Where to place thermometer in a smoker

Last Updated on: 23rd April 2023, 02:43 am

The effectiveness of a smoking process depends on the maintenance of temperature and moisture throughout the smoking process

. But temperature management is dependent on the type of thermometer you are using.

If you are using a faulty thermometer, then you will not be able to calibrate the temperature and achieve the desired temperature .

The built-in thermometers that come with the smoker are usually inaccurate and do not measure the actual temperature accurately.

Moreover, good quality thermometers can get faulty with time, so you should consider modifying them with an accurate one.

But a lot of beginners get confused when it comes to putting a thermometer in a smoker. For them, we designed this step-by-step guide. Let’s get started.

Where to place thermometer in a smoker

The effectiveness of a thermometer to measure the accurate temperature at which your food is cooked depends on the placement of thermometer.

If the thermometer is placed at a wrong point, then you will not be able to calibrate the temperature effectively.

A thermometer should be placed at least 3–8 inches higher than the cooking grates and possibly in left side of the smoker if you are using an offset smoker.

The rest is that most of the pitmasters smoke food in the left zone due to the low temperature.

So by placing the thermometer there, we are increasing our chances of getting an accurate temperature.

When it comes to the meat smokers, especially the offset smokers, their cooking chamber is divided into different zones  on the basis if temperature.

These zones are known as the “hot zone” and “cold zone,” depending on the temperature of smoker.

The right side of an offset smoker has the highest temperature because it is near to the firebox .

The heat from the firebox enters the cooking chamber from there, and it is decreased when it reaches the left side of the cooking chamber.

Moreover, if we compare the top half and the bottom half of the smoker, the top of the smoker will have a higher temperature than the lower half. The reason is that the hotter air rises, taking the heat along with it .

When deciding where to attach your thermometer, you should make sure you are placing it as close to the food as possible.

Because we have to measure and calibrate the temperature where food is placed, regardless of the other side of smoker.

To increase the chances of getting the accurate temperature at which food is being cooked, you should consider buying a smoker with longer probes , so that it reaches near the food.

It is done because the temperature of air present within the smoker can be different from the temperature at which food is being smoked.

For more accuracy, you should consider using a digital thermometer. These are really effective in measuring the food temperature because they are usually stuck inside the food being smoked.

Moreover, you can even use more than one probe. So you can determine the temperature of hot zone and the cold zone at the same time.

How do you put a thermometer in a smoker?

Modifying your thermometer is a bit of a complex process, and you need to be familiar with drills and other mechanical things to get it done correctly. But first, you need to get some things that you’ll need for the process.

Material required

  • A thermometer: If you want to change your smoker’s thermometer, you might want to buy a good quality smoker ahead of time to use as a replacement for the one that came with the smoker.
  • A drill : a drill performs the main function while modifying the thermometer by creating a hole in the body of the smoker that is appropriate for the attachment of a new thermometer.
    You can use any type of drill, but make sure to practice it before using it on a smoker.
  • Nuts and bolts: after attaching the thermometer onto the body of the smoker, you need to fix it properly to make sure it doesn’t fall off later.
    For this purpose , nuts and bolts are usually used .
  • Paper sheets or clothes: this is an optional component, but you can have them as a protective measure. These are usually placed on the racks of smoker, so that the particles created during drilling don’t fall onto the cooking racks.
  • Lubricant: This is also an optional but good thing to have . Lubricant is usually used in place of drilling to make sure the drill creates a hole smoothly and doesn’t demage the build of smoker.


