It is often said to cook to temperature, not time. With this in mind, having a high-quality thermometer for measuring temperature is critical to the success of any chef. Whether baking, roasting or BBQ grilling, your final temperature is the key to a quality end result. Thus, having the right tool for your cooking scenario will make for a more enjoyable process and ultimately produce better food. There is a lot of information thrown about regarding different thermometer options, but some products are nearly unanimously agreed upon as the best within forums and groups of skilled cooks on social media.
Introduction to Probe Thermometer Types
There are various probe thermometers on the market and we are going to focus on the three most popular types. These are handheld single-probe thermometers, dual-probe wireless capable thermometers, and multi-probe wireless capable thermometers.
Single-probe handheld thermometers excel at quickly checking the temperature of things such as meat, bread dough, and water. They are versatile, portable and great at taking quick temperature readings in high-temperature environments. Often folks will keep one or two of these available in addition to a quality probe thermometer with wireless capabilities. Some examples of single-probe thermometer use are quick temperature checks of chicken and steaks before pulling from the grill or for checking water temperature before mixing bread dough.
Dual-probe wireless thermometers are utilized to monitor two temperatures simultaneously. One probe is typically monitoring the ambient temperature of a grill, smoker, or oven while the second probe is monitoring the temperature of the product being cooked. A common scenario here is smoking meat or roasting a Thanksgiving turkey where you want precise control of both temperatures to ensure the best possible end result.
Multi-probe wireless thermometers typically have four or more probes and take the dual-probe scenario further by allowing the cook to monitor multiple cuts of meat simultaneously and/or monitor the temperatures of multiple grills/smokers simultaneously. These can be the most versatile units for complex scenarios but they come at an associated cost.
Some Words on Wireless Probe Thermometers
Wireless probe thermometers are typically advertised in three different ways. There are ‘Wireless’ thermometers that typically come with their own standalone receiver and an advertised range of 300+ ft. There are ‘Bluetooth’ thermometers that are typically designed to work with a smartphone or tablet and have an advertised range of 95 ft. Finally, ’WiFi’ thermometers which are designed to work with a smartphone/tablet along with an existing WiFi Internet connection and a range dictated by the WiFi network. WiFi units allow you to leave the immediate area for a beer or shopping trip while still being able to monitor temperature as long as your smartphone or tablet has Internet access. Some thermometers may support one or more of these underlying technologies. Most of these units also have a base unit with its own display so that they can be placed next to an oven or grill and monitored locally without the use of wireless functionality.
The Best Handheld Probe Thermometer
When it comes to handheld probe thermometers ThermoWorks has this category firmly locked down. The Thermapen Mk4 is widely regarded as the best handheld probe thermometer on the market. This unit has a ton of features including an auto-rotating backlit display, 2-3 second temperature readings, waterproofing to IP67 standards, and an awesome color selection. ThermoWorks also offers some great accessories. Our favorite is the Silicone Boot which is protective, glow-in-the-dark, and magnetic making this thermometer easy to stick to the fridge or the side of your grill table.
A Great Handheld Probe Thermometer
The ThermoWorks ThermoPop is an excellent probe thermometer at a value price. It includes a rotating backlit display packaged in a splash-proof housing with a slightly slower advertised reading time of 3-4 seconds. It is offered in 9 different colors and like the ThermaPen is suitable for both left and right-handed use.
Both of these handheld probe thermometers are featured within our Small Gifts Guide!
Another Great Handheld Probe Thermometer
While ThermoWorks gets our primary endorsement, Maverick also makes a quality probe thermometer that would be suitable for those who want to utilize Amazon Prime for ordering or just want something a little different. The Maverick PT-100 is water resistant to IP44 standards, shock-proof, and is a highly regarded alternative to the ThermoWorks.
