All About BBQ Thermometers

BBQ thermometers, while not necessary for the operation of a barbecue, is a handy tool that helps to monitor the temperature of your grill and whether the meat is done. No more standing by the BBQ while you cook! Here are some things to think about when choosing a BBQ themometer.

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Grill or internal (meat) thermometer?

A grill thermometer, also called a temperature gauge, will give you the temperature reading of the cooking grate inside the barbecue. This is handy for monitoring the cooking temperature, as it's really hard to tell just by 'feel'.

An internal thermometer, also known as a meat thermometer, is the type you stick right into the meat. It tells you what the inside temperature is. This will tell you when the meat is done and safe to eat. You can get the type that gives you a instant reading (good for smaller stuff like burgers or chicken breasts), or one that you leave inside the meat so that you don't have to keep opening the lid to check on it (good for bigger cuts like roasts, tenderloin, turkey, whole chickens, hams, etc...). If you can find a thermometer that does both instant readings or you can safely leave in the meat, so much the better.

Both types of BBQ themometers are useful tools.

How accurate is it?

Obviously, temperature accuracy is important. Some units can be calibrated, which is nice.

Is it wireless?

With a wireless thermometer, one unit reads the temperature and sends it to a second remote unit. It's handy because you can take the remote unit with the temperature display with you into the house, rather than constantly going outside to check the temperature on the BBQ. Convenient and saves time.

Is it programmable?

Some barbecue thermometers will let you program in what temperature you want, whether it's the cooking temperature (grill thermometer) or the internal temperature (meat thermometer). Once it reaches that temperature, the unit will alert you in some way, usually with an audible alarm. Another handy feature is a timer - just set it and let it notify you when the time's up - great to use as a reminder to check on the meat, start another dish, or wake you up from a nap.

If the thermometer has an alarm, is there an easy way to silence it?

While it's great to get an alarm to let you know when the meat is done, it's also pretty annoying if there's no easy way to shut it off. Yes, we know that sounds dumb - every thermometer should have this, right? - but we've had one before where we had to take out the battery to get it to shut up.

Meat/internal thermometers: length and width of the probe is important

The probe needs to be long enough that you can insert it into middle of a big roast. A thin probe is also preferable so that you don't leave a big hole in your roast that leaks tasty juices.

How durable is it?

Look for a thermometer that's waterproof and easy to clean. Remember, water-resistant isn't the same as waterproof. If the thermometer is only water-resistant, store it inside a plastic bag or keep it inside.

How easy is it to read the temperature gauge display?

A nice big display that's easy to read is always a bonus. Lots of displays are simple analog displays, which work just fine. Others have fancier LCD displays that show a bunch more information than simply the temperature.

How easy is it to use?

Sure, lots of buttons and gadgets may look cool, but will you ever use them? (or even figure out how to use them?) Sometimes simpler is better.

How long does it take to get a temperature reading?

Look for an internal meat thermometer that gives a reading in a few seconds. If it takes a whole minute, for example, you might end up with food a little more well-done than you'd like.

In a nutshell, BBQ themometers help you to cook grilled meat to the desired level of "done-ness". This cuts down on overdone, burnt or dry food, as well as food-borne illnesses due to incorrectly cooked meat. Browse our website for more BBQ tips.



This website offers tips on how to BBQ as well as some of our favorite barbecue recipes. We barbecue with a charcoal grill in an outdoor kamado-style cooker called The Big Green Egg. We love food and we love the grill, and hope you enjoy our recipes!