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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 the 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’s built-in thermometer, you are in for a world of overcooked meat.
You can avoid a lot of bad BBQ and dramatically simplify the temperature control for your next smoke by getting your hands on a quality wireless smoker thermometer.
We’ve put dozens of thermometers through their paces, testing their accuracy, build quality, and technology.
From $47.00 all the way up to $259.00, these are our 6 favorite BBQ thermometers.
Read our full Thermoworks Smoke review
The ThermoWorks Smoke is probably our most recommended product. I got mine when it was released and it’s been going strong for over five years.
It’s more expensive than many cheaply made thermometers out there, but for anyone who takes barbecue seriously and understands the importance of managing temperature, it’s a worthwhile investment.
If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, think of ThermoWorks as the Apple of thermometer companies. Based in Utah, they have a small lineup of products that are higher quality and better designed than the competition.
They are also loved by the barbecue community.
The Smoke is a 2-channel thermometer, which means you can connect two probes at once. You get a 47″ pro series cooking probe and a 47″ Pro-Series air probe & grate clip. Both probes are rated for temperatures up to 700°F.
Along with the base unit, you also get a wireless receiver with a range of 300 feet so you can keep an eye on temperatures from the comfort of your couch.
If you are worried about that range, you should consider the Smoke X2, which bumps the range up to a massive 6,562 feet, or the X4, which also doubles the number of probes to four.
While ThermoWorks market the Smoke for “competition BBQ teams and professional chefs,” we’ve found it makes an outstanding choice for amateur pitmasters.
When you hold the transmitter in your hand you can feel the difference in quality. The rugged housing on the transmitter and the protection added to the probes results in a durable thermometer.
I’ve dropped mine on the ground more times than I should admit and never had anything crack.
While the price point may put it outside the budget of some backyard pit masters, keep in mind that once you’ve replaced the probe on your cheap unit a few times, the price of the Smoke won’t seem as steep!
Neither of those are deal breakers. You usually don’t need to change your temps too often, so having to do it at the transmitter isn’t a huge problem.
And I found the receiver was more useful than checking the temperatures on my phone, and it doesn’t drain your battery as many bbq apps do.
If you really want those smart thermometer features, check out the Signals.
Read our full reviews of the ThermoWorks Signals and Smoke X4
Stepping up from the Smoke, ThermoWorks offers two premium thermometers that cater to very different users.
We can’t say one is “better” than the other. They are designed for different people, with different features.
Both units have much in common with the standard Smoke we covered above. They also support up to four probes (double the Smoke), although the Smoke X does also comes in a two-channel version. The probes are identical, as is the accuracy.
You can also power a billows fan off either unit, with the Signals allowing you to change your temperature set points.
The ultra-simple summary: If you want a smart thermometer with App connectivity, get the Signals. If you would rather drop a hot charcoal chimney on your feet than fuss around with your phone while smoking, then get the Smoke X4.
There’s a little bit more to it than that, so we’ll explain each product in a bit more detail and you’ll understand what we mean.
The Signals thermometer has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth technology and ditches the WiFi Bridge that the original Smoke required for app connectivity.
I always found that option clunky, so I’m happy ThermoWorks have integrated everything into one unit.
There’s no wireless receiver either, as you can now check all your temperatures through your phone or the cloud website.
You can also change your temperature alarms from your phone, a feature I would have loved to have on the handheld wireless receiver. You can also name each probe e.g. “Lamb,” as seen in the photo above.
This helps keep track of each probe when cooking multiple types of meat or running two smokers.
Thankfully ThermoWorks has beefed up the main unit so you can still easily check all your temperatures at once on the large LCD screen. Lots of Bluetooth thermometers cheap out on the transmitter design, but I still like to be able to see everything when I”m next to my smoker.
I put together this video where I run through all the features of the Signals if you want to check that out below.
The main unit is IP66 splashproof and should easily withstand most weather conditions.
The battery gives you up to 16 hours of continuous use and can be charged (or powered) by the USB power adapter.
What I like:
What I don’t like:
Where the Signals takes the Smoke and adds on the app experience, the Smoke X doubles down on what people loved about the original.
That being build quality, range, and signal strength.
You can choose between the Smoke X2 and X4. The only difference is the number of probes supported, so if you don’t think you will ever use more than two, you can save a few bucks and go for the X2.
I appreciate that you get four probes included in the box with the X4. Many companies make you order more probes separately if you want to make their unit out.
I’ve also done a video review of the Smoke X4 if you want to check that out and see the unit in action.
The range on the original Smoke was limited to 300 feet. The X4 ramps that up to 6,562 for an increase of 1087%! This impressive range is achieved with new RF wireless technology.
While 1.24-mile range may seem overkill, the extra strong signal strength helps penetrate walls around your house so you won’t have any annoying dead zones where connection drops.
