Meat Thermometers

Finding a reliable meat thermometer has been a continual struggle.  I think I’m finally getting there.

My first meat thermometer was the leave-in style with a large dial.  It worked OK the first couple of times I used it.  Soon enough, however, it began to fail me.  I began doubting the thermometer when I noticed the reading dropping as soon as I took the meat off the grill.  It shouldn’t be affected by the temperature of its environment, right?  After a couple frustrating outings, I decided it was time for a new thermometer.

Thermometer Number 1

The next time I visited my favorite butcher, Drewes Brothers, I asked the guys about meat thermometers.  They recommended the instant read, small dial type.  I went out and bought one.

Thermometer Number 2 Next To Thermometer Number 1

Thermometer Number 2 was a nice upgrade from Thermometer Number 1!  It seemed to give fairly accurate readings.  However, it had its limitations.  Its biggest shortcoming is that it doesn’t work well for low and slow cooking.  You have to open the lid and leave it open each time you want to check the temperature.  As the saying goes, “looking isn’t cooking,” so I needed another solution for barbeque.

This brings me to my current favorite: a Maverick Redi-Check remote thermometer.

Thermometer Number 3

I love this thermometer!  First, and most importantly, it seems to give an accurate read when cooking low and slow.  Second, there’s a remote unit you can carry on your belt!  I take this unit upstairs with me when I leave the backyard.  It allows me to keep an eye on my cooking from afar.

Thermometer Number 3 is not without its limitations, though.  I’ve heard the probe and cord are susceptible to high temperatures.  This means it is best used for low and slow cooking.  Also, the probe needs a good solid hunk of meat.  I tried using it in a fish and it wasn’t accurate.

So, after all of this, I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t a perfect meat thermometer.  I’ll be using my redi-check for pulled pork, chicken, etc.  I’ll use the instant read for other cooking.  And sometimes, there’s no substitute for the gut test – you just know when it’s done.

Tips For Accurate Thermometer Readings

  • Figure out how far your thermometer needs to be inserted.  The instant read types can be inaccurate if they’re inserted too far or not far enough.
  • Stick the thermometer into the center of a meaty portion of your cut.  Putting the thermometer into fat, or near bone, will lead to an inaccurate reading.
  • Don’t stick the thermometer in too far!  I once put the thermometer straight through a pork chop to the grilling stone below.  The temperature flew up!
  • Use the thermometer as a guide.  There’s no substitute for knowing your grill and knowing your meat.



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About bbqesquire

I'm a Scandinavian Plaintiff's lawyer from Minnesota living in California. Despite that background, I've become a weekend warrior on my Big Green Egg. I've started this blog to share my successes, failures, and experiments with anyone who cares to read about them.

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