Use Our Meat Temperature Chart to Determine When Every Cut Reaches the Right Degree of Doneness

From chicken and beef to pork and lamb, when it comes to the perfect piece of meat, temperature makes all the difference.

rolled rib eye roast
Photo: 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 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 doneness, buy a good meat thermometer and learn how to use it. Then, follow our meat temperature chart for guidelines to ensure you get it right every time—and don't forget to rest the meat after cooking.

meat temperatures chart

Resting Meat

Resting meat is an important step; it allows time for the meat to reabsorb and lock in juices. Also remember that carryover cooking occurs when you remove meat from the heat source; its temperature will rise about 5 degrees post-cook. 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 in accordance with USDA advice.

Using a Meat Thermometer

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 chicken's internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh and the breast. If meat is stuffed, check the temperature in the center of the stuffing, as well. Be sure to wash the thermometer with soap and water after every use.

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