Best barbecue smoker thermometer: 8 digital & analog reviewed

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  November 16, 2021

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Thermometers are a necessary part of the smoking process. Being able to tell the temperature of your meat helps you determine whether it is safe to eat and how tender, juicy, and flavorful it will be.

Many smokers have built-in thermometers. However, these really only tell you the air temperature in your cooker. They don’t tell you the internal temperature of the meat.

That’s why it’s important to have a real meat thermometer on hand.

Best BBQ Smoker thermometers

There are many different types of thermometers and the one you choose may depend on your personal needs and preferences.

If you want to be able to do other work away from the smoker, the ThermoPro TP20 has a long 300ft range and very accurate probes, so I recommend trying it out. It will prevent overcooked food and notify you of any temperature changes right on your phone!

In any case, this article will review the different types of thermometers so you can determine which is best for you.

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How to buy a bbq smoker video

So let’s look at the top ones and then dive a little deeper into what you need to look out for when buying one:

Smoker thermometer Images
Best overall wireless barbecue smoker thermometer: ThermoPro TP20 Best Wireless Meat Thermometer: ThermoPro TP20

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Best budget & best 6 port BBQ smoker thermometer: Uvistare Digital Best Bluetooth Barbecue Smoker Thermometer: Uvistare Digital

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Best analog barbecue smoker thermometer: DozyAnt Best Analog Barbecue Smoker Thermometer: Dozyant

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Best cheap budget gauge barbecue smoker thermometer: Newstart Best Cheap Gauge Smoker Thermometer: Newstart

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Best 4 probe barbecue smoker thermometer: Inkbird IBT-4XS Best Dual Probe Barbecue Smoker Thermometer: Inkbird IBT-4XS

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Best Pit Boss barbecue smoker thermometer for beef & best extended range: Maverick ET-733 Best Barbecue Smoker Thermometer for Beef: Maverick ET-733

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Best cordless barbecue smoker thermometer: MEATER Plus MEATER Plus | Smart Meat Thermometer with Bluetooth

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Best cheap thermal instant-read thermometer pen & best for chicken: Smak Digital Instant Read Best cheap thermal pen: Smak Digital Instant Read

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In this post we'll cover:

Barbecue smoker thermometer buying guide

There are plenty of smoker thermometers so you’re probably wondering, what should I look for in a barbecue smoker thermometer?

A barbecue smoker thermometer has a variety of features that can help make your culinary experience easier and more enjoyable. Here are some things you should look for in your thermometer.

Analog vs digital

An analog smoker thermometer refers to a built-in device with a glass surface and typed numbers. There’s a temperature probe on the back of the glass display which causes the temp needle to move up and down, depending on the temperature. This type of thermometer is quite dated and not very accurate.

The digital thermometers are much better because they have digital displays which never get foggy and they have Wireless or Bluetooth technology so you can read the smoker and meat temperatures from a distance.

Meat probes

Meat Probes: Thermometers will have a meat probe that can be inserted into the meat. The probe should be easy to use and designed to get accurate readings.

Most of the cheaper brands come with only one probe but you can also find some affordable models with a dual probe.

If you only need to monitor the meat’s internal temperature, then the single probe should be enough. But if you also want to monitor the temperature of the grill, the dual probe is what you should go for.

In many cases, thermometers will have two or more probes. Dual probe thermometers will use one probe to get the meat temperature and the other to get the ambient temperature in the oven.

Or one probe will do both jobs. If your thermometer has several probes, you can use the probes to measure the temperatures of various foods you are cooking.

Display

Having a clear display is very important. A digital display should be easy to read and the numbers and letters should be large enough to read without having to squint.

The idea is that you want to keep an eye on the temps at all times so you should be able to read the display even if you’re at a distance from the transmitter.

A good feature to look for is a backlight which makes it easier to see the temperature reading, even in harsh lighting conditions or even if it’s very sunny out.

Alarms & timer

The thermometer needs to alert you when the temperature rises or drops in the smoker. So, there should be a loud, audible alarm system.

If the device connects via an app, it should alert you on your smartphone or tablet via visible or audible alerts.

Look for a thermometer with a beeping alarm sound that is easy to distinguish among other noises in your backyard or other electronic devices.

Also, the point of such a device is to eliminate the need to keep watch over the smoker at all times, so it needs to have built-in timer settings. A count-down timer for various types of meat and food is a must-have feature most pitmasters look for.

Timers and alerts can notify you when your food has reached the desired temperature and is ready.

WIFI & Bluetooth connectivity

The wireless feature is not really necessary for everyone, but it’s worth considering when buying a thermometer.

With the wireless version, you’d be able to stay away from the grill and you can focus on doing your tasks since it will feed the temperature through a transmitter that you can carry with you.

This feature can be found in most cheap and expensive models alike and can make your grilling experience even more convenient.

Most modern smoker thermometers these days are designed with WIFI and Bluetooth connectivity because people are looking for this feature.

It offers convenience because you can monitor the temperature in the smoker from a distance on your smartphone. All the readings and alerts come straight to your phone in the app.

If you don’t trust your Wifi connection, use Bluetooth which is often more stable and can give more accurate readings.

Having these features means that you can spend time with your family and friends instead of checking the smoker too often.

Remote Range

Thermometers should have a range that allows you to check the temperature of your meat without requiring you to get up to do so.

Some thermometers even work with apps that will help you adjust them from far distances.

Since you’ll be monitoring the temps remotely, make sure the thermometer can cover a good range and distance from the smoker. Also, ensure there are no obstacles that can mess up the readings.

Most thermometers can cover distances between 150 ft and 500 ft, depending on the model.

So, make sure you’re not out of range, or else the wireless connection will disconnect and you won’t have control over the heat in the smoker.

Design & build

When it comes to the build, the thermometer should have a rugged and durable design. It should also be waterproof and shockproof.

