The 10 Best BBQ Thermometers
This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in September of 2015. As a true pitmaster, your greatest obsession is keeping your meat juicy and tender without letting it dry out. But you also want to make sure it's properly cooked so your family will be safe from food-borne illnesses. These BBQ thermometers are designed to provide accurate readings quickly, and some can even monitor the grill remotely while you craft side dishes in the kitchen. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best bbq thermometer on Amazon.
On Making Sure Your Meats Are Safe And Delicious
Only when a meat has reached its minimum established safe cooking temperature can it be considered cooked and safe for human consumption.
Proper cooking of meat is measured not by the time for which a given type or cut is cooked, but rather by the internal temperature achieved during the cooking process.
Whether grilled on the barbecue, sautéed in the skillet, or broiled to seared perfection, a great piece of meat "makes the meal." In most meals that feature a meat, it is the meat that anchors the primary dish; that defines the sauces, the sides, and even the soup and salad served along with the main course.
That central role puts more pressure on the chef preparing a meat, as does the fact that an overcooked meat can be too tough to consume, flavorless, or simply too burned to enjoy. Furthermore, an undercooked meat can be worse than the unpalatable as it can be unsafe to consume. Fully cooking meat is imperative for food safety, while properly cooking meat is more of an art form than an exercise in safety alone. And let's be honest, it tastes much better.
With the exception of a few types of fish used in dishes like sushi or sashimi, or the even rarer dish such as steak tartare, all meats must be cooked before they are eaten. Proper cooking of meat is measured not by the time for which a given type or cut is cooked, but rather by the internal temperature achieved during the cooking process. Only when a meat has reached its minimum established safe cooking temperature can it be considered cooked and safe for human consumption.
For most types of cooked poultry, the safe internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit for a section of the bird, such as a breast or thigh, or 185 degrees for an entire bird (such as a turkey served at the holidays). For pork, the minimum safe cooking temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. For cuts of beef (i.e. not ground beef such as that used for hamburgers or meatballs), there is more latitude in cooking temperatures, with medium-rare cooking to 145 degrees considered safe enough for consumption, while a well done steak will be cooked to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
As overcooked meat loses its flavor and quality, and undercooked meat can't be consumed at all. The savvy chef knows that in order to hit that perfect temperature, it's best to utilize the aid of a tool instead of pure intuition. That tool is the cooking thermometer.
Choosing The Best BBQ Thermometer For You
Any chef who has ever stood beside the hissing, flaring barbecue wondering if he or she is starting to overcook the burgers or steaks will readily agree it's better to be certain than to be lucky. Using a BBQ thermometer can quickly and accurately tell you the internal temperature of a meat, allowing you to test the readiness of your food without having to slice into it and without the need for removing it from the grill.
More simple options display Rare, Medium, or Well Done, removing the chef's need to know the desired temperature ahead of time.
Choosing the right BBQ thermometer depends on two factors: how much you're willing to spend, and how precisely you want to measure the meat's internal temperature. Many affordable meat thermometers cost less than fifteen dollars, and still quickly and accurately display temperatures on easy-to-read LCD digital displays. Probe-style BBQ thermometers are priced to fit any skilled chef. The choice really boils down to the availability of features than cost.
Other BBQ thermometers are in a different price range and work on a different principle. For example, some units measure the temperature being produced by the grill itself rather than testing the temperature of the meat itself. These are invaluable for those long, slow cooking meats like brisket or ribs.
Some units measure the internal heat of a magnitude of meats, including but not limited to, pork, beef, and poultry. The displays on these units are easy to read, and reliably gauge when the meat has reached the minimum safety temperature. More simple options display Rare, Medium, or Well Done, removing the chef's need to know the desired temperature ahead of time. Regardless of choice, these thermometers take the guesswork out of cooking meat, which is why they are so desirable.
Making The Most Of The Meat Thermometer
Using a knife to cut and visually assess how thoroughly cooked a piece of meat is can release precious juices, resulting in loss of flavor and tenderness. The tiny hole a BBQ thermometer makes in a piece of meat is almost negligible in the cooking process. Thus the BBQ chef should feel free to take repeated readings with his or her thermometer, tracking the cooking process from shortly after a food goes on the grill, to the very moment it's time to take the meat off the heat.
The tiny hole a BBQ thermometer makes in a piece of meat is almost negligible in the cooking process.
If you can create an even heat across the surface of the grill, it's perfectly acceptable to check one piece of meat as a veritable test case for all the similar cuts being cooked. If you're using charcoal or a gas grill that creates hotter areas, check a few different pieces to make sure they are all cooking evenly.
Remember this, all meats will continue to cook for a minute or two after they have been removed from their heat source (the thicker the cut, the more this holds true), so a chef should remove a cut of meat from the grill as soon as possible once it has reached the desired temperature. Overcooking and undercooking meat are both easy to do if you don't pay proper attention, but it's easy to avoid when you employ a fine meat thermometer.
Whenever you are finished using a BBQ thermometer for the day, make sure to quickly and thoroughly clean it. This should start with soapy water and a sponge, and should end with the probe wiped down with alcohol and then thoroughly dried. This way it'll be ready to use the next time around.
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