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Meat Temperature Guide

If you cook meat regularly then you know that the level of doneness of particular meat can be confusing. Knowing the difference of cooking meat with different temperatures can not only ensure that your meat is well-cooked but also makes sure that you are cooking to a safe level.

It should be cooked to a level that all the harmful potential bacteria is killed and the meat is safe for consumption. The consumption of uncooked or undercooked meat may lead to food poisoning. 

Also, the cooking temperature differs for different methods of grilling. Cooking types and temperature may vary with the kind of preparation, cut of meat, and desired degree.

Depending on what you want- rare, medium, or well-done meat, you will have to check the internal temperature of meat rather than relying on time which may give inaccurate cooking results.

Here in this article, we will explore the entire temperature guide for different meats. 

Thermometer for Checking the Value

To be precise and gauge the correct temperature of the meat at any point, you can use either a meat thermometer or an instant-read thermometer. Any other method like touching, smelling, or just looking at it, will not give you accurate results.

To check for the temperature, you will be required to insert the thermometer at the side of the cut (preferably the thickest part) with the tip in the center. Be sure that it is not touching the gristle, bone, or fat. 

The ideal time to check the temperature is when the meat is nearing the end of its cooking time. After you have gauged the temperature, you will be required to remove the thermometer when the temperature is 5 degrees lower than the desired temperature in the case of burgers and steaks. And 5-10 degrees lower in the case of roasts.

This is done because the temperature keeps rising even after you have removed the meat from heat.

Also, after you have taken down the meat from the heat, you should allow it to rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving or proceeding to carve it. 

Let’s discuss the temperature for different levels of doneness of meat.

Level of DonenessColorTouchTemperature (In degree F)Temperature (In degree C)
Extra Rare (oe Bleu)Deep red colourSquishy or soft9037
RareCool red centreSoft to touch12552
Medium RareWarm red centreSlightly soft and firm13557
MediumWarm pink centreBeginning to firm up14563
Medium WellSlightly pink centreFirm to touch15066
Well DoneLittle or no pink centre (more brownish coloured)Very firm or hard to touch16071

Having said that, there are also a few standard temperatures and doneness levels for different meats (poultry, seafood, beef, etc) that are recommended by the USDA

RareMedium RareMediumMedium Well DoneWell Done
Ground Beef160 °F/ 71 °C
Ground Poultry165 °F/ 74 °C
Beef125 °F/ 52 °C140 °F/ 60 °C150 °F/ 66 °C160 °F/ 71 °C165 °F/ 74 °C
Veal125 °F/ 52 °C140 °F/ 60 °C150 °F/ 66 °C160 °F/ 71 °C165 °F/ 74 °C
Chicken165 °F/ 74 °C
Pork160 °F/ 71 °C165 °F/ 74 °C170 °F/ 77 °C
Poultry165 °F/ 74 °C
Lamb140 °F/ 60 °C145 °F/ 63 °C160 °F/ 71 °C165 °F/ 74 °C170 °F/ 77 °C
Fish 145 °F/ 63 °C
Program145 °F/ 63 °C

So, although you can still choose to cook meat as per your taste buds and other requirements, these are the standard levels of doneness of particular meats along with their temperatures (if you want to follow protocol).

Choosing a Meat Thermometer

There are a variety of meat thermometers available in the market that can help you take the reading for the internal temperature of the meat. Here we are discussing the most popular ones- 

1: Oven Safe Thermometers

Oven Safe Thermometers are designed to stay in the oven even while the meat is cooking in there. To record the temperature, you can insert the thermometer 2 to 2.5 inches in the meat and wait for 2 minutes before you note the temperature.

2: Digital Instant-Read Thermometers

This one is even faster than oven safe. You can insert the thermometer ½ inches into the thickest part of the meat. And the temperature is ready to be recorded in around 10 seconds. These thermometers can also stay in while the meat is cooking.

3: Dial Instant-Read Thermometers

The Dial Instant- Read thermometers require to be placed around 2 to 2.5 inches in the thickest part of the meat and the temperature can be recorded in around 15 – 20 seconds. But the downside is that the thermometer cannot stay inside while the meat is cooking.

4: Pop-Up Thermometers

The Pop-Up Thermometers are the most common type of thermometers that sometimes come with packaged chicken or turkey. It is mostly used for poultry. The thermometer works in the way that it pops up when the meat crosses the internal temperature.

5: Disposable Temperature Indicators

As the name suggests, disposable temperature indicators are disposable strips that you insert into the meat. The strips change color to indicate that the meat is ready to be checked for temperature. 

If you cook meat occasionally, it is important to understand the importance of the correct internal temperatures to avoid the risks of foodborne illnesses and other diseases. Let us know if you find this article useful in the comments below.

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