Technology keeps moving forward with every year, which results in us having digital meat thermometers. They have pretty much replaced the old analog thermometers, offering much better precision, convenience, functionality and speed.
What matters the most is that all those advantages were implemented at a low cost, as the price for a very good meat thermometer isn’t all that high.
There are several types of meat thermometers, which is why in this guide I decided to focus on the best options. That way my suggestions can feature a thermometer dedicated to smoking or just regular grilling.
Smoking without a precise thermometer is very complicated and often pretty risky. If you want to get perfect BBQ, you should invest in quality equipment, start by finding the best digital meat thermometer using this guide.
With a decent meat thermometer you will soon forget about overly dry or raw food from a grill.
The 4 Best Meat Thermometers for Smoking and Grilling
Out of such a huge offer available on the market, I have only picked a few of them for you that I consider to be the best options. Depending on whether you prefer grilling or smoking, you are going to find something perfect for yourself. Personally, I recommend buying two types of thermometers, a leave in probe for smoking and an instant-read for quick grilling.
First and foremost, I’d like to present ThermoPro TP20, which took the first place in my other guide as the best thermometer for smoking.
It makes it possible to monitor the internal temperature throughout the entire cooking process. It applies to both the temperature inside the meat and the ability to check on the temperature inside the smoker. It all depends on how many probes you have and how you use them (this model comes with 2 probes).
It takes the first place thanks to great features and quality for the money. It’s neither among the cheapest nor most expensive ones, it fits somewhere in the middle considering the offer on the market.
If you love real barbecue then you know how important the right fixed temperature is. With ThermoPro TP20, you can precisely monitor the temperature with accuracy of +/- 1.8°F, achieving phenomenal results of smoking.
Another advantage of this model is the ability to monitor the measurements wirelessly thanks to an additional receiver. It makes it possible to watch it while away from the smoker, like at home for example.
How can you know what is the perfect temperature inside meat? At the first glance it might seem complicated as each type of meat has different parameters and it’s hard to memorize them all.
In order to solve this problem, the manufacturer has programmed the transmitter with data on adequate temperatures for different types of meat. That way you can follow the pre-programmed settings or input your own custom parameters.
It is definitely one of the best digital meat thermometers for smoking, especially for this kind of money. High quality of workmanship (3 years warranty), functionality, two probes, great parameters and adequate price.
My next suggestion is an instant-read digital meat thermometer that differs from the last item on account of being used for instant temperature reading. It works the best where time and accuracy of measurements are crucial, which is quick grilling of large quantities of food.
Using it allows you to quickly check the temperature of several burgers and make sure that a steak is done just right.
Lavatools Javelin Pro allows to measure the temperature within just 2-3 seconds with accuracy of 0.9 degree F which makes it one of the fastest and most accurate models on the market.
The probe is integrated with the handle, to take measurements you need to stick the probe in the meat and wait for the results. It is not a leave in probe thermometer, this model was designed with fast and easy measuring in mind and not with monitoring the temperature throughout the entire cooking process.
The advantage is versatility as this type of thermometer, on top of cooking on a grill, will also come in handy in many other situations around the kitchen.
On top of that, Javelin Pro Duo comes with many interesting features such as Auto-Rotating Ambidextrous Backlit Display, Motion-Sense Backlight, Stabilization Alert, auto-off function and more.
Without a doubt, all those features increase convenience, but what matters the most is measuring speed and accuracy. In these regards, it is a great option, another noteworthy thing is the quality of workmanship and decent warranty.
One of the most popular thermometers among experienced BBQ enthusiasts. A perfectly renowned brand that is trusted among its customers, but I put it a little lower on my list of favorite thermometers (it’s just that the competition is developing hard and offers better quality).
First and foremost, Maverick ET-733 comes with several features, but it’s pretty easy to use.
It consists of a receiver, transmitter and two probes – it means that you can monitor the temperature remotely using two probes. One of them can be used to monitor the temperature inside the meat whereas the other to watch over the temperature inside the smoker.
It comes with a pretty big and readable display, it’s nothing too impressive compared to today’s competition, but it’s certainly nothing to complain about in this regard, either.
Of course, like every digital meat thermometer for smoking, this model also comes with a properly programmed interface with an impressive selection of settings.
Sadly, compared with the competitive models, it definitely loses in terms of warranty. Despite being a pretty decently built thermometer and not being very likely to cause trouble after purchase, I’d still rather have the manufacturer appreciate their product more in this regard.
A good warranty is what defines a product’s value, especially when other manufacturers have taken care of that aspect.
A digital meat thermometer for everyone’s budget is how I would describe the ThermoPro Tp17 model. It’s a small-sized and very simple thermometer that comes with as many as two probes. It can do what all the other meat thermometers can, although with a little less accuracy.
