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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rolled rib eye roast
Credit: Ngoc Minh Ngo

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.

meat temperatures chart

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

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