The battery on this unit is equally impressive, with 330 hours on the main unit and 1,800 on the receiver. The unit can be charged (or powered during use) via the AC adapter.
If the price of the other thermometers in this guide is making your eyes water, the ThermoPro TP20 could be just what you need.
For monitoring internal smoker temperature throughout a cook the ThermoPro offers the best mix of range, features, and durability at the budget price point. You could also consider the InkBird IBT-4XS, which costs about the same but offers Bluetooth and four probes but is let down a bit with a suboptimal app experience.
With dual probes, you can easily monitor internal temperature and meat temperature from up to 300 feet away.
The 6.5″ food probe and 3″ bbq probe are rated to be accurate within 1.8°F
If you’re serious about your barbecue, you know that maintaining a consistent, low temperature is key for cooking perfect meat.
The ThermoPro TP20 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.
You get suggested temperature presets, although setting your own is just as easy.
Despite a few flaws, the TP20 is an excellent choice if you don’t want lots of fancy features and want to save a bit of cash. For your money, you are getting great range, easy pairing, and reasonably accurate temperature readings.
Read our full Fireboard 2 review.
The FireBoard 2 is a smart thermometer with some seriously innovative features. It supports up to six temp probes (2 meat & 1 ambient included), has one of the best thermometer apps on the market, and with WiFi capability, it won’t lose connection at the worst moment like many Bluetooth-only models.
What sets the Fireboard 2 apart is its ability to automatically control the temperature of your charcoal smoker with a Blower fan.
This effectively turns your charcoal smoker into a set and forget cooker, as you can program the exact temperature you want from your smartphone and let the FireBoard computer and fan control the amount of oxygen needed to hit that exact temperature.
Fireboard sells their own 20 CFM Blower, but the unit will work just as well with any compatible third-party fan such as the Pit Viper.
There are three models to choose from but most people will want to get the FireBoard 2 Drive which allows you to run a fan with no additional cables.
We go through all the differences between each model, plus more tips for set up in our full review, or you can watch our video review to see the product in action.
Another thing I like is that the unit is cloud-connected, which means once set up, you can read your smoker temperatures from anywhere in the world so long as you have a WiFi connection. All of your previous cooks are also saved and are easily accessible if you want to check them out.
On its own, the FireBoard 2 is a feature-packed, easy-to-use thermometer with a great app and connectivity. When paired with the Blower you’ll find that smoking is almost too easy.
Read our full Thermapen ONE Review.
So far in this guide, we’ve focused on leave-in style thermometers where the probe stays in the meat (or measures the temp of your grill) for most of the cook.
When you need to quickly measure temperature, like if you are grilling or smoking multiple items at once it’s time to reach for an instant-read thermometer.
ThermoWorks continue its dominance in this category with the Thermapen ONE. Replacing the super successful Mk4, the ONE is capable of 1-second temperature read times.
This is super useful if you are searing multiple cuts of meat and want to quickly temp each one, or take the temp at different points in a thick ribeye without running the risk of overcooking.
I run through all my thoughts on the ONE in this hands-on review.
The Thermapen ONE is designed for professional kitchens and is the tool of choice for competition barbecue teams.
It isn’t cheap, though. If you’re willing to sacrifice a few seconds of speed, the ThermoPop 2 is a good option at a fraction of the price, so check out our guide to the best instant read thermometers where we run through more of the differences.
Besides the better accuracy and faster read times, the main advantage of the ONE is the rugged housing which allows you to fold the probe away when you aren’t using it.
The screen is also brighter and more responsive.
While instant-read thermometers are vital for grilling, I still use my Thermapen when cooking low and slow. I’ll often check the temperature at a few points in the meat when I’m getting close, as the temperature can be quite different depending on where you probe it.
Leaving the lid open for a long time to get an accurate reading is going to be a bad idea, so the super-fast read time on the Thermapen is a lifesaver.
Your other half might think your nuts for splashing out this much on a single thermometer. But luckily, this tool is just as useful in the kitchen, for making bread or candy.
When it comes to instant read thermometers every second is vital. So for getting an accurate temperature read in the shortest amount of time, the Thermapen ONE cannot be beaten.
We considered dozens of different thermometers that didn’t make our best-of list. Here are some of the standouts we couldn’t include in our top picks.
Read our full review.
When the iGrill 2 was first released, it was a pretty impressive piece of tech.
Instead of using radio-style technology to connect to a handheld receiver, the iGrill 2 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 iGrill 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 meat probes and allows you to add up to 4 total (you can order individual iGrill probes off Amazon or the complete iGrill starter kit which includes the two meat probes and an additional ambient probe).
These days the limited range and possibility of connection dropping depending on your home construction pushes the iGrill 2 down our list. There are no doubt devices that combine Bluetooth and WiFi like the Signals or the Fireboard 2 are a better choice.
