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best meat thermometer for smokers | Topdeblogs

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Trying to cook BBQ without an accurate smoker thermometer setup is like driving a truck on ice at night. With your eyes closed. It’s REALLY hard to produce perfect low and slow BBQ when you can’t keep the temperature of your smoker consistent.

And if you think you can rely on your smoker or grills built-in thermometer then you are in for a world of disappointment and dry overcooked meat.

You can avoid a lot of bad BBQ and dramatically simplify the temperature control for your next smoke by getting your hands on a quality wireless smoker thermometer.

We think the ThermoWorks Smoke is the best bbq thermometer for most people due to its rugged design, read speed, and accuracy.

The 6 Best Smoker Thermometers Reviewed for 2021

1. Best Overall – Thermoworks Smoke BBQ Alarm Thermometer

Read our full Thermoworks Smoke review

Thermoworks Smoke Thermometer

The ThermoWorks Smoke is probably our most recommended product. It’s more expensive than a lot of cheaply made thermometers out there, but for anyone who takes barbecue seriously and understands the importance of managing temperature, it’s a worthwhile investment.

If you’re not familiar with the brand, think of ThermoWorks as the Apple of thermometer companies. Based in Utah, they have a small lineup of products that are generally higher quality and better designed than the competition.

They are also loved by the barbecue community.

The Smoke is a 2-channel therometer, which means you can connect two probes at once. You get a 47″ pro series cooking probe and a 47″ Pro-Series air probe & grate clip. Both probes are rated for temperatures up to 700°F.

Along with the base unit you also get a wireless receiver with a range of 300 feet so you can keep an eye on temperatures from the comfort of your couch.

Smoke receiver unit LCD screen

While ThermoWorks market the Smoke for “competition BBQ teams and professional chefs” we’ve found it makes an outstanding choice for amateur pitmasters as well.

When you hold the transmitter in your hand you can really feel the difference in quality. The rugged housing on the transmitter and protection added to the probes results in a really durable thermometer.

I’ve dropped mine on the ground more times than I should admit, and never had anything crack.

While the price point may put it outside the budget of some backyard pit masters, keep in mind that once you’ve replaced the probe on your cheap unit a few times, the price of the Smoke won’t seem as steep!

What we like:

  • Large LCD Screen – Makes reading temps from a distance easy, even if your eye-sight isn’t what it used to be. You can also press once on the receiver and the LCD screen lights up and makes it easy to read in the dark or in high glare.
  • Simple to operate – The Smoke just turns on and ‘works’. We barely glanced at the quick start guide before we were selecting our temps.
  • Accuracy and speed – The 4-5 second read time puts this thermometer into instant read territory. More importantly for us, the plus or minus 1.8°F accuracy for temps up to 248°F makes this the most reliable smoker thermometer on the market.

What we don’t like:

  • Can only make adjustments on the transmitter – It would be nice if you could adjust your min or max temperature alarms from the comfort of your house.
  • Extra cost to add smart tech features – You can purchase an optional add-on WiFi Gateway that connects your Smoke to your homes internet and allows you to check your temps and create fancy graphs from your phone.

Neither of those are deal breakers. You usually don’t need to change your temps to often, so having to do it at the transmitter isn’t a huge problem.

And I found the receiver was more useful than checking the temperatures on my phone, and it doesn’t drain your battery like a lot of bbq apps do.

If you really want those smart thermometer features, the WiFi Gateway is a good option, or you might want to consider one of the other thermometers further down the page.

2. Best for enthusiasts – Tie between ThermoWorks Signals / Smoke X4

Read our full reviews of the ThermoWorks Signals and Smoke X4

  • thermoworks signals next to smoker
  • thermoworks smoke x4 thermometer and receiver

Stepping up from the Smoke, ThermoWorks offers two premium thermometers that cater to very different users. We can’t really say one is “better” than the other. They are designed for different people, with different features.

Both units share a lot in common with the standard Smoke we covered above. They also both come with support for up to four probes (double the Smoke), although the Smoke X also comes in a two-channel version. The probes are identical, as is the accuracy.

You can also power a billows fan off either unit, with the Signals offering you the ability to change your temperature set points.

The ultra-simple summary: If you want a smart thermometer with App connectivity get the Signals. If you would rather drop a hot charcoal chimney on your feet than fuss around with your phone while smoking, then get the Smoke X4.

There’s a little bit more to it than that, so we’ll explain each product in a bit more detail and you’ll understand what we mean.

The Thermoworks Signals

Signals meat thermometer in front of smoker

The Signals thermometer has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth technology and ditches the WiFi Bridge that the original Smoke required for app connectivity.

