Everything is smart these days, including cooking appliances. And while we don’t really see the point of a smart microwave, the benefits of a smart grill are pretty clear. Suddenly those long cooking times are a lot more bearable when you have a computer monitoring your food and sending alerts to your phone.
But smart grills are niche and expensive. Some people don’t benefit from the functionality of a smart grill, and unfortunately, all internet-connected devices have some unavoidable problems.
Precise grilling from anywhere
Smart grills connect to your phone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to give you real-time updates and remote control over your food. These grills are usually electric and use wood pellets to allow for maximum temperature control, although some options are offered by companies like weavers use gas. If you prefer charcoal, you’re out of luck.
Because smart grilling features are so straightforward, I’ll introduce them in a short bulleted list:
- Food monitoring in real time: A built-in thermometer lets you check your food as it cooks and get notifications when it’s done. Some smart grills even have an in-app countdown clock!
- remote control: Can’t get home on time? Adjust the temperature of your grill or turn it off via an app.
- Precise temperature control: Set your grill to a perfect temperature without the guesswork, perfect for low and slow cooking.
- tank notifications: Get notified when it’s time to prime a new propane tank or refill your grill’s wood pellets.
- Built-in Recipes: Most smart grill apps have built-in recipes that eliminate the need to look up cooking times, temperatures, or preparation techniques. You can even save some custom settings for your most common foods.
Everyone can benefit from features like precise temperature control and ready-made recipes. However, most smart grill features revolve around long cooking times. The great advantage of a smart grill is that you can do something else while cooking. And that brings us to the most important part of this article – will a smart grill help you cook your favorite foods?
Smart grills are best for low and slow cooking
Every grill master has his “thing”. Maybe you like to cook ribs or turkey drumsticks – these are great; A smart grill will help you smoke this tender meat and manage its long cooking time. You know, the time you usually spend staring at the grill and drinking beer.
But if your focus is on hot dogs and hamburgers, a smart grill isn’t going to help you all that much. These foods only take a few minutes to cook, so you don’t need a smart grill to keep an eye on the temperature or send you notifications. And a smart grill can Helping you get to specific temperatures with very little setup, getting a grill up to sausage roast or steak sear temperature isn’t rocket science.
Smart grills are best for low and slow jobs – the foodies who buy these products usually want to up their chest or rib game without wasting money or space on a dedicated smoker. And while you could buy a smart grill just in case A brisket gets in your way, the quirks of a smart grill may put you off that idea.
Additional setup and smart quirks
The average grill is fairly easy to set up and maintain. You don’t need much technical know-how to light charcoal, connect a gas tank or plug a cord into an outlet. Also, there are many YouTube videos explaining how to keep your grill from turning into a smelly rust bucket.
But smart grills need a little more care and attention. Not just because they’re electric (common sense and a good grill cover should ensure that), but because they’re smart devices.
— Hard Pass (@HardPass4) November 25, 2021
Smart grills have a longer setup process than regular grills – they need to connect to an online service, which means spending a little time on your phone. You’ll also need to find a place where your Smart Grill has a stable internet connection (or a connection to your phone via Bluetooth) to ensure its smart functions actually work.
And then there are the usual quirks of a smart device. You know, dealing with unexpected updates, nasty bugs, and the occasional server crash. These problems don’t happen every day, but they are fairly common and usually occur when things are most inconvenient.
I should mention that smart features aren’t guaranteed to work forever. We see this all the time in the smart home world – a manufacturer will stop supporting a product or go out of business, breaking the smart features for thousands of customers.
You could always buy a smart thermometer
We haven’t even talked about the prices yet. I’m sure you guessed it already, but smart grills are a bit pricey. Entry-level models are around $800, and the fancier Weber and Traeger models are around $1,400.
For this reason I will propose a cheap alternative. Take that grill you already own, or get one off the curb or whatever, and pair it with a smart thermometer.
Smart grill thermometers are relatively inexpensive and allow you to remotely monitor the temperature of your meat. They also send you notifications when food reaches a certain temperature, just like a smart grill.
If you’re deciding on a smart grill thermometer, I suggest buying either the Weber Connect Hub or Thermoworks Signals. Both offer Wi-Fi connectivity and can monitor four cuts of meat at once. Keep in mind that these products also work outside of a grill – you can use them in your home oven, for example.
Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub, black
The Weber Connect Hub will alert you when it’s time to turn or remove your meat. Compatible with any grill, it can monitor three cuts of meat as well as the temperature of your grill. (Unfortunately only two probes are included).