Meat Doneness Chart

September 14, 2012 27 Comments

Meat Doneness Chart

Do You Know When Your Meat Is Medium-Rare?

It is essential you know the internal temperatures of the foods you are cooking. Trying to cook based on times given in a recipe is a mistake that I make all the time. There are so many variables that go into cooking times that it is impossible to know when a piece of meat is ready to come off the saute pan, grill or out of the oven.

The biggest mistake most home cooks make is not to account for resting time. Heck, most of us don’t even realize they need to let meat or poultry rest for a period of time so the juices redistribute into the meat. Professional chefs have told me they know when something is done just by touching it, but they still carry and rely on their instant thermometers.

Cooking anything to perfection requires knowing when it reaches the ideal internal temperature before and after resting. These temperature are a good guide but if you find your prefer your medium-rare steak a little more done, adjust the temps to suit your personal tastes.

Meat Temperatures & Doneness Chart

The “Remove” temperature on the left is the target temperature to remove from heat source. The “Ideal” temperature on the right is the ideal internal temperature after resting. These temperatures are all Fahrenheit. Note, these are not USDA Recommendations. The USDA temperatures are conservatively 10º – 15º higher because of food safety but not many professional chefs are cooking your medium-rare steak to 150º F. You would send it back in an instant.

Rare
Medium-Rare
Medium
Medium-Well
Remove
Ideal
Remove
Ideal
Remove
Ideal
Remove
Ideal
Beef Steaks
125º
130º
130º
135º
140º
145º
155º
160º
Beef Roasts
120º
125º
125º
130º
135º
145º
150º
160º
Lamb Chop
125º
130º
130º
135º
140º
145º
155º
160º
Lamb Roast
120º
130º
125º
130º
135º
145º
150º
160º
Pork Chops
140º
145º
155º
160º
Pork Roasts
135º
145º
150º
160º
Veal Chops
130º
135º
140º
145º
155º
160º
Veal Roasts
125º
130º
135º
145º
150º
160º

 

  Resting Time
Remove
Ideal Internal Temperature
Whole Chicken – Roasted
5 minutes
160º – 165º
165º – 170º
Whole Turkey – Roasted*
20 – 60 minutes
150º – 170º
165º – 170º

* A big turkey can take 60 minutes of resting with a temperature shift of 20º or more.




Last modified on Sat 13 June 2015 1:58 pm

Filed in: Tips and Facts

Comments (27)

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  1. 5 Tips for Perfect Roasts | FSW@Home | March 18, 2014
  1. Saucier Du Fer says:

    I see the recommended “Resting Time” for the birds, but, I’m looking for the resting time for a beef roast. Where is THAT!??

    “THAT” is another great article suggestion but as a rule of thumb, five minutes of resting time per inch of steak thickness or ten minutes per pound of a beef roast. – RG

  2. Sarah says:

    Where it says ‘Beef Roasts’ – under Beef Steaks.

  3. Russell Grey says:

    Thank you for this article!

    There are so many different guides to doneness out there, but very few (none that I’ve come across) really take into consideration resting. The ones that do only give some vague guidelines (ie, take it out before) without giving any specific ideas. I realize that it’s a bit of an art, but this is very helpful.

  4. Mark says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m convinced this is the best way to determine when your meat is done just right.

  5. Cathy says:

    No professional chef I’ve ever met would use a instant thermometer the moment you pierce the meat after it has started to cook it starts to toughen & it looses some of the juices this would happen normally through cooking but with the meat pierced it happens at a greater rate. The longer it continues to cook like this after you have pierced it the tougher & dryer it gets at a faster pace then normal. It’s a cardinal sin almost as bad as cutting the steak with a knife to see how it’s done.

    Touch is the only way period if you want best results.

  6. Perry says:

    The “top chefs would never pierce the meat” theory is pretty outdated, regardless of if professional chefs still do it or not. A number of sites and chefs have scientifically proven it to be pure myth that the meat loses any significant or detectable, amount of juices or tenderness from piercing. The best analogy was that because of the structure of meat, piercing to check temp is like popping 2 or 3 water balloons out of 100’s. You aren’t going to notice that water missing.

    Great chart, very helpful and just what I was looking for to use with my new digital thermometer. Thank you.

    Perry, couldn’t agree with you more. – RG

  7. Dennis K says:

    What are your thoughts on using the thermometer probes that are left in the meat and the temperature is read outside of the oven. I like using them because, you do not loose heat from the oven each time you open it to check the temperature, and you have less chance of the temperature getting away from you.

    • The Reluctant Gourmet says:

      Dennis, I think they are great especially for roasts and I agree, the less you open the oven door letting out a bunch of heat, the better.

  8. Simon M says:

    According to top michelin-starred chefs in Paris, meat should be rested for however long it’s cooked. So, if you roast a 2kg beef joint for 2hrs 30 mins, it should be rested for 2hrs and 30 mins. Not many amateurs will follow this rule, but it is guaranteed to optimise the succulence of whatever meat has been cooked.

