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Does the thermometer increase the cook ... and through off the final temp?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by boxracing, Mar 7, 2019.

  1. Hey Y'all,

    Smoked a bunch of meat a few years ago and then the smoker sat for a while. Now I have time on my hands, so I am back in it to help give meals to a few folks in need (death of a parent for a friend and sick wife for the inlaws).

    I did 3 spatchcocked chickens in my masterbuilt gas smoker (square one) last week. Had trouble with the final temp. I stuck the temp probe about 1/2 way in the breast of one chicken (meat temp) and another probe into the smoker smoke stack (smoker temp). When my meat probe said the bigger one was done, I pulled them and then used an instant thermometer in the other two and they were way cold - 20-30 degrees less than final temp after 5 hours of smoking (these were also the littler ones).

    It took a few returns to the smoker and additional tries (and another 2 hours) to get each to the final temp, but I began to remember having this issue before....

    Question to the pro's: Is the probe acting as a heat transfer, and therefore, setting off a false temp for the final temp?? Kinda like when you put a skewer in a potato for baking so that it gets done sooner... the metal transfers the heat to the meat over the hours and gives you a higher temperature - does it cook the portion of meat where the probe is - and does it quicker than the rest of the meat so your temp is much higher (back to that potato concept)??


    I am doing a brisket this weekend (first time) and wanted to flush this thought out before setting that up to cook....

    To Probe or not to Probe.... that is the question! :)

  2. btw... tested all probes with the instant read and they were consistent with each other to a degree or two...
  3. SecondHandSmoker

    SecondHandSmoker Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    While the portion of probe that is not inserted into the meat will experience some heat transfer (gain), the portion that is inserted into the meat will gain whatever heat is present in the meat surrounding the probe.

    It sounds like maybe the tip of the probe was touching bone. Bone conducts heat.
    Or possibly the tip of the probe was actually closer to the surface than you realized.

    You could also have hot and cold spots in your smoker.
    Which rack did you have the undercooked birds on?
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
  4. Second hand. Thanks for responding!! see you theory and appreciate it. I checked for a bone but probe was centered in the best from a horizontal concideration - possible not vertically in relation to the rack so there is that but it was a thick breast and I was focused on being dead middle like usual.

    To answer your questions - the probed bird was on the middle rack. The others above and below ... until I was trying to get them up to temp and moved them all around.

    I should have added that the breast of the other side of the same bird was also less temp than what the probe was reading... not as extreme, but maybe 10 degrees - enough for that bird to go back on with the probe in the other breast to see what the new temp was for this bird until the end.

    The breast were just right- about to get dry, but the dark meat was a bit underdone.

    I usually push the probe about 3/4 of the way in (4” of the 6” probe) - maybe I will do less further to limit the transfer (if any) but am still wondering if there is heat transfer through the metal into the 1/8” or so of the meat surrounding the probe, increasing the temp.

    Thanks for your responses!!
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There is no heat transfer. The probes are designed Not to conduct heat specifically. If probes conducted, they would be useless for scientific experiments where highly accurate measurement to four decimal places is manditory.
    The meat probes are thin and hollow, no where near enough density to conduct energy like a steel skewer in a potato or half inch thick steel rod of a rotisserie...JJ
  6. SecondHandSmoker

    SecondHandSmoker Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    You are welcome.

    Also, try placing a probe at grate level so you know what the temp actually is.
  7. dacfan

    dacfan Smoke Blower

    Since heat rises would the probe in the smoke stack not show hotter temps than the actual cooking great? You may have been cooking at cooler temps than you thought you were.
    chef jimmyj likes this.