Barbecue requires skills, time and the right conditions to make everything go as supposed to. You need to see the exact moment when to remove the meat from the smoker so that it maintains its full flavor and juiciness.
Without a smoker thermometer, it is a pretty difficult task as you can’t be sure if the temperature inside the meat is really perfect. You only have the built-in thermometer at your disposal, which usually isn’t very accurate, making it difficult to precisely follow the smoking process based on it.
A solution to the problem, as well as a way to get a perfect barbecue, is a decent bbq thermometer. It is the best for it to have two probes, you can use one of them to monitor the temperature inside the smoker whereas the other is there to monitor the temperature inside the meat.
There are plenty of different models from a very huge number of manufacturers available on the market. I have focused on proven brands and prepared a list that only features the few best smoker thermometers.
I have compared them for you and prepared separate reviews that will make it easier for you to make yourself familiar with the best options.
The 3 Best Smoker Thermometers for smoking and grilling
A good smoker thermometer is the key to perfect smoking for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re experienced or not, make use of what technology has to offer and be sure that the meat is certainly going to be perfect.
The best bbq thermometer is one that is accurate and comes with two probes but below you will also see options that are richer in many useful features. Those are not necessary but considering the overall price they are worth paying for, it usually also comes with a much better quality of workmanship and durability of a particular model.
My favorite bbq thermometer, 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 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). 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 their customers seriously and cares about them after the purchase. This is one of the elements that made the brand so valued and popular.
ThermoPro TP20 is in my view the best overall smoker thermometer for everyone and nearly everyone’s budget. Me 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.
Another bbq thermometer with two probes from an equally valued and famous manufacturer in the world of BBQ. 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.
Two probes is something I bring up often, it’s nice to have two of them due to the ability to monitor 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 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.
An inexpensive single probe smoker thermometer that is very easy to use, a suggestion for less demanding people. It is one of the technically simplest options, a great way to experience what a bbq thermometer can really offer for small money.
It comes with one probe, even though I mostly recommend models with only two probes, this option is an exception. If someone cooks with a pellet type smoker or an electric smoker then they don’t have to monitor the external temperature and in such cases the other probe is usually useless.
ThermoPro TP 16S combines all the essential aspects of a thermometer. First and foremost, it is accurate and comes with a good quality probe, which matters the most.
Due to its price it is pretty small but the display is big and readable enough (it even comes with a backlit button in the upper part).
If, however, you are looking for a model with two probes at a similar price and with similar structure, I have a perfect suggestion for you (Model ThermoPro TP17).
Out of the basic features, TP16-S has preprogrammed settings for 7 types of meats, an alarm, a timer and magnetic back.
This small single probe thermometer comes with all the essential features except for being waterproof, sadly. It is actually pretty solidly built and comes from a trusted manufacturer who has covered the product with a good warranty.
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 preparing 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.
Tips for buying a new smoker thermometer
Budget – The price range is pretty huge which means good news to you. There will be something for someone with a very limited budget as well as for decided people with a thick wallet. Personally I recommend starting with something medium-tier, it guarantees quality and accuracy for a decent price (for example ThermoPro TP20).
Features – The best feature is the ability to remotely monitor the temperature (remote thermometer). It usually costs much more but it’s worth paying extra. Also universally valuable are such features as alarms, backlit displays or preprogrammed settings.
The number of probes and their length – I recommend at least two probes as it makes it possible to monitor the temperature inside the meat and inside the smoker at the same time (like in a charcoal smoker or an offset smoker). I know that certain smokers don’t need temperature control inside the meat (like a pellet smoker or an electric smoker) so in such cases one probe will be enough. It is always necessary, on the other hand, to check the probe length, no matter how many of them you have. The longer the better, it gives you more freedom and convenience so keep that in mind with cheaper models where they tend to be pretty short.
Resistant to splashes – Splashes are a frequent problem when cooking, also when it comes to grilling or smoking. It is better for your thermometer to be 100% resistant to splashes which will be your insurance. Luckily, every slightly more expensive model is protected in this regard. Only budget versions such as ThermoPro TP17 for example tend to not have such protection.
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 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 to 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 in 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 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.