If you’re a big fan of smoking food or if you’re looking to start, a good smoker thermometer is a hugely important tool.
Smoking food is a great way to get an incredible taste and texture. But getting the cook time and temperature just right is the only way to get the best results. And, as I always say… if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!
So, let’s go a little deeper and gauge the importance of a good meat thermometer, while taking a look at some of the best smoker thermometers on the market.
Best smoker thermometers
Getting meat cooked to perfection can be a tricky task. Get it right and you’ll end up with the most delicious, tender, juicy meat with a smoky infusion to die for. Get it wrong and you’ll end up with a flavorless, chewy, blackened lump of junk.
With all the time, effort and money that you’ll put into the smoking experience, make sure you invest in the one little gizmo that’s going to bring everything together and leave you with perfectly smoked meat.
Modern smoker thermometers are amazing things! They’re designed to make the whole smoking process a breeze. So, let’s take a look at some of the best meat thermometers out there and discover the ideal smoker thermometer for you.
What to look for in a smoke thermometer
When considering what’s the best smoker thermometer for you, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, are you the type of person who’s put off by a thermometer that connects to your phone or tablet?
If not, there are so many high-end thermometers out there. For tech literate people, these are the best smoker thermometer money can buy – they do all the hard work for you and can read temperature to a very high accuracy rate. They also allow you to keep on the move, while monitoring the cooking progress.
If you like cooking to be simple and rustic, their are plenty of top thermometers out there that will the do the job perfectly and won’t break the bank.
What it all comes down to is build quality (how long it’ll last, whether it can withstand temperatures etc.) whether it has one probe, two probes or more (dual probes are increasingly popular, as are dual sensors) and the accuracy of the thermometer.
If you do decide wireless is an important feature for you, it’s worth considering the range and signal strength of the thermometer. Top wireless thermometers have a range of 150 feet or more, many with bluetooth compatibility.
Others work through radio frequency, enabling ranges up to 500 feet. These are more basic though, and don’t have the in-depth features that come with thermometers with an app. These have cooking guides, statistical breakdowns and other detailed information.
The beauty of smoking meat
For meat eating foodies, few things in life are quite as satisfying as the taste of smoked meat. But when it comes to smoking meat, its the whole experience that makes it so special.
You prepare your meat, fire up the smoker in the back yard, while chilling in the sunshine with a few friends and a few beers. The smell of the meat smoking fills the air, slowly doing its thing.
When it’s done, you get to savour amazingly tender, succulent meat that melts in your mouth, with a subtle smoky flavor that’s out of this world.
But… the best way of getting perfectly cooked meat is by using a smoker thermometer.
Perfectly cooked meat
No doubt you’re a meat lover, or you wouldn’t be here. Well, the secret to cooking amazingly tender meat that falls apart when you slice it, is getting the cooking time and temperature just right.
Cooking is an art form, no doubt. But over the long game, when things are slow cooked, it’s more of a science. Getting the temperature exact and taking the meat out at just the right moment leads get incredible results.
You’ll end up with an amazing smoky flavor and tender meat that melts in your mouth.
Without a good thermometer, this is really hard to achieve. With a good thermometer it’s a cinch. Again and again and AGAIN… with perfectly cooked meat every time.
The importance of getting the right food temperature
Aside from getting the perfect taste, the best smoker thermometers are designed to provide an element of safety when smoking meat. This is an absolutely crucial, although often overlooked, function of a meat thermometer.
There’s nothing worse than the thought of inviting all your friends over with the promise of stunning smoked meat, only to give them all dreaded food poisoning.
Using a meat thermometer is the best way to reliably tell when your meat is cooked to a safe level. Many of us like rare, tender meat, and some of us (calling all BBQ snobs out there – you know who you are) think we have an intuition when it comes to meat being done. But your intuition just can’t compete with meat probes!
Simply put, if you’re cooking with a smoker, make sure you use a quality smoker thermometer.
How to use smoker thermometers
Although they come in different styles with many different features, using a smoker thermometer is easy. Make sure the batteries are installed properly and, if necessary connect the probes to the transmitter.
If your thermometer is operated via an app, you’ll need to download it on your phone before you can use the thermometer. It should be a simple pain-free process.
Once you have the control systems set up and your smoker is on the go, insert the thermometer’s meat probe (or meat probes if it’s a dual probe thermometer) into the thickest part of whatever meat your cooking.
You’ll be able to monitor the food as it’s cooking, either through an old fashioned temperature gauge (this you can attach to the outside of the smoker) or via the thermometer’s display and via your phone.
When your food has reached the desired temperature, you’ll get 5 minute warnings and a final alarm from wireless digital smoke thermometers. As soon as the desired temperature is reached, take the meat off the grill and leave it to rest.
Why do you need a thermometer with two sensors?
If you want to monitor the temperature of your meat and the surrounding temperature of your smoker at the same time, you might think you need two probes. In fact, you just need a dual sensor probe thermometer.
A thermometer with two sensors enables you two measure the internal and external temperature at the same time. All you have to do is insert one end of the probe into the thickest part of the meat. As this end keeps track of the temperature of the meat, the other end of the probe measures the ambient temperature.
