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 following some simple setup instructions and getting your hands on a quality wireless smoker thermometer.
We’ve reviewed the best smoker thermometers available and compared them to help you make the right decision.
Click to jump straight to each topic
- The best combo smoker thermometer under $50 – ThermoPro TP08 Wireless Meat Thermometer
- For serious smoking enthusiasts – Maverick ET-733 Long Range Wireless Dual Probe BBQ Meat Thermometer Set
- The best quality single probe Thermometer – ChefAlarm by ThermoWorks
- The best bluetooth thermometer for checking temperatures on your phone – iDevices iGrill2 Bluetooth Thermometer
- For getting an instant read – ThermoWorks Super-Fast Thermapen
- Who is this guide for
- The best setup for measuring temperature
- Ideal thermometer placement
- Dome temperature vs Grill temperature
- How to avoid destroying your new thermometer
- The rest of the competition
The best combo smoker thermometer under $50 – ThermoPro TP08 Wireless Meat Thermometer
Read our full review
For monitoring internal smoker temperature throughout a cook the wireless ThermoPro TP08 offers the best mix of range, features and durability under $50.00. With dual probes you can easily monitor internal temperature and meat temperature from up to 300 feet away.
If you’re serious about your barbecue, you know that maintaining a consistent, low temperature is key for cooking perfect meat. The ThermoProTP08 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.
Is the Thermopro perfect? No, but after considering dozens of other wireless thermometers we’re convinced that none are. The button configuration could use some simplification, and the addition of up and down arrows would be a great addition for when you overshoot your desired temperature.
On the other hand for $15-$20 cheaper than comparable dual probe thermometers you are getting great range, easy pairing and accurate temperature readings. For a relative newcomer to the market we are sufficiently impressed to to name the ThermoPro TP08 the best overall wireless thermometer.
For serious smoking enthusiasts – Maverick ET-733 Long Range Wireless Dual Probe BBQ Meat Thermometer Set
Read our full review
While currently $20 more expensive than the ThermoPro, so many people swear by the Maverick ET-733 that we almost made it our top choice.
Also featuring two probes and a 300 foot range (in the open), the Maverick combines a larger backlit screen with excellent temperature accuracy, solid construction and is easy to use without a lot of fiddling with confusing settings.
While the ET-733 only represents a small upgrade over it’s predecessor the much loved ET-732, we still think it’s worth the extra $20 if you’re in the market for new thermometer setup. For the extra cash you get:
- Two multipurpose probes that can be setup any way you want. Where as the 732 has one dedicated meat and one grill probe which gives you less flexibility.
- Upgraded interface with better preset options and a little bit easier to use.
Maverick is a much more established brand than ThermoPro, and you can rely on outstanding customer support. The ET-733 comes with 90 days warranty. This extra piece of mind is good because some people have had some issues:
- The battery compartment on the transmitter requires a screwdriver to get into which can be annoying if you at away from home. Thankfully this isn’t a problem on the receiver.
- The probe is should not be submerged for washing. This is a problem with many thermometers but at a more premium price point we would like to see this addressed.
- Because the probe can be on the slow side to read it is not as good for getting a quick read on thin meat like ribs or chicken. This won’t be a problem when smoking pork butts or brisket though.
Other than that, the build quality is outstanding and the temperature error tolerance of 3°F allows you to keep a vigilant eye on your meat and smokers internal temperature.
The best quality single probe Thermometer – ChefAlarm by ThermoWorks
Read our full review
For most people looking to get the right smoker thermometer setup, we still think the best value for money is the ThermoPro TP08.
Even though the ChefAlarm is more expensive and only comes with one temperature probe, we still couldn’t leave it off out list though.
The build quality, durability and ease of use are all an upgrade over either the Maverick or ThermoPro. With a stainless steel braided 47″ probe cable, sturdy silicone buttons and strong hinge mechanism you are getting one of the best temperature monitors money can buy.
Most barbecue thermometers require a long time to gain an accurate temperature reading. While this is fine if you’re leaving it sitting in a brisket over 16 hours, there are many times during your barbecue adventures where you’ll want to make a quick read.
At around 5 seconds to get an accurate read the ChefAlarm is lightning quick. This time puts it into instant read thermometer range (more on that below).
The splash proof design is a nice touch, especially if you have an itchy trigger finger and tend to misfire on that spritz bottle…
We also found the user interface with larger screen and easier to read digits a nice feature, especially since our eye sight isn’t what it used to be.
