How to Use a Meat Thermometer: Internal Cooking Temperature Chart

Minimum Internal Temperatures for Turkey, Chicken, Beef, Ham, Pork

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How to use a meat thermometer-Thinkstock

Meat thermometers ensure that food is safe and cooked to perfection.

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Take the guesswork out of cooking meat and poultry! Here are tips on using a meat thermometer to measure the minimum interior temperature so that you know when it’s done, at its peak flavor, and also safe for eating.

Meat and poultry are cooked and juicy at certain temperatures but become dry and tough if cooked much longer. Traditionally, judging when a bird is done roasting has meant visually checking the interior color of the meat while it is cooking—the redder the color, the rarer the meat. But this involves guesswork.

To be certain, we recommend using an instant-read thermometer, such as the ones made by Taylor Precision Products. Round-dial and digital instant-read thermometers are available from kitchen supply stores and hardware stores and cost from $12 to $20.

Instant-read thermometers give readings quickly, but they are not oven-safe and must not be left in the meat while it is cooking. Use the thermometer toward the end of the minimum cooking time and allow it to remain in the meat for only 15 seconds, at a depth of two inches or to the indicator mark on the thermometer’s stem. Follow these guidelines for accurate readings:

  • For roasts, steaks, and thick chops, insert the thermometer into the center at the thickest part, away from bone, fat, and gristle.
  • For whole poultry, insert the thermometer into the inner thigh area near the breast but not touching bone.
  • For ground meat (such as meat loaf), insert the thermometer into the thickest area.
  • For thin items such as chops and hamburger patties, insert the thermometer sideways.
INTERNAL MINIMUM TEMPERATURES FOR MEAT AND POULTRY
PRODUCT MINIMUM FAHRENHEIT
Beef (roasts, steaks, and chops)*
- Rare (some bacterial risk) 140°
- Medium 160°
- Well-done 170°
Casseroles 160°
Chicken
- Ground 170°
- Whole 180°
- Breasts, roasts 170°
- Parts (thighs, wings) Cook until juices run clear
Duck 180°
Goose 180°
Gravies, sauces, and soups Bring to a boil
Ground beef, lamb, pork, and veal 160°
Ham
- Fresh (raw) 160°
- Precooked (to reheat) 140°
Lamb (roasts, steaks, and chops)
- Medium-rare 145°
- Medium 160°
- Well-done 170°
- Leftovers 165°
Pork, fresh
- Medium 160°
- Well-done 170°
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165°
Turkey
- Ground 170°
- Whole 180°
- Breasts, roasts 170°
- Parts (thighs, wings) Cook until juices run clear
Veal (roasts, steaks, and chops)
- Medium-rare 145°
- Medium 160°
- Well-done 170°

*According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, beef roasts can be removed from the oven when the thermometer registers about 5°F below the desired doneness and allowed to stand for about 15 minutes. The outside layers will continue to transfer heat to the center of the roast until it reaches the desired doneness.

Source: 

A Quick Consumer Guide to Safe Food Handling, USDA/FSIS Bulletin No. 248, and from information on the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hot Line, 800-535-4555. This article was originally published in May, 2009 and has been updated.

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Any suggestion where can i

Any suggestion where can i buy this? or is this available at amazon? i need this. thank you and good day. !

Meat Thermometers

Sorry, we don’t sell this product.  Best bet is with Amazon!

Thank you for a straight

Thank you for a straight answer. I recommend this site to everyone. You give answers and I love that. I didn't have to sit here and try to figure on long It would he to cook my 33.35 lbs turkey...yum yum

I am doing bone broth and

I am doing bone broth and have a soup cooker that seems to cook things on the lowest setting below the safety level. Do you think it would be dangerous if the temperature was 156F for about four hours? When I put the bones in, I poured in boiling water first. The ingredients are really expensive and would hate to throw it out!

How do you guys work with the

How do you guys work with the imperial system?
Its so antiquated and has no logic.
I too would like to see a temperature scale in Celsius.
While you are at it can you change your date system as well? :-)

Thanks from Australia.

Leave the metrics to those in

Leave the metrics to those in the "old" world.

No disrespect, but can you

No disrespect, but can you imagine a pharmacy mixing Rx with oz.?? I don't know the Metric system, but we should have learned in school.

A quick suggestion . A lot of

A quick suggestion . A lot of countries now use the metric system

Printing both scales would be useful.
Divide FAH by 1.8 minus 32 will give you Celsius.

Gary

Thanks for adding this point.

Thanks for adding this point. We are a North American publication and reflect the system used by the readers who buy The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Your very interesting

Your very interesting publication came up on a google search for temperature of cooked meats, I too would have liked a metric also table

As an American, I also would

As an American, I also would like to see metric units. Spreading metric wherever possible is the only way we'll ever have a shot at leaving our antiquated system behind.

Gary, you got his wrong. You

Gary, you got his wrong.
You need to take the degrees Fahrenheit minus 32 and then divided by 1.8.

Kind regards, Steve