Also, look into the settings: the thermometer should have a variety of settings to work on different kinds of meat. Settings should be easy to work with.

Other factors include temperature range, accuracy, probe and cable length, and construction.

The right thermometer to buy will basically depend on your needs. To help you with this, here are some of the most important aspects to consider.

Remember to carefully analyze the features and choose the model that’s most suitable for your needs and preferences.

Warranty

It’s common for most thermometers to encounter issues with the probes. Therefore, find out what the warranty is before you decide to purchase a particular brand or model of a thermometer.

Most manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on the probes, which is great.

Price

One of the most important aspects to consider when shopping for the best smoke thermometer is your available budget. For most people, a thermometer in the mid-range price should be enough.

But for those who have an extremely limited budget, there are also cheaper brands and models.

It’s important to note, however, that the price will mostly depend on the quality and the features that it comes with. So if you go for the cheaper model, you can’t expect great quality and good features from it.

Best barbecue smoker thermometers reviewed

Now that we have a clear understanding of what to look for in a smoker, let’s take a look at what’s out there.

Best overall wireless barbecue smoker thermometer: ThermoPro TP20

Best Wireless Meat Thermometer: ThermoPro TP20

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This thermometer is recommended for serious chefs. It has dual probe monitors that help you keep track of the temperature of your food from up to 300 feet away.

Set up is easy and it has a large LCD display that keeps track of food and oven temperature. It is clearly legible so it’s easy to read.

A timer is also included. Therefore you can set it and it will notify you when your meat is done.

This thermometer has different temperature settings for 9 types of meat. It’s a helpful feature, especially if you’re unsure about how long to cook the meat and at what heat setting.

The thermometer is dual-probe which means that it has two stainless-steel probes that get deep inside the meat and measure temperature accurately. These probes are well-made and can withstand temperatures of up to 716 degrees.

The reason why it’s my favorite BBQ thermometer is that it offers all the essentials plus several useful features. It is great both for beginners and for advanced users who expect better quality.

It’s available at a good price, considering the overall market I’d say that it is somewhere between the medium and high price tier. It is not my goal to get you to buy the most expensive thermometer, but instead, one that is first and foremost solidly made and available at a price affordable for everyone.

Of course, I mostly use this model as it meets all my expectations.

ThermoPro TP20 comes with two pretty long probes, transmitter, and receiver. Such a combination allows you to remotely monitor the temperature inside the meat and inside the smoker.

It comes with preprogrammed basic settings but in many cases, I recommend using manual settings if you want more personalized results of smoking.

High-quality probes are certainly durable, resistant to high temperature, and accurate in their measurements (accuracy of +/- 1.8°F).

One of the things that make this a good device is that it’s hands-free and has a really long range of 300 feet. In fact, most similar devices have 200 feet or less range. Also, it has a really broad temperature range between 32F and 572F so you can use it for grilling and smoking as well.

Remember that it is an element that is most likely to malfunction right after purchase and that’s another reason why I picked this model and this manufacturer.

The thermometer is covered with whole 3 years of warranty, by default it is one year but if you register the product after the purchase, the warranty gets extended to three years.

Believe me, ThermoPro is a trusted and proven brand that takes its customers seriously and cares about them after the purchase. This is one of the elements that made the brand so valued and popular.

The only complaint I have is that this thermometer is rather bulky and the probe is probably larger than it needs to be.

ThermoPro TP20 is in my view the best overall smoker thermometer for everyone and nearly everyone’s budget.

I as well as plenty of customers appreciate the high quality of workmanship, functionality, accuracy, and most of all durability – especially for that kind of money.

Here’ Bad Beast with the TP20:

Check out the latest prices here

Best budget & best 6 port BBQ smoker thermometer: Uvistare Digital

Best Bluetooth Barbecue Smoker Thermometer: Uvistare Digital

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If you’re just starting out with smokers you probably want the convenience of having many pre-set temps for various types of meats and a lot of probes.

Chances are you are trying to smoke all kinds of meat so having up to 6 probes and 11 temp settings is more important than a long-range.

That’s why I recommend the Uvistare device – it has all the presets you need, the possibility of connecting many probes, and has a range up to 164 feet which is pretty decent.

You probably don’t want to go too far from the smoker anyway, especially if you’re cooking a lot of food.

Not only is this an affordable Bluetooth smoker thermometer, but it that has a user-friendly app with 11 separate meat temp settings.

Therefore, the Uvistare is a great value purchase because you have a lot of info displayed in the app.

After you set your target temperature, the app shows you the current cooking temp for each probe, temp chart, and has a countdown timer too. So, you’re in control at all times and it’s hard to get it wrong.

The temperature of your meat can be read in real-time and if the meat is overheating, you’ll receive an alert on your device even if you’re not near the thermometer.

With this thermometer, you no longer need to stand around your grill as it cooks. You can attend to some other tasks or perhaps spend some quality time with your family and friends.

This thermometer is ideal for all-around use.

It can provide a powerful and reliable connection although the connection range is only up to 164 feet. This device is great because it doesn’t lose the Bluetooth connection easily as long as you’re within range.

The probes of this model are made of high-quality stainless steel that’s flame and heat resistant. In fact, there’s a 47-inch long Teflon cable that connects the probe and connector. It’s also covered in a steel mesh to ensure it doesn’t warp and can withstand high temps for a long time.

Also, the probes have a step-down tip design. This type of design collects the heat info faster and therefore you get quicker and more accurate readings.

Because this model is capable of taking up to six probes and you can monitor all of them at once using only one app, you can combine smoked beef, poultry, and seafood at once.

And although it could take up to six probes, you’ll only get two probes when you purchase this product.

The one thing I find challenging is that all the temperature readings are available in Celcius only, not Fahrenheit so you might need to convert using a third-party app or check Google.

Some users find this really annoying but once you learn the ranges, you can get used to it.

Also, you need to be careful because the probes cannot be submerged in liquid or they will rust and get damaged.

