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Temperature Control (and Measurement) on a Kettle

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    Temperature Control (and Measurement) on a Kettle

    So, I am trying to spend more time on my Weber Kettle because the temp control on my BGE is cheating. I need to be able to cook on a "standard" cooker so I am trying to transfer my low n slow skills to my Kettle. Theoretically should be viable, but the BGE is almost a crutch... hence ->
    My kettle doesn’t have a thermometer. I see many w/ a SnS, and that is great. But I think putting a pile of charcoal on one half of the kettle should be capable of controlling temp in a "good enough" way. My problem is my kettle doesn’t have a lid temp probe. I know kid temp isn’t the grate temp, but I am accustomed to when a recipe says "run [email protected] that 275 lid temp is correlated with the instinctive cooking time/temp at the grate. Although I know my lid temp isn’t the actual grate temp, I have adjusted my "gut” instincts to know how that translates to grate temp. More seasoned grill masters, how do you resolve this problem? Is there an accessory I am missing? I know pitmaster knowledge is hard earned, but I have really struggled to adjust to the Kettle in Cold Michigan temps compared to the BGE. I have the Insta-Read, a Weber MiniGrill that is Bluetooth enabled, and an IR Temp gun.
    Fundamental Question:
    How do you measure "grill temp" on your kettles? In the spirit of what my "Dilemma" section indicated... do I just dangle a probe? Shoot grate temp? Am I missing a tool?

    Can't trust the thermometer in the lid. Get yourself a Thermoworks DOT a grate and meat probe. They were just having a good sale.


    • jhoskins
      jhoskins commented
      Editing a comment
      I have a meat probe, are you saying use the DOT on the grate? Or is there a dot with a dual input grate/meat probe?

    • Richard Chrz
      Richard Chrz commented
      Editing a comment
      jhoskins the dot is only a meat probe. You could obviously buy the grate probe and clip as well. I’d suggest getting the smoke. That comes with both. And a remote display that is rf

    • RonB
      RonB commented
      Editing a comment
      I use a meat probe for ambient temps and it works well. If you don't have a grate clip, just ball up enough al foil to keep the probe off the grate.

    It’s definitely not the budget solution, but a Fireboard is worth every penny it costs. I’ve used mine for 3 years now 2 or 3 times a week and I have one probe that needs to be replaced. It’s been outside in every kind of weather, the only thing I haven’t done to it is put it in the dishwasher.


      Definitely need a grate probe. A pile of coals kinda works fine, and a snake works pretty well, but the SnS is really more convenient and I think it’s worth it.


        You can also put any probe through a small potato or similar produce.

        I generally just temp the chickens. I guess that’s after being able to read the kettle. Ribs n such may be a different story.


          OK... ignore the above because they're confusing. Probably the bourbon

          The issue - dome thermometers are inaccurate and worse than useless.

          Get a Thermoworks smoke or similar. What you're after is a thermometer with at least 2 probes. One is set at grate level, one goes in the meat.

          Here's how to light a kettle (source - me. I have a 22" weber with SNS).

          Set your bottom vents at 1/4 open. Top at 1/2.

          1) Light 5-10 coals.You can do this in a chimney or in one small pile on the side of the kettle. If using an SNS, in one corner. DO NOT add any other coals yet!/
          2) Let them ash over. Then add coals in an arc along the kettle wall, with some touching the lit coals. You're aiming for the coals to slowly light those next to them.
          3) put some wood on the lit coals and the coals next to them
          4) Put the grate thermometer in place, put the lid on and walk away for 15-30 mins to let temps stabilize and smoke to settle down.
          5) Put on the meat, insert probe.

          I usually get temps in the mid-200s.

          NOTE NOTE NOTE:

          You will not get rock solid, flat temps. This does not matter.
          Last edited by rickgregory; March 14, 2021, 11:39 PM.


          • jhoskins
            jhoskins commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks rickgregory you seemed to read my mind. In reality, the issue is more along the lines that although some thermometers don’t tell you much, it is at least a reference point (one that my Weber kettle doesn’t have).

            My normal process is to light a chimney of charcoal for 10 minutes or so till about half the coals are rocking, then dump it in a half-a-pizza type configuration, set the top/bottom grate to about 50%, and let the temps stabilize for 10 minutes or so.

            To be continued...

          • jhoskins
            jhoskins commented
            Editing a comment
            Part 2.

            The problem with my process is that after I shoot the grate temp w/my IR thermometer, I don’t get another reference point on grate/ambient temp in the grill. Of course I use a meat probe, but after spending some much time cooking BGE where the temp stability is a thing of beauty, adjusting to the Kettle for indirect cooks has been tricky. So if I have a bit too much bourbon or get distracted... you get my last post on SUWYC.

            If I get a two-probe thermo, how do I hook it to the grate?

          I suggest getting the Maverick XR50 has 4 probes and 2 grate clips. Sometimes more is better. It's a great product with excellent after sales service.
          Last edited by holehogg; March 15, 2021, 05:39 AM.


            Grate thermometers will tell you the temp at grate level. Most come with a clip to attach it to the grate and keep it off the metal so you get air temp. Dome thermometers are useless because your food isn't in the dome, it's on the grate. They also are inaccurate.

            IR thermometers wont be useful on a grate, I think and anyway you don't want to keep opening the kettle to use one over the cook.

            as for lighting, do what I say above. Start with a few coals. Kettles with lots of lit coals at the start usually run away. Start with the vents at 1/4 because it's easier to open them and let the temp float up than it is to close them down and wait for it to cool.


            • jhoskins
              jhoskins commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks! I will play with your lighting technique for sure. I’m a little hesitant with grate thermometers because I’m afraid of burning them out. On my BGE I burned out a probe when I cranked it up to sear... oops. I guess it’s more important to hit the temp while doing longer cooks. I don’t really need to know grate temp when I am letting it rip

            • rickgregory
              rickgregory commented
              Editing a comment
              Bleh, missed your reply jhoskins. Might be moot, but all of my comment above is about indirect cooking. The grate probe would be placed near the meat, away from the coals. If you're searing you don't need one - the idea there is just to crank it to max and get a sear.

            • Panhead John
              Panhead John commented
              Editing a comment
              jhoskins I’m late to this, but everything rickgregory said. Any grate probe can burn out if placed over the coals, that’s not where they should be placed, you want it placed on the indirect side near the meat. And an IR thermometer won’t give you accurate ambient temps for the cooking grate.
              Last edited by Panhead John; April 21, 2021, 10:57 AM.


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