  1. First of all, you should consider opening the lid of your smoker and placing a sheet on the cooking racks that is large enough to cover the racks completely.
    If the particles drop on the racks then it can affect the quality of food being smoked.
  2. After that, you should decide the point at which you want to attach your smoker. You should be careful about this because different regions of smoker have different temperatures.
    So, you should consider choosing a point at racks level to make sure to measure the temperature at which food is being smoked. We will explain it later in this article.
  3. After deciding where to attach your thermometer, you should mark it with a marker and take your grill out. You should start your grill and create a hole in the smoker .
    You should consider stopping every 5 seconds to make sure you are doing it right.
  4. While drilling, you should consider using lubricant to avoid demaging the build of your smoker.
  5. After you have made a hole, you should open the smoker lid and drill from the inside. It is done to smooth the the edges of hole from the interior.
  6. Now that you have successfully made a hole for your thermometer, you should consider placing your thermometer in the hole .
    You should stretch the probe of thermometer to its maximum length to make sure you are measuring the accurate temperature.
  7. After attaching the thermometer to smoker, you should consider fixing it. For fixing, we generally use a nut.
    You should attach a nut on the both sides of smoker and tighten it to hold the thermometer in its fixed place.
  8. Finally, after you have attached the thermometer to the smoker, you should open the lid of smoker and take out the paper sheet.
    While doing so you should be extremely careful about the tiny metal particles present on the sheet so that they don’t fall into the smoker.

How to Use a Wireless Thermometer in a Smoker

These are digital thermometers that are user friendly and measure the temperature accurately.

They help you measure the temperature of the smoker without being physically attached to it. A digital thermometer consists of three main parts.

  • Probe
  • Transmitter
  • Receiver

It doesn’t require any complex setup like manual thermometers, and you can even use them without creating holes in your smoker.

Furthermore, they usually come with more than one probe, which can help you measure the temperature of different sides of smoke at the same time.

The temperature measurement of the digital smoker starts with the probes. These are the parts of the digital thermometer that go inside the smoker and usually within the food being smoked.

They can also be attached to racks if you want to measure the smoker temperature and not the internal temperature of food.

The probes measure the temperature of food and send it as a signal to the transmitter. The signal is carried by a wire that interconnects the transmitter and probe .

Sometimes the probe can be directly attached to the receiver.

The transmitter receives the temperature in the form of a signal and transmits it to the receiver in the form of a radio signal.

The receiver is a user friendly device which displays this signal in the form of a temperature value.

You can carry the receiver with you and get notified of the temperature even when you are not standing near the smoker.

This is how wireless thermometers measure the temperature in a smoker.

where to put temp probe in smoker

A digital thermometer often comes with two or more wired probes that need to be placed inside the smoker to measure the temperature.

The right placement of the probes is really helpful in the measurement of an accurate temperature inside the smoker.

The temp should be placed according to the purpose you need to achieve with it.

If you want to measure the temperature of the smoker, then the probe should be placed on the cooking racks and attached with a clip to avoid falling.

You can even use two or more probes at the same time with a single thermometer to measure the temperature of different zones of smoker at the same time.

For example, you can place one probe at the bottom rack while the other is at the top rack to measure the temperature of both racks simultaneously.

Moreover, if you are using it to determine the internal temperature of food being smoked, then you should place it as close to the food as possible.

You can also attach it to the rack near the food or simply stick it into the food.

To measure the internal temperature, you should stick the probe into the meat.

You should consider sticking the probe in portion that usually takes the longest time to be smoked in comparison to the rest of the meat chunk.

It is done by taking out the food when it has reached the desired temperature.

For example, if you are smoking a brisket, then you should consider sticking the probe into the center to make sure to get the most accurate temperature.

Moreover, you can also stick two probes in a single meat chunk to measure the temperature of different parts of meat at the same time.

You can stick them in opposite directions to measure the overall temperature of the chunk.

While placing probes in the smoker, you should make sure that they don’t come into direct contact with the fire.

Moreover, while placing it inside the meat chunk, you should avoid sticking it near the bone because bone will take longer time to heat up than meat.

Final Verdict

You need to maintain the ideal temperature inside the smoker to get the best flavor possible.

But to make sure that you are reading the accurate temperature, you should consider using a good quality smoker that can measure the temperature effectively.

Placement of the thermometer inside the smoker is also crucial, because the temperature in the smoker is not the same as the cooking chamber.

Rather, it is divided into different cooking zones depending on the temperature.

While placing the thermometer probe inside the smoker, you should make sure to place it near the side of the smoker in which you smoke your food .

My personal choice is to place the probe 3-8 inches higher than the cooking grates in the left side of the cooking chamber.

if you enjoyed this article ,then don’t forget read our article on How to tell when sausage is done

Jakob miller