We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.

Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Infrared Thermometer for Grilling



Repeatedly prodding your meat with a probe thermometer allows juices to escape.
Repeatedly prodding your meat with a probe thermometer allows juices to escape.

Men don’t always like to ask for help, even those who are avid barbecuers. In the super masculine world of outdoor cooking, some cooks view thermometers as a “crutch.” However, experienced grillers who want to hone their craft—and people who don’t have the time to grill regularly—have realized that having a couple of gadgets in their back pocket can help them avoid disaster.

In comes the futuristic infrared thermometer. Gadgets don’t come much cooler than something that looks like it came directly out of Star Wars!

If you’re not already the proud owner of a charcoal grill, what are you waiting for? Check out our article on the best charcoal smoker to help you get started on bringing that outdoor cooking flavor into your life!

Why use a thermometer while grilling?

Once you have any kind of thermometer and actually use it—so many useful tools get lost at the back of “that” drawer—you realize how invaluable they can be. If you grill a whole chicken or a piece of meat of any reasonable size (think brisket), a thermometer will let you know when it’s safe and ready to eat.

Thermometers can also be used to indicate whether you have the results you’re going for, without forcing you to cut into the flesh. Cutting into a piece of meat allows juices to escape. While this might be fine at the end when it’s already cooked, slicing into your bird repeatedly throughout the cooking process will leave you with a dry and visually unappealing hacked-up chicken.

Large cuts of meat require temperature monitoring to ensure they cook all the way through.
Large cuts of meat require temperature monitoring to ensure they cook all the way through.

What is an infrared thermometer?

Infrared thermometers infer the temperature from thermal radiation emitted by the meat itself. The science is a little complicated, but the important thing is that it measures from a distance. A regular cooking thermometer forces the user to push a temperature probe into the meat, resulting in damage. Like cutting, the process of poking the meat with a thermometer causes some juices to escape. This can be particularly annoying in grilling, because any juices that fall on the coals cause flames to shoot up, potentially overcooking the outside before the interior is cooked through.

Grilling up a brisket? Check out my picks for the best carving knife for the job!

It is very important to note that an infrared thermometer does not measure the internal temperature of the meat. This is a common misconception. What this type of thermometer will do is give you an instantaneous and accurate reading of the surface of the meat, coals, skillet, and area surrounding the grill. It will also read the temperature of anything or anyone you point it at, which will surely provide endless hours of entertainment during even the most boring grill day tasks.

Now that you know what an infrared thermometer is and what it does, let’s have a look at some of the better models available for the modern griller.

Don’t ruin your deck when you grill! Here are the best grill mats for wood decks.

Which model of the infrared thermometer is best for grilling?

Etekcity Lasergrip 1080 Non-Contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun -58℉~1022℉ (-50℃~550℃), Yellow and Black

View on Amazon

The Etekcity Lasergrip 1080 is a great piece of kit. Its robust construction can handle a few burns here or there and should guarantee many seasons of use. It has a particularly good range, which is ideal for those who have very large grills or wood-fired smokers that generate a lot of heat. It also features a visual laser guide so you know exactly where the reading is being taken from. Plus, it just looks cool! No real drawbacks with this model–it does the job quickly and accurately and looks and feels great.

Etekcity Infrared Thermometer 1022D (Not for Human) Dual Laser Temperature Gun Non-contact -58℉~1022℉ (-50℃ ~ 550℃) with Adjustable Emissivity & Max Measure Turquoise

View on Amazon

The Etekcity Infrared Thermometer 1022D has a dual laser targeting technology, which means it’s more precise than a thermometer with a single laser. It measures surface temperature ranging from -58°F to 1022°F and allows for both Fahrenheit and Celsius recognition. The 12:1 ratio of distance to spot size gives you the ability to pinpoint a certain area up close or step back to get a more general reading of a larger area. This model also comes with a low battery indicator so you are never stuck without a working grilling thermometer.

Head here for the best knives for Competition BBQ.

The future is now!

These are both great examples of infrared thermometers. Your best bet is probably the Etekcity Infrared Thermometer 1022D. It has more features that are relevant to novice and expert grillers alike, and it fits comfortably into your back pocket!

Next time you make a brisket, carve it like a pro with the best electric carving knives for brisket. Don’t want to go electric? Here’s the knife I recommend for trimming brisket.

Do you have a smoker? Learn all about how to find the best smoker thermometer.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Bryce Heitman

Bryce is not a real professor, but he's real nerdy in the kitchen. He's been barbecuing, chopping, and generally blazing food for many decades. He thinks there's definitely a better spatula or utensil out there that hasn't been invented yet.

Leave a Comment