Overall, the majority of users give this product a thumbs up and I recommend this thermometer for beginners because it’s cheap and well-made with many app features.

Oh, and I’m sure you won’t overcook the meat because when the time or the desired level of temperature is achieved, the device will produce a beep sound along with a flash in your app in order to alert you.

Check the latest prices here

ThermoPro TP20 vs Uvistare Digital

There are people who want extreme precision and high-quality build first and foremost. If that’s you, the ThermoPro TP20 is the best option because it has a huge wireless range of 300 ft, and it has a very good LCD display.

But, if you need a more versatile thermometer that can display readings for up to 6 probes, the budget-friendly Uvistare is an excellent choice too. It has many more probes than the ThermoPro and Bluetooth functionality.

However, the Uvistare’s range is only half that of the ThermoPro, so you’ll have to be closer to the smoker at all times and there’s a bigger chance that it will disconnect.

Even though it’s a cheaper device the Uvistare has more features in the app and displays all kinds of cooking info. It comes with 11 different meat type presets whereas the ThermoPro has 9.

If you appreciate a large probe, the ThermoPro is great. The Uvistare has Teflon-coated cables, and some people are wary of using Teflon with high heat. With the smoker it’s not a real issue but if you use the device when searing and high-heat grilling, it can warp.

The bottom line is that you should consider how much you’re willing to spend on these thermometers.

If you prefer a WIFI connection, get the ThermoPro but if you use the Bluetooth feature more, then you will be pleased with the Uvistare.

Best analog barbecue smoker thermometer: DozyAnt

Best Analog Barbecue Smoker Thermometer: Dozyant

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Analog thermometers may be a bit old-fashioned, but they are an accurate way to determine the temperature of your meat.

I know that some dedicated pitmasters like to use an analog thermometer alongside their digital Bluetooth ones. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about going up to the smoker and checking that feels comforting.

Also, if there’s no wifi or Bluetooth connection and you’re out of batteries, these won’t let your down.

What’s more, some believe that these are preferable to other types of thermometers because they don’t have delicate parts and probes that can melt in the oven.

Oh, and they’re also extremely affordable and you can easily replace them if they get damaged.

This model is a great analog thermometer for various charcoal smokers including the Oklahoma Joe series and many other models with a 13/16 inch hole/opening.

If you like minimalist, simple displays you’ll really like this thermometer because there’s not much you can read incorrectly.

At 3 1/8”, the thermometer has a large face that makes it easy to read. You can clearly see all the readings. The face shows temperatures between 100 – 500 F, and there are 3 color-coded zones.

Each zone shows you whether the temperature is suitable for BBQ or smoking. The BLUE zone displays temps between 100-250 F for smoking whereas the Red zone displays  250-350 F temps for  BBQ.

The probe is 3 inches long which gives a rapid 3 second response time and according to the manufacturer offers more precision and accuracy when measuring the internal food temperature.

This stainless steel probe rod for accurate temperature readings and precisely measures internal temperatures of food with a quick 3 to 4 second response time.

One disadvantage is that you’ll need to use a light source to read the thermometer in the dark, although if you have good vision, you can also see the readings pretty well at night.

The device is made with no-fog glass which means it doesn’t get foggy inside or outside. Therefore, it’s always easy to read!

It is also waterproof and not sensitive to exterior factors.

It is made of durable stainless steel that is long-lasting, food-safe, and environmentally friendly.

I want to warn you though that these types of analog thermometers are never as accurate as advertised or as accurate as the wireless ones and they do require calibration.

Check the latest prices here

Best cheap budget gauge barbecue smoker thermometer: Newstart

Best Cheap Gauge Smoker Thermometer: Newstart

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You might want to get two analog smoker thermometers for improved precision. If the previous single analog device wasn’t enough, having two will surely provide more peace of mind.

This Newstart 2-piece set is very cheap and comes with extra-large degree scales and numbers so you can read them from afar. Its color-coded zones let you know whether you are in the smoke, BBQ, or grill range.

The thermometer works in temperatures that range from 100 to 550 degrees and provides accurate readings. The casing is waterproof and will not get foggy which is such an important feature because if you can’t read the scales, it’s worthless.

The screw thread and wing nut make for easy mounting and easy use. It is made from high-quality, hypo-allergenic, and food-safe stainless steel.

In addition to being used for smoking meats, it can also be used in the machine industry, the chemical industry, the medical industry, the light textile industry, and more.

Another benefit is that these thermometers are very easy to mount and install. Just remove the old ones and add these then screw them in. An installation kit is included with your purchase so you’ve got everything you need to start using it.

The probe is 75 mm long (2 7/8″) which is a standard size for these types of devices.

Again, as I mentioned with the previous thermometer, these still aren’t as accurate as using a wireless probe and smoker thermometer. But, if you’re in a tech-free situation, these work just fine.

Customers are actually impressed with how accurate these thermometers are, considering they have a pretty short probe and are sold at such a low price.

Overall, this is a no-brainer buy because it’s compatible with all kinds of charcoal smokers, even the Cuisinart Vertical and other drum smokers. It can act as a replacement for bad-quality thermometers you already own.

Check the lowest prices here

Dozyant analog vs 2-piece Newstart

Analog smoker thermometers are very simple mechanisms. There are no fancy features and the old-school display is encased in glass.

So, which of these two analog thermometers should you install in your smoker or grill?

It depends on how many you want. If you use an external thermometer or thermal pen alongside your analog, you might get away with just the one DozyAnt.

But, if you have a large charcoal smoker with two cooking zones, you need to install 2 thermometers if you want to have a chance at cooking the perfect meat.

After all, these analog devices are not as accurate as digital ones so it’s better to have two, just in case.

The Dozyant has a longer probe than the Newstart devices. But the Newstart gives you two of these thermometers for a lower price.

In terms of performance and accuracy, these two thermometers are basically the same. Both have no-fog glass displays and color-coded zones.

