If you have ever tried your hand in cooking BBQ, you know the importance of having a highly accurate thermometer. Without a smoker thermometer, cooking BBQ to perfection is like a shot in the dark with an almost unsurmountable level of guesswork required. This is why it's important to find the best thermometer for smoking your food.
When preparing barbecue, the temperature needs to be regulated and consistent throughout the entire cooking process. With barbecue, you don’t cook based on the clock; you cook based on what the thermometer says. The need to know the temperature of the cooking environment and your food is why a thermometer for smoking is mandatory before you try your hand at preparing BBQ for the family.
It would be best if you also were wary of using the built-in thermometers in grills, as these tend not to be as accurate as you would hope. We highly recommend you still buy a separate quality smoker thermometer, especially if you love a good BBQ party a couple of times a month.
To help you along the way, we have compiled a list of the best thermometer for smoking. If you are not satisfied with our selection, we also offer you an in-depth buying guide that should help you weed out the lesser quality smoker thermometers out of your list.
Well, then, let us begin our hunt for the top smoker thermometers for your BBQ needs.
In a hurry and don’t have the time to read through our, admittedly, lengthy article thoroughly?
We completely understand your plight. That’s why we took it upon ourselves to give you our top pick among our ‘best of’ list. We based our decision on our tests, guideline pointers, and overall positive online feedback from customers.
Alpha Grillers Instant Red Meat Thermometer
The Alpha Grillers Thermometer is an impressive piece of cooking equipment that excels on all fronts. It is highly accurate, easy to use, and durable. Add to the fact that it is pretty affordable, and you have yourself one of the best smoker thermometers in the market.
Smoker Thermometer Buying Guide
Before we go ahead and give you the main meat of our article, pun intended, we will first guide you through the essential features you need with barbecue thermometers.
The Number of Probes You Need
The number of probes is the most critical question in regards to thermometers and BBQs. The number is also subjective and depends on the occasion and also depends on what you typically cook. There are many varieties of smoker thermometers, with some having the ability to check one temperature while others have as many as six temperature probes.
If you’re using a smoker, we typically recommend that your thermometer needs to have at least two probes. We use one probe for your food, and the other we use for the smoke chamber. This setup allows you to get an accurate read on the temperature of the cooking environment and determine when your food finishes cooking.
I’ve got a pretty big smoke chamber on my Oklahoma Joe Bandera smoker, so I needed a minimum of four probes. I do leave one to monitor the temperature of the smoke chamber. I typically smoke more than one piece of meat, so I like to have one for each piece of meat. I did have a 6-probe thermometer, but I melted it. That allowed me to have two probes in my 10+ pound briskets or whole pork shoulders.
Please note, if your typical use is to monitor food on your grill, it’s okay to have one probe, but we still recommend a minimum of two.
You should also consider the material used for each thermometer probe. I advise you refrain from getting ones with silicone tips as it is less resilient than thermometers with probes made from stainless steel.
Choosing Between Traditional and Wireless Thermometers
If you are aiming for convenience and safety, a wireless thermometer is the best option. This type of thermometer can give you the details without even needing to open or go near the grill. If you go with a wireless thermometer, there is not a lot of uniformity of design.
Some models utilize a direct connection between the thermometer and the monitor. Others require the monitor to connect with your smartphone or tablet. A fair warning we suggest you steer clear away from wireless thermometers that use Wi-Fi if your router has poor performance or your grill is far away from your router. To be safe, we recommend you get the thermometer that comes with its own monitor.
Compatibility with Your Grill/Smoker
Finally, you would want to avoid getting a thermometer that is too large for your smoker. There are two thermometer variants available: one that reads the temperature of the environment in it, and the other is a probe that you insert into your cooking food.
If you choose the latter, you should consider whether it will be able to fit into the smoker grill once the lid has been closed. As for the former, remember to clean it after every use as it is susceptible to damages due to smoke and grease.
You can enlarge or make holes in your smoker if your thermometer probe doesn’t fit, but that can cause smoke and temperature leaks. I suggest you circumvent that problem altogether and measure your smoker before buying a probe thermometer to make sure it fits.
Thermometer Maintenance Tips
We included this segment in the article due to how many complaints we saw online about their thermometer breaking down after only a couple of uses. We also noticed how most did not follow specific rules in smoker thermometer care.
Before we begin, though, I would like first to advise you to go with thermometers from well-known brands and avoid the super cheap ones as much as possible. Remember the adage of ‘You get what you pay for’? That applies to almost every purchase that you make. That said, here are crucial maintenance tips that you should remember when using smoker thermometers.
