Everyone who is into smoking or grilling knows very well how important an accurate temperature is when cooking. An inaccurate thermometer is a source of many problems and in a whole lot of cases of disappointing BBQ.
By taking care of a perfect temperature during smoking you can be sure that your food will also be perfect.
For that purpose, you should invest in a good quality smoker thermometer that is much more accurate than the built in thermometer and makes it possible to monitor the temperature inside the meat as well.
You can find a lot of different models at stores, which is why I have prepared a guide that will help you choose the best smoker thermometer based on your budget.
Below you will find my comparison as well as all the important tips that will certainly be useful to beginners.
Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo
Best Smoker Thermometer Reviews ( Updated List )
1. Best Overall Smoker Thermometer - ThermoPro TP20
My favorite smoker thermometer is slightly more expensive, but still at a low enough price compared to other accessories for grills and smokers. It comes with everything that is needed and what is most important, it is very well-built and durable.
ThermoPro is a well-established brand and the leading manufacturer of thermometers that never fails.
The transmitter comes with pre-programmed temperatures and doneness levels for all types of meats (preset USDA approved ).
What also stands out is a huge and very clear display of the transmitter with a blacklight, resistant to splashes.
Another very huge advantage is the ability to remotely monitor the temperature while away from the smoker. Also included, on top of the transmitter, is a receiver that in my case had no problems with reception. A useful feature is an alarm for when the connection with the transmitter is lost.
Thermopro TP20 comes with two probes that can be used at the same time to monitor the temperature in two places, for example inside the meat and inside the smoker ( I recommend such configuration of the two probes ).
When it comes to the important parameters, the temperature range is more than enough for smoking or even grilling – accuracy of +/- 1.8°F (+/- 1°C) and temperature range of 32°F to 572°F (0°C to 300°C).
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On top of all those features, you can also expect other, less important ones, such as different types of alarms or a timer.
ThermoPro TP20 is my number one smoker thermometer when it comes to smoking. It has all the necessary features, a good range of the receiver, is accurate, durable and available at a very good price.
2. Runner Up Trusted Brand - Maverick ET-733
I know that there’s a whole lot of enthusiasts of the Maverick brand, it used to be my number one as well. Today I use it much less, but I still believe that it is a good smoker thermometer.
It’s a good alternative to ThermoPro TP20, it also has two probes, receiver, transmitter and similar features.
Why does it take the second place in my ranking? Unfortunately the quality and durability often tend to be inferior to other, more expensive thermometers that I have in my collection.
I appreciate Maverick ET-733 but in several regards I am not pleased with it. First and foremost, it is much more complicated to use for me.
A large number of features and programs is something very useful, sadly all of that makes Maverick ET-733 slightly chaotic and unintuitive. Of course all of that takes place during the first days of using this thermometer but it still takes some time to learn how to use it.
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When it comes to the accuracy of measurements, on the other hand, everything works very well here. As I have already mentioned, I personally use this thermometer once in a while and am still satisfied with it. When it comes to the quality and durability, it is also at a decent level.
3. Budget Smoker Thermometer - ThermoPro TP17
A Smoker Thermometer that I really recommend if you don’t need remote temperature monitoring and other “gadgets”. ThermoPro TP17 is something for those who are looking for a simple thermometer without unnecessary features, easy to use and available at a very low price.
The most important thing when smoking is temperature control, a good thing about ThermoPro TP17 is having as many as two probes that can monitor the temperature at the same time.
I really like having such a big and clear display with a backlight in such a small thermometer.
Such parameters as temperature range or accuracy ensure reliable and precise temperature control when smoking every type of meat.
ThemroPro TP17 comes with pre-programmed temperatures for all types of meat (USDA preset temperatures ) with the ability to input the settings manually. When the meat reaches the target temperature, you will hear an audible alarm and see a blinking display.
Unfortunately, a significant downside to me is lack of resistance to splashes. This type of situations happen pretty often when cooking so you will have to watch out for them when it comes to this thermometer.
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Personally, I prefer to buy a slightly more expensive wireless model that is more convenient to me, but I have to admit that for those less demanding it’s a great choice. For this kind of money it’s hard to buy something good so I think that it is also a great smoker thermometer for everyone’s budget.
4. Instant Read Thermometer for Smoker - Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo
On top of a smoker thermometer, I also recommend an instant read thermometer that is also a good thing to have due to its features. Both thermometers are used for measuring temperature but Lavatools javelin pro duo is a thermometer designed for instant temperature reading.
It differs completely from leave in probe thermometers, the purpose of a typical smoker thermometer is to monitor the whole smoking process thanks to a probe left in the meat.
A thermometer such as lavatools javelin pro, on the other hand, is meant for instant temperature measuring by only putting the probe in for a moment.
You simply stick in the meat probe, wait 2-3 seconds in case of Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo for the measurements and then you take the probe out of the meat and read the measurement on the display.
This type of thermometer works great when you want to quickly check the temperature in a few pieces of meat to make sure that they are all really perfectly cooked.
The temperature range is -40~482°F whereas the measuring speed is 2-3 seconds with accuracy of 0.9 degree F.
Lavatools Javelin Pro Duo comes with many useful and convenience-enhancing features. It is resistant to splashes and has a one year warranty with the ability to extend it to 3 years for free.
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Personally, I use it very often as a secondary thermometer when smoking or grilling large quantities of meat. It allows me to make measurements for a few pieces of meat in a few dozen seconds.
It is especially helpful in restaurants or at parties where it’s easy to get confused when smoking large quantities of meat.
First of all, what is a smoker thermometer ?
It’s a thermometer mostly designed with smoking in mind, but also grilling. It allows to monitor temperature inside the meat throughout the entire smoking process until reaching the right temperature.
