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How far to insert temp probes?

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    How far to insert temp probes?

    Yesterday, I noticed something again which has befuddled me. I was cooking some fairly plump chicken breasts on my Weber and had inserted a probe from my Maverick ET-733 into the largest breast to keep me posted on the temp.

    When it alarmed at 150 (ten deg. below the target) I came out and measured the temp on the two smaller breasts with my Weber 6492 "Instant Read" (They call it instant anyway...) Both of the smaller breasts were measuring around 130. I thought "thats strange" and measured the thick one with the instant reader and it was also 130.

    I suppose this might be a simple calibration issue, but I realized that I had the Redi-check probe only about 1/2 inserted. Could this be causing the Redi-check to read higher as the ambient temperature of the grill is picked up by the part of the probe outside the meat and conducted throughout the probe?

    Just curious as to others experience and/or practices. I just looked at the user manual and it doesn't address how far to insert the probe.

    Have you had a chance to check both thermometers in boiling water? I would trust the Mav before the Weber, but I've heard decent things about the Weber one. Sometimes moving the probes is what you need to do. I have wondered the same thing about the metal of the probe itself transferring heat toward the sensitive end in the meat, but I have never really experienced this to think it actually happens. Often, simply moving your probe moves it away from a bone, or toward a bone, and your temps changes. This is common. Simply having a Mav probe read 20 degrees off is not common. They do fail though, but typically they'll read some crazy number when they fail, like 182 degrees in ambient air when it's 12 degrees out in the snow.


      I was wondering the same thing the other day I was finishing a cook and my probes were in the little rubber thing on the side of my WSM. I was pulling on out by the wire (yes I know better) and it came apart. Everything that was inside the probe came out. It was interesting to see because I could not really tell where the temp was picked up or how high up the probe. I managed to get the wires back in the probe and crimp it better. I have not tested it yet but went ahead and brought a new one in case. Sorry just rambling.


        I read somewhere that heat from outside the meat does have some impact on the thermometer reading, but I wouldn't think it'd be 20 degrees. I always use the practice of using the maverick until I get within 10 degrees then I start using the thermapen to dial it in more precisely.


          Here's a thread I started a while back when I had thermometers reading at different temps that may be of help to you too:


            How far to insert temp probes? -- until it oinks or moos

            sorry couldn't help myself... and yes I ahve been drinking
            Last edited by smarkley; January 30, 2015, 06:56 PM.


            • Jon Solberg
              Jon Solberg commented
              Editing a comment
              NO not you bro. just sayin : )

            I decided to go ahead and do the boiling water and ice water calibration tests.

            Per the Thermoworks website, water should boil at my location at 211.29 degrees (very precise!) My results were:

            211.4 Weber Instant Read
            212 Redi-Chek #1
            212 Redi-Chek #2

            so pretty closely aligned. The same was true for the ice water test

            34.8 Weber Instant Read
            34 Redi-Chek #1
            32 Redi-Check #2 (also read "LLL" at one point - below the min range I suppose)

            So this would tell me that all of my thermometers are pretty accurate and calibrated to one another. Still wondering why I was so far off, but it was probably some form of user error on my part. Not the first time I've seen this I might add...


              PF, that's a great range of variance there, I would be COMPLETELY satisfied with those results. And the benefits having done this is the peace of mind of now knowing your probes are accurate, and accurate with each other, at least up to boiling temps. Chances are great they're accurate higher, but this is all the calibration anyone can do without lab equipment really.

              When I did my test, I logged all of my boiling water temps, as you did. Then I let the water cool, probes still in the pot. I then logged temps as it cooled, to make sure all of my probes were accurate at meat doneness temperatures, like 125, 135, 165, etc. This will at least let you know that your probes are accurate to each other at these levels, and you know you're accurate at cooking temps from the boiling water test. Your ice water test indicates the low end is accurate, so I would also assume the middle of the road temps are spot on too.

              Regarding your 20* fluctuation, I am guessing one of two things: You had it past center, so the probe was actually closer to the other side, and therefore was in warmer surface meat on the other side. Or you were close to a bone. It's always helpful to move the probes a bit when checking, especially if you do not have a reputable instant-read. My last chicken cook last week I had the same thing happen. One breast was reading done, I checked it with my instant read and it said no, we're only at 140 not 165. I moved them probe back a wee bit and the Mav then dropped slowly.

              This leads me to my next piece of advice, pick up a good instant read like the Thermoworks ThermoPop ($29) or the Corvette of instant reads, their Thermapen at just under $100. An instant read will give you the green light on exact doneness in a few spots on your meat, QUICKLY, which is very helpful with pork & chicken so you're not risking slightly undercooked meat, and helpful when searing steaks where it's not practical to have probe wires all over the place tangling up.
              Last edited by Huskee; January 31, 2015, 06:17 AM.


                Like Huskee said about using a thermometer to do your final temps. I use my mavericks but, if you didn't get the probe in correctly and you think it is done and you are ready to take it out use your thermometer to check at different spots on your meat. I have found more than once that I would have another area that wasn't done and would leave it on a bit longer to ensure the doneness was correct. And yes I thought I had the probe in the thickest part of the meat and thought that area would be the critical one.



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