Avoid cleaning the thermometer probe by submerging it underwater. Water is one sure way to damage the device. Instead, use a dry paper towel or clean cloth to wipe the probe clean of any grime or grease.
Check the temperature rating of the device. Most units will have a heat resistance of up to 370 degrees Celsius, so make sure to keep it under that number.
Proper storage is vital when it comes to making sure thermometer probes last for as long as possible. If you use wired thermometer probes, avoid twisting the wires when storing them in your cabinet or drawer to prevent wear and tear damage.
The Best Thermometers for Smoking BBQ
Now that you have a good understanding of what to look for and how to care for your smoker thermometer, we will be introducing you to four best-selling items in this category. If you are still unsure of what to get, check out our recommendations below to help you decide.
1. Alpha Grillers Instant Red Meat Thermometer
The most important feature you would want in a thermometer is accuracy. The Alpha Griller might be one of the more affordable options in the market, but this did not reflect its performance. In fact, with a +1-degree Fahrenheit accuracy rating, the Alpha Griller is one of the more reliable affordable thermometers that you can get. That accuracy rating is pretty solid.
As for features, it comes with an automatic on and off. The thermometer turns on automatically once you detach the probe from the body/monitor. To turn it off, you need to attach the probe back to its position. This streamlined design makes for a highly convenient experience as you would not need to contend with buttons.
Additionally, we found the magnetic attachment at the back of the thermometer to be quite helpful. You can attach it to the ref rather than storing it in the drawer. This allows you to use the Alpha Griller thermometer at once, whenever you need it.
The Alpha Griller is a good smoker thermometer with a solid build and accurate temperature reading. The affordable price tag further makes this an enticing product. Overall, this is a well-rounded choice for those who are looking for something cheap and reliable.
2. VAUNO Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer
This well-rounded thermometer comes with some nifty features and excellent wireless performance. It features three thermometer probes that allow cooks to monitor the food temperature efficiently from any distance. The wireless functionality can maintain connectivity for up to 490-feet in an open area.
You can also program a timer that notifies you when the meat reaches the temperature you want. The device is also pre-programmed with USDA-approved ‘doneness’ level, or you can set your temperature settings. Since both probe and monitor directly link, the device does not require any synchronization before displaying the temperature.
The VAUNO Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer features all the functionalities you want with this type of equipment. As a wireless thermometer, it provides an excellent range. It also comes with features that would undoubtedly help offer more convenience when grilling and BBQing.
3. ENZOO Wireless Meat Thermometer
Another incredibly helpful and accurate thermometer for smoking BBQ is ENZOO’s Wireless Meat Thermometer. This smoker thermometer features four probes and an outstanding 500-feet wireless range. This means that you can keep track of your grill anywhere at home.
This thermometer uses four 7-inch probes made from food-grade stainless steel for health safety. The monitor also has a large LCD screen with backlighting for maximum legibility, even in a low-light environment. In addition, the probe can withstand up to 380 degrees Celsius, which makes it suitable for all of your grilling needs.
ENZOO is a heavy-duty thermometer that offers some nice features to help you deliver the best tasting BBQ possible. It also provides up to four high-quality probes for that extra flexibility when cooking multiple types of meat simultaneously.
4. Thermo-Pro TP-17 Dual Probe Digital Cooking Meat Thermometer
The Thermo-Pro TP-17 is one of the more affordable brands in the market that still delivers top-mark performance. Despite the affordable price tag, the TP-17 still manages to implement some basic thermometer features to help you during cooking. These features include an alarm, a C/F format option, and a timer.
Additionally, the Thermo-Pro TP-17 also features two USDA-approved stainless-steel probes. Having two probes allows you can use this thermometer to monitor two different types of meat simultaneously. This thermometer is also quite flexible in regards to placement options. You can either place it inside your kitchen drawer or (thanks to its magnetic attachment).
Not much to complain about with this excellent value-for-money thermometer. While the dual probe has some issues with highly accurate temp reading, this is an all-around solid thermometer for smoking. A friendly reminder, though, this thermometer is not waterproof, so don’t wash or submerge the probes underwater as it is susceptible to moisture.
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In order to perfect your BBQ, you will need a trusty and accurate thermometer by your side. While choosing the best thermometer for smoking can be a bit daunting, as long as you know what you need and have a good understanding about the specs of each model, you will be able to zero in on the right choice. Use our buying guide or our ‘best of’ list to narrow down your choices.