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Joined by our passion for meat, beer, cards and meat, we created a compitition bbq team to partake in just that.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cooking Tools - Oven Thermometer

Cooking Tools - Oven Thermometer

Typically, people rely on the temp gauge in their BBQ / Smoker hood. This is WRONG - do NOT do this! Get yourself at least two oven thermometers and put one at each back corner of the cooking grate.


A few reasons:
  1. The thermometer that came with your grill is probably low quality
  2. The temperature at the hood of your grill is probably different than the temp at the grate
  3. Your grill probably has a "hot side"
  4. You want to be able to cook based on the recipes and if you use your hood gauge, your recipe will not turn out like they're supposed to.
  5. Oven thermometers are inexpensive and will make you cook better!

Here is the gauge on a typical grill / smoker. It is low quality and was often over 100 degrees off from the grate temp. You cook at the grate - NOT at the hood.

Using an oven thermometer at the grate gives you an accurate picture of what the actual temperature you are cooking at - where the food is cooking.

Your food is cooking at the grate - NOT in the hood! The grate temperature can fluctuate from side to side, corner to corner of every BBQ. I have never seen a BBQ / Smoker that has even heat distribution - no matter what the reviews for that grill say.

When you follow a recipe or cook the same meal twice, you want consistency and accuracy. Knowing what the temperature is allows you to accomplish this!

Grate temperatures are NOT the same across the grill. You can see (if you zoom in) that even on this higher quality grill / smoker that there is a severe discrepancy in the grate temp. The far left back corner is at 175 F and the far right back corner is at 300 F. Not pictured is the hood gauge which was at 350 F and the digital temperature probe (thermocouple) which read 290 F. The difference in grate temp from left to right was over 120 F! This is really significant! Knowing how YOUR grill acts and where the "hot spots" are will allow you to fine tune your cooking technique and repeatably cook food better and more efficiently.

So - are you convinced? This is cheap right? RIGHT! I buy these oven gauges at Smart and Final for around $7.00 each. Get two - it will set you back $15 and it will look cool on your grill -making you look cool - particularly after you regurgitate this really important info. Here's a link (no affiliation to these companies - the first ones that showed up in a search):



Make sure that you purchase thermometers that have a temp range that goes down to 100F and not higher than 550 or 600 F so you have some accuracy in the sweet spot. You want the low range so when you are smoking - or using a gas grill with 1/2 turned off - you can try and hit the 200 F - 250 F zone and be able to determine that accurately.

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