The DozyAnt is very sensitive to water compared to the Newstart so you should keep that in mind if you’re after longevity.

Best 4 probe barbecue smoker thermometer: Inkbird IBT-4XS

Best Dual Probe Barbecue Smoker Thermometer: Inkbird IBT-4XS

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Inkbird is one of the most trusted BBQ accessory brands out there and this affordable Bluetooth thermometer is one of their bestsellers. So, if you want a good value product, this thermometer is worth every penny.

It’s also fool-proof because it has an alarm to alert your when the temperature changes, when the device powers off, and even when your Bluetooth connection is lost – now this feature is extremely useful.

Most other thermometers don’t alert you when the connection is lost and so many people end up with awful BBQ because of this.

The probes of this thermometer click in so you can get an accurate reading. The trick to getting the most accurate readings is to push the probes in until you hear that click.

There’s no installation required because the thermometer has a magnetic design so it can easily be hung on metal surfaces and is compatible with most grills and smokers.

It has a large LCD screen display that can be adjusted with the touch of a button. The temperature value can be read on either side so you don’t have to fidget around with it to see all the info.

There’s a rechargeable battery that can last 40 – 60 hours and it has a remote range of 150 feet.

Now, this short-range is the reason why it’s not the overall best out there. 150 ft range is just too short for many people but if you can keep your phone at that distance, you’ll have no issues.

The app has a graph that allows you to track temperature changes. Also, it can be used with an iPhone or Android so you can read your cooking temperature anywhere.

The thermometer comes with 2 probes, one for meat temperature and one for ambient temperature. Most people say the probes are pretty well-built and they don’t warp under high heat.

This device also comes with a USB charging cable, a probe clip, and a manual. It works in temperatures up to 572 degrees.

Here you can see Dave with his review:

Simplicity is the first thing that would come to your mind when you see this product. Aside from the on and off switch, you’ll find one large circle on the LCD screen.

This is because all the controls have been moved into the app that you can install on your tablet or smartphone. As such, the main unit itself is very basic.

The actual thermometer is made from plastic, which is lightweight and seems like it’s less durable than the bulky ones. It doesn’t come with any waterproofing feature so you cannot expose this to liquid.

There are really no huge surprises when it comes to the specs of this thermometer. However, the 4.9 feet probe wire seems like a nice addition, giving you lots of freedom when setting up the thermometer around your grill.

The range seems exaggerated for real-life use. Although they claim that the thermometer has a wireless range of 150 feet, the range will normally depend on the overall layout of your home.

But, overall, this thermometer is comparable to the Uvistare one price-wise but it’s a bit more accurate and durable.

Check out the latest prices here

Best Pit Boss BBQ smoker thermometer for beef & best extended range: Maverick ET-733

Best Barbecue Smoker Thermometer for Beef: Maverick ET-733

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This is the wireless thermometer for the serious pitmaster with an extended range of 500 feet. It’s pretty much the best in its league and has really accurate probes which is great eat for low and slow smokes.

This Maverick thermometer has a slower probe and read time which makes it more suitable for beef.

It also has other features that put it over the top. These include a backlit screen that shows extensive information on how your meat is doing.

It has 2 hybrid probes, easy-to-use controls, and preset temperatures for the various types of meats you are smoking. The readings are done every 12 seconds for the best accuracy.

It is wireless and can monitor temperatures from 500 feet away and it will alert you when the meat goes above the programmed temperature.

Also, it will also alert you when the thermometer goes out of range.

Its probes are three feet long, they can be used at temperatures up to 716 degrees and you can monitor 2 foods at once.

Maverick ET-733 has been perfectly known in the community for years so my list of the best bbq thermometers couldn’t go without it.

Solid structure, two high-quality probes, the ability to wirelessly monitor the temperature, and several other features have gotten it into my ranking.

It is actually fairly simple and intuitive to use, comes with preprogrammed basic settings for different types of meats, but it’s also possible to manually set it which I personally use a lot when I want to achieve a slightly different result of smoking.

Also, it displays the temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celcius.

Two probes is something I bring up often, it’s nice to have two of them due to the ability to monitor the temperature in two places at the same time.

For example, if you’re smoking in a charcoal smoker you can use one probe to monitor the temperature inside the meat and the other inside the smoker at the grill grates’ height.

In set & forget style smokers there’s no need to monitor the temperature but the truth is that most of us use different types of smokers, so it’s always better to have two probes rather than one.

The biggest downside is the warranty, sadly such a short warranty period compared to the competitive models at similar prices is slightly disappointing.

I know that in the end, it’s a solid smoker thermometer but if the competition protects the customer much better then it is seriously something to think about.

Also, I want to mention that the battery is a letdown because it doesn’t last long so make sure to have spare batteries on hand just in case.

Here’s StokedonSmoke with their review:

Overall though, this is a great long-range smoker thermometer and it’s a solid alternative to the more expensive ThermoPro models because it’s more suitable for large beef cuts.

Check prices and availability here

Inkbird vs Maverick

The Inkibird 4-probe thermometer has one major disadvantage – it has a short range of only 150 feet. However, it is a great thermometer that offers very accurate readings and lasts a long time.

It connects to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth for convenient monitoring from a distance. The Maverick thermometer lacks this essential feature but it has an extremely long range of 500 feet.

So, here’s the thing: do you need a 500 ft range or can you deal with the short 150? Or, is it more important to have Bluetooth as a thermometer feature?

If you’re very serious about smoking all kinds of large meat cuts, you’ll be more impressed by the performance of the Maverick.

It works well with Pit Boss devices. Even without Bluetooth, the range is impressive, and the probes are highly accurate.

But, if you want to cook a variety of foods and plan on using your phone to check in on the smoker, you need Bluetooth and the Inkbird will offer all that you need.

