It’s a common question in the kitchen: how do I know when meat is cooked? There may be lots of hacks about timings or prodding parts of your body to match steak preferences, but one thing you can rely on is science. A meat thermometer can make light work of understanding meat cooking temperatures, especially when you’re dealing with large roasts and have a hungry clan of people waiting to tuck in. So if you’re wondering what is the meat cooking temperature for roast chicken, pulled pork, roast beef and more, bookmark or print off this handy meat internal temperatures guide.
What are meat cooking temperatures?
Put simply, you want the internal temperature of meat to reach a safe point where it’s hot enough to kill harmful germs that can cause food poisoning (and taste good, of course). While it may be relatively easy to cook smaller cuts of meat, when you’re dealing with a whole bird or joint, it can get tricky.
And with steak, everyone has a preference for the degree of doneness. Are you a rare, medium rare, medium, medium well or well done kinda person? It’s all determined by the juiciness levels, colour and, of course, internal temperature of beef when cooked.
How to use a meat thermometer
The simplest way to check if your meat is cooked properly is by avoiding the guesswork and using a meat thermometer. Using a meat thermometer is often overlooked in home cooking, but it’s definitely something more home cooks should be utilising if you want to avoid cutting your meat to check if it’s cooked properly. Insert the thermometer probe in the thickest part of your meat, away from fat, bone or gristle.
For chicken or turkey: Insert the thermometer into the inner thigh area, avoiding any bone.
For ground meats: For dishes like meatloaf, place the thermometer probe into the thickest area of the dish.
For beef, pork, lamb (can be roasts, steaks or chops): Always insert the thermometer into the centre of the thickest part, keeping away from any bone, fat or gristle.
A personal favourite of mine? I find Meater’s range of thermometers invaluable in the kitchen. Not only do the standalone probes mean no tangle of wires coming out of my oven, but I can also set my desired internal temperature via the (ridiculously easy-to-use) app on my smartphone. Once my roast hits the perfect temp, I get an alert. No more guesswork! Super handy to have it to hand when you’re cooking a juicy turkey (no one likes a dry ol’ bird), like with my 5-spice & Orange Turkey Roll.
Perfectly juicy tender turkey is a joyous thing… so it pays to use a meat thermometer!
Hot tip! When you take your meat off the heat, it will carry on cooking by up to five degrees. Therefore remove it before it gets to your desired internal temperature by this amount and let it do its residual thang.
Internal cooking temperatures for meat
What temperature should meat be cooked until? Well, it varies. But it’s so important. Undercooking meat, poultry and other foods can be dangerous – so you want to avoid it at all costs. Checking the internal temperature is the easiest and most effective way to ensure meat is cooked. Here’s what the Australian government suggests as safe temperatures for cooked meat (you can find the Food Standards Agency equivalents here):
Minced meat, sausages: 71°C/160°F
Beef, veal, lamb, pork: In terms of cooking beef, there are multiple temperatures you can aim for. If you prefer your beef rare you’ll want to aim for 50 degrees celsius (122 degrees fahrenheit), 63°C/145°F for medium rare, 71°C/160°F for medium and 77°C/170°F for well done (see note on resting times below)
Ham precooked (to reheat): 60°C/140°F
Chicken and turkey (whole), thighs, wings legs, breasts: 74°C/165°F
Nail that cook by measuring the internal temperature of your meat.
Hot tip! It really does help to take your raw meat out of the fridge to warm up slightly before you cook it. Keeping food safety techniques in mind (I’m not saying leave it out overnight or in the hot sun!), you want to take the chill off the protein to help ensure it cooks evenly all the way through.
Resting times for meat
Resting is an important part of the cook process – it helps keep things juicy and tender. However, top tip: meat can continue to cook while resting, so try removing it from the heat when it’s about 3–6°C under your target temperature so it doesn’t go over that magic number.
How long to rest a beef roast for: 10–20 minutes before carving
How long to rest steaks for: 3-5 minutes before serving
SEE ALSO: My recipe for how to cook the perfect steak
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