It is very simple because it doesn’t come with any special features on top of the basic ones. It does have a lot of pre-programmed settings to choose from but it lacks the ability to monitor temperature remotely.
The display isn’t big, but it’s backlit and, what’s most important, easy to read. Sadly, it’s not splash resistant so you need to be a little careful not to drop it in a liquid container etc.
All those parameters, upsides and downsides make ThermoPro TP17 the best budget meat thermometer. Of course it is very easy and lacks certain features, but it’s certainly accurate enough and most importantly available at a conveniently low price.
I recommend it for the start, and once you gain some experience you will know better what you need and whether you should get a much more expensive thermometer.
If you hardly ever smoke then I believe that there’s no point investing a lot in accessories of this type, a thermometer like this one should be more than enough.
It makes a great alternative to the much more expensive, more accurate, better made and more durable ThermoPro TP 20.
Benefits of using a Meat Thermometer
When you smoke, it is very important to maintain the right temperature inside the smoker throughout the entire cooking process. Equally important is the temperature inside the meat, as it lets you determine whether the meat is done already or it’s still raw.
For that purpose, the digital meat thermometer was made, which allows for an accurate measurement of the internal temperature of meat so that you can know exactly what stage of cooking you are at.
Plenty of people claim that they have adequate skills and don’t need such gadgets, but why waste your time speculating. What matters the most is the end result of cooking, and a digital meat thermometer makes it possible to prepare perfect food without any risk.
It especially comes in handy when smoking thicker chunks of meat where it often looks done on the outside but when you cut it open you find out it’s still raw. On the other hand, meat might turn out to be overly dry on the inside because it was cooked for too long to “make sure” it tastes good.
You can very easily avoid those awkward situations by using the right meat thermometer and that’s what I invite you all to do today. It is not an expensive gadget compared to the prices of meat, which each of us has ruined on many occasions by not paying enough attention when cooking.
Most popular types of Meat Thermometers
As I already mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are many types of digital meat thermometers. Each of them has its own upsides and downsides that you should know about, below I will discuss the two most popular types.
Instant read – As the name suggests, it is a thermometer type that is meant to measure the temperature as fast as possible, nearly instantly. The best models can take measurements in just 2-4 seconds which allows to quickly check large quantities of food when you cook a lot. A thermometer of this type works the best for grilling but you can easily use it in many other situations. An instant read thermometer consists of a handle and a usually folding (always integrated) probe that you stick in the meat for a few seconds and remove it once you read the measurement.
Leave in thermometers – They differ by being mostly designed with monitoring the temperature over a long period of time in mind, for example when smoking for many hours. In that case probes come with a long cable, you have to stick the probe inside the meat and leave it in until you’re done cooking (reach the right temperature). The best models consist of a transmitter and a receiver, the latter makes it possible to monitor the temperature while being away from the grill/smoker. Certain models will alert you when the meat reaches the right internal temperature. The leave in thermometer is much better known under the name of smoker thermometer.
Tips for buying a new Meat Thermometer
Budget – Don’t want to spend too much? Aim for simpler and smaller models, they are a little slower and less accurate but they allow to save some money. Someone who cooks rarely and in small quantities doesn’t need a high tier thermometer. The price range is luckily pretty big so there’s a lot to choose from.
Accuracy – The more expensive the model, the better the accuracy which is a very important aspect of a thermometer. We all want to read the correct temperature, and not one that varies by several degrees with every reading. That’s why you should check a thermometer’s parameters before the purchase and make sure it’s accurate enough.
Speed – When it comes to a leave in thermometer, speed doesn’t matter but accuracy does. When it comes to instant-read models, on the other hand, speed is important, the standard measuring time shouldn’t be longer than about 5 seconds. Of course the better the model, the faster the measuring speed (as fast as 2 seconds for the top models).
Features – All kinds of alarms, timers, pre-programmed settings, backlit displays, rotating displays, remote control etc. All of that is very nice and improves convenience but you can do without most of those features if you care about price.
Thermometer type – Make your mind about what type of digital meat thermometer suits you the most. Do you prefer smoking or grilling? If you have a bigger budget, I really recommend buying both types as they will certainly come in handy around the kitchen multiple times.
Temperature range – When it comes to smoking, the temperature range doesn’t have to be that big, but when it comes to grilling I’d look for something better. Especially if you want to monitor the temperature inside the grill/smoker, in such situation the probes have to be of adequate quality.
Warranty – Are you interested in a more expensive model? Make sure that it comes with adequate warranty. The biggest problems are with probes which usually need to be replaced. Having an adequate warranty will protect you from bearing any additional costs when it comes to the first months of using the thermometer.