Depending on what you’re grilling, a grill thermometer can mean the difference between a perfect medium-rare steak and an overdone, chewy mess. Grill thermometers are available in a range of types that are used for various temperature readings, including the current temperature of the grill or smoker, the external temperature of your food or a hot plate, and the internal temperature of the food itself.
Due to this range of applications, the best grill thermometer for your next barbecue or tailgate party may actually be a combination of two or three different thermometers. Some grill thermometers even connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to provide instant readings and alerts to your smart device. Consider what features you want, and take a look below to find the best grill thermometer for your purposes.
- BEST OVERALL: DOZYANT 3 1/8 Inch Barbecue Grill Temperature Gauge
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Weber 6750 Instant Read Meat Thermometer
- BEST WIRELESS: ThermoPro TP27 Long Range Wireless Meat Thermometer
- BEST WI-FI: Inkbird WiFi Grill Thermometer IBBQ-4T, Rechargeable
- BEST LASER: Etekcity Lasergrip 1080 Non-Contact Digital Laser
What to Consider When Buying the Best Grill Thermometer
Grill thermometers have a range of functions to enhance your time at the grill, including wireless capabilities and mobile device alerts. Some even use lasers to get the temperature reading on the surface of the food. Here are the major factors to keep in mind when looking to find the best grill thermometer.
Grill thermometers may be used to measure the temperature of both the food and the grill and may have additional features, including instant-read technology, a laser surface reader, or the ability to work wirelessly.
- Instant-read grill thermometers typically have a slim, handheld design with a digital display. After the probe is inserted into the food, it will give a fast, accurate readout.
- Laser surface grill thermometers use an infrared laser to detect the surface temperature of food, cookware, and heating elements without having to physically touch the items. These thermometers are not useful for checking internal food temperatures.
- Wireless grill thermometers have a remote probe thermometer that can be left in the food. It connects via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to a linked mobile device to provide regular updates on the temperature regardless of where the grill cook happens to be.
- Grill top thermometers are mainly used to keep track of the current cooking temperature within the grill. They’re integral for smoking meat and other foods because the lid should remain closed while smoking in order to properly control the temperature.
The accuracy of a grill thermometer is one of the first factors to consider. In order to feel confident about the temperature of food that is being prepared, it’s a good idea to invest in a grill thermometer with an accuracy rating of at least ±2 percent and a calibration feature to adjust the accuracy if necessary.
Another great option, especially for managing an indoor grill, is temperature tracking. This is a feature offered in some digital and wireless grill thermometers. It measures and records the internal temperature of the meat and the ambient temperature of the grill, and some products even record the date, time, and type of dish that is being prepared based on the information submitted by the user.
Similar to accuracy, an adequate temperature range is integral for keeping track of the temperature of the food or the ambient temperature of the grill. If the temperature range of the grill thermometer is too narrow, then it will be unable to accurately measure the full spectrum of heat produced by a grill.
However, a narrow temperature range does have some benefits. For instance, a narrow temperature range tends to be more accurate within its spectrum of heat. So it may be a good option for measuring the internal temperature of steaks, roasts, and fish to ensure that the center of the food is as close as possible to perfection when it’s placed on the plate.
The length of the grill thermometer probe varies among products, but regardless of the type of grill thermometer (with the exception of laser surface thermometers), probe length is important. An adequate length probe is crucial in order to accurately gauge the true temperature at the center of thick cuts of meat, such as large pork shoulders, briskets, or whole poultry.
For these thick cuts, it’s advised to find a grill thermometer with a probe length of at least 5 inches. The shape of the probe should also be considered. Straight probes are standard with most grill thermometers, but curved probes take up less space, which can be beneficial for smaller grills and smokers.
The display of a grill thermometer can range in complexity from a basic dial to a digital screen. A dial holds the benefit of not having to be powered by a set of batteries. Simply put the probe in place, wait until the dial holds at a constant temperature, and read the indicated numbers. Keep in mind, though, that the dial can become difficult to read in dim or dark lighting, making this a poor choice for anyone who enjoys evening grilling.
A digital display is typically backlit, allowing it to be read in different lighting conditions. This type of display may only show the temperature reading of the probe, but it could also include the ambient temperature along with detailed records of the exact temperatures, cook times, and meals if the grill thermometer has temperature tracking.
Some grill thermometers are able to connect wirelessly to smart devices through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This connection is used to provide regular information directly to a phone or tablet so that the grill cook can be sitting comfortably in the house while keeping an eye on the food, instead of baking under the sun. The manufacturers of these wireless products typically have an app that must be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet in order to sync with the thermometer.
This feature can also include temperature alerts that notify the user about extreme fluctuations in temperature. However, a wireless device requires a connection and a power source in order to function properly. If the batteries falter or the connection is dropped, the thermometer will be unable to transmit the temperature reading.
