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Dec 12, 2003 01:32 AM

Best meat thermometer for the outdoor grill.

  • h

My father and I grilled a couple of capons for Thanksgiving. For whatever reason the drumstick never felt loose and we overcooked em. Good thing we brined em first, or they would have been inedible.

I would like to buy him a meat thermometer for Christmas. Cooks Illustrated reviewed a few several issues back, but passd on all of them. They were some sort of thermometer meat fork combo.

Any ideas about the best meat thermometer to buy? Remember it's for outdoor grill not the kitchen oven.

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  1. "Best" is a tricky issue. I use a Polder dual probe. It is a probe type, with a cable leading to the readout unit. You just leave it in the meat during the whole cooking process. The tip of the probe gives the meat temperature, while the back end gives the air temp in the grill. It works great in the oven too.
    The biggest problem with the fork type is you pierce the meat, and when you remove the fork a lot of inner juices escape.

    8 Replies
    1. re: AlanH

      I have a Polder dual probe as well; it worked once just fine, and now the readings don't seem to make sense at all. They call it an "instant read" but it seems to take a very long time to arrive at a constant temp reading, and the readings don't seem to make sense at all. I don't know if I'm doing something wrong, or if the unit is faulty, but when I try to test it by holding it under cold or hot running water, or in my hand, or by just leaving it on the counter-top, the readings seem wildly innaccurate. (I have changed the batteries.)

      Anyone else have similar problems, or insight?

      1. re: Tobias

        Almost surely you need a new cable and probe. As noted above when I "cooked" mine it behaved that way and it is now fine with a replacement.

        1. re: Tobias

          I had a similar problem in two different situations-- one was the new batteries I put in were bad, the other was when using the thermometer in the rain and the cable got wet. If you are worried about the probe wire burning, wrap it with a sheet of aluminum foil, not wound on too tight.

          BTW, not sure what temperature you expected to achieve with running water. Try putting the probe in a pot of boiling water-- should be 212 if you are near sea level, and a bowl of near-frozen ice-filled water, which should read 32. Mine is accurate at both extremes.

        2. re: AlanH

          The only time I tried my Polder on an outdoor grill I cooked the thermometer's cable and had to replace it.

          1. re: Tom Hall

            A lot of people push the probe through a potato and set on the grill to keep the heat from the grill's metal away from the sensitive probe. I have heard people still have issues with the flimsy cables being burned and haven't heard any good advice on remedying problem that yet.

            1. re: Dax

              I cooked mine too. Temps over 400 are the problem. The fine print on the Polder (and all the other ones I checked out) say max temp of 390. The should make one for outdoors rated to at 600-700.

              1. re: sbp

                600 to 700! What are you cooking at that temp.? There are industrial grade thermocouples that will work at that temperature. I work a lot with commercial ovens for non food purposes and can tell you the thermocouples have to be replaced regularly. I have had the same experience with my food thermometer which I bought at Wegmans. Unfortunatley since I am not home right now I can't tell you the name, but its not the one that has been talked about here. I just keep a spare thermocouple on hand and when I start getting strange readings, replace the bad one with the spare. The spares are only about $5 each and I can get them through the manufacturers web site.
                Good Luck

                1. re: Jambalaya

                  I'm not saying I cook at that temp -- but any average outdoor gas grill on high will go beyond 550. I have a Weber where the built in thermometer is off the charts after it's on high for half an hour. And I read in Consumer Reports (I think)that the max temps of many gas grills range between 550-700.

        3. I use an instant read.

          1. To monitor what I am cooking and also the smoker or grill, I use the Redi-Chek ET-73 remote thermometer. It has a probe for the meat and another for the smoker or grill. The nice part about the smoker or grill probe is that you can a range you want to monitor temps within and it will notify you if the temp goes out of the range. You can get this at The only problem with unit is its range. It is not quite as much as advertised.

            For an instant read theremometer, I would recommend the Thermapen from Thermoworks. If you get the fast read, it will give you a temp in four seconds. And it is very accurate. Get the thin super-fast model. They are not cheap. $79 each. And only sold at Thermoworks as far as I know.