I always found that option clunky so I’m happy ThermoWorks have integrated everything in one unit.

There’s no wireless receiver either, as you can now check all your temperatures through your phone or via the cloud website.

You can also change your temperature alarms from your phone, a feature I would have loved to have on the handheld wireless receiver. You can also name each probe e.g. “Lamb” as you can see in the photo above.

Thankfully ThermoWorks has beefed up the main unit so you can still easily check all your temperatures at once on the large LCD screen. Lots of Bluetooth thermometers cheap out on the transmitter design but I still like to be able to see everything when I”m next to my smoker.

I put together this video where I run through all the features of the Signals if you want to check that out below.

The main unit is IP66 splash proof and should easily withstand most weather conditions.

The battery gives you up to 16 hours of continuous use and can be charged (or powered) by the USB power adapter.

What I like:

  • Great app – ThermoWorks released a new app that now ranks amongst the very best, with advanced features like open lid detection, graphing and cook history.
  • WiFi & Bluetooth – Once pairing is finished Signals uses WiFi for better signal, but can switch back to Bluetooth if you are at a BBQ comp or your toddler decides to turn off your Router…

What I don’t like:

  • Limited battery life – “Up to 16 hours” may make you nervous, although you can always plug and play. Wish this was a little higher.

Thermoworks Smoke X4

thermoworks smoke x4 thermometer and receiver

Where the Signals takes the Smoke and adds on the app experience, the Smoke X doubles down on what people loved about the original Smoke.

That being build quality, range and signal strength.

You can choose between the Smoke X2 and X4. The only difference is the number of probes supported so if you don’t think you will ever use more than two, you can save a few bucks and go for the X2. I appreciate that you actually get 4 probes included in the box with the X4. Lots of companies make you order more probes separately if you want to make their unit out.

I’ve also done a video review of the Smomke X4 if you want to check that out and see the unit in action.

The range on the original Smoke was limited to 300 feet. The X4 ramps that up to 6,562 for an increase of 1087%! This impressive range is achieved with new RF wireless technology.

While 1.24 mile range may seem like overkill, the extra strong signal strength helps penetrate walls around your house so you won’t have any annoying deadzones where connection drops.

The battery on this unit is equally impressive with 330 hours on the main unit and 1,800 on the receiver. The unit can be charged (or powered during use) via the AC adapter.

What I like:

  • Just works – No need to download an app or pair your device.
  • Huge range – Won’t drop connection when you walking anywhere around your house or property
  • Battery life – Don’t need to recharge after every cook

What I don’t like:

  • Not much – So long as you don’t want WiFi there isn’t much to complain about. Being able to adjust alarm setting from the receiver would be nice.

3. Best Option Budget – ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Meat Thermometer

If the price of the other thermometers in this guide is making your eyes water, the ThermoPro TP20 could be just what you need.

For monitoring internal smoker temperature throughout a cook the ThermoPro offers the best mix of range, features, and durability at the budget price point. You could also consider the InkBird IBT-4XS which costs about that same but offers Bluetooth and four probes but is let down a bit with a suboptimal app experience.

With dual probes, you can easily monitor internal temperature and meat temperature from up to 300 feet away.

The 6.5″ food probe and 3″ bbq probe are rated to be accurate within 1.8°F

If you’re serious about your barbecue, you know that maintaining a consistent, low temperature is key for cooking perfect meat.

The ThermoPro TP20 gives you the main features you need so you can get on with your day, mow the lawns and drink some beers without worrying about temperature flare-ups going unnoticed.

The wireless thermometer packs an epic 300ft range into a lightweight device you can easily carry in your pocket. Set your own manual temperature settings for each probe and then monitor on the 1.5×1.3 inch LCD display.

The receiver will flash and beep when either your meat or smoker temperature goes above your programmed temperature range. This is insanely useful if you plan on smoking for a party or getting stuff done around the house while you’re cooking.

You get suggested temperature presets, although setting your own is just as easy.

What we liked:

  • Focus on core features – This is our budget pick so we appreciate that the TP20 delivers the main features you need (easy to read display, temperature alerts, lost link warning) and doesn’t pack in lots of gimmicks.
  • Excellent accuracy – The one thing you don’t want to compromise on is accuracy. The TP20 measures temperature within a few degrees when tested with a high-end thermometer.

What we don’t like:

  • Slightly confusing button setup – The button configuration could use some simplification as we had to study the user manual a few times to work out how to program it.
  • Cheap construction – There’s no way to compare this to the more expensive Smoke, probes, construction and accuracy are all worse.