Best cordless barbecue smoker thermometer: MEATER Plus

  • Cordless
  • Temperature range: 34F to 527F
  • Range: 165 feet
  • Dimensions: 1.46 x 1.1 x 6.18 inches
  • Probes: 1
  • WIFI: yes
  • Bluetooth: yes
  • Temperature Accuracy: ±1%
  • Display: app

 

MEATER Plus | Smart Meat Thermometer with Bluetooth

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Imagine smoking with no wires and no bulky thermometers attached to the smoker. Did you know that this is possible and quite affordable!?

The MEATER is an innovative thermometer for smokers and grills with a cordless probe.

I don’t know why these thermometers didn’t grow in popularity sooner, but they are all the hype right now because the probe is as small as a pen, and there’s no bulky display. The probe sends all the temperature readings straight to an app on your phone or tablet.

It’s the smart BBQ thermometer we didn’t know we needed but it makes smoking so easy and convenient for all skill levels. Since it’s truly wireless, you can even use it with the rotisserie.

Ok, the 165 ft range could be improved on, but this is quite an ample range and for most people, there’s no need to get a 300 ft range device.

Customers like that they can work in the home while the food smokes and they don’t need to go check on it all the time. The alarm will notify you when the meat is ready to take out.

Some people claim that their phone lost connection under 165 ft and this can mess up your readings and smokes, so it’s better to stay closer, just to be safe.

There’s one probe with 2 sensors that provides accurate readings that you can rely on. The first sensor monitors the meat’s temperature and the second one shows you the ambient temperature inside the cooker.

All you have to do is charge the probe with the charging dock or use a AAA battery for 100 charges. This is a really convenient device, and it can replace all of your analog or Bluetooth & WIFI thermometers.

The free app works for iOS and Android with most smartphones and the app is very user-friendly and easy to set up.

There’s even an advanced estimator algorithm feature and this tells you how long it will take to cook a specific type of food. Thus, if you have guests coming over, you can plan ahead accordingly.

There are plenty of settings to choose from in the app and the guided cooking system will help you make tasty smoked foods.

Another really great feature is that you can wash the sensors in the dishwasher, so you save time and cleanup becomes a breeze.

This thermometer makes a great option for beginners thanks to the guided cooking system helping you every step of the way.

Check the latest prices here

Best cheap thermal instant-read thermometer pen & best for chicken: Smak Digital Instant Read

 

Best cheap thermal pen: Smak Digital Instant Read

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Sometimes, you need to check the exact temperature of the meat while it’s cooking just to be sure. That’s when a pen-style device comes in handy.

This kind of small thermometer doesn’t stay in the grill or smoker but is portable and you can go over to the meat to get an exact reading.

If you have a built-in thermometer in your smoker dome but want to test if the meat is cooking at the ideal temps, you can try an instant-read meat thermometer like this budget-friendly one from  Smak.

Perhaps, one of the best features of this thermometer is that it comes with a handle that has a ribbed design, which allows for better grip.

This is one of the best pen-shaped smoker thermometers that can provide temperature reading in as fast as two seconds! You simply poke the meat with the probe and in a couple of seconds, it gives you an accurate reading.

The range of the temperature is from -58°F to 572°F, which is pretty wide. Thus, it’s highly reliable for just about anything that you plan to cook – meats, pastries, drinks, etc.

Just be careful when you use it with your smoker because you don’t want to leave the lid open for too long or you’ll destabilize the smoking temperatures.

When it comes to convenience, this model will not disappoint. It has a large hanging hole and a magnetic back for easy storage.

You can easily flip between Celsius and Fahrenheit temperature readings, depending on your preferences.

If you need to use the device in the dark, simply flip the backlight switch. This backlit LCD screen is very easy to see and read and the numbers are displayed in a large font.

Because of its long handle and the ability of its probe to rotate up to 180 degrees, safety is guaranteed when it comes to using this thermometer.

When you’re done using the thermometer, you can fold it down securely and it shuts off automatically after 10 minutes. It also comes with a durable plastic case for secure storage.

Ultra-safe folding design & auto shut off after 10 min. Smak Instant Thermometer case is made of strong ABS plastic

The only complaint is that some users are saying it takes about 5 seconds for a reading on some thicker meat cuts like brisket. But, it’s a good tool that can act as an additional temperature control method when your smoke.

Using a thermal pen and a temperature control fan will ensure your cooking success!

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Why get a separate meat thermometer?

Not many people are aware of this, but a thermometer is actually just as important of an accessory as any other cooking utensil.

The best meat thermometer for smokers helps you ensure that your meat will turn out tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor!

Sure, your cooker may come with a built-in thermometer, but you shouldn’t rely entirely on it.

Most of these thermometers will only provide you with the temperature of the air in the cooker and not the actual internal temperature of the meat or food that you are cooking.

Investing in the best meat thermometer for smokers is really worth it!

It helps to determine if your meat has already been cooked or if the food is ready to be served.

best-meat-thermometer-for-smoker-grill

You’re probably thinking that a thermometer is no longer necessary because your smoker already comes with a built-in thermometer.

Well, the truth is that the thermometers that are attached to your smoker are not able to provide you with accurate information in terms of the temperature of your meat.

They can only provide you with the temperature of the air in your smoker.

However, when it comes to determining the temperature of the meat, you need a separate thermometer for it. Determining the meat temperature is the best way to tell if the meat is already cooked to perfection.

The best BBQ smoker thermometer is capable of providing you with the most accurate readings of the internal temperature of the mat. It’s also much easier to use than dial thermometers.

Dial thermometers could take up to 30 seconds before they can provide you with a stable reading. But the digital meat thermometers can provide you with the result in as fast as one second, which is definitely a huge difference!

If you plan on cooking a lot in preparation for a party or an event and you have a strict timeline, you cannot rely on dial thermometers! Otherwise, it would take ages before you can get the food ready for your guests.

A high-quality digital thermometer is the only device that can accurately provide you with information on whether your meat has already been cooked to perfection.

