What is a Barbeque Thermometer?

Mike Howells

As the name implies, a barbeque thermometer is a special kind of thermometer designed for measuring food temperatures when cooking on an outdoor grill. It is important to note the term does not generally refer to the basic temperature gauges that some grills have on the outside of their covers. These gauges, aside from not being particularly accurate, certainly do not measure the temperature of the food itself.

A regular meat thermometer will work with barbeque meat, but special barbeque thermometers are available.
A regular meat thermometer will work with barbeque meat, but special barbeque thermometers are available.

There are two general techniques for monitoring the temperature of meat while cooking in this way. The first involves periodically using an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food as it cooks. A regular cooking thermometer will fulfill this objective, though models specifically designed for barbeque use tend to be more robust.

A more modern and advanced method involves the use of a constant-read barbeque thermometer, whereby one or more probes are inserted into the meat, and offer a constant reading of the temperature as cooking progresses. These types of barbeque thermometer generally have unique features and benefits that make them ideal for the specific conditions encountered when grilling.

One common feature of a barbeque thermometer that is not found on most regular cooking thermometers is the presence of two sensor probes. This means that, for instance, when cooking a larger piece of meat, it is possible to monitor the temperature in a thinner section and a thicker section simultaneously. Or, dual probes can be used to monitor separate foods cooking at the same time, which is a common practice in outdoor cooking.

Another option available on a barbeque thermometer is remote display. A probe may be connected to a small transmitter, which communicates temperature data wirelessly to a base unit that can be more than 100 ft (30.5 m) away. This allows the cook to keep track of food temperatures without having to interact directly with the grill. Remote thermometers generally have digital displays, which many people find easier to read than analog meters. Most remote display barbeque thermometer units come with multiple alarm functions that can be set to go off either after a certain amount of time or once the food reaches a certain temperature.

Using a remote sensor means food will generally cook faster, as heat is not lost when the lid is repeatedly opened. It is also easier to cook meat more precisely, as the cook can keep track of the process, without risking overcooking. Though they cost more than a basic instant read thermometer, for people who want more control and better barbeque results, they are a valuable tool.

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