What are the best types of BBQ thermometers for BBQ smoking?

What is the best way to monitor the temperature of your BBQ cook?

Whether you’re doing a low and slow smoke of grilling steaks, a thermometer is an essential tool every pitmaster should have to help ensure a perfect cook.  There are various sorts of thermometers and it will depend on your requirements as to which type is best for the job.

Plus, they are the only truly reliable way to know when food is cooked to a safe temperature and your desired doneness level.

Main types of Thermometers:

  • Analogue
  • Wireless meat thermometer (WIFI/Bluetooth)
  • Instant read digital Thermometer
  • Infrared Thermometers

Analogue BBQ Thermometers

Most BBQs, grills, smokers etc will come with an analogue thermometer attached to the lid displaying temp and grilling/searing/smoking indicators.

These really should only be used as a guideline for the internal temperature of your cooker, especially if you’re doing a low and slow cook where temperature accuracy is vital.

These thermometers aren’t well known for their accuracy plus there is the fact that the thermometer is reading the temperature of your grill or smoker that is nowhere near where the actual food is cooking.  For these reasons, they should only be used as a general temperature indicator.

Wireless Meat Thermometers.

Arguably the wireless meat thermometers are an essential, and not necessarily expensive tool that everyone should have in their outdoor cooking box of tools.

Key features of a wireless meat thermometer:

Potential for multiple probes, allowing you to monitor the temperature the temperature of more than one piece of food at anyone time as well as monitor the temperature within the grill.  Wireless thermometers usually can come with between one and four individual probes.  Quite often you can choose to add more probes at a later date.

The wireless nature of the thermometer means that you don’t have to stand over your grill monitoring your temperature for the duration of your cook.  Different thermometers have different apps and features but most will allow you to monitor your temperature from your phone.  Quite often they will have alarm settings and other features to alert you when your desired temperature has been reached.

Besides deciding on the number of probes you require, there is also the choice of WiFi or Bluetooth.  The only difference between these is the range that the signal from the probe will reach.  WiFi thermometers have a much longer range but that does come at a price.

Instant read Digital Thermometers

Even if you have temperature probes such as the wireless ones mentioned above, there are still some great benefits in also having an instant read thermometer.

The main feature of an instant read thermometer is in its name.  They allow you to accurately measure the temperature of any food in less than a couple of seconds.

The main advantages that this brings are:

Reduced time required to keep the lid open on your grill.  This can be very important when smoking as one of the first rules of smoking is to leave it be and not keep opening the lid.  Plus, practically they keep you from needing to hold your hand over a hot grill for a length of time.

Being able to get quick and accurate temperature reads means that you can check the temperature of a cook in multiple places quickly.  This is especially important when checking foods such as chicken or large meat cooks suck as a brisket.

Another good thing about instant read thermometers is that they aren’t expensive.  You can purchase a decent brand one for as little as £20, therefore not a costly purchase, even if you already have a different thermometer such as a wireless probe thermometer.

Infra-Red Thermometers

These thermometers have a certain place in outdoor cooking.  They are extremely useful to use when cooking woodfired in an outdoor oven such as a pizza oven.  They allow for the accurate internal temperature reading of the oven at multiple areas to help identify ‘hot spots’ within the oven at any one point.


Most of the different types of thermometers have a role and purpose.  It comes down to what features would be suited best to the individual requirements.  Though in order to help guarantee a quality cook, and in some cases as safe cook, a digital thermometer of one type or another should be seen as an essential piece of equipment to have available.