A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Annabelle is an experienced food writer and editor. She focuses on common sense, easy to replicate recipes formulated
to help keep things fresh and exciting while fitting into her day to day life as a wife and mother.
There is nothing worse than over cooking a steak on your grill. Sure, it’s awesome when the outside is seared to perfection, with those lovely grill lines, but how do you know when your food has reached your favorite temperature?
Well, some cooks swear by the feel method, using the firmness of the meat to gauge doneness. But that can be confusing, and you have to watch your grill closely, because over cooking can happen quickly. To avoid the confusion, and have perfectly cooked meats every time you grill, a meat thermometer is a necessary investment.
A meat thermometer can be a relatively inexpensive solution to the age-old question, “how do I know my steak is medium-rare?” So purchasing a good meat thermometer is a perfect place to start. But if you aren’t using it correctly, you’ll soon find that you’re no closer to that answer than you were without a meat thermometer. Yes, cooking without a food thermometer can be done, but it requires a lot of trial and error. Plus, would you really want to ruin a nice pork steak in the process?
To help you navigate the ins and outs of grilling with a meat thermometer, we are sharing with you our thoughts on the proper use of using a meat thermometer on the grill.
1. Pick the Right Thermometer
The first step in using a meat thermometer on the grill, is to purchase the proper thermometer for the job. There are a lot of options out there, and it can be confusing to find the right one.
One of the most frequent issues that we encounter when people are learning to use a meat thermometer is that they don’t buy one that is made specifically for meat. Believe it or not, these are specific for the job, and are designed to pierce the meat. Don’t just buy any old kitchen thermometer. It won’t do the job.
Dial versus Digital
We definitely prefer the digital thermometer to the dial thermometer when it comes to cooking on the grill. Most digital thermometers read a lot faster than the dial options. This means you can quickly monitor your meat, without letting too much heat out of the grill. This allows for a consistent cooking process.
Wired, Wireless and Wands
Ok, so now you’ve selected your digital thermometer. You’ve got more choices to make. This one really boils down to how much you want to spend. If you’re on a budget, a wand style thermometer will give you a quick, read out of the temperature of your food, and they are simple to use.
If you want to step it up a bit, and you have a little more to spend, consider a wired meat thermometer. These allow you to monitor the temperature of your meat without every opening up the lid of your grill.
This is handy if you are cooking larger cuts of meat, and don’t want to slow your cooking time. There are plenty of reasonably priced options out there, and some are even programmable.
Wireless meat thermometers are really a newer type product, and they will cost you a bit more. The principal with these is the same with the wired option, but without the wire.
2. Know Where to Measure
So now you have your thermometer and you are ready to grill. Great, but where and how do you measure to get the best results?
3. Know What Temperature You Like or is Safe
Now using a meat thermometer isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t know the temperature that you’re aiming for. A meat thermometer is only a useful tool if you understand the proper temperature for cooking foods.
It’s also helpful to know what foods can be cooked to a range of temperatures and which should be well cooked every time.
If you are going for “safe” cooking temperature here’s a list of desired temperatures:
Now, when it comes to steak, you’ll want to make sure that your meat hits the desired temperature for the perfect level of doneness:
4. Know What Temperature You Like or is Safe
One of the things we like the most about wired and wireless digital thermometers is that they often let you set an alarm when your food reaches the desired temperature. If you want to cook a great meal, but also want to enjoy your company or relax with a cold beverage while your meat cooks, then a thermometer with an alarm is a must.
Program to the perfect level of doneness, and sit back and relax. When the alarm sounds, check your food, and get ready to enjoy.
We think you’ll be really pleased with the results of your grilling adventures if you incorporate a meat thermometer into the process. Never again will you have to worry about food that is over-cooked and dry, or under-cooked and yucky. A meat thermometer is one tool that will take your grilling skills to the next level.
We hope you love the products we recommend. SeriouslySmoked.com may earn a commission on qualifying purchases from Amazon Associates or other vendors. Read more here.