Can You Leave Thermometer In Meat While Smoking?


Leaving a thermometer in the meat you are smoking has many benefits. I can explain them below and what type of thermometer is needed.

A thermometer with a wired temperature probe can be used continuously while smoking meat. The probe is left inside the meat for the duration of smoking. The temperature reading can be view able without having to open up the smoker.

Monitoring the temperature of the meat you are smoking has become really easy. Meat thermometers can be dual purpose, wireless or even connect up to a smart phone.

Leave-In Meat Thermometers

Leave-in meat thermometers is a unofficial term used to describe the kind that remains inside the oven/smoker throughout the cooking.

Leave-in as opposed to instant read is setup to monitor temperatures from start to finish. Instant read thermometers are usually not designed to be left inside a grill, oven or smoker.

The type of thermometer that can be left in the meat are digital models with wired probes.

The leave-in meat thermometers consist of three components. These parts all work together and can include different features.

  • Digital Receiver
  • Thermometer Transmitter
  • Temperature Probe

Digital Receiver:

This is the device where the temperature screen is displayed. Similar to a remote, the receiver can have many features. Such as a timer and alarm that goes off when temperature has been reached.

Also some have built in preset temperatures that are used for different meats. Each one has a programmed setting that will help you reach a desired level of meat doneness.

A neat feature on some recievers is a colored screen indicator. This makes the process very easy as you don’t need worry so much about temperature.

One indicator will let you know when temperature is within 15 degrees F. That way you can get prepared to take food out.

Receivers are wireless devices you can carry around with you. So they allow for remote monitoring. The range can very but nicer models can work up to 300 feet in distance.

Thermometer Transmitter:

A thermometer transmitter is the device that uses radio frequency. A built in antenna produces radio frequencies and communicates with the digital receiver.

The two components are usually synchronized together by the manufacturer. So you don’t have to worry about getting them to sync up, they are ready to be used.

The radio frequency works a lot better than Bluetooth connections. Which are easily interfered and shorts the range significantly.

A transmitter is where the probe is plugged into. The transmitter sits on the outside of the smoker. A wired probe goes from the transmitter to inside the smoker.

Both the transmitter and receiver will require separate batteries.

Temperature Probe

The probe is the small needle like device that pokes into the meat. Wired up with high heat resistant cables that allows it to remain inside your smoker.

The probe is inserted into the meat, usually the top part works best. And will give a reading for the center of the meat.

Some digital thermometers come with multiple probes. This allows for monitoring a few types of meat at once instead of just one.

Also some have dual purpose to measure the internal meat temperature and the inside of the smoker. Called a “pit probe” or “chamber probe” this one will measure temperature inside smoker. So you can keep an accurate reading of the overall cooking temperature.

Where Do I Put The Thermometer In My Smoker?

If you are installing a new built in thermometer or just trying to figure out where to put the probe.

The best locations are as close to the meat, within 5 inches. A “pit probe” (the one measuring smoker temperature) should be level with the food. Place is near the grate or slightly above.

The problem with some of the built in thermometers is that they are reading only a portion of the inside. Sometimes they are near the top of the pit.

Using a digital thermometer with multiple probes works well. You can place them so that one will measure the top chamber and one the bottom.

How Far Do You Stick A Meat Thermometer In?

The temperature probe needs to be stuck in the thickest parts of the meat. Towards the center or where the cooler parts will be. You want to find the spot that is going to take the longest to cook.

Ideally the center of the meat is the best spot to reach, this could be 1/2 inch to 2 inches within. Of course if the meat is not perfectly round then find some of the thicker parts.

Make sure that the probe is not touching any inner bone. The bones take longer to heat up and will give a cooler temperature reading. You want to be away from the bone.

If the meat is the a thin cut then you can stick the probe in sideways, but for most cuts you should go from the top.

Each probe has a specific length of where the reading is taking place. This is the section of the probe that has the temperature sensors. How much of the probe is the sensor, sometimes its the whole probe.

Just read the manual or look for more information on the model and brand of probe you are using.

How Do You Clean A Smokers Thermometer?

Cleaning your thermometer is going to keep it working properly. A clean probe will sense temperature better. Any leftover grub on the probe will block the sensor from working properly.

Another important reason to always clean the probe is to avoid cross contamination. Since the probe will be placed in raw meat.

A good tip is to sanitize the probe with alcohol before each use. Since you are going to stick it inside the meat. It doesn’t hurt to make sure it is disinfected first.

Cleaning the temperature probe can be done in a sink by hand. Wash with warm water and soap using a towel to wipe off the probe. Probes should not be dunked or submerged in water.

Can You Use A Meat Thermometer To Measure Oven Temperature?

Leave-in probes are made for BBQ, smokers and ovens. As long as you are using a temperature thermometer that is heat resistant. Dial thermometers are made to be placed inside ovens and smokers.

Any of the digital thermometers with probes can be used for kitchen ovens. Since most have a dual temp probe, you can use one to find out the temperature inside your oven.

The receiver and transmitter are still placed on the outside. The wires will still work will the oven door shut over them. They will not interfere with cooking as the doors insulation will seal around them.

You may be surprised to learn your oven readings have been off by a few degrees or more. A meat thermometer can be used for a oven in the same ways they are used for grilling or smoking meats.

Bluetooth Meat Thermometers: Pros and Cons

Bluetooth capability is a feature that is commonly seen on digital meat thermometers. The benefit of Bluetooth is that no wifi is needed to connect. You turn on Bluetooth on your phone, look for nearby devices.

When your meat thermometer device appears you can sync up with it. This will work anywhere you are cooking. Bluetooth will work when camping, a backyard with no wifi, or a parking lot (tailgating).

One drawback of Bluetooth is the range, that is the max distance you can remain connected. A range of 100 feet means you can remain connected for up to that distance.

The problem is that objects such as trees or even walls hinder the connection. So you may not be able to go back inside and walk very far, you may have to constantly be reconnecting.

Another draw back off Bluetooth is that anyone can connect to it. Once Bluetooth is enabled any device can search and connect with your meat thermometer.

Not that this a very serious issue, but it could be when you are camping in a busy area. Some one might confuse your device for theirs.

One Meat Thermometer Myth

A myth is that when using a meat thermometer. The act of poking the meat creates a hole where the meat juices will leak out. This will cause the meat to dry out faster.

This is not true and has been busted. Meat juices drain out through the meat all over. A hole being poked does not drain any extra juices. Since the juices are within the whole cut, not just the center.

So hopefully if someone tells you this you can know its a myth. So do not worry about this silly myth the next time you use a meat thermometer.

Eric M Wilkens

Content writer and recreational cook. I also enjoy craft beer, comedy and the outdoors.

Recent Posts