The magnetic back is also a nice touch, allowing you to easily attach it.
The only real complaint with the ChefAlarm is that programming it can still be a little confusing (we suggest reading the manual even though we know you won’t). Otherwise if you only need to measure your pit or a single piece of meat the ChefAlarm is a fantastic choice.
Just keep in mind that the Maverick ET-733 will give you more flexibility with 2 probes included, if you need to monitor pit and meat.
The best bluetooth thermometer for checking temperatures on your phone – iDevices iGrill2 Bluetooth Thermometer
While the other thermometers included in this guide do an excellent job at monitoring temperatures, they aren’t exactly the most exciting pieces of technology.
That’s where the iGrill2 comes in.
Instead of using radio style WIFI technology, the iGrill2 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 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 probes and allows you to add up to 4 total (you can order individual iGrill probes off Amazon).
We were initially put off bluetooth style thermometers because of widely reported issues with the connection dropping, and very low range. But the iGrill2 has made us reconsider.
The app from the iGrill1 has been rebuilt from the ground up, and with recent releases it seems like issues with connection dropping have been fixed. You still won’t get the same range as a radio style thermometer like the Maverick ET-733, so long as you don’t have too many walls between you and the unit you should be OK.
We recently looked at the best bluetooth thermometers available and named the iGrill2 the best option if you want to get your smoker temps on your phone.
Other than the lower range and a few issues it draining the battery on your phone, this is the best thermometer tech available at the moment. Click here to get the latest price from Amazon.
For getting an instant read – ThermoWorks Super-Fast Thermapen
While our above picks do a fantastic job of monitoring your pit and meat temperature, this is more important for larger cuts like brisket, pork butts and turkey. When you need to quickly measure the temperature of burgers, fish or chicken the ThermoWorks Thermapen works wonders.
While currently going for just under $100 on the ThermoWorks website, you might be asking yourself why we even included this on our list of best smoker thermometers.
The short answer is that the Thermapen excels in all the areas the Maverick and Thermopro do not.
- Measure meat temperature precisely in under 2 seconds.
- Digital display has large numbers which are easy to read at a glance
- Compared to other instant read thermometers the sensor is quite close to the end which allows you to easily insert into any section of your of your food.
It’s incredibly handy to be able to get an instant read while your cooking. For example if you are running a single probe setup like the ChefAlarm, you’ll need to quickly read the temperature of your meat.
Leaving the lid open for a long time to get an accurate reading is going to be a really bad idea.
Your wife might think your nuts for splashing out this much on a single thermometer. But luckily this tool is just as useful in the kitchen, or for making candy.
Personally we would rather cheap out on a thermometer to check our own temperature (depending on where you are going to stick it!). When it comes to instant read thermometers every second is vital.
When it comes to getting an accurate temperature read in the shortest amount of time the Thermapen cannot be beat.
Who is this guide 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.
If you want to smoke 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.
The best setup for measuring temperature
If you’re a seasoned barbecuer then feel free to skip ahead. For those new to smoking meat or if you just want a refresher let’s run through the basics.
Cooking the best bbq requires two important things:
- You need to maintain a consistent low (usually around 225°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.
Luckily the ThermoPro TP08 and Maverick ET-733 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.
One of the main advantages of the dual probe thermometers is that they allow you to monitor the grill and meat temperature separately without needing to constantly open the smoker and stick an instant read thermometer into it.
Even opening your smoker every half hour can release valuable heat and effect the cooking process.
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.
Ideal thermometer placement
First off, you want to measure the air temperature where you meat is sitting just above the grate. The best spot to setup your thermometer does depend on your exact cooker and might take some trial and error.
The goal is to know the accurate temperature where the food is. Too close and the cold hunk of meat will affect the reading, too far away and the temperature won’t be accurate.
These are a few best practices to consider for placing your smoker temperature probe:
- Keep the 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.
You can buy a simple thermometer probe clip shown below 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 build-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.
CC Image courtesy of Alison Mickelson on Flickr
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 these products we noticed a fair few angry customers complaining about their units failing after only a few uses to a few months. With proper use you should get at least a few years use out of your 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:
- 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.
The rest of the competition
We considered dozens of different thermometers that didn’t make our best of list. Here are some of the stand outs we couldn’t include in the full write up.
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.
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 $100 we think there are better value thermometers.
ThermoPro TP16 – For less than $20 on Amazon the price is 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.
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. Hopefully we’ve made it easier for you to make the right choice. Let us know how you go in the comments below.