Despite a few flaws, the TP20 is an excellent choice if you don’t want lots of fancy features and want to save a bit of cash. For your money, you are getting great range, easy pairing, and reasonably accurate temperature readings.

4. Best for Controlling your Smoker – FireBoard 2 Drive Smart Thermometer

Read our full Fireboard 2 review.

fireboard 2 drive review

The FireBoard 2 is a smart thermometer with some seriously innovative features. It supports up to six temp probes (2 meat & 1 ambient included), has one of the best thermometer apps on the market and with WiFi capability, it won’t lose connection at the worst moment like many Bluetooth-only models.

What really sets the Fireboard 2 apart is its ability to automatically control the temperature of your charcoal smoker with a Blower fan.

This effectively turns your charcoal smoker into a set and forget cooker, as you can program the exact temperature you want from your smartphone and then let the FireBoard computer and fan control the amount of oxygen needed to hit that exact temperature.

Fireboard sells their own 20 CFM Blower, but the unit will work just as well with any compatible third-party fan such as the Pit Viper.

There are three models to choose from but most people will want to get the FireBoard 2 Drive which allows you to run a fan with no additional cables.

We go through all the differences between each model, plus more tips for set up in our full review, or you can watch our video review to see the product in action.

One other thing I really like is that the unit is cloud-connected which means once set up, you can read your smoker temperatures from anywhere in the world so long as you have a WiFi connection. All of your previous cooks are also saved and are easily accessible if you want to check them out.

What we like:

  • Six-channel design – The ability to connect up to six probes gives you the flexibility to measure multiple grills or one grill and several food items from the same thermometer.
  • WiFi/Bluetooth combo – Great not to rely on dodgy Bluetooth connection and limited range.
  • Support for blower fan – You can purchase the FireBoard brand fan or BYO like the popular Pit Viper fan. Makes smoking almost too easy.
  • Great app – Love all the temperature graphing options, and the main screen gives you all the info you need without having to drill down.

What we don’t like:

  • No built-in magnet – You can buy a magnetic base for $25 but it would have been nice if the base unit included this feature for easy mounting.
  • No blower instructions in the box – If you purchase the blower make sure you read the website for instructions as there is nothing included in the box.

On its own the FireBoard 2 is a feature packed, easy to use thermometer with a great app and connectivity. When paired with the Blower you’ll find that smoking is almost too easy.

5. Best Instant Read – ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE Thermometer

Read our full Thermapen ONE Review.

thermoworks thermapen one thermometer review

So far in this guide we’ve focused on leave-in style thermometers where the probe stays in the meat (or measures the temp of your grill) for most of the cook.

When you need to quickly measure temperature, like if you are grilling or if you are smoking multiple items at once it’s time to reach for an instant read thermometer.

ThermoWorks continue their dominance in this category with the Thermapen ONE. Replacing the super successful Mk4, the ONE is capable of 1 second temperature read times.

This is super useful if you are searing multiple cuts of meat and want to quickly temp each one, or take the temp at different points in a thick ribeye without running the risk of over cooking.

I run through all my thoughts on the ONE in this hands-on review.

The Thermapen ONE is designed to be used in professional kitchens, and is the tool of choice for competition barbecue teams.

It isn’t cheap though. If you’re willing to sacrifice a few seconds of speed, the ThermoPop is a good option at a fraction of the price so check out our guide to the best instant read thermometers where we run through more of the differences.

Besides the better accuracy and faster read times, the main advantage with the ONE is the rugged housing which allows you to fold the probe away when you aren’t using it.

The screen is also brighter and more responsive.

What we like:

  • Measures temps insanely fast – You can get an accurate temp reading in one second flat. Especially useful if you want to take the temperature at multiple points at once.
  • Beautiful functional design – Everything has been designed to make this tool easy to use. The digital display has large numbers which are easy to read at a glance. The screen auto rotates so the numbers are always right way up.
  • Smart sensor placement – Compared to other instant read thermometers the sensor is located at the very tip which allows you to measure things like ribs where the meat is too thin for normal leave in style thermometers.

What we don’t like:

  • Price – This is a super high quality, professional grade thermometer, and this is reflected in the price.

While instant read thermometers are more vital for grillling, I still find myself using my Thermapen when cooking low and slow. I’ll often check the temperature at a few points in the meat when I’m getting close, as the temperature can be quite different depending where you probe it.

Leaving the lid open for a long time to get an accurate reading is going to be a really bad idea, so the super fast read time on the Thermapen is a life saver.

Your other half might think your nuts for splashing out this much on a single thermometer. But luckily this tool is just as useful in the kitchen, for making bread or for making candy.

When it comes to instant read thermometers every second is vital. So for getting an accurate temperature read in the shortest amount of time the Thermapen ONE cannot be beat.