It also allows to monitor the temperature inside every type of smoker which means that by using a wireless thermometer you will know if everything goes smoothly while sitting at home on the couch.
It is a leave in style thermometer which means that the probe is meant to be left inside the meat or the smoker in order to monitor the temperature all the time.
Why do you need a smoker thermometer ?
It sometimes happens during smoking that a meat that looks great on the outside turns out to actually be raw on the inside. It also happens that an inexperienced person is smoking meat for too long and it ends up being dry.
With a Smoker Thermometer you are 100% sure, being able to easily prepare perfect meat. The meat’s internal temperature allows to evaluate what stage of smoking you are at, which makes it possible to prepare meat just the way you want it ( more or less done ).
The greatest advantage of modern smoker thermometers is the ability to wirelessly monitor the temperature. You can monitor the temperature inside the smoker and inside the meat on your receiver while sitting at home.
Tips for buying a smoker thermometer
Budget – Right at the start decide what budget you want to spend on a new thermometer. Personally I recommend slightly more expensive models that in reality don’t cost that much. You will certainly find something for those with a limited budget as well as those with a thick wallet.
Temperature Range – If you’re planning to use the thermometer just for smoking then every model will be suitable. If you want to use it in much higher temperatures, however, look for a bigger temperature range.
Warranty – Probes very often stop working properly, especially if you have a product from a more obscure manufacturer. Look for a manufacturer that gets good reviews and provides a good warranty. A one year period is a minimum when buying something more expensive, some manufacturers even offer whole 3 years.
Features – I will start by pointing out that most of features are actually just a regular addition that impacts the price. If you have a limited budget then look for much simpler models that are much cheaper and equally accurate and precise. The most valuable feature is the ability to wirelessly monitor the temperature and it is actually worth paying more.
The number of probes and their length – It is important for a smoker thermometer to have at least two probes. It will allow you to monitor two sources of heat at the same time, like the temperature inside the smoker and inside the meat. On top of that, make sure that the probes aren’t too short.
Resistant to splashes – When cooking, it is easy to get distracted and cause an accident that might ruin your thermometer. Check out whether the model you’re interested in is resistant to splashes or else you will have to be very careful.
Upsides of a smoker thermometer
Precise temperature control – A smoker thermometer allows for not only easy but also precise temperature control. You will avoid any risk that your meat will be raw or dry on the inside.
Convenience – You don’t have to check the temperature all the time, just program the thermometer and you will hear the alarm once the meat reaches its target internal temperature. On top of that, remember that more expensive models make it possible to remotely monitor the temperature so that you can control the smoking process while at home.
Downsides of a smoker thermometer
Unintuitive control – Certain models of smoker thermometers have a pretty complicated interface that takes some time and practice to figure out how to use it. The more features and buttons the more problems using it.
Problems with wireless models – The manufacturers claim different parameters when it comes to the receiver range. Sadly, in many cases this information is false and it turns out that a particular model can lose connection at a much smaller distance.
Dome temperature vs real grill temperature
A built in dial thermometer displays a different temperature than it really is at the grill grates’ height. A dial thermometer is usually located much higher than grill grates and even further away from the furnace.
Based on that, it is easy to come to the conclusion that a dial thermometer shows the temperature in its nearest surroundings which is the air temperature. It can differ by as much as 50 degrees F from the temperature actually at the grill grates’ height.
On top of that, if you open the grill’s lid you let out a lot of heat, after closing the lid it takes a lot of time before the built in thermometer stabilizes and shows an approximate temperature.
Another argument against a built in thermometer is their poor quality. To save money, manufacturers tend to install very poor quality models that are simply inaccurate.
The leading company Thermoworks perfectly cleared all the doubts about this situation in their article Dome Temperature vs Grill Temperature.
Remember that what matters to us is the temperature at the grilling grates’ height, exactly where the food is located. A great tool that allows to easily and precisely control the temperature at this spot is a smoker thermometer. The right placement of the probe allows for an accurate temperature control in a particular spot throughout the entire smoking process.
Leave in probe thermometers vs instant read style
I have already mentioned it a little above, but let me describe here all the basics and differences between both thermometer types.
Instant read thermometers
Are characterized by speed and accuracy. They are the best when it comes to thinner pieces of meat which is mostly during grilling. They are perfect everywhere you need to measure the meat temperature as fast as possible.
The structure of this thermometer mostly consists of the handle, the display and the probe.
How to use it? Just stick the probe in the meat and wait for a few seconds to read the temperature.
What are the differences between cheaper and more expensive models? The key difference is accuracy and speed of measurements. Most models make measurements in less than 5 seconds whereas the best models can do it as fast as 2-3 seconds.
I have prepared a guide that will make it easier for you to choose the best instant read thermometer based on my experience and what the market has to offer right now.
Leave in style thermometers
Are designed for the purpose of controlling the temperature throughout the entire smoking process. Which makes them perfect for smoking thicker pieces of meat that usually take as long as a few hours.
The structure of this thermometer consists of the receiver + probe or in more expensive models a transmitter, receiver and in most cases two probes.
How to use this ? A leave in thermometer works by sticking the probe in the meat or attaching it to the grill grates and leaving it throughout the entire cooking time. The probe is only to be removed after the end of cooking when the meat has reached the right temperature. Throughout the entire smoking process, you have the ability to monitor the actual temperature of the meat or the smoker in real time.
More expensive models usually have more features, are wireless, more accurate and come with at least two probes.
What is the bottom line, then ? As I have already mentioned in my article on the best digital meat thermometers, the best solution is to have both types of meat thermometers.
Leave in Smoker/Grill thermometer and Instant Read Thermometer perfectly complement one another which is why I’ll repeat that it would be perfect to have one of each.