When it comes to the perfect piece of meat, temperature can make all the difference.

By Laura Rege
Updated October 17, 2019
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In our test kitchen we're always developing new recipes and working on new techniques for that perfect piece of meat. No matter how we cook it, one thing always holds the true: Cooking meat to the right temperature can make or break the final dish. There is a big difference in juiciness and enjoyability between a medium-rare and well-done piece of steak, and while no one wants raw chicken, they also don't want an over-cooked bird. To ensure you cook your food to the perfect degree of done, buy a good thermometer and learn how to use it; follow our meat temperature chart for guidelines to ensure you get it right every time; and don't forget to rest meat after cooking.

Resting Meat

Resting meat is an important step that allows time for the meat to reabsorb and lock in juices. As well carryover cooking occurs when you remove it from the heat source, the temperature of the meat will rise about 5 degrees. Typically, we suggest resting meat for at least 10 minutes or longer for large roasts. The USDA recommends a 3-minute rest time. Hamburgers do not need to be rested, which is accordance with USDA suggestions.

Beyond Visual Indicators

As a general rule, insert the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the meat. Don't let the thermometer touch a bone or go through the meat to touch any metal surfaces, this could provide an inaccurate temperature. When roasting a whole bird, check the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh and the breast. If meat is stuffed, make sure to check the temperature in the center of the stuffing as well. Make sure to wash the thermometer with soap and water after every use.

Turkey, Chicken, and Duck

USDA Guideline (before resting): 165 degrees

Test Kitchen Guideline (before resting): 160 degrees

Hamburgers & Ground Meat

USDA Guideline (before resting): 160°

Test Kitchen Guideline (before resting)

Rare: 115 degrees

Medium-rare: 125-130 degrees

Medium: 140 degrees

Well Done: 160 degrees

Pork

USDA Guideline (before resting): 145 degrees

Test Kitchen Guideline (before resting): 138-140 degrees

Beef & Lamb

USDA Guideline (before resting): 145 degrees

Test Kitchen Guideline (before resting)

Rare: 115 degrees

Medium-rare: 125 to 130 degrees

Medium: 140 degrees

Well Done 160: degrees

Comments (36)

Anonymous
January 6, 2019
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Anonymous
July 30, 2018
Need to update the page. For pork the USDA guidelines is now 145 same as professional kitchens. It has been this way for several years now. Ground pork is still 160.
Anonymous
December 18, 2017
I`m an old man, been cooking all my life, and there is one question I have. If you place a probe into the center of a cut of meat in the oven, it reads the temp. in the center. If you sous-vide the same cut of meat, it will ensure the correct temp. all the way through. So why depend on a probe temp. for same temp throughout the cut?.
Anonymous
December 14, 2017
Robertstrippy is absolutely correct...restaurants need to use a thermo pen too...no other method works.
Anonymous
July 30, 2017
Throw away your clock and timer. You absolutely must learn to cook by a thermometer, nothing else. The Thermapen is what all the experts use.
Anonymous
July 13, 2010
This is a really nice chart but how do I know how many minutes it needs to be in the oven ? Is there a per pound guideline? Thanks !
Anonymous
July 13, 2010
This is a really nice chart but how do I know how many minutes it needs to be in the oven ? Is there a per pound guideline? Thanks !
Anonymous
July 12, 2010
Hi phoity comment # 20 I have used a Polder digital for years and haven't looked back. Got tired of calibrating a regular over meat thermometer before using. The Polder brand, has a long probe that inserts into the food while it cooks, yet the digital read-out, with an alarm, sits outside the oven?
Anonymous
July 12, 2010
Yes, this is referring temperature while in the process of cooking. Resting meat only takes place once removed from the oven.
Anonymous
July 12, 2010
What do they mean (Before Resting)? Does that mean while in the oven before coming out?
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Thanks for your thoughts
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
regarding the two different guides - my guess is that the USDA wants to make sure no one gets sick from undercooked meat and the professional kitchens folks are more realistic about what constitutes rare to well done.
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
THANK YOU SUPERGRRL for putting the chart into a PDF format.That really made it easier to print up. Thank you again, have a nice day, and God Bless, SKMISERY
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Many thanks to SUPERGRRL for the pdf!
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Can anyone explain why there are two different temperature guides please?
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Thanks so much for the pdf. It came out perfectly. Thansk to Martha and to supergrrl.
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
I don't know why my whole comment didn't show up. I just copied and pasted this,
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Love the PDF. thanks a bunch
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
I just copied
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Love this... thanks supergrrl for the pdf! :-p
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
This would be very nice if done like the pie wheel that is available. I laminated that and gave it to several of my friends as gifts; with a pie, of course! This would be another that would be useful. It could include approx. minutes per pound too.
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Thanks Lindee. Did what you suggested and it worked fine.
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Thanks for the PDF!
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Have tried to bring up this printable PDF. Even when I spell "girl" correctly it does not come up. Any ideas?
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Thanks supergrrl for the one page pdf. Exactly what I needed as a reference sheet in the kitchen. Worked great.
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Or you could save space by cutting out all the Medium-Well and Well-Done if you don't use it.
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
I made a printable PDF if anyone is interested: http://supergrrl.com/MeatTemperaturesChart.pdf It's all on one page.
Anonymous
July 11, 2010
Any recommendations for a great and quality(lasting) meat thermometer?
Anonymous
August 25, 2009
yes i agree... i would like a seafood one... like scallops?
Anonymous
August 25, 2009
Please make a pdf! this is soooo great. I want to hang it on my fridge for reference. Thanks!
Anonymous
August 23, 2009
I'd like a seafood one!
Anonymous
August 22, 2009
another vote for a well put together single page PDF
Anonymous
August 22, 2009
Just hit print at the top, copy and paste into a word document and print it out for your kitchen :-)
Anonymous
August 22, 2009
I need it for my kitchen too!!! Please put it in pdf form.
Anonymous
August 22, 2009
Yes, please ... printable pdf!
Anonymous
May 24, 2008
would there be a way to get this in a printable pdf, like the "cooks helpers" cards? Then I could keep it in my kitchen... for when I need it. Thanks!