The rest of the competition

We considered dozens of different thermometers that didn’t make our best-of list. Here are some of the standouts we couldn’t include in our top picks.

Bluetooth with a great App – Weber iGrill 2 Bluetooth BBQ Thermometer

Read our full review.

When the iGrill 2 was first released, it was a pretty impressive piece of tech.

Instead of using radio-style technology to connect to a handheld receiver, the iGrill 2 uses Bluetooth to pair the thermometer unit to your phone or tablet. All you need to do is install the free app, and then you can start monitoring temperatures on your phone.

The iGrill app comes with some other cool features as well, including the ability to give each probe a nickname so you can easily monitor multiple pieces of meat, or meat + grill.

The unit comes with 2 meat probes and allows you to add up to 4 total (you can order individual iGrill probes off Amazon or the complete iGrill starter kit which includes the two meat probes and an additional ambient probe).

These days the limited range and possibility of connection dropping depending on your home construction pushes the iGrill 2 down our list. There are no doubt devices that combine Bluetooth and WiFi like the Signals or the Fireboard 2 are a better choice.

We should also point out that Weber sell another thermometer called the iGrill 3.

While you might expect this to be an improved version of the iGrill 2, it’s actually only compatible with their range of Genesis II and Spirit II gas grills so you should ignore it unless you have one of those grills.

What we like:

  • Improved Bluetooth range & pairing – The iGrill 2 connects to your device in under 2 seconds, and while range is still lower than some of the WiFi thermometers in this guide, with 150 ft you can still go about your day without to much concern of losing connection.
  • App keeps improving – One of the main benefits of owning a Bluetooth thermometer is the manufacturer can keep making the product better through app updates. I like how the app lets you give each probe a name (e.g. brisket or pit), so you always know which temp is what.
  • Four probe capacity – Gives you a lot of flexibility whether you want to measure multiple smokers, or lots of different pieces of meat at the same time.

What we don’t like:

  • Drains phone battery – You’ll want to keep the app running on your phone, which can drain your battery. If your phone goes to sleep the Bluetooth connection drops.
  • Range can be an issue – Seems to vary a lot depending on your house and setup but some people struggle with connection dropping before the advertised 150 ft.

Other than the range and a few issues with it draining the battery on your phone, the iGrill 2 is a great thermometer for for tech heads, or people who just want the convenience of checking temps on your phone.

Other options to consider:

Maverick ET-733 – One of the most popular thermometers for both backyard and professional pitmasters alike for what seems like forever and once one of our top recommendations, it has now been surpassed in quality and features. Read our review if you want to learn more.

Maverick M Remote Smoker ET-73 – The older Maverick has a lot of fans among the smoker community, however the (barely) 50 foot range outside, and almost zero range through house walls was a deal breaker for us.

ThermoPro TP20 – The TP20 is more expensive than the TP08 we recommended for our budget pick. For the extra price you get some meat preset options that let you pick what you are cooking and it’ll automatically set your alarms. We recommend setting your own alarms at the USDA recommendations are often different to correct “done” temps for smoking.

MEATER – At first glace the MEATER looks very appealing. It’s the only truly wireless thermometer we’ve tested. Instead of probes connected to a transmitter that sits next to your grill, the MEATER packs all the electronics into the single, wireless probe. This pairs to your phone which acts as the receiver. The biggest issue is limited range. Find out more in our detailed MEATER review.

Maverick ET-735 – We’re normally a fan of technology, especially if it promises to improve our barbecue. The ET-735 is a “smart” wireless thermometer which is supposed to connect to your Android or Apple phone. Feedback hasn’t been great though, with lots of people having problems not being able to connect their device.

At close to the price point we think there are better value thermometers.

ThermoPro TP16 – For the price this themo could be tempting, but the temperature accuracy leaves a lot to be desired and the pre programmed setttings are inaccurate. Annoyingly you cna’t easily switch off the alarm without flipping it over.

Ivation Long Range Wireless Thermometer – For around the same price point as the Maverick ET-733 you get similar features but with a relatively hard to use interface. Setting target temperatures is flat out annoying as you have to start over again if you go past your desired temperature.

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 – Now replaced by the ONE, the Mk4 is still an excellent thermometer if you can find it for sale on discount.

What about infrared thermometers?

Infrared thermometers are handy devices for getting an accurate temperature on a surface area.

Usually, when barbecuing or grilling we are more concerned with monitoring the ambient temperature in our pit or grill, and the internal temperature of the meat so IR thermometers aren’t as useful.