A dial grill thermometer won’t need a source of power, but if the thermometer has a digital display, or if it’s capable of instant readings, wireless connectivity, or laser readings, then batteries and battery life are an important factor to consider. Most grill thermometers use AAA or AA batteries, which are easy enough to replace. However, when the thermometer isn’t being used, the batteries should be removed to conserve the stored energy.
Some grill thermometers have rechargeable lithium batteries, which means you won’t need to take a trip to the store for disposable batteries. However, the grill thermometer should be charged after every use so that it’s always ready for the next meal.
Our Top Picks
To find the best grill thermometer, consider the criteria above, which was used to compile this list of top products. Other factors involved in choosing these products include quality, price, and overall efficacy.
Grill-top grill thermometers are typically included with the grill, but unfortunately, these products can be inaccurate. For a more accurate measurement (within ±2 percent), this DOZYANT grill-top grill thermometer can be installed on an oven, grill, or smoker. The thermometer has a long 3-inch stem that extends into the interior of the grill to read the ambient temperature.
The face of the grill thermometer measures 3.125 inches across and has a solid stainless steel case to protect the dial from damage. This thermometer measures in a range from 100 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, and it features a cool blue zone between 100 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit for smoking and a warm red zone between 250 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for grilling. The surface of the dial is waterproof and made with no-fog glass to ensure clarity in any weather.
Sometimes the features of a complex thermometer can be unnecessary if all that’s needed is a simple internal temperature reading like the affordable Weber Instant Read Meat Thermometer offers in either Fahrenheit or Celsius. A button on the front of the thermometer switches between temperature measurements, and a second button turns the thermometer on and off.
This instant-read grill thermometer has a digital screen with bold lettering, displaying the internal temperature of the food up to one decimal point. When the probe is inserted into the food, the thermometer will generate an automatic reading between 32 to 446 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s powered by a single LR44 battery that can give the thermometer a long life if it’s properly maintained and stored.
Use the four color-coded meat probes to measure the temperature of up to four different types of meat at the same time with this wireless grill thermometer. When the meat reaches the desired temperature, the remote will send an alert to the handheld receiver, with a range of up to 500 feet, so that the food can be retrieved, turned, or checked.
The large backlit LCD display is easy to see in different lighting conditions, and the bold screen text is large enough to appear clearly even for individuals with poor vision. The probe wires are designed to withstand temperatures of up to 716 degrees Fahrenheit, and the thermometer has a temperature range of 14 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit. The readings from this thermometer are accurate to within ±1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and the device runs on four AAA batteries.
The temperature-tracking technology of the Inkbird Grill Thermometer keeps a record of the temperature fluctuations throughout a grill that can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet through the Inkbird Pro app. This app also allows the phone to connect wirelessly to the grill thermometer using Wi-Fi so that the temperature can be monitored from anywhere in the house or out in the yard. The thermometer also has a magnetic backing that can be mounted on the surface of an oven, refrigerator, or a side shelf on a grill.
While the main unit of the thermometer is not suitable for temperatures over 176 degrees Fahrenheit, the four probes are capable of taking instant readings between 32 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit or continuous readings between 32 to 482 degrees Fahrenheit. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 26 hours on a full charge, and it can be calibrated if necessary. Once the desired temperature of the food is reached, an alarm on your phone will alert you to remove it from the grill.
Sticking a probe into the center of a thick pork shoulder or steak is a great way to find out the internal temperature, but for thin filets, a probe would tear them apart. This laser surface grill thermometer may not be a good option for internal readings, but the thin filets would benefit from the touchless temperature measurement that is accurate within ±2 percent.
The infrared laser is able to detect temperatures that range from -58 to 1,022 degrees Fahrenheit. The instant reading of the thermometer occurs in less than one second, and it’s then displayed on the backlit LCD screen. An auto-off function shuts down the thermometer when it isn’t being used to conserve the battery, but if the power starts to run dry, a low battery indicator will appear so that the 9V battery can be replaced.
FAQs About Grill Thermometers
This section is devoted to answering some of the most commonly asked questions about the basics of grill thermometers. Read below to clear up any misunderstandings about this helpful product.
Q. Where should I put my grill thermometer?
A grill thermometer with a probe can be inserted directly into the center of the food to ensure it is fully cooked. If the thermometer doesn’t have a probe, it can be placed about 2 inches to the side of the food and about 1 inch above the grill grates to get an accurate reading of the grill temperature.
Q. How do I know if my thermometer is accurate?
To verify the accuracy of a grill thermometer, an ice bath calibration test can be used.
- Fill a container with ice.
- Add water to the container until the waterline sits about ½-inch below the top of the ice.
- Insert the thermometer and gently stir the ice water, but keep the probe away from the sides and bottom of the container, as this can alter the temperature reading.
- In this scenario, the thermometer should read 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 degrees Celsius.
Q. How long do grill thermometers last?
Grill thermometers last two to three years on average, depending on the frequency of use, maintenance, and exposure to rain, wind, and other potentially harmful weather conditions.