Smoking is a delicious way of cooking or preserving meats, from fish to beef to kangaroo. Whether it is a slow cooked brisket, a pork belly for making bacon, juicy ribs or turkey breasts, smoking will bring out a fantastic and rich flavor. It leaves the meat succulent and falling off the bone.
You can choose to use brines, marinades or spice rubs for smoking. There is also a huge selection of techniques for smoking such as different flavors of wood chips, allowing you to experiment while searching for your own favorite recipe. When it comes to equipment, a probe thermometer will help to cook your meat better and perfect your recipes. Using one will also drastically decrease the chances of developing any of severe, unpleasant and possibly life-threatening illness caused by foodborne germs. Safety first!
Like any method of cooking meat, there is always a risk of food poisoning. Bacteria love to grow in warm, moist environments, ideally between 40 to 140 °F (4 to 60 °C). Smoking tends to keep meat at a lower level of heat for a greater length of time, so the risk of foodborne illness can increase. Bacteria such as salmonella can double in quantity every 20 minutes in that ‘Danger Zone’ of temperatures.
Therefore, it is incredibly important for your health to ensure the meat has reached a suitable internal temperature to kill bacteria. The US government agencies recommendations are similar to those internationally, suggesting an internal temperature of 165°F (73°C) for most meats.
Slightly lower temperatures can be okay for certain things, such as beef steak. With steak, the risk of contamination is low because the temperature will usually stabilize or even continue to rise a little bit during the resting time after removing from the grill or smoker. However, aim for an internal temperature of 165°F (73°C), especially for riskier types like ground meat or chicken, or look up recommendations for your particular cut of meat.
Advantages of a probe thermometer for grilling
While many people rely on the thermometer included in the hood of your grill or smoker, that only tells you one thing. The temperature of the hood. For monitoring the surface temperature of the grill, an infrared thermometer will allow you to accurately measure the heat from a distance. Check out this post to find out more about the best infrared thermometers for grilling.
With a probe thermometer, you can determine the exact temperature of the inside of your meat, eliminating the guesswork of when it is done. If you have ever had the problem where half of your sausages or pieces of chicken were cooked and the others still raw, then you realize that even experienced cooks can make mistakes.
A probe removes the difficult calculations you require when dealing with all the variables of smoking. It tells you the exact temperature for each part of the grill is, the temperature of the meat when you started it cooking, plus the weight and moisture content of that particular cut (in the case of something like brisket or large pieces of pork). Take the guesswork out of smoking and create delicious, safe-to-eat meats for yourself, family and friends.
Top probe thermometers
This fantastic model by the well respected ThermoPro is a remote wireless thermometer with a 300ft range. It is perfect for smoking, grilling and more. Buyers love the different features of this probe thermometer, making food safety ridiculously easy, even for beginners.
The precise settings allow you to cook perfect meat with preset temperatures. If you have a particular temperature to aim for, you can key it in. Otherwise, you can load up the USDA approved settings for nine types of meat, as well as settings for Rare, Medium Rare, Medium, Medium Well and Well Done. The LCD display smartly changes color during the cooking process—although, with timers and alarms, you’ll never need to worry about going overtime.
The probe itself can withstand up to 716°F (380°C). There are a few complaints about the probe readings going haywire after several uses, but it does come with a lifetime warranty. For such as affordable price, it would be hard to find a better one.
Palermo Instant Read Digital Cooking Thermometer with Collapsible Internal Probe
If you like simpler tools, without all the bells and whistles, then this is the thermometer probe for you. While it may not have fancy presets, colorful lights or Bluetooth capabilities, this certainly does the job well. Or medium—well, if you prefer, as there are the USDA temperature guidelines printed on the side of the unit. The small probe will not butcher huge holes in your meat, and it features a handy magnetism so you can stick it to most metallic surfaces and not lose it.
The auto-off function helps reduce battery drain too, so you won’t run out halfway through a big job. The only downside to this basic model is that you cannot leave the probe inside the smoker or the plastic might melt. However, due to its fast reading (under 4 seconds for a temperature), this is a very effective tool to help you smoke meat safely and to the perfect doneness.
Probe thermometers for smoking
While you may not consider it, improperly prepared and uncooked meat can cause a nasty illness. Don’t take risks with the health of you or anyone else when you decide to use your smoker. Delicious shouldn’t result in a trip to the hospital.
Our pick for the best probe thermometer for smoking is the ThermoPro TP07 due to its incredible features that let you sit back and enjoy a drink while your meat smokes. Enjoy the satisfaction and unique wonderful flavors you can create when smoking your own meats, without risk. Use a food probe type thermometer. Bon appetit!
- Smoking Meat Forums – What is the best meat probe thermometer out there?
- EGGhead Forum – Best wireless thermometer???
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Mike M