Backyard BBQ gadgets are hot.

Summer’s here and of my favorite things about the season is spending more time outside, specifically next to my charcoal grill. Backyard BBQ hasn’t changed much since the 1950’s. Some of the most popular grills today were on the market 60 years ago. One thing that has changed is determining when the food on the grill is ready to eat.

Digital thermometers are a great addition to any chef’s tool bag and today’s meat thermometers make it easier than ever to get steak, pork, fish, chicken and burgers cooked just the way your family friends want theirs.

The Weber iGrill 2 and iGrill 3 are very popular among accomplished backyard chefs. This gadget comes with 2 or 4 wired probes that insert into any meat going onto the grill. It allows you to get the perfect temperature for rare, medium rare, medium, and well done for the psychopaths who might like a perfectly ruined steak. Hey, that’s just me.

Once you insert the probes you can place the meat directly onto the grill grate. You’ll then set the temperature on your iGrill app and you can walk away. Other than turning it over a time or two, you won’t have to keep a close eye on your dish or cut it just a bit to see the color to make sure it’s done. The Weber iGrill shows you precisely the temperature of each cut of meat and when it is about to reach the temperature you’ve set, you’ll get a notification on your phone in the app. When it reaches the correct temp, you’ll get another notification that says the burger, steak or chicken is ready to eat. The Weber iGrill 3 with 2 probes is $100 and available on the Weber website.

Similarly, the Meater is a Bluetooth enabled meat thermometer but the probes are completely wireless. The Meater probe is inserted into the cut of meat and keeps track of the internal temperature which is monitored on your smartphone through the Meater app. No wire means it’s much easier to deal with when you’re flipping a steak. You’ll get a notification on your smartphone when it reaches the selected temperature and it goes a step farther by keeping track of the temperature as the meat is resting (under tinfoil). You won’t have to worry about carrying a second device around the patio or inside, just keep the Meater probe inserted inside the meat. Good backyard chefs know it’s important to take the food off the grill just before it reaches the perfect temperature and let it rest and finish cooking to the perfect temperature. 

The only issue I had with the Meater probe is that it was difficult to put into certain meats such as pork chops and thin cut steaks. The probe is a bit larger than the ones with the Weber iGrill and must be inserted to a line a few inches from the probe point. This is easy to do with thicker steaks and burgers and large pieces of chicken. If the meat, such as chops or fish are thinner, it isn’t as easy using the probe.

One Meater probe with a long range Bluetooth connection is $100. Two Meater probes  are $129.

Perhaps my go-to meat thermometer is the ThermaWorks Thermapen IR. This is more of a traditional meat thermometer. It’s digital but without Bluetooth. There is a probe that rotates into a safety position when not in use. By inserting the probe into any cut of meat you see the internal temperature in an instant. You’ll need to know what temperature you need for medium, medium rare etc but the Thermapen IR is very good and very fast checking the temp on every cut of meat on the grill.

ThermaPro makes several meat thermometers, the IR version has InfraRed for no-touch external temperatures. The reason I like this feature is that sometimes I like to grill out Slam Burgers in a cast iron skillet placed directly on the grate. To do this correctly I need the skillet to be hot enough to get the outside of the burger cooked just right. By pointing the Thermapen IR at the skillet I get a very accurate reading of its temperature. 

The ThermaPen IR is $139

These digital meat thermometers are one of the few big improvements in the last 60 years of backyard BBQ’s and make great Father’s Day gifts. A gift you’re actually giving to the entire family.