Backyard Cookouts with Thermometers

Temping steaks on a mixed grill

When I picture a summer cookout, many things come to mind. A large cooler of drinks, maybe some kids running around, someone clacking a set of flip flops together next to a grill, a bag of charcoal propped up against it. I see people lined up with paper plates already adorned with mounds of potato salad; a table topped with echelons of watermelon slices await.

And what do I see on the grill itself? Why, all sorts of delicious meats! Brats, chicken, and—if it’s a cookout I really want to be at—steaks. Any will do. Well marbled sirloins, flavorful NY strips, ribeyes, all sizzling on the grill alongside their lesser kindred. The idea, of course, is that everything will be cooked to utter perfection—juicy, tender, and delicious.

As an ideal, it’s hard to beat. But the thermal reality of a cookout is that it’s kind of at nightmare. You have hot spots and cold spots on the grill. You have meats of different temperatures, different thicknesses, and different thermal permeabilities. Getting everyone’s food cooked just right, all at the same time, is far from easy. And the truth is that, sadly, a lot of cookouts have food that is….ok, at best. How can this be overcome? How can you have a great cookout with food that everyone will love? With temperature control. With thermometers.

How to have a successful cookout

To overcome the dry-steak blues, you need to look at temperatures. By checking the temperature of your steaks (chicken, brats, burgers) frequently, you can better know how to move the pieces between all the hot and cold spots to make sure they all get the right amount of charry, toasty outside and juicy, tasty inside. Neighbor Jim likes his steaks medium rare, which is great. Neighbor Phil likes his medium well but is otherwise a good guy. Only with a fast and accurate thermometer can you appeal both appetites, and that can only mean ONE thing: Thermapen® ONE.

A Thermapen ONE temping a steak
Medium well, Phil? You got it.

Thermapen ONE is the world’s fastest instant-read* cooking thermometer with full readings in one second or less, which means that by the time you have finished thinking, “What temperature is this?” the Thermapen ONE will already be displaying the temperature for you. When I say that, you may think that the reduction from the “2–3 seconds” of the Thermapen to “1 second or less” sounds small…it’s a one-second reduction, right? But really it’s a 50–66% reduction in time, and that’s saying something. If you are temping, say, brats, and have 30 of them on the grill, you can temp them all in 30 seconds, as opposed to 1–1.5 minutes!

A grill full of chicken thighs and drums presents no concern at all with this kind of speed and accuracy. You can temp every single joint of meat with pinpoint accuracy (now accurate to ±0.5°F [±0.3°C]) to know that they’re all not only food safe, but cooked also to dark-meat perfection—from 175°F (79°C) up to 195°F (91°C). By monitoring their temps throughout their thermal ascent and moving them around the grill accordingly, you can be sure that each piece gets the added temperature boost it needs when it needs it.

And you can even do it all after the sun goes down, with the better, higher contrast backlit screen!

Thermapen ONE is the intuitive answer

But what’s really great about this thermometer’s speed and accuracy—not to mention its intuitive design—is that it allows thermometry to melt into the background, the substrate of your cooking. It blends so unobtrusively into your cook that it becomes an extension of your cooking mind. It really has to be experienced to be believed.

They say the best design is the design you never have to notice or think about, and Thermapen ONE puts that kind of design right at your cookout like nothing else, so that you can seek perfection. Everyone will thank you.

Cookout food temperatures

Oh, and about those cookout times. Here’s a handy chart. We’ve got you covered.

food item Doneness temp
Chicken (white meat) 157°F (69°C)
Chicken (dark meat) 175–195°F (79–91°C)
Steak, medium rare 130–135°F (54–57°C)
Steak, medium 135–145°F (57–63°C)
Steak, medium well 145–155°F (63–68°C)
Burgers, meat ground fresh right before cooking(best done at medium rare to medium) 130–145°F (54–63°C)
Burgers, not fresh ground right before cooking 160°F (71°C)
Brats and other sausages 160°F (71°C)

* While we call the category “instant-reads,” the truth is all other thermometers take many “instants” to give a temperature reading. Only the Thermapen ONE lives up to the name “instant-read.”

Shop now for products used in this post:

Thermapen ONE
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