How to Use an Instant Read Thermometer (BBQ, Grilling and Smoking)


Got your new BBQ thermometer but not sure how to use it? With good care and easier application, it couldn’t be. So use an instant read thermometer.

thermpro thermometer next to the grill

You can have the best barbecue grill, but if you don’t use it properly, cooking over an open fire is better.

Personally, there are a few tools I couldn’t live without to ensure my grill is the best it can be. On the one hand high-quality charcoal (no briquettes!), on the other hand a reliable and durable barbecue thermometer.

Many experts say that just touching the meat is enough to gauge doneness based on the firmness and toughness of the meat.

I have a big problem with this.

Meat safety is about knowing exactly when it has reached the right temperature. Do you really want to leave this to the guesswork?

These kinds of arbitrary assumptions can easily be misjudged and ruin your flesh or even be dangerous.

This is exactly why health organizations around the world are immediately using a meat thermometer, and who are we to argue with them?

analog grill thermometer display installed on the lid of the grill

The USDA even launched a campaign called Is It Done Yet? ‘ to encourage the use of the thermometer when judging when food is ready.

In this article, I cite your research and show you exactly how to use and maintain your instant digital read meat thermometer.

Why you need an instant read thermometer

Food safety is important, of course, but using a good thermometer goes further. It ensures that your meat tastes as delicious as possible. What’s the point of spending hours shopping, preparing, grilling, or smoking meat only to later ruin it by undercooking or overcooking it?

While your stomach can resist certain germs from meat, pregnant women, the elderly, or children may not. Making sure everyone can eat their food should always be a priority.

If you can’t take our word for it, we encourage you to check out this page on foodborne illness. List the types of foodborne illnesses that can result from poorly prepared meat.

How do you know when the food is ready

Different types of meat must reach certain temperatures before the echoli in the meat is eliminated. Failure to do so can cause serious problems, so understanding these temperature benchmarks is imperative.

Generally, the rule of thumb is around 160°F (71°C ), but this varies for different cuts of meat. Medium beef can be eaten at around 60°C ( 140°F ) while ground beef should be closer to 75°C ( 165°F).

Check out this quick guide to target meat temperatures for a better understanding of target meat temperatures.

Don’t use the “fingertip” method.

Many people swear by comparing the firmness of meat with their bare hands to determine when meat is done. While this can give a good sense of firmness, it cannot accurately measure your internal temperature.

The purpose of a thermometer is to tell you if the bacteria in the meat have died. The fingertip method can never do this.

Knowing the internal temperature of meat is the best way to know when meat is safe to eat, and using a meat thermometer is the only way to know.

How to use an instant read thermometer

Instant read thermometers are available to provide a quick and easy way to know when food is ready. What can make things confusing is that there are many different types.

Personally, I would always recommend a dual probe model. This type of thermometer has one probe to read the internal temperature of the meat and another to read the surface temperature of the grill.

Why is that important? Ultimately, the reading key was his meat, as we need to know when he hits that all-important 160°F mark. But for cooking purposes, it’s also important to measure the ambient cooking temperature of your grill. You wouldn’t blindly turn on your oven without checking the set temperature, and the same goes for your grill.

How to use your thermometer to measure the temperature of meat

The key to using a meat sample is to always make sure you insert it into the thickest part of the meat. This will ensure that you read the part of the meat that is most likely to be undercooked. If reading this part is good, then it is ready to serve.

Again, timing is crucial. Meat tends to cook for a while after being removed from the grill, oven, or smoker. It’s also best to get a reading towards the end of your cooking time, not at the very end. Personally, I always leave my meat thermometer on while cooking, but not everyone has that luxury.

While the vast majority of outdoor grills and smokers provide even cooking, hot spots can form on the cooking surface (especially on charcoal grills). To counteract this, measure at different points on your meat: at a point where the meat is thickest and at a point further away. This should make it easier to compensate if the meat cooks faster in different places.

If you eat flat or thin cuts of meat, such as B. hamburger, do not insert the sample from above, but from the side.

Make sure the probe does not touch any bone. This gives a useless reading that may be much higher than the actual reading of the meat due to the bone’s thermal conductivity.

The time it takes to get a reading will likely depend on the type of instant read thermometer you have. Broadly speaking, they fall into two categories: dial and digital.

If you have a dial thermometer, it will take 15-20 seconds to get a reading. If you have a digital one, it should only take about 10 seconds.

Also, I would like to say at this point that digital thermometers are more likely to give more accurate readings than dial thermometers. If you don’t have a digital model either, I suggest you consider upgrading. You won’t have any regrets.

How to use your thermometer to read the surface temperature of the grill

How you set up your thermometer to read the temperature around the grill also depends on the type of thermometer you have.

If you have a dial thermometer, it is best to mount it on the lid of your grill. I already wrote a guide on how to do this, so be sure to check out my guide to installing a BBQ thermometer .

If you have a digital sample, simply place the sample on the cooking grates with the sample pointing down into the drum or up (if you can balance it). The immediate ESSENTIAL is not to place it directly over the flames as this will give a much higher reading than the grill’s actual temperature.

How to keep your thermometer clean

As with anything that comes in contact with raw meat, it’s important to clean the thermometer probe after each use.

Thank you, these little beauties are really quick and easy to clean.

When you first take yours out of the box, wash the catheter in hot, soapy water before using it for the first time. Just be careful if your thermometer isn’t waterproof. You don’t want water getting into the main compartment of the reader.

Always wash between uses. This prevents germs from growing on the meat surface and in the cracks.


Frequent recalibration will help maintain the accuracy of your thermometer. Thermometers can lose accuracy after prolonged use or when exposed to different temperature extremes over a short period of time.

The vast majority of digital thermometers calibrate themselves, but if you suspect your reading is wrong, you can quickly recalibrate using the boiling water method.

Simply place the thermometer probe in boiling water and check the temperature reading. Immersion 100°C (212°F) If not, you will need to adjust the settings on your thermometer.

Can you leave a meat thermometer in the meat while roasting?

To me, the answer to that depends on what type of thermometer you have.

If you have a simple model of a probe with the main body of the connected in an integrated IST, then no. If the body of the thermometer is exposed to high temperatures, it will be damaged and there is even a risk of it breaking.

However, if you have a model that has a probe connected to the main body of the thermometer with a long cable or wireless connection, you can leave it in the thermometer.

I have a wireless IVation thermometer that does exactly what it does, allowing me to keep a close eye on the room temperature progress of both the meat and the grill at all times.

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