There are people who would rather check the meat manually by touching it with their hands. This is definitely not the best way to do it because the result will be inaccurate.

Poking with hands may work for other people but you should know that everyone has different hands. Even a trained and experienced cook can’t accurately tell the meat’s temperature by merely touching it.

The color of the meat’s juices is also not a good indicator that the meat is already cooked. Using a digital smoker thermometer is the best way to get an accurate reading of the meat’s temperature.

How should a good smoker thermometer be?

Accurate

Accuracy is very important when it comes to cooking food. This guarantees that the meat you’re smoking or grilling is cooked to perfection, not undercooked or overcooked.

Functional

Depending on your budget and needs, choose a smoker thermometer that is highly functional.

This means that it should come with features that increase the ease of convenience when using the thermometer to monitor the temperature of the meat being cooked.

When it comes to functionality, the timer is an important feature that the thermometer should have. Other features that can help improve the thermometer’s functionality are Wi-Fi, an alarm, and an app.

Easy to use

The best smoker thermometer is something that should be easy to use for everyone. The display and interface must not be complicated to understand for most users.

Of course, it’s also important that the device should come with a manual that displays clear and easy-to-understand instructions. This is especially important for first-time users of the device.

Durable

We definitely don’t want a device that will get broken after only a few uses. Therefore, durability is very important when buying a meat thermometer.

It’s pretty common for the probes of the thermometer to get broken after only a few uses. So look for a brand that is known to use high-quality materials for the probe.

The waterproof design is also recommended, especially since the probe could be exposed to liquid from time to time.

What kind of thermometer do I need for a smoker?

The secret to perfectly smoked meat that melts in your mouth is to smoke it at a consistent temperature. But, the only way to do that is with a smoker thermometer that can monitor the temperatures from a distance.

This way, you can be in control of the heat settings even if you’re not sitting next to the smoker.

You need to get a smoker temperature thermometer that measures the temps inside the cooking chamber.

Here’s what an ideal smoker thermometer should be like:

So, the answer is that you need a high-quality wireless smoker thermometer.

Can I use a meat thermometer for smoker?

Yes, you can use a meat thermometer in the smoker if it is wired.

The best kind of thermometer has a wired temperature probe that stays inside the meat and doesn’t budge or melt while you’re smoking meat.

This allows you to have real-time temp readings without needing to open the smoker. Once you open it, the temperature fluctuates and that’s no good. The thermometer makes smoking easy and convenient.

Are smoker thermometers accurate?

Most smokers that you buy come with a built-in thermometer. These dome and hood thermometers are never accurate and their readings are usually off by more than just a few degrees. Part of the reason for this is that thermometers are made of cheap, flimsy materials.

In most cases, these inaccurate thermometers will ruin your food and that’s why all serious pitmasters have separate meat and smoker thermometers that they use instead of the built-in ones.

How can you tell how hot a smoker is?

Well, the first step is to look at the built-in thermometer and see what the reading is there. Knowing that it’s inaccurate, you then have to place a thermometer inside the smoker to tell the exact temperature.

So, get your accurate thermometer and place it near the meat. It doesn’t have to touch the meat, just be next to it. This way you know what the temperature is right at the spot where the food is cooking away.

For the best-smoked foods, you need to know the exact temperature on the cooking surface at the spot where you’re smoking the meat, not the entire smoker.

This leads me to the next similar question:

Where do you put the thermometer in a smoker?

The meat thermometer probe goes inside the meat but the smoker thermometer goes near the meat, at the exact spot where you are cooking.

The temperature is the highest right above the heat source and the cooking grates. So, it’s best to place the thermometer’s probe close to the grate at about 3 inches above.

If you put it there, you get an accurate temperature reading right at the spot where the food is cooking and not just a general temp reading inside the smoker.

How to use a smoker thermometer with a rotisserie

The problem with using an external thermometer when using the rotisserie is that it’s hard to keep the probe in place while the meat spins.

To circumvent this issue, you’ll need to buy a rotisserie spit bushing and then thread the probe wire straight through the bushing.

Then, you place the bushing onto the spit and the forks and poultry are then placed right onto the spit rod but the probe will be in the meat. You use painter’s tape to tape the thermometer to the handle.

The probe wire will not kink with this hack.

Smoker thermometer benefits

One of the most obvious reasons for getting a thermometer is accuracy. The built-in thermometer in your smoker won’t be able to provide you with an accurate reading. You can simply use it as a gauge, but sometimes, the reading is different by up to 15-20 degrees.

Aside from accuracy, there are several other benefits that you can get from buying a smoker thermometer.

Here are some of them:

Helps prevent illnesses

Remember that uncooked meat could make you sick. You definitely don’t want your loved ones or any of your guests to catch some disease just because you served them raw meat.

Thus, when it comes to reading meat temperatures, you cannot just wing it. Half-cooked meat is fine when it comes to beef or pork, but with turkey, chicken, and other poultry meats, this is definitely dangerous.

It could lead to poisoning and whoever will eat the meat could catch an illness because of the bacteria coming from the meat, such as salmonella.

So to ensure the safety of the people who will eat the meat that you’re going to cook, you need to invest in the best smoker thermometer.

This thermometer can provide you with accurate temperature reading so you can rest assured that the meat you are serving for your loved ones is safe.

Avoids overcooking

Overcooking meat is just as bad as undercooking it. If you don’t want to overcook your meat, you should seriously consider investing in a thermometer.

The last thing you want is to serve overcooked and burnt meat to your loved ones and beloved guests!

The thermometer is capable of providing readings close to 0.9 +/- °F, thus, you can get a more precise reading, unlike when you rely on the smoker’s built-in thermometer.

Remember that when it comes to cooking food, accuracy is of utmost importance. If you invest in the right meat temperature, you can avoid overcooking your meat.

Accurate readings

If you have a thermometer, there’s no longer a need for you to stay beside the grill all throughout the entire time you are cooking.