They do come in handy if you need to measure the temperature of your pizza stone, as you can stand back and check the temp from a safe distance.

We recommend the ThermoWorks Industrial Infrared Temperature Gun thanks to its excellent durability and accuracy.

If you don’t need to keep as safe a distance, ThermoWorks sell a version of the Thermapen which includes IR capability which is also worth considering.

Check out our full guide to the best infrared thermometers.

Who this guide is for

If you want to smoke brisket, pork butt, turkey, whole chicken or any other large protein then this guide is focused on you.

We’ve focused on selecting the best digital thermometers to take away some of the hassle of monitoring temperature over 8+ hour cooks.

Cooking the best BBQ requires two important things:

  • You need to maintain a consistent low (usually around 225° – 250°F) internal temperature.
  • You need to monitor the internal temperature of your meat as the protein starts to break down so you can pull it off the smoker to rest at the ideal temperature.

If you’ve ever tried to smoke while getting stuff done around the house while relying on a wired thermometer then I fell your pain.

The only time I tried to do this I got real sick of running outside every 10 minutes to make sure my Weber Kettle’s temperature hadn’t suddenly spiked.

Luckily any of the bbq thermometers in this guide like the Smoke or ThermoPro TP08 kill two birds with one stone.

So long as you set them up correctly at the start of your cook you will be able to monitor the progress of your meat and the internal temperature of your smoker wirelessly from the same LCD receiver.

If you want to grill or barbecue smaller items like ribs, chicken pieces, or fish then most of the advice in this guide will still apply, but you might want to consider only investing in a single probe and instant read thermometer.

How to setup your wireless thermometer for measuring temperatures

Setting up your wireless meat thermometer correctly at the start of your cook takes a lot of stress out of cooking barbecue.

With the right setup you will can monitor your ambient grill temperature and the progress of your meat without constantly opening the smoker.

Even opening your smoker every half hour can release valuable heat and effect the cooking process.

Ideal thermometer placement for barbecue

To get an accurate ambient grill temperature, you need to measure the air temperature where you meat is sitting just above the grate.

The goal is to know the accurate temperature where the food is. Placing the probe too close and the cold hunk of meat will affect the reading, too far away and the temperature won’t be accurate.

thermometer probe placement for barbecue
Typical probe setup on a Weber Smokey Mountain

The best spot to setup your ambient temperature probe does depend on your exact cooker and might take some trial and error.

These are a few best practices to consider for placing your meat and smoker temperature probe:

  • Keep the ambient probe raised off the grill and close to the meat to ensure you’re getting the most accurate temperature.
  • Most smokers run hotter in the middle and lower at the edges so make sure you’re not getting a false reading by placing the probe too far from the meat.
  • But also be careful that the internal temperature probe is not closer than a few inches from the meat to avoid false readings.
  • Most smoker thermometers will include a simple probe clip that attaches to your grill grate.
  • Insert the meat probe into the thickest part of the meat, ensuring that it isn’t touching any bone.

If you don’t have one, you can buy a simple thermometer probe clip for a few bucks. Or go the DIY route and scrunch up a ball of tin foil which you can nestle the probe into.

Foil wrapping the probe can greatly extend it’s life.

Dome temperature VS grill temperature

If you’ve just splashed out hundreds of dollars on a new smoker you might be tempted to ignore our advice and use the built-in thermometer on the dome.

Please do not do this.

Even if you buy a top of the line smoker, virtually every manufacture cuts corners on the dome thermometer. More importantly, these dials measure the temperature in the air space way above the food you are cooking.

For a comprehensive explanation of why you should not use the built-in thermometer we referred to the experts:

How to avoid destroying your new thermometer

While researching the best BBQ thermometers we noticed a fair few angry customers complaining about their probes failing after only a few uses.

With proper use you should get at least a few years use out of your thermometer probes.

So long as you buy a quality bbq thermometer (like one of those mentioned in this very guide), following a few simple steps should help ensure the longevity of your new thermometer and probes:

  • Do not submerge the probe to wash it. You can wipe the cord down with a paper towel but submerging it in water can and will cause the probe to fail.
  • Don’t go over the temperature rating. This shouldn’t be a problem if your cooking low and slow as the thermometers in this guide are officially rated for over 700°F.
  • Store the probes neatly and avoid crimping the wires.

Wrapping it up

Choosing the best smoker thermometer can be a tough task.

Especially if this is your first setup then all different specs, probes and features can be super confusing.

While it costs a little bit more than the competition, after extensive testing we are confident that the Thermoworks Smoke 2-Channel is the best thermometer for most pitmasters.

Hopefully we’ve made it easier for you to make the right choice. Let us know how you go in the comments below.

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