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If you’re someone who enjoys grilling and cooking and always wants to use the latest equipment, then you may have asked yourself: what is an infrared thermometer used for cooking? Infrared thermometer guns are a great way to measure the temperature of foods without having to penetrate them or even make any contact at all.

In this article, we will address the frequently asked questions that cooking and grilling enthusiasts have about infrared thermometer guns and then offer an in-depth guide for how you can use this convenient tool in your own cooking. It is important to understand what you can and can’t do in the kitchen with these useful tools, and using them is far easier than most people might think.

FAQ about Using an Infrared Thermometer Gun for Grilling & Cooking

1. Can an Infrared Thermometer Gun be Used to Check Grill Temp?

Absolutely! Although most grills have a built-in thermometer that reads the internal overall temperature, the accuracy is often unreliable. With an infrared thermometer gun, you can check your grill temperature to be sure that the grill and even the grates themselves are the exact temperatures required for whatever type of food you’re working with.

Because infrared thermometers measure thermal radiation rather than internal temperatures, they are a great solution when measuring the temperature of hot grill surfaces that you can’t make contact with. Understanding the temperature of your grill will allow you to cook the perfect meats and food every time with less worry.

infrared thermometers used in cooking

2. Can an Infrared Thermometer Gun be Used to Check Liquid Temp?

Most people are surprised to discover that yes, you definitely can measure the temperature of liquids with an infrared thermometer. In the kitchen, we often find ourselves working with hot liquids, such as soups, coffee, and more, and need a way to accurately measure their temperature without damaging a contact thermometer or contaminating the food or beverage.

This is why an infrared thermometer is such a great solution. With this tool, you can get an accurate temperature reading on liquids without any cross-contamination, because the thermometer itself never makes contact. It simply reads the thermal, infrared energy coming from the surface of the liquid itself.

3. Can an Infrared Thermometer Gun be Used to Check Food Doneness?

No, you can’t check whether or not your food is completely done cooking with an infrared thermometer. If you point a thermometer gun at food, the temperature you will receive will be the object’s external temperature. You can’t rely on a food’s surface temperature when trying to determine if it is thoroughly cooked.

Food doneness is most accurately measured by the internal temperature, not external. This is especially important to understand when working with meats that absolutely need to be brought to a certain internal temperature before consuming, so the use of an infrared thermometer gun in these situations is not recommended.

4. Can an Infrared Thermometer Gun be Used to Check Oven Temperature?

No. When pointing an infrared thermometer gun into your own, the thermometer will only be able to read the surface temperature of the oven’s walls, not the internal temperature of the entire oven itself.

On a grill, the food cooks directly on the grill grates. In an oven, however, food relies more heavily on the internal temperature of the oven as a whole, so surface temperature readings won’t allow for an accurate understanding of cooking temperatures in this scenario.

Infrared Thermometer Gun: How-To Guides for Kitchen

How to Measure Grill Temp via Infrared Thermometer Gun

  1. Place a cast-iron cookware into the grill as it is heating up with the lid on.
  2. Once the grill thermometer has reached the desired temperature, open the grill and remove the cast iron skillet.
  3. Immediately spray a little bit of cooking spray or oil on the skillet. This increases the object’s emissivity, making it easier for the thermometer to get an accurate temperature reading.
  4. Point the thermometer gun at the surface of the cast iron skillet and continue holding the trigger until the temperature is displayed on the screen. You can expect your grill grates to be this same temperature.

How to Measure Warm Liquid via Infrared Thermometer Gun

  1. Once the liquid is warm and you want to check the temperature, give it a good stir to ensure that the surface temperature is the same as the temperature deeper into the cup or pot.
  2. For the most accurate reading, pull a ladle of the liquid out from the middle of the liquid’s container.
  3. Immediately point the infrared thermometer gun at the liquid in the ladle or at the surface of the liquid.
  4. Continue holding the thermometer’s trigger until the temperature appears on the screen. This is the temperature of the entire pot, cup, or other containers of liquid.

How to Use Infrared Thermometer Gun on a Sauté Pan

  1. Allow your pan or skillet to heat up as you typically would.
  2. Spray a little cooking spray or add oil into the pan. Oil has a batter emissivity than the pan itself, so this allows for the infrared thermometer gun to pick up a more accurate surface temperature than pointing it at a dry pan alone.
  3. Once the oil has heated up along with the pan, point the thermometer gun across the surface of the oil.
  4. Continue holding the thermometer’s trigger until the temperature is displayed across the screen. This will tell you the surface temperature of the pan or skillet itself.

How to Measure the Temp of Pizza Stones and Barbecue Grates?

  1. Keep the grill lid or pizza oven closed as it heats up to the desired temperature.
  2. Once the grill or oven thermometer reads at the temperature you are aiming for, open it up and point your infrared thermometer gun at an eye-level angle across the barbecue grates or pizza stone.
  3. Be sure that the thermometer’s laser is not aiming below grill plates or pizza stone or at coals, grill walls, or grill floor. This will lead to an inaccurate reading.
  4. Once steadied completely on grill plates or pizza stone at an angle, continue holding the thermometer’s trigger until a steady temperature reading comes across the screen. This should be an accurate temperature for the surfaces themselves.

How to Track the Heat of Oil Using Infrared Thermometer Gun

  1. Heat up your pot or pan as you typically would.
  2. Add your cooking oil into the pot or pan, and note the smoke point for the specific type of oil you have chosen to use.
  3. As the oil heats up, point the infrared thermometer gun at the oil – not a dry part of the pan – and hold the trigger until the temperature reads on the thermometer’s screen.
  4. Continue this process as the oil heats up, never allowing the temperature to reach the smoke point for that oil type.


We hope that this guide on how to use an infrared thermometer gun for grilling and cooking has given you new ideas for using this convenient tool in your own kitchen and home cooking routine. You want to make sure you are accurately monitoring temperatures during cooking and grilling, so we recommend the ThermoPro TP30 Digital Infrared Thermometer Gun for its accuracy reliability and adjustable emissivity feature.


Understanding everything you can and can’t do in the kitchen with an infrared thermometer gun will take your cooking to the next level, and we hope this guide showed you exactly how easy that can be

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