

Functionality and Features

There are a ton of features available across the range of digital smoker thermometers. But, that doesn’t mean you need ALL of them! Some nice-to-haves are a countdown timer (a count-up timer could be handy, too), magnetic backing to hold it in place, a backlit LCD for late night sessions, and a kickstand for resting on a table.

Think about how, when, and where you plan to use your thermometer, and then decide what features you really need. Don’t pay for something that sounds cool but you never use. Not that any of us have ever done that before!

All you really need is a dependable, accurate thermometer that keeps tabs on your meat and the ambient temperature in the scale of your choice – which is probably degrees Fahrenheit, even if you use metric normally.

Wireless Capability

A wireless smoker thermometer on a kitchen worktop showing temp of meat
Not being tied to your smoker while knowing temps frees you up to do other things!

It’s great to know the temperature inside your smoker without opening the lid. But, it’s even better to know it without the need to be present!

We think wireless units are the very best choice as they allow you to wander around and deal with other things. Honestly, would you rather sit in front of your smoker, staring at a tiny LCD screen for hours or be sit in front of your massive television watching a movie or a game?

It’s the 21st century. Cut the cord.

Ease of Use

Regardless of the amazing technology built into these units, taking a temperature shouldn’t be rocket science and require a degree in engineering. We love shiny things and bells and whistles as much as the next person, but we also love things that are simple to operate. Look for clearly marked buttons and large displays as a good first indicator that a thermometer won’t have a steep learning curve.

Price

We each have our own budget and notion of what is and what is not “expensive.” You can easily spend close to $200 on a thermometer, and you can just as easily spend under ten bucks. The choice is yours, and we’re not going to judge.

What we are going to do is tell you to look at this purchase as an investment, and part of what it takes to smoke great meat. It’s also important to understand that the features and durability that make a smoker thermometer worth owning don’t generally come on models at the low end of the price spectrum.

While you might think dropping upwards of $50 seems like a lot for a thermometer, remember that it’s going to help you cook delicious meat for years. Would you rather save a few bucks now, or save that expensive brisket from overcooking later?

Manufacturer’s Warranty

Even the best-built products can develop problems. That’s when you want to know that the manufacturer has your back.

A company that truly believes in and stands behind its workmanship will back that up with a solid warranty. Anything less than a one-year warranty should make you wary.

Best Set up for a Smoker Thermometer

A smoker thermometer with a probe in a pork butt on a WSM
You want the pit probe a couple inches above grate level, and the meat probe in the center of the biggest part.

Once you’ve purchased your thermometer, put your batteries in, and have your probes wired up, you’re faced with an important question: where does it go?

If you’ve taken our advice and gone with a multiple probe unit, obviously 1 or more will be inserted into the meat you’re cooking.

The remaining probe is for keeping tabs on the grate temperature. The best spot for this is about an inch or two above the grate. Why? Even in that short a distance there’s a drop-off in temperature. An elevation of one or two inches approximates the center of the meat you’re cooking. Know the temperature here, and you’ll have a reasonable idea what at what heat level the meat is cooking.

Many thermometers come with a clip that holds the probe at about this height. But, if yours didn’t come with one you can always rely on some aluminum foil. (It’s like duct tape for grillers!) Wad a bunch of foil into a ball and shove the probe through the center. Position the ball on your grate and you’re good to go!

It’s also important to position the probe optimally relative to the meat. Meat taken from the fridge and placed on the grill will cool the air in its immediate vicinity. If your probe is in this cool zone, you’ll get a falsely low reading (as discussed above, an issue the Meater+ suffers from.)

So, keep the probe at least two inches away from the meat to get an accurate reading.

Now you can insert your other probe or probes into your meat. Insert them directly into the center of the meat. This is where it will take the longest to get up to temperature.

If the meat has bone in it, make sure the probe isn’t making contact. The bones won’t heat up as much as the surrounding meat and this will throw off your readings, and can lead to overcooked food.

Where do the Wires Go?

Most smokers and grills have a few small holes drilled in them to allow thermometer wires to run through from the grate and the meat out to the main body of the thermometer. Always use them!

Running the wires under the lid means the lid will be resting on them. The wires are very thin, and crushing them with the lid may cause permanent kinks, weaken the wires, and ultimately reduce their lifespan.

Thermometer Probe Care

A thermometer probe on a wooden worktop
Take care of your probes, and they will take care of you! (Or your meat at least.)

The trick to getting the longest life and most effective service out of any tool or gadget is really no trick at all. Just use it the right way and take good care of it.

Most functional issues people have with thermometers stem from a lack of proper care. Here is a list of dos and don’t to help you get the most out of your digital smoker thermometer.

DO

  • Use the clip (or foil) to affix the probe to the grate; placing the probe right on the grate will gradually cause damage
  • Completely shut down the power after every time you use it to conserve your batteries
  • Wipe off the probes with a wet cloth and hot water with mild dish soap after every use
  • Put the probes away carefully and avoid tangling or tightly bending the wires
  • RTFM!!!

DON’T

  • Exceed the manufacturer’s temperature rating (which shouldn’t be an issue for low ‘n’ slow – most thermometers, including all in our review, are good to at least 700F (371C))
  • Allow the LCD display to sit in direct sunlight for a long time
  • Use your thermometer in the rain
  • Leave it outdoors between smoking/grilling sessions
  • Put the probe completely underwater when you’re washing it
  • Try to wash the probes/wires in the dishwasher – they are not waterproof
  • Put your wires and probes away wet or dirty

Another Smokin’ Article Comes to a Close

We hear you asking yourself, “How have I ever smoked anything properly without a digital smoker thermometer?” Honestly, there’s a good chance you haven’t.

The ability to know with precision what’s happening inside your smoker is one of the fundamental requirements for smoking delicious meat. In fact, we think a great thermometer is essential gear for all smokers and grillers.

Did you make your choice? Tell us what you picked and why! More questions? Fire away – we’re always ready and willing to answer your questions, whether they’re specific to an article or about smoking or grilling in general. We also love to hear your comments and your epic tales of grilling glory.

Thanks for swinging by today and we’ll see you again soon.

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