Since the thermometer can provide you with accurate reading, you can simply use it to determine if your meat has already been cooked.

Once the food is already cooked to perfection, it will trigger an alarm. Therefore, there’s no longer a need to stay behind the grill all day long.

Dual-probe

Most thermometers come with a dual probe system. The other digital and wireless models even come with four to six probes. Therefore, if you want to prepare steak, poultry, pork chops, and brisket, all at the same time, then you’re free to do so!

Just set the desired temperature for the meat in advance and turn the timer on. There are also those that come with advanced features that will suggest the proper temperature suitable for your meat.

They work really great because there’s no longer a need to guess or look things up since the thermometer can do it on your behalf. It will grill or smoke your meat to perfection by setting it to the right temperature.

Whether you’re an amateur griller or an expert, a thermometer can certainly benefit you in a lot of ways!

From helping to make your life easier to keeping your food safe from bacteria, the thermometer is certainly a very useful device for smoking meat.

Thanks to technological advancement, the manufacturers of these thermometers have come up with models that come with high-tech features and can do everything for you.

All that’s basically left for you to do is to place the meat into the smoker and add some seasonings or a great BBQ rub (like these ones)!

Then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy some quality time with your family while you wait for the meat to be cooked.

With the meat thermometer, grilling meat is now fun and efficient! Even if you’re new to grilling, you’ll feel like a pro, thanks to the meat thermometer.

Make your own or simply go for these tried and true best BBQ sauces on the market

Why you should use a smoker thermometer?

First and foremost, it makes it possible for you to monitor the temperature inside the meat and inside the smoker throughout the entire smoking process (if you have two probes).

Secondly, certain models offer plenty of additional features that improve convenience, such as a wireless meat thermometer that makes it possible to remotely control the temperature while away from the smoker.

The above features guarantee that you can prepare the perfect BBQ which matters the most, after all.

It has certainly happened to you more than once where you took the meat out too early (while still raw) or too late (overly dry).

With a smoker thermometer, you can be sure that you will take the meat out at the perfect moment, maintaining its best flavor and as many juices as possible.

Smoking usually means many hours of work so don’t take chances and buy a decent grill thermometer to avoid disappointments. Trust me, everyone will be impressed when eating perfectly prepared meat every time, including you.

These are the best meats to smoke to give you a full range of options

Real grill temperature vs dome

In order to understand the difference, you need to take a look at how a built-in thermometer works.

First and foremost, a thermometer shows the temperature in its close surroundings. It means that if the source of heat is close to the grill grates, but far from the built-in thermometer, the readings won’t be accurate.

In such a case, the built-in thermometer will show a way lower temperature than it actually is on the level of grill grates, which are much closer to the heat source.

It matters a lot when it comes to smoking, where a proper fixed temperature is very important.

In order for a dome thermometer to show the best readings (close to the actual number), the lid has to be kept closed for a long time until the heat spreads evenly inside the smoker.

In practice, it is difficult, however, because depending on the type of smoker you often need to lift the lid to do something.

Another argument is also the fact that plenty of manufacturers install poor quality thermometers because that way they cut the manufacturing costs, it occurs especially in cheaper models.

You’ll find plenty of articles on the topic online that show the exact difference between the temperature at the grill grates level and what the built-in thermometer shows.

You may be very surprised with how big the temperature differences are depending on the type of smoker/grill.

Instant read style vs leave-in probe thermometers

When looking for a new digital meat thermometer, you are mostly going to run into the two most popular types: instant-read and leave-in-probe.

When it comes to smoking, look for a thermometer that has a leave-in probe, whereas if you’re thinking about grilling, the best choice will be a thermometer with a built-in probe.

Let me describe both types in detail:

Leave in probe

It is a thermometer that usually consists of a transmitter, receiver, and separate probes that you can plug in or out however you please.

This type of thermometer was mostly designed with smoking in mind, where it’s important to monitor the temperature throughout the entire cooking process.

The way it works is simple: all you have to do is plug the probe into the transmitter, then stick the other end of the probe in the meat and leave it there.

After some time you’re going to get a temperature readout, which will keep updating in real-time so that you can know exactly what the temperature is at a particular moment.

The probe is meant to be left in the place where you wish to monitor the temperature throughout the entire cooking process, only take it out once you’re done smoking.

Instant read thermometer

It is mostly characterized by having the probe built into the thermometer’s handle. It is intended for quick and very accurate temperature measuring inside meat for example, or even fluids (it’s more versatile and useful in the kitchen overall, not just in BBQ).

The way it works is completely different from a leave in the probe. Here you stick the end of the probe in the meat and wait for a few seconds until the reading stabilizes, then you take the probe out.

The instant read thermometer was made to make it possible to very quickly check the temperature, when it comes to the best models the temperature reading only takes 2-3 seconds.

This type of thermometer works perfectly when cooking large quantities of food. I really recommend it for frying perfect hamburgers or steaks at different levels of being done.

Digital thermometer types

The digital thermometers of today are available in different types and here are some of them:

Single probe thermometers

From the name itself, the single probe thermometers only come with one probe.

These thermometers are usually attached to a digital readout that will provide you with the reading and come with options for notifications and alarms.

These devices also come with a dedicated receiver and transmitter which allow you to take a readout of the temperature with you.

The instant-read thermometers belong to the single probe category. These meat thermometers are usually lightweight and are capable of getting reading incredibly fast.

There’s a wide range of these kinds of thermometers that are extremely useful for all kinds of cooking not just for barbecue. It’s highly recommended that you get this thermometer even if you already own another type.

These thermometers work very quickly and are extremely easy to use. In fact, once you experience using them, you definitely don’t want to cook again without a thermometer!

Dual probe thermometers

Another popular type of meat thermometer is the dual probe. This is the thermometer that’s highly recommended since it provides you with an option to read both the temperature of the meat and that of the grill or smoker.