It’s a great system, used early on by the MEATER thermometer, which was the original smart wireless meat thermometer, since built on by the MEATER+. It really gives you control over the cook, as you gauge the heat inside the smoker (this is key to the eventual flavor of the meat) as well as the internal temperature of the meat.
Best smoker accessories
If you want to start smoking food, there are a few essential accessories you’ll need, to make the experience as safe, stress free and rewarding as possible.
- BBQ gloves – these heat resistant on-slip cooking gloves are made of 3 layers of materials to protect your hands when dealing with meat on your smoker
- Charcoal briquette holders – if you decide to go for charcoal briquettes, these things will keep your coals in one place, yet offer the flexibility to relocate them as and when you need them
- BBQ grill brush – its essential to keep your cooking area clean and this little gizmo is great for cleaning all grill types
- Grill rake – this is the best way to arrange your charcoal on the grill
- Basting brush or BBQ basting mop – for certain recipes, you’ll need to baste the meat to keep it moist. A special heat resistant basting brush is useful in this situation. Better yet, using a basting mop means you can baste the meat from a distance
- BBQ tongs – while you shouldn’t turn meat on a smoker, you’ll still need BBQ tongs to take your perfectly smoked meat off the grill
- Butcher block – an essential element for any BBQ enthusiast, a quality butcher block gives you the space to prepare your meat for smoking
- Butcher paper – from wrapping brisket to lining a BBQ tray, butcher paper should be on every BBQ junkie’s list
- Slicing knife – when it comes to slicing meat, fish or veg, this thing is as good as it gets
- Boning knife – another essential tool for preparing meat is a boning knife. You’ll need a sharp quality knife to trim fat and remove unwanted parts of your cut of meat, before you add it to the smoker
- Rib rack – this cheap little item is really worth its weight in ribs, especially as you can stack up so many ribs in your smoker at once.
- Bear claws – these ingenious little cooking claws mean you shred with the best of them. Did somebody say smoked pulled pork? So, there is a heaven.
What’s the best smoker out there?
There are a variety of really cool smokers out there. Here are just a few of the best smokers money can buy:
- Weber Smoky Mountain – one of top all round smoker out there, this thing is made from quality materials, is easy to use and has a surprising capacity. It’s also great value for money.
- Dyna-Glo Vertical – not only is it easy to access – being able to open the door and use all four grill racks is so convenient – there’s just something about a vertical smoker that looks incredibly cool.
- Weber Original Kettle – easy to clean, with a high-capacity ash catcher, this smoker is quite compact and easy to move around. It’s also made from reinforced sheets of steel, coated with porcelain enamel. So it should last a long time.
- Char Broil Bullet – easy to use and to maintain a temperature, this smoker is one of the finest on the market, especially for first time meat smoker. You’ll be smoking up some supreme recipes on this baby for years to come.
What’s the best charcoal for smoking?
Once you’ve picked out your ideal smoker, you’ve got all the gear to get you going and you’ve invested in a top quality smoker thermometer, you’ll need to know a thing or two about charcoal.
Luckily I’ve whipped up a handy guide, giving you the low down on charcoal. From the difference between briquettes and lump charcoal and the perils of using lighter fluid, to a run down of the best charcoal on the market, this guide will get you ready to start smoking some incredible recipes. Speaking of which…
Delicious smoked recipes
- Smoked chicken thighs – these tender smoked chicken thighs taste incredible and will go down a storm at your next BBQ.
- Smoked chicken drumsticks – show off what your smoker can do with these intensely flavored and smoky and sumptuous drumsticks that will have you throwing BBQs every single weekend.
- Smoked chicken breasts – smoke up some incredibly tender chicken breasts and serve them in a mixture of dishes, from salads and soups to sandwiches and stews.
- Whole smoked chicken – for a really special occasion, whole smoked chicken is the way to go. This recipe will really impress, with tender meat infused with an incredible flavor.
- Smoked beef short ribs – these beef short ribs are heaven for meat eaters. Soft and buttery, they melt in your mouth with a full on smoky flavor.
- Hot smoked salmon – if you’ve never cooked fish in a smoker, this recipe will blow you away! The taste of this smoke salmon is just incredible – it melts in your mouth!
- Smoked leg of lamb – a sumptuous slow cooked lamb recipe that takes cooking meat to another planet. With every mouthful of this heavenly lamb dish, you’ll justify the price of that smoker.
- Whole smoked turkey – whether you’re after a twist to your Christmas lunch or a tweak to your Thanksgiving feast, this whole smoked turkey is guaranteed to amaze.
- BBQ smoked ribs – what could be better finger food than sticky BBQ smoked ribs? Show what your smoker can do with this great, easy to follow recipe
- Honey glazed smoked ribs – sweet, sticky and oh so tasty… smoke up these bad boys and they’re guaranteed to be the star of your summer BBQ.
Have you invested in a smoker thermometer yet? What’s your go to smoked recipe and what’s on your ‘to smoke’ list? Let me know in the comments below!