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We tried the Meater Plus smart thermometer, and it's our new grilling essential

'Almost feels like cheating': My husband says it helped turn out the best chicken and steak he's ever had. My taste buds agree.

It's grilling season, and there are tons of gadgets and gizmos out there promising to help you get perfect results every time. But which ones are really worth the spend? In honor of Father's Day this weekend, I teamed up with my husband, Sean — not yet a father, but a longtime devoted doggie dad — to test a contraption that seemed particularly promising: the Meater Plus, a wireless smart meat thermometer designed to let you track your cooking from your phone for the juiciest (and safest) chicken, steak, pork and more.

This smart thermometer promises to make cooking the perfect steak, chicken or any other kind of meat incredibly easy — and we have to agree.

$100 at Amazon
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$100 at BBQGuys$78 at Daily Steals

When you buy the Meater Plus, you receive a sleek wood-grain-style box that docks the smart thermometer and allows it to charge via a single AAA battery, much like the case for a pair of Bluetooth earbuds. The thermometer, the case, and whichever phone you're using with the Meater app will need to be close to each other while you're cooking to stay connected.

Meater Plus thermometer in box on top of Meater cutting board
Even if it didn't work, it would still be nice to look at. But happily, it does work! (Carrie McCabe/Yahoo)

The Meater app, free on both the Apple App Store and Google Play, was easy to set up and connected quickly to the probe via Bluetooth. Sean was skeptical, but not for long: "As soon as an app gets involved, I'm always a little suspicious that the process will get complicated, but the charge case connected to my Android phone's Bluetooth with no problem, and the app was surprisingly simple to use — just a few taps and you're good to go."

For this test run, we selected the thickest chicken breast we could find to really "stress test" the Meater Plus and give my husband a challenge. After all, I could've taken this on solo — but the real test is for someone who fancies themselves a real "grill master," and Sean certainly does (with reason — his grilling is quite yummy).

Chicken seemed like the ideal testing ground for the Meater, because as we all know, getting chicken to the right temperature is essential not only for good flavor, but food safety. According to the USDA, all poultry should be cooked to 165°F to prevent foodborne illness, which can be particularly harmful in chicken thanks to an increased risk of salmonella, listeria, E. coli and other bacterial infections. The chicken breast we chose was about an inch thick, and three-fourths of a pound — so the experiment here was to see if we could obtain the perfect sear outside with a fully cooked but juicy inside.

After marinating the chicken, we selected "pre-cook" and the type of meat we were cooking, and then pushed the probe into the chicken up to the indicator line on the thermometer. And that was pretty much all we had to do! By this time, the grill was already pre-heated, so we just threw the chicken breast on, closed the top, and waited for the app to tell us when dinnertime would be.

marinated chicken on grill with probe inside / the author's cutie-pie husband standing in front of the grill and holding a beer
Instead of having to monitor this chicken, my grill master-in-chief was able to kick back with a cold one and let the app take care of it. (Carrie McCabe/Yahoo)

The best thing about the Meater was that it kept track of both the external and internal temps of the chicken, as well as the cooking time remaining, without us having to open our grill too much to check on it. "When you're cooking meat on the grill, often you can lose a lot of your heat just checking on the meat and checking that everything looks okay," Sean noted. "Having a constant readout right in my hand let me kick back and relax." This was especially important with chicken — we're both pretty paranoid about cooking it correctly, and I've mangled many a chicken breast by cutting it in half to make sure it's fully cooked before serving.

The one thing the app doesn't expressly tell you is when to flip the meat, so we just estimated about halfway through and flipped the chicken then, which worked out fine. "After I opened the grill to flip the chicken, the temperature took a big nosedive, and I was able to see that in the app and immediately adjust and get our cook time back to where it needed to be," Sean said.

Another thing to note: You probably won't want to use the same phone that is tracking the Meater to cast your summer playlist to a Bluetooth speaker. The app offers a lot of audio feedback in the form of various chimes, and we ended up switching over to a different phone for playing music so the notifications didn't interrupt our jams.

grilled chicken breast on cutting board with probe inside
Once we were done with the photos, this chicken didn't last long outside our bellies. (Carrie McCabe/Yahoo)

Once our chicken hit 165°F, the app gave us a ding to let us know it was done, and with a tap, we let the app know the chicken breast had been removed from the heat. As a nice little bonus, the Meater app also keeps track of "rest time" for meat, so it guided us to let the chicken sit for a few minutes, and then notified us again when it was ready to slice and eat.

sliced juicy grilled chicken
Juicy inside, sizzling outside — the perfect grilled chicken, if you ask me! (Carrie McCabe/Yahoo)

And folks: It came out perfectly! Despite being a pretty thick piece of chicken, the inside was nice and juicy, and the outside was perfectly seared — no dryness to be found. We were surprised that it worked so well. This was our second time using the Meater Plus (the first being when grilling a steak), and both uses were issue-free. I'd recommend the Meater to anyone who wants to get their grill on this summer, and to any cooks in general, since the smart thermometer can also be used in the oven, in smokers and more.

As Sean put it after we had practically inhaled our dinner: "I've used this probe twice now, and I've honestly never grilled better meat — it almost feels like cheating."

The Meater Plus doesn't only work on the grill — it also will monitor meat temps in the oven, rotisserie, smoker and more.

$100 at Amazon
Explore More Buying Options
$100 at BBQGuys$78 at Daily Steals

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