Last modified on November 30th, 2018 at 10:43 AM

Meat Cooking Temperatures

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!

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!

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!

What tool do you use to measure the temperature of your food? I love my TheroWorks Thermapen {affiliate link}. It’s accurate, cordless, and will last you way longer than any other brand! I’ve had mine for 8 years and I use it multiple times a week. It’s the best!

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.

Checking the temperature of the best prime rib recipe.

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.

What temperature should chicken be cooked to? 

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 the 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!

Cooked rotisserie chicken in a pot.

What temperature should pork be cooked to? 

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.

Checking the temperature of the apple pork chops recipe with the Thermapen MK4.

What temperature should beef be cooked to? 

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 are pathogenic and some are 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.

Slicing perfect prime rib recipe.

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.

Raw ground beef in a skillet ready to be browned.

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 {affiliate link}. 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 8 years and have only had to change the batteries once. It is still going strong!

Meat Cooking Temperatures

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Meat Cooking Temperature Chart

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 Ph.D. in Meat Science. Here are some links that relate specifically to this post:

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

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!

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