Meat Cooking Temperatures

The Secret for the Best BBQ Grilled Chicken

Cooking your meat to the correct temperature is really important. In this post, we will go through safety reasons for cooking meat to the correct temperature but also why it’s important in cooking! No one likes dry meat, so cooking it to the correct temperature ensures you keep it delicious and juicy. You can also download or print out the handy dandy chart I put together with meat cooking temperatures for your kitchen!

First things first, let’s talk safety. Knowing the proper temperature meat needs to be cooked too will greatly reduce any risk of accidentally making your family ill from improper cooking.

Different kinds of meat require different cooking temperatures. Chicken, pork, beef, and fish all have different cooking temperatures. All the temperatures throughout the post are going to be in fahrenheit, but the chart I’ve created has both fahrenheit and celsius. The reason that each meat has a different cooking temperature is related to how the meat is processed and what pathogens can affect the animal before it’s processed.

Chicken in the dutch oven!

Chicken always needs to be cooked completely through. The safe cooking temperature for chicken is 165. The best way to ensure chicken isn’t dry is to let it rest before eating. I take my chicken out of the pan or off the grill when it reaches 160, cover it with foil, let it rest for 5-10 minutes, and then check temperature again and it is always 165. This does two things. First, it keeps the temperature from exceeding 165 which could dry out the chicken. Second, it allows the juices in the meat to redistribute and stay in the chicken as you cut it. That makes it juicy!

Next up, lets talk pork. Pork can be cooked anywhere between medium which is 145 degrees and well, which is 160 degrees. I generally like pork around 150. These temperatures apply to roasts and chops. Again, that means I take the meat out of the pan when it is 5 degrees away from where I want it, and then let it rest.

Meat cooking temperatures matter! Find out why, get my favorite thermometer and print out a handy chart to keep in your kitchen as a reference!

Similar to pork, beef can be cooked anywhere from rare, which is 125 to well, which is 160. The reason certain cuts of pork and beef don’t need to be cooked all the way through is because of how they are processed. Bacteria is a part of life – it is naturally everywhere. Some is pathogenic and some is not. When meat is cut, there is a chance that bacteria can get on the meat surface. Since the inside of the meat wasn’t processed or touched in any way, there is no need to worry about bacteria there. That’s why it’s ok to cook a steak rare.

Quick and Easy Pork Chop Marinade

On that same note, that is also why it is important to cook ground beef or ground pork completely through. Because it is a ground product, there is a potential for bacteria to be throughout the meat. Again, this is totally normal and natural – bacteria is a part of life! Always cook ground meat products totally through, which is 160 degrees.

So, how do you tell if your meat is cooked to the correct temperature? I like to use a meat thermometer and I highly recommend everyone use one. I love my Thermapen thermometer. It reads quickly and accurately, is water resistant, easy to store, and I can use it for much more than meat!

It is expensive, but I have had mine for 5 years and have never even had to change the batteries. It is still going strong!

I created this handy chart that you can print out {right-click on the photo and select “open image in a new tab” and print or click this link to download it and print}. I’m the worst at memorizing anything, so I like to have one on hand even though I can remember the temperatures most of the time. Keep yours handy so you can be safe and have nice juicy meat!

Meat Cooking Temperatures Chart

If you are interested in the more technical side of meat science, Mom at the Meat Counter is a fantastic resource for more information. It is a blog written by the awesome Janeal who has a PhD in Meat Science. Here are some links that relate specifically to this post:

FTC Disclosure of Material Connection: The way we provide you with awesome free content is through affiliate links and some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to readers. Read more here.

1 Comment

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    Balsamic Pork Chops and Veggies • Longbourn Farm
    August 10, 2017 at 11:33 AM […] The key to this recipe is to have a heavy, really hot pan and thin cut pork chops. Unlike steak, I prefer a thin pork chop. I find them easier to cook and keep moist, and they work better in a lot of recipes when they are thin. {If you need more information on cooking meat, check out this post on meat cooking temperatures!} […]
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