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How To Use a Grill Surface Thermometer

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I guess how to use a grill surface thermometer is something I never thought much about but there are enough people searching it that Google has it as a suggested search term. To over simplify it: you just place your grill surface thermometer on your grates and read the temperature. It can be that simple or it can get a little complicated.

Place your thermometer on your heated grill grates and let it sit for about 3 minutes. This allows it to fully get up to the proper temperature range. Once the needle is sitting in that range it will only take about 30 seconds when it is moved to get an accurate reading.

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How to use a grill surface thermometer to find your heat zones:

Heat your grill to the high temperature range and place your grill surface thermometer in the center of your grates for a full 5 minutes with the hood up. Then take your first reading, this will be your baseline that you want to compare all your other readings to.

Moving the hot thermometer around the grill is easy to do with your tongs, spatula or even a meat hook.

Next move the thermometer to the upper right corner of the grill, keeping it around 6 inches away from the side and back of the grill. Let it sit there for about 30 seconds until the temperature stabilizes and take your reading. Move the thermometer directly over the closest heat deflector to the left for the next reading, the to the gap between deflector and repeat until you have finished with the top of the grill. Repeat this process for the center and then the lower portion of your grates.

Don’t forget you upper racks

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Now you will know your heat zones both hot and cool. This information will make you a better all around grill master without all the trial and error.

Generally speaking: higher end grills have less fluctuation across the grilling surface than cheaper grills.

How to use a grill surface thermometer to help you grill:

The hotter spots on your grill is where you want to sear your meat when possible. Use your newfound knowledge of the higher and lower heat areas for placement of larger and smaller foods to get them cooked at the same time as well.

Some grill surface thermometers can be mounted below wire grid grates as well. In the image below you can see it held into place with the help of a metal skewer. Note: This typically will not work with cast iron grates as they are to thick.




Is a Certified Food Safety Professional, KCBS member and has over 10 years experience in the food service industry.

“I have experienced some of the best food this country has to offer and nothing is better than the food that comes off my grill!”

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