6 Best Digital Thermometers to Use with Your Smoker
Cooking meat low and slow requires a thermometer that can handle the heat — and keep you updated for hours.
Part of the joy of smoking your own meat or fish is that low-and-slow cooking produces such delicious results. But if you want perfectly smoked pork, brisket or salmon, you must maintain a consistent temperature in the smoker and monitor the internal temperature of the food.
What Kind of Thermometer Works Best With a Smoker?
For long cooks and big cuts in the smoker (think pork butt or turkey), a probe thermometer is a smart choice. You get constant feedback on the internal temperature of the protein, and you don’t have to open the smoker — jeopardizing the temperature and releasing smoke — to check it. They’re designed to be inserted in the meat prior to cooking and left in during smoking. Some feed information to a unit via a heat-resistant cord, while others send info to your phone via Bluetooth.
For shorter cooks and thinner cuts of meat, we love a digital instant-read thermometer. These easy-to-use thermometers are inserted into the meat for a quick spot check of the temperature. They ensure the thickest part of your meat is safely cooked through or at the desired doneness. They’re ideal for foods like ribs or a spatchcocked chicken.
Best Probe Thermometers for Smokers
This best-seller on Amazon is a good choice for those looking for a Bluetooth relay that lets you check your cooking stats remotely. The probes plug into a monitor that automatically syncs to the wireless receiver and sends info and alarms to you anywhere within a 300-foot range (a little shy of a football field, so it’s roomy enough for most yards and houses). It includes two probes with a range from 32 F to 572 F (0 C to 300 C), so you can monitor two pieces of meat simultaneously, or you can thread one probe through the included clip to use as an ambient thermometer to track the temperature of the smoker (or oven, for indoor use). It comes programmed with temperature presets to help you choose the doneness of your meat, and it includes a timer that can be set to count up or down. Plus, batteries are included.
Weber is a trusted name in grilling, and this affordable probe thermometer lives up to expectations. It’s compact size makes it easy to store, and easy to use. It’s controlled by a free smartphone app that you download and pair with the device via Bluetooth. The app guides you through selecting the type of protein and doneness with intuitive icons and dials; it then provides you an update on the progress of the cooking through a color-coded chart and sends an alert when your food is ready. The device itself also indicates the progress by glowing different colors for different stages, from green (start) to red (done). Battery and mounting disk for the magnetic backing are included.
This Bluetooth-enabled thermometer is a good choice for game-meat lovers: In addition to presets for common foods like beef and chicken, it includes nine presets specifically for game — deer, elk, moose, buffalo, rabbit, boar, duck, bird and fish. It relays information to a free smartphone app, though some users have noted a limited range. It can support up to four probes but includes only two, which can be used in two meats or as one for meat and one as an ambient thermometer to monitor the smoker itself. It alerts you when your food is done and if the cooking temperature falls out of range. The built-in timer can be set to count up or down. Batteries not included.
This probe thermometer delivers accurate readings, which is critical, but it’s the additional features that make it ideal for use with a smoker. The large display has a backlight feature, which helps with those dark, early-morning starts on long cooks. It includes a timer, so you can set short intervals to be reminded to baste or just keep an eye on the overall time. It’s designed with an alarm that can be set for both a low temperature (to -58 F/-50 C) and a high temperature (up to 572 F/300 C), which can help keep your cooking in the target range. The alarm has four volume settings — crank it up if you need to hear it across the backyard. The probe is 6 inches, and the 47-inch cable gives you room to place the unit on a nearby table. Includes a zippered case for storage and a pot clip, which is ideal for deep frying and candy making.
While other probe thermometers offer Bluetooth relay to a receiver or app, they do so from a base that’s connected to probes via wires. This is the only truly wireless probe among our picks. The device seems simplistic, but it’s full of useful bells and whistles: The storage case also charges the probe, which has two temperature sensors — the tip that’s inserted in the meat registers the internal temperature of the food, and the exposed end of the probe monitors the temperature inside the smoker, grill or oven. The internal-temp range goes up to 212˚F, while the ambient-temp thermometer is safe to 527˚F. The Bluetooth range of the Meater Plus extends up to 165 feet, so you can move a littl less than half a football field away from your smoker. The free smartphone app guides you through the cooking process and estimates how long until the food is ready; it even includes carryover cooking and rest time so you carve when the meat is perfect. Plus, it's dishwasher safe, which is not the case of many other thermometers.
Best Instant-Read Thermometer for Smokers
A probe thermometer is handy for long cooks, but for shorter smoking sessions — and to spot-check big cuts as needed — a hand-held digital instant-read thermometer is a must. The Thermoworks ThermoPop is minimal and straightforward: The display tells you the temperature in easy-to-read numbers. The thermometer can be turned on one-handed, and with the push of a button you can rotate the digital display in 90-degree increments so that you can read it at a glance at any angle. It also has a backlight feature that’s good for low-light settings. The range is -58 F to 572 F (-50 to 300 C), and it turns off automatically after 10 seconds, so you won’t run the battery down. It comes in nine vibrant colors, which is fun, but also makes the thermometer easy to find. Safety cover with clip and battery included.