BBQ FAQ Section 6.1.2


6.1.2 Where should I measure the temperature?


[What's the best way to place the thermometer in the smoker so I'll know what the smoker temperature is? And do you guys leave the temperature probe in the smoker the entire time you're smoking?]

Editor--A summary of several posts--

Remember, the important place to measure the temperature in the smoker is at the meat. This is also not the easiest place to measure the temperature. Most smokers come with a thermometer in the lid, whether it's a bullet smoker or an off-set firebox smoker. The temperature measured at this point, in the lid, can be 50-70F higher than at the meat cooking rack. If your smoker has upper and lower racks, the top rack will be 20-50F higher than the lower rack. None of these things is a big problem once you learn your smoker. For the beginner, we suggest that you equip your smoker with a good analog thermometer in the dome or lid. A candy thermometer works well (you need a range of about 150F to 350F). Use this thermometer to monitor and control the temperature inside your smoker. A digital meat thermometer that you can poke into the meat is well worth the investment of $30. Once you understand the temperature profiles within your smoker, then you can stop using the digital thermometer and rely on the one in the dome or door. Also remember that in your horizontal smoker (SnP Pro, NBBD, Klose, OKJ's, etc.) the temperature at the meat rack will be highest near the firebox and coolest at the opposite end.

Like we've said before, you've got to put some heat to the meat and experiment with your smoker to get good at doing barbecue. Nothing beats experience. A whole chicken costs about $5 and is a good way to begin working with your smoker. You're not going to go bankrupt if you ruin a few chickens and chances are you won't ruin any. See Section 10.3.4 on how to prepare the chicken before it goes into the smoker.



This is the way I do it. I stick the digital thermometer probe through a potato, with the end sticking out about 2 inches. This keeps the tip off the hot metal of the grill. That way I can know for sure what the true grill temperature is and I can move that tater around to measure temperature at different places. I leave it the whole time I'm smoking. As for measuring the temperature inside the meat, I don't do it. I just use my old fork on the meat to tell when it's done. Well, that the way this old county boy do it.


Kurt Lucas--

I never stick a thermometer into any meat I barbecue. I only use the thermometer to watch the temperature at the cooking level. If the temperature of the smoker is watched closely and maintained properly, checking the meat temperature is not necessary. The only time it's necessary to measure the temperature of the meat is when you are doing cuts of meat that you want to cook to a temperature other than "well done".


Vince Vielhaber--

When I'm going to use one, I put the temperature probe in at the beginning and leave it there the whole time I'm smoking. I bring the cable through a hole in the front of the NBBD.


Terry Light--

I have a Polder and 2 Sunbeams thermometers. I always use 2 when cooking outside, usually stick one probe through the corner of whatever meat I'm cooking so the end is in the air right at the meat level to measure smoker temperature and I put the other probe in the center of the meat.



One thing that the digital temperature probes are really good for is to tell beginners when to take off the meat. With one of these probes, it is easy to tell when meats like pork loin, beef tri-tips and poultry are done as these meats are ruined by overcooking.

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BBQ FAQ Ver 1.0, 2.0 1997, 1998 William W. Wight. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 25, 1999
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