I’ve spent the better part of the last year on a mission: To grill every piece of meat to the exact proper temperature without cutting in to see if it’s cooked. It has not been easy ⏤ I prefer most cuts medium rare and consistently err on the side of undercooking my dinner. And while I’ve slowly been compiling a cheat sheet of cook times for various meats, and can now nail the perfect pork chop based on touch, I have a lot to learn. Recently however, I acquired a product that’s upped my grilling game — and decreased the chance of me giving my family food poisoning: the Meater smart meat thermometer.
I’m not a food person by nature, and while I enjoy grilling, I don’t ascribe to the stereotype that all men should be a skilled champion of the charcoal. Which is why I’m not the least bit above, or feel guilty about, using a meat thermometer. And the Meater, a $69 Bluetooth-enabled smart meat thermometer that syncs with a phone app, has proven again and again why that’s a good idea.
The Meater resembles a 6-inch stainless steel iPad stylus and comes with a handsome wooden charging station. It has two integrated probes, an internal sensor in the tip that can hit 212-degrees, and an ambient thermometer at the dull-end that maxes out at 527 degrees. Plunge it into the meat and both simultaneously register in real-time on the app as the meat cooks. And that app is where the Meater really excels. In addition to the data about temperature and time, it offers a robust database of foods, prompts, and how-to videos from experts.
Pairing with the app was seamless and the in-app instructions and videos were informative and simple to follow. That said, I did have a few issues pairing the Meater that required uninstalling and reloading the app. (This may very well have been my phone, it’s been a bit jacked up these days. But even device when was sitting next to the phone, it had some problems.)
That small hiccup aside, the Meater never leaves my side at the grill. You simply hit ‘Setup Cook,’ choose a colorful icon for the type of meat (beef, pork, poultry, lamb, or fish) you’re grilling, and then select the exact cut. From there, you note your preferred temperature. Then you insert the probe, throw the meat on the grill or in the oven, and press ‘Start Cook.’
From there, the app will display internal, target, and ambient grill temps as they rise, displays a countdown clock, and sends alerts to let you know it’s almost time to pull the meat off the grill, in case you’ve moved to another part of the house. (It has a 33-foot range.)
Thus far, I’ve used it to track the temperatures of burgers, pork chops, large steak tips, and chicken breasts. (Note: I tried chicken thighs too, but because the device needs to be inserted into the meat about 2.5-inches to get past the safety notch, they were too small to work.)
And while many may see a meat thermometer as an unnecessary crutch, it’s given me more confidence in my grilling technique. For instance, it revealed that I was indeed hitting the proper temps more accurately than I realized based on my grill times. Although it did expose one big mistake I had been making: not taking the meat off early enough to rest. Almost every time, the app told me to yank the meat about a minute before my pre-determined target time. I did so reluctantly but was pleasantly surprised as I watched the internal temp continue to rise on the app as the meat sat on the plate, still cooking to the desired temperature. Even when my medium rare tips felt too squishy to be fully cooked, they were beautifully pink in the middle.
Admittedly, my mission is not over. I still want to possess enough grilling expertise to be able to nail every piece of meat with little more than a stopwatch and a finger. But until I have those skills, you can guarantee I’ll be using the Meater every time I grill. Sure, it may be a crutch, but if it means I don’t have to throw a pork chop back on the grill three times to make sure I don’t give my family trichinosis, it’s one I most happily will hobble with.