We should also point out that Weber sell another thermometer called the iGrill 3.
While you might expect this to be an improved version of the iGrill 2, it’s actually only compatible with their range of Genesis II and Spirit II gas grills so you should ignore it unless you have one of those grills.
Other than the range and a few issues with it draining the battery on your phone, the iGrill 2 is a great thermometer for for tech heads, or people who just want the convenience of checking temps on your phone.
Read our full FireBoard Spark review.
The Fireboard spark is an instant-read thermometer that’s almost as good as the Thermapen One, with one big feature that sets it apart.
You can connect a probe, and leave this unit sitting next to your smoker, turning it into a leave-in style thermometer.
This makes the Spark perfect for reverse searing, where the first part of the cook involves monitoring the meat as it slowly comes up to temp, while in the final part, you’ll need to be rapidly measuring for a perfect medium rare.
You also get WiFI and Bluetooth to pair with the mobile app to monitor your cooks.
Read our full MEATER 2 Plus review.
Instead of probes connected to a transmitter next to your grill, the MEATER packs all the electronics into a single wireless probe. This pairs with the storage case which you leave next to the grill, and that in turn pairs with your phone.
The original model had issues with the range losing signal, especially when used with a smoker with the lid closed. The sequel seems to have fixed these issues.
Infrared thermometers are handy devices for getting an accurate temperature on a surface area.
Usually, when barbecuing or grilling we are more concerned with monitoring the ambient temperature in our pit or grill, and the internal temperature of the meat so IR thermometers aren’t as useful.
They do come in handy if you need to measure the temperature of your pizza stone, as you can stand back and check the temp from a safe distance.
We recommend the ThermoWorks Industrial Infrared Temperature Gun thanks to its excellent durability and accuracy.
If you don’t need to keep as safe a distance, ThermoWorks sell a version of the Thermapen which includes IR capability which is also worth considering.
Check out our full guide to the best infrared thermometers.
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 hassles of monitoring temperature over 8+ hour cooks.
Cooking the best BBQ requires two important things:
If you’ve ever tried to smoke while getting stuff done around the house while relying on a wired thermometer then I feel your pain.
The only time I tried to do this, I got sick of running outside every 10 minutes to make sure my Weber Kettle’s temperature hadn’t suddenly spiked.
Luckily any of the bbq thermometers in this guide like the Smoke, 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.
If you want to grill or barbecue 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.
Setting up your wireless meat thermometer correctly at the start of your cook takes a lot of stress out of cooking barbecue.
With the right setup, you will monitor your ambient grill temperature and the progress of your meat without constantly opening the smoker.
Even opening your smoker every half hour can release valuable heat and affect the cooking process.
Grab a copy of our smoking times and temps chart to use with your thermometer.
To get an accurate ambient grill temperature, you need to measure the air temperature where your meat is sitting just above the grate.
The goal is to know the accurate temperature where the food is. Placing the probe too close and the cold hunk of meat will affect the reading. Too far away and the temperature won’t be accurate.
The best spot to set up your ambient temperature probe does depend on your exact cooker and might take some trial and error.
These are a few best practices to consider for placing your meat and smoker temperature probe:
If you don’t have one, you can buy a simple thermometer probe clip 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 its life.
If you’ve just splashed out hundreds of dollars on a new smoker you might be tempted to ignore our advice and use the built-in thermometer on the dome.
Please do not do this.
Even if you buy a top of the line smoker, virtually every manufacturer cuts corners on the dome thermometer. More importantly, these dials measure the temperature in the air space way above the food you are cooking.
For a comprehensive explanation of why you should not use the built-in thermometer we referred to the experts:
“Look at the stem of your dial thermometer when it’s installed in your cooker. You will see 1” to 2” of stem positioned right near the top of the dome or hood.
Temperature is being averaged over the length of that stem and read on the dial. Even if it’s accurate, it will be giving you the temperature in the air space well above the food you are cooking.
Heat is rising from the coals beneath and dissipating through the metal or ceramic of your cooker’s top. It is frequently as much as 50°F cooler at the dome thermometer’s location than it is where your food is cooking.”
While researching the best BBQ thermometers we noticed a fair few angry customers complaining about their probes failing after only a few uses.
With proper use, you should get at least a few years of use out of your thermometer 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 and probes:
Choosing the best smoker thermometer can be a tough task.
Especially if this is your first setup, then all the different specs, probes, and features can be super confusing.
While it costs a little bit more than the competition, after extensive testing, we are confident that the Thermoworks Smoke 2-Channel is the best thermometer for most pitmasters.
The outstanding build quality, user-friendly design, and the best in class probes make the Smoke our top pick for any serious smoking enthusiast.
Hopefully, we’ve made it easier for you to make the right choice. Let us know how you go in the comments below.