    • The Reluctant Gourmet says:

      Hi Simon, not sure where you read this but I can’t imagine leaving a piece of roasted meat rest for 2 hours and 30 minutes. If you have a source for this information, I would appreciate your sharing it but I would not recommend following these top Michelin Starred chefs in Paris. Who wants to eat cold beef unless it’s a roast beef sandwich?

      • adam says:

        That’s funny, Simon says but was totally off. Thanks for setting him straight, as I wouldn’t want to eat a cold steak either….knowing him he’d probably nuke it to warm it back up again thus changing the temp again and making it harder to chew.

    • Yessidi says:

      Simon, I’m pretty sure that advice applies only to steaks. Obviously a roast left at room temperature for over two hours is not going to be “succulent” in any way, it’s going to be cold with hardened, slimy fat and clumpy dripings.

    • Adam says:

      Health inspectors require that any food that is left in the “danger zone” where bacteria grows rapidly for 2 hours to be discarded. In fact, if they find the food anywhere between those temperatures and it is being held rather than being cooled or heated, they require you to throw it away and pour bleach on it in order to prevent the sale of it. This is in America, I’m not sure how strict health codes are in Europe but no, American professionals would never leave rest a roast for that long unless they want to be shut down for a food borne illness outbreak, which happens daily at less reputable restaurants.

  9. Foz says:

    I’m cooking a roast beef strictly for slicing into thin sandwich meat. I’m following the temps for medium/well for obvious reasons. My question is… How long should i let the roast rest before attempting to slice it with a meat slicer? Also… would you recommend putting it in the fridge to speed up the cooling process?
    Any input at all would be welcome.

    • Francois andre says:

      First of all,if you’re going to roast off a joint of beef for ‘sarnies’,please,cook it rare.Second,I’d recommend leaving the joint loosely covered,with foil,to allow the steam to escape,letting it cool down a bit before you fridge it over-night.Slice it the following day,and you’ll have some lovely sandwiches.Am I invited over for tea ??
      Francois,ex-professional chef.
      Oh,by the way,having read the previous comments…NEVER,NEVER,NEVER,pierce your meat.If I EVER saw one of my chefs doing that,I’d fire him.
      And that includes temp/thermometer probes,too.

      • Cast Iron Chef says:

        And just how do you propose measuring the internal temperature of your meat without piercing it. Feel free to stick by your old techniques, but actual cooking research has shown that piercing has negligible effect on the meat, and allows you to get it cooked perfectly every time.

        • The Reluctant Gourmet says:

          Yes, I do agree with you and need to go back and revisit this article. Since I was taught many, many years ago that piercing lets the juices “bleed out”, I have seen the light and come to my senses that piercing does not have much if any effect on the outcome. Thank you for reminding me I have to get back and change this copy.

        • Chef B says:

          I’ve been cooking for 30 years professionally in high end restaurants, resorts, sports venues etc and have never seen anyone ( other than beginners ) use a thermometer to cook steaks. Whether there is science to back it up or not it just isn’t done. Roasts and chicken are a different story – but I repeat…Real experienced grill chefs do not check steaks with a thermometer for doneness – Period !
          It has nothing to do with “‘old” or “new” techniques – it just isn’t done by any professional that is any good
          Thanks for reading

          • Hi Chef B, I would agree with you most professionals use there senses, site, touch and even sound, when determining doneness but when learning how to cook in culinary school, they use thermometers to learn and that’s what I’m suggesting novice and intermediate home cooks do. Saying that, I’ve eaten at many high-end restaurants where I wish the seasoned professional chef used a thermometer because the medium-rare steak ordered came out medium-well. It happens all the time and I’m sure you would send it back but the majority of non professional cooks out there, including myself, do not. Chef, would you mind sharing some of your tips on determining doneness so I can share them with my readers. I am always looking to learn more about cooking steaks and would welcome your comments. Please drop me a line by email and I will give you a call. Thanks.

  10. Melissa says:

    Why can’t you cook a roast rare for slicing? The butchers sell it rare.

  11. LarryAt27N says:

    Cooking sous-vide guarantees that the internal temperature is exactly where it should be, and there’s no need for a thermometer or for the meat to rest. You can’t overcook the item, so there’s no worry or stress. Our new device ($180-$200) has, so far, produced perfect pork chops, salmon, mahi-mahi, and chicken breast. In a couple of days, it will enable me to perfectly cook a rack of lamb, and I came to this page in search of a temperature target. I kid you not: perfect, edge to edge.

  12. David N says:

    Hi – great chart, thanks – but do you have a version in degrees Celsius perhaps?

  13. Nancy Pahl says:

    My medium rare beef steaks get eaten right out of the oven. I like my meat hot!

  14. Ray says:

    Thermometers are a great tool for the home cook. Of course professional chefs can check the doneness of the meat by touch. My question is “Why are so many ‘professional’ chefs checking this website’s meat temperature and doneness chart?” True professional chefs would already know this information.

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