The Best Bluetooth-Only Multi-Probe Thermometer
If you are willing to accept the range limitations of a strictly Bluetooth thermometer then the Inkbird IBT-4XS is a highly regarded choice within forums and the various BBQ Grilling groups of social media. They also offer a two-probe and six-probe unit. For the price we recommend this four-probe model as a good starting point considering it is only marginally more expensive than the two-probe unit. Generally speaking we prefer wireless or WiFi enabled models that also support Bluetooth such as the ThermoWorks Signals and FireBoard but costs tend to be higher.
The Best Wireless Dual-Probe Thermometer
There is little argument that the ThermoWorks Smoke is the best wireless dual-probe thermometer on the market. This unit comes complete with a wireless receiver on a lanyard that is pre-paired to the base unit so you have everything you need for wireless temperature monitoring right out of the box without the need for a smartphone or other device. The range is advertised at 300 ft. You get two probes, one for the smoker/grill/oven, and one for the meat. The unit is splash-proof and sealed to IP65 standards. There is a nice big and bold LCD display on the base unit and magnets on the back to allow for versatile mounting. If you want to use it standalone without the wireless receiver it works great sitting on the countertop or affixed to your grill table. Lastly, there are a number of accessories available including a WiFi Gateway so that you can monitor temperature from your smartphone anywhere you have Internet!
A Great Wireless Dual-Probe Thermometer
When it comes to wireless dual-probe thermometers the Maverick ET-733 is a great value solution. With an advertised range of 300 ft. the Maverick was the typical go-to unit prior to the release of the ThermoWorks Smoke. Even now it represents a very solid temperature monitoring solution that continues to be utilized by both professionals and home chefs. This unit comes with everything you need for wireless temperature monitoring out of the box and does not require or offer any smartphone functionality.
The Best Wireless Multi-Probe Thermometer
The ThermoWorks Signals offers many of the features of the Smoke in a four-channel device. The primary difference is that the Signals is a Bluetooth/WiFi only device so it does not come prepackaged with a wireless receiver. It does have a big bold four-channel display and magnetic mounting options so it works great out of the box as a standalone unit. However, to access its wireless features it requires the use of an Apple iOS or Google Android-based device. You can connect your device directly to the unit via Bluetooth with an advertised range of 95 ft. or expand your range infinitely anywhere there is Internet access. Want to pop into the brewery while your BBQ does its thing? No problem.
The Other Best Wireless Multi-Probe Thermometer
The FireBoard Labs FireBoard will appeal to folks who want the maximum amount of channels and options. The FireBoard supports six channels in a variety of configurations. Similar to the Signals there is no standalone wireless receiver and wireless functionality is only available via Bluetooth and WiFi with an Apple iOS or Google Android-based smart device. The display on the FireBoard is relatively small so it is less ideal as a standalone temperature monitor, however, its technical features have incredible depth. The device can be paired with Amazon Alexa for voice control and also has the ability to control a snap-on blower fan to automate the temperature control process in charcoal grills/smokers. The tech-savvy will certainly appreciate this unit and it is worth a visit to their website to fully understand the capabilities of this impressive device!
The Fully Wireless Alternative
The MEATER+ is a bit of a hybrid temperature monitor. Although it appears as a single probe unit the probe itself actually has two separate sensors. One is near the tip of the probe and monitors the temperature of your product. The second is near the based of the probe and monitors the ambient temperature of the grill. In essence you are getting two probes in one with no wires which is ideal for applications such as rotisseries that would cause traditional temperature monitors to become tangled. The original MEATER received some criticism due to the poor range of its integrated Bluebooth functionality but the MEATER+ improves upon this by offering a Bluetooth repeater / range extender built into the charging unit so that it can be placed between your smartphone and your grill to increase coverage. As with other Bluetooth / WiFi only devices the MEATER+ must currently be used with a Smartphone or similar iOS/Android device to have monitoring functionality. The soon to be released MEATER Block promises to change this by offering a dedicated receiver and four independent probes!
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EDITORS NOTE: This is a continually expanding piece which will feature additional items as we identify them.