Grilling and smoking require precision and attention to detail. Temperature control is one of the most critical factors in achieving consistent, delicious results. Unfortunately, we too often rely on the built-in thermometers provided with their equipment, which can lead to disappointing outcomes because we believe what they tell us.

TLDR: Don’t trust the built-in thermometer on your grill, smoker, oven, fridge, or freezer. Invest in accurate external thermometers to ensure proper cooking temperatures and food safety.

The Problem

If your grill or smoker came with a built-in thermometer, there’s a high probability that the number it is giving you is off, and often by a lot. For example, the built-in thermometer of my beloved pellet grill is often off by 50 to 100 degrees from what I set it to. This will have drastic effects on the results you are getting. Also, the built-in thermometers are often placed in a spot that is different from where the food is being cooked, so you are getting a different reading.

Here’s Why It Matters

If the temperature reading on your grill, smoker, or oven is inaccurate, you’re essentially cooking blind. Even a slight temperature variance can throw off recipes and techniques that require specific cooking temperatures or times. Without an accurate thermometer, you’re left guessing and increasing the chances of disappointing results despite your best efforts.

The Solution

  • Invest in a high-quality, accurate thermometer like the Thermoworks Smoke, Thermoworks Signals, or Thermoworks Square Dot. These all have highly accurate thermometers that sit inside your grill and can tell you the actual temperature, so you can adjust accordingly.
  • Use a second or even a third thermometer to gauge the temperature accurately. Don’t rely solely on the built-in thermometer or a single external one.
  • Calibrate the thermometer regularly – see your equipment manual for how to calibrate it. Even if it is calibrated, there’s a good chance that the thermometer that comes with it isn’t as accurate as a dedicated device.

It’s Also Relevant to Your Oven, Fridge and Freezer

Just like your grill or smoker, your oven, refrigerator, and freezer all rely on their built-in thermometers to maintain the temperature. It’s crucial to ensure these are accurate for proper cooking and food safety when keeping your food cold in the fridge or frozen.

Add a separate thermometer to your oven, fridge, and freezer so you can verify everything is within the desired temperature range for optimal cooking and food preservation.

Other Tips

  • Monitor the temperature closely during cooking, especially during longer cooks or when the weather changes and your fuel level fluctuates.
  • Cook to temperature, not by time. Cooking times can vary greatly based on factors like the starting temperature of the meat, ambient temperature, and more. Follow this guide to cooking to temperature for consistent, reliable and better results and learn about the variables of cooking time.
  • Consider investing in a temperature controller like the Thermoworks Billows for your grill or smoker to maintain consistent temperatures automatically.

Don’t Let Your Grill Lie to You Anymore. Inaccurate temperature readings can ruin even the best recipes and cooking techniques. Take control of your cooking by using reliable, accurate thermometers.

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