Meat Doneness Chart

September 14, 2012 48 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.

Meat Doneness Chart


Last modified on Tue 21 August 2018 2:53 pm

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  1. 5 Tips for Perfect Roasts | [email protected] | 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!??

    • Chris says:

      Your reply in regards to letting Beef rest is WRONG!! For a steak regardless of how thick it is shouldn’t rest for less than 5min and no more than 10min. As far as the answer that you provided in regards to how long a Beef Roast should rest is comical.!! Haha.! You said 10 min per Lb. A roast weighing anywhere from 3-8 lbs or so should rest for no less than 10-12min or so to no longer than 30 mins for the larger 5-8 lb roasts. Going by your scale if I have a 6-7 lb roast then I should rest it for 60-70 mins? If you let that same sick roast rest for 20-30 mins the only difference is that your Roast will be cold! So with that all been said I don’t let my RB rest for even 1 SINGLE SECOND. with the way that I have been preparing it ever since I have discovered this preparation method approximately 8-9yrs ago I’ve never looked back. I season my RB as desired. Preheat your oven to 500. Have a nice cast iron skillet handy, place your seasoned roast in the skillet in the oven and roasted hard at the preheated temperature of 500 degrees for around five to no more than six minutes per pound – 5 minutes per pound if the roast is 3 pounds or less, closer to the six minute per pound side if it’s a larger roast. After the time roasting at 500 depending on the weight of the roast shut the oven completely off and do not open the door! I repeat do not open the door no matter what! If you want your roast rare remove it from the oven if its 3 pounds or less in approximately 50 minutes for medium rare about an hour and so on in 10-minute increments period for larger roast 5 pounds and up if you want rare leave it in for an hour to an hour and 10 minutes and someone in 10-minute increments medium rare an hour and 10 to 15 etc etc. It is the best roast beef and comes out perfectly every time no resting required you don’t need to baste you don’t need to do anything except sit down and drink watch TV do chores whatever prepare the rest of the meal while the main centerpiece is roasting away in the oven.

      • Linda says:

        If your roast is less than 3lbs it’s a steak not a roast.

      • Robert says:

        Followed the receipe for a 4.18 lb roast. 500 for 21 minutes, then oven off and Kept it in about 55 minutes. Perfect. Wow. Thanks. Will never cook the old way again.

      • Hi Chris, I will definitely give your method a try and see how it goes. As far as resting beef, I disagree with you. I’m not a food scientist and I admit, some of the concepts I originally learned when I first started cooking have currently been proved wrong but this isn’t one of them. I am a huge fan of J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats and I wanted to see what he said about resting steaks and larger cuts of beef. He has a great post about this at and I urge you to check it out. One thing he said about this technique, “By far the easiest and most foolproof way to test if your meat has rested long enough is the same way you can tell if your meat is cooked properly: with a thermometer. Ideally, no matter how well-done you’ve cooked your meat, you want to allow it to cool down until the very center has reached 120°F (49°C). At this stage, the muscle fibers have relaxed enough that you should have no problem with losing juices. As shown in the graph, In a 1.5-inch-thick steak, this translates to around 10 minutes. For a prime rib, this may take as long as 45 minutes.”

      • BobM says:

        This method depends on how well insulated your oven is. Since they are not all the same, results will vary between different brands and oven types.

    • For steaks, I most often see 3 to 10 minutes. For roasts, I’ve seen 5 minutes per inch of thickness or ten minutes per pound or half of the total cooking time. I just read an article at serious eats dot com and they suggest the best way to know if the meat has rested enough is with a thermometer. They suggest when the center of center of the meat reaches 120 degrees F., the meat is ready to cut and serve. For a 1.5 inc thick steak, this could be 10 minutes and for a prime rib roast, this could take as long as 45 minutes.

  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.

    • Adam says:

      In terms of steak this is true. With roasts and whole birds, this is false.

    • Phil says:

      When it comes to a roast beef there is no way you can use the touch method. Also, when I cook a roast beef I use an instant read thermometer and I’ve never had any issues whatsoever with losing juices, and or it becoming dry or tough.

  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.

  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.

      • I don’t think Simon was “totally off” at all. I rest my 6kg beef roasts for approximately the same time that I cooked them at. On removal from my barbecue, I wrap the roast in two layers of foil, then wrap a bath towel round it and place in an esky (cold box). They are still warm 4 to 5 hrs later and are perfect I re4st all my meat joints in this manner.

    • 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.

          • Justin says:

            Maybe this is why very few restaurants actually get my steak done to the level I request? Restaurants in my area seem to have a less than 50% success rate actually getting my steak to the requested medium rare, and it appears that “it’s always been done that way” thinkers like you are the problem!

  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.

    • Moe says:

      Well said Ray, I consider myself a foodie of sorts and would not take a chance of cooking a great cut of Prime Rib or Beef Tenderloin roast without a probe. You’re right, why would “professional” chefs be even looking here other than to bore us with their snobby attitudes. I too have been to high end restaurants with less than ideal steaks served to me.
      This is a great chart for cooks of any level.

  15. Sandy says:

    While I appreciate the previous conversations, I am having trouble in guestimating how long to cook a roast based on the internal temperature BEFORE putting it in the oven. Roasting a 7.8 # beef roast that was refrigerated to 40° and taken out for an hour before roasting does NOT bring it up to room temperature brings it up to 49°F. I have no desire to keep checking its’ temp, roasting in a small rv oven causes a significant loss of heat every time the oven for is opened. My cook book says for medium rare after roasting at 450° for 15 min turn down the heat to 325° and roast for 18-20 min a pound. That would be about 2.5 hrs. I know that won’t be enough time. Any guidelines?. I understand the answer won’t help me today but will for the future. Thank you

    • Hi Sandy, I can see your dilemma so I have a couple of suggestions. First decide what your targeted internal temperature will be based on my chart or any other chart you find useful. If your oven door has glass window, you can use a standard meat thermometer to give you the internal temperature while it is cooking. If you don’t have a window you can look through, there are some wireless digital meat thermometers you can pick up for as little as $20. Some of them will even sound an alarm on your phone to let you know when you hit your target temperature. I don’t like to use the time and temperature recommendations most recipes give you as a guideline because they often lead to overcooking and don’t take into consideration resting time. You can always adjust the time and temperature and then check the meat with a thermometer to see how much more you have to roast the beast.

  16. Caroline says:

    I love this place! I am doing a 4-H quiz bowl and have to know how to find if meat is done so this comes in real handy! Also, do you have a chart for ham?

  17. NoVA Mom says:

    But WHERE do you test for these ideal temperatures? If by the bone, the rest of the meat is overcooked in my experience. This is the most confusing part by far for me as a non-professional home cook.

    • Nova Mom, you are correct. You don’t want to test right next to the bone or on the bone. You typically want to insert your thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the meat. For steaks, I like to come in from the side if possible, for chicken I like to poke the thigh away from the bone. I should work on a chart of where I like to test meat temperatures so please let me know readers, where you test for ideal temperatures.

  18. Phil Shipman says:

    Hi all.
    What a great site to find giving good professional advice on cooking meat, I can now cook meat with confidence and get a perfect result every time.
    Just one thing would make the site perfect, please add the centigrade equivalent temperatures as in an awful lot of countries like Australia, everything is calibrated in centigrade.

  19. PJ says:

    I’m not a professional chef, but I use the “touch test.” When I order steak at a restaurant, and they ask me to cut into it to check, I just press it with the flat of the knife and I know immediately.

    Same with grilling at home – it’s easy to learn the touch test!

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