Meat and Poultry Temperature Guide

Use our internal temperature chart to serve perfectly cooked meat every time

Categories:
Pork, Beef, Meat, Grilling

Invest in a simple instant-read thermometer and take all the guesswork out of serving perfectly cooked meat. Judging doneness by look and feel can be deceiving-a meat thermometer is the only reliable way to measure internal temperature.

Internal Temperatures when Cooking Meat:
The following table shows Food Network Kitchens' preferred internal temperatures for beef and pork based on taste and texture. Please note that out of a concern for safety, the USDA recommends higher temperatures than we do. We have included the USDA recommendations, leaving it up to you to decide. Our rule of thumb is that if we know and trust where our meat comes from, we're okay sticking a fork in it before the USDA says it's done.

USDA Food Network Kitchens

Poultry

Whole 165 165 breast 165-175 thigh

Parts 165 same as above

Stuffed 165 165

Ground 160 170-75

Beef and Lamb

Ground 160 160

Steak

Rare 125

Medium rare 145 130-135

Medium 160 135-140

Medium well 140-150

Well done 170 155+

Pork

Medium rare 145

Medium 160 150

Well done 170 160

Ground 160 160

A Few Notes on Meat Safety:

When determining the temperature to cook your meat to, there's a crucial distinction to be made between whole muscle cuts and ground meat. The food scientist Harold McGee explains:

"...meats inevitably harbor bacteria, and it takes temperatures of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to guarantee the rapid destruction of the bacteria that can cause human disease-temperatures at which meat is well-done and has lost much of its moisture. So is eating juicy, pink-red meat risky? Not if the cut is an intact piece of healthy muscle tissue, a steak or chop, and its surface has been thoroughly cooked: bacteria are on the meat surfaces, not inside. "

In other words, with whole cuts of meat it is the external temp, not the internal temp that must exceed 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Normal cooking methods-sautéing, grilling, roasting, braising, etc.-raise surface temperatures far above 160 degrees Fahrenheit. (To get a sense of this, consider that meat only begins to brown at 230 degrees Fahrenheit.) People very rarely get sick from rare or medium rare meat. Overwhelmingly, people get sick from the way meat is handled in the home: from cross-contamination, lack of cleanliness and holding meat at dangerous temps. Internal temperature should be the least of your worries.

Nonetheless we should emphasize that extra caution must be exercised when cooking for at-risk groups, particularly the elderly, children under 7 and the immuno-compromised. In such cases, we suggest the USDA guidelines be strictly followed.

When raw meat is ground up, the distinction between internal and external no longer applies. McGee says: 

"Ground meats are riskier, because the contaminated meat surface is broken into small fragments and spread through the mass. The interior of a raw hamburger usually does contain bacteria, and is safest if cooked well done." 

Because E. Coli is killed at 155 degrees Fahrenheit, the USDA sets the minimum safe temperature for ground beef at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. We can only second this.

Harold McGee's bio: "Harold McGee is a world-renowned authority on the chemistry of foods and cooking....He has written two prizewinning books, On Food and Cooking and The Curious Cook."