A thermometer is one of the most important tools for any serious BBQer. Anyone who has smoked a boston butt, tri tip or brisket knows that a thermometer is the only sure way to know if the meat is cooked and ready. I have cooked those low and slow smokes, and assumed the meat would be ready, only to have the thermometer tell me the meat needs another hour or so in the smoker. I have tried lots of cooking thermometers and rarely do I try one that I find to be innovative. Functional yes, but thermometers are not known for being ingenious. That changed recently, when I tried this new little thermometer from iDevices.
The iGrill mini is a digital thermometer that connects, via bluetooth, to an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPad mini or iPod). Through a free app, available at the iTunes Store, you are able to track the temperature of the food wirelessly. On top of that, you can even choose a target temperature and your mobile device will give you an alarm once that temperature has been reached. This is one high tech thermometer!
Features (as found on the iDevices website):
- Temperature range is -22°F to 572°F
- Wireless through Bluetooth with a 150 foot range
- iDevices Connected app is available for free on the iTunes App Store (Android app is coming soon!). Compatible with iPod touch® 5th gen and later, iPhone® 4S and later, iPad mini™ and later, iPad® 3rd gen and later. Requires iOS 7
- 150 hour battery life
- LED that changes color as the meat approaches preset temperature
- 5 foot cable from thermometer probe to iGrill mini control device.
- Magnetic mounting
For the test run, I started up my Bradley Electric Smoker. It was Super Bowl Sunday and the perfect opportunity to put the iGrill mini through its paces. I made some smoked maple chipotle chicken breasts and used that to test the thermometer. Chicken breast can overcok easily and come out dry and tasteless. Being aware of the internal temperature of the meat is critical to ensure that the chicken is moist and juicy.
My smoker has a vent at the top, so I ran the probe down through that opening. This allowed me to know the temperature of the meat while the door was closed. I love that!
I stuck the probe in the fat portion of the largest chicken breast. I figured, once that spot reached the target temperature, the rest of the chicken would all be cooked. The probe on the iGrill mini has a silicone/rubber handle that allows you to both get a good grip and move it around if needed during grilling/smoking.
The iGrill mini is magnetic, so I stuck it to the side of the smoker. I loaded up the iDevices app and pressed the button on the iGrill mini. Automatically, they find each other and within seconds, the app shows the temperature of the meat. If you look on the screen above, you will see on the iPhone app, it says Probe 1. This app can actually monitor up to 4 iGrill minis. That is totally impressive and you can color code each mini through the LED colors so you know exactly which probe is which. You can also state in the app, what meat each probe is monitoring. I did not have the chance to test multiple iGrill minis so I do not know how this functions, but it sure seems slick.
The app is easy to navigate and there is lots of information available on it – far more than any regular digital thermometer can provide.
It is possible to set a target temperature for the meat. The iDevices app come with many preset temperatures for steak (rare, medium, well, etc.), fish, pork, chicken and more. It is also possible to make custom temperature settings. I quite like this because, say for chicken, I prefer to set the temperature a few degrees below the recommended temperature. 165F is the recommended temperature for chicken, but I usually cook it to 160F and then check on it. That way, I can make sure I get there before it is overcooked and dry. Also, meat usually rises a few more degrees just after it comes off the grill or smoker.
The app also has a graph that shows the temperature of the meat, during the entire cooking process. This is quite possibly my favorite feature of the app. The actual time is across the bottom of the graph and this allows you to track how well the meat cooks. What the graph revealed to me was the significant drop off of heat any time I opened the smoker doors. It is not really a surprise, considering I live in Canada and it has been cold outside. Opening the smoker door will obviously let all that cold air in. But, being able to see it in a graph was very helpful and reinforced the need to keep the door shut and let the iGrill mini monitor the meat for you. One crazy thing you can do with the temperature graph is export it into a spreadsheet file for viewing in Excel. Examining the cook process this way is for those serious foodies.
The iGrill mini states that the Bluetooth has a range of 150 feet. I wanted to test this to see how true that was. Obviously, the 150 feet is based on no obstacles, and that is not a reality for anyone since the grill is likely in the backyard and most peoples yards are not that large. I walked round my backyard and was able to pick up the iGrill mini fine on my iPhone. I went down the driveway and got halfway down before the signal was lost. I was probably 60 or so feet from the iGrill mini and the house was blocking a straight view. Like may people, the app is great for staying indoors. This allows you to do other things inside, while the meat on the grill or smoker is being monitored through your iPhone/iPad. I have a brick house that has a block frame, so the walls are very thick. I was able to go about halfway into my house before the signal was lost and that was about 40-50 feet from the iGrill mini. Not the 150 feet they advertise, but considering the walls the signal had to go through, it was not bad at all.
If you happen to be out by the grill or smoker and do not have your iPhone handy, looking at the iGrill mini will actually give you an indication regarding how close the food is to the reaching the target temperature.
Here are the colors and their meaning:
- Green – the iGrill mini is working and you can go on the app to check or set a target temperature.
- Yellow – the food is within 15 degrees of the target temperature.
- Orange – the food is within 5 degrees of the target temperature.
- Red – the food has reached the target temperature.
Once the meat reaches the target temperature, your iPhone/iPad will alert you through an alarm. There are many different sounds that you can choose from. An alert message pops up on the lock screen, as seen in the picture above.
The alarm signalled on my iPhone when the chicken reached an internal temperature of 160F. I watched it for a few more minutes and let it climb to 163F. I then pulled the chicken breasts out of the smoker and brushed them with maple syrup. The meat was moist, juicy and exactly how you want boneless skinless chicken breast to be cooked.
The iGrill mini is an excellent product and since I have my iPhone on me all the time, monitoring the thermometer on the app just works.
Pick up the iGrill mini on their website.
Disclaimer: iDevices provided me with the iGrill mini. They did not pay me for this review and the views expressed above are my honest reactions after trying the product.