With this device, you can enjoy precision cooking and will definitely make your life in the kitchen so much easier!

The dual-probe designs are also available in different variations. There are the standard versions that have digital screens providing you with two probes.

There’s also the Wi-Fi version that is equipped with two displays. They are also known as wireless meat thermometers where one display is linked to the actual probes that were attached to the smoker itself.

It comes with a second display that you can take with you wherever you go. They are very useful and allow you to set it in advance and then you can simply just leave it and you can go on with doing your own tasks.

With the best wireless meat thermometer for smokers, there’s no longer a need for you to sit right in front of your smoker while it cooks your meat.

For instance, you can simply watch TV or do some household chores while the smoker is doing its own tasks!

Once the countdown timer comes to zero, the monitor that you have taken with you will inform you that your meat is already cooked. There are also other models that will trigger an alarm once the timer reaches zero.

You can also opt for a Bluetooth version.

The smoker thermometer Bluetooth works in the same way as the wireless versions but instead of a second monitor that you can bring with you, this version requires installing an app on your mobile phone. Instead of Wi-Fi, it uses Bluetooth.

Infrared laser thermometers

These thermometers resemble hairdryers or guns and are battery-powered. They provide very accurate readings even from a distance.

What’s great about these types of thermometers is that they provide a wide range of temperatures and can be used in places where normal probes cannot reach.

This is why it’s recommended to choose this version if you are fond of cooking pizzas in your oven.

Thermostatic temperature controllers

If you need to do long cooks with wood or charcoal smokers and grills, a thermostatic controller is what you need. You simply have to place the probe near the meat and then close the air intakes except for one.

There’s a fan that will go through this intake that will relay with the probe in order to regulate the oxygen air that gets in and out of the grill. This allows for accurate control of the temperature.

Are dome thermometers good?

Built-in or pre-installed dome thermometers are a regular feature of some of the excellent quality grills and smokers.

Although it might seem convenient to use these thermometers instead of buying the best smoker thermometer separately, this is usually not a good idea.

This is because dome thermometers are not really capable of providing you with the most accurate temperature reading of the insides of the smoker.

Most of the time, the thermometer will provide a reading that’s more than 50°C cooler than the actual temperature at which the meat is being cooked.

The reason is that these types of thermometers will simply measure the temperature of the air that’s right above the food being cooked.

How to use a smoker thermometer properly

If this is the first time that you’re using a smoker thermometer, here are some important points to keep in mind:

How to get accurate temperature readings

The smoker thermometer’s error of margin and accuracy will vary from one model to another. To ensure that you’ll get the most accurate reading possible, place the thermometer at an appropriate point inside the smoker.

Here are some useful tips when it comes to the proper placement of the thermometer in order to get the most accurate temperature reading:

Maintaining the thermometer

The best meat thermometer for a smoker is long-lasting and sturdy. But just like with anything else, these devices also require general care and maintenance in order to increase their longevity.

Here are some tips on how to properly take care of your thermometer:

The differences between instant-read and wireless thermometers

You’re probably not sure whether to go for the wireless version or the instant-read.

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to the differences between the two:

Probe tip

The instant-read version is capable of literally reading the temperatures once you insert the probe end to about 1/8-inch into the meat. Even at the thickest portion of the meat, this should be able to provide you with a fairly accurate temperature reading.

The best smoker thermometer is efficient enough to provide you with the most accurate temperature reading.

On the other hand, a wireless thermometer is one that would require you to enter the probe to the thickest portion of the meat. It may also require you to place the probe all the way into the meat. This should provide you with a more accurate reading although it needs deeper insertion.

Reading accuracy

Regardless of the type of thermometer that you will go for, accuracy must be given utmost priority. You definitely don’t want your steak to end up dry and burnt out.

The wireless version is more reliable than the instant-read since it requires you to insert the thermometer into the thickest portion of the meat that you’re cooking.

This can provide a more accurate reading and is definitely a much safer option when grilling certain meat that must not be consumed less than a certain temperature.

As for the instant-read model, it provides more of a gauge reading, similar to what built-in thermometers can provide. They may provide fairly accurate reading but are not really as resourceful as the BBQ smoker thermometer.

The most reliable model of these thermometers can guarantee readings of +/- .9 to 2 °F.

As for the wireless variety, you’ll be able to get a more accurate and instant reading, unlike the instant-read model that can provide a reading in 3-7 seconds depending on the model and the brand of the thermometer.

For general grilling purposes, the instant-read thermometer could be enough. These thermometers are also easy to use and are capable of providing a simple and accurate reading.

The thermometer also allows you to get the temperature at the internal point of insertion regardless of the type of meat that you’re cooking.

Features

When it comes to features, the wireless thermometers are on the lead. The thermometer allows you to choose different meat settings and it’s also possible to set it to your preferred temperatures.

These devices typically come with built-in timers that you can also set. On the other hand, the instant-read thermometer is pretty basic.

It doesn’t come with fancy features and it requires you to search for more information yourself just so you can achieve the most ideal temperature for your meat.

But the wireless version will pretty much do the work for you.

Reading times

The wireless thermometer can reach the accurate temperature for your meat in only a matter of seconds. It will not take long to provide you with a very precise and accurate reading, most especially if you invest in top-of-the-line brands.

The instant-read can provide a fairly accurate reading as well. However, it will sometimes take a few seconds longer before it can provide you with the exact temperature of the meat that you’re grilling.

This can be a problem for charcoal smokers as there’s a risk of overcooking the meat.

Conclusion

Although the differences in features and functionalities make these thermometers difficult to compare, if we had to choose one, it would be the ThermoPro TP20 Thermometer.

Although it is expensive, its many bells and whistles put it over the top.

If you enjoy smoking meats, the right thermometer can make all the difference when it comes to getting the results you are looking for.

Which of these will you be adding to your culinary collection?

Also read: the best BBQ temperature controllers for your smoker

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.