Internal Temperature Cooking Guide
Using cooking thermometers is best when cooking meat but can be used for vegetables, casseroles, egg dishes, baked goods and more. Every Diva should be able to read and properly use one.
In this section, I will discuss the different temperatures required to kill harmful bacteria (like E. Coli and Salmonella) present in raw food and provide information that you can keep with you always and refer to whenever you’re cooking.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, internal temperature is the only way to gauge whether food is properly cooked or not.
Color cannot be a proper gauge of readiness as the freezing and re-cooking process can often discolor the meat so the internal thermometer is what you need to make sure you and your family don’t get sick.
If you’re interested, there is this 165 ft Long Range, Smart Wireless Meat Thermometer for the Oven Grill Kitchen BBQ Smoker Rotisserie with Bluetooth and WiFi Digital Connectivity from Amazon that will just blow your mind. It’s amazing what technology is capable of.
For the rest of us, there’s just the standard “poke it in” meat thermometer that works quite well.
For steaks, chops and anything that is thin, the best way to test the temperature is to slide it in the side of the cut of meat, right in the middle.
For roasts or anything that is thick, it is best to place the thermometer in the deepest part of the flesh. Closest to the bone but not actually touching it.
- Extra-rare or Blue: 80 – 100 F/26 – 38 C, deep red color, slightly warm and feels squishy to the touch
- Rare: 120 – 125 F/49 – 51 C, bright red with slight pink around exterior, warm and feels soft to the touch
- Medium Rare: 130 – 135 F/55 – 57 C, very pink with brown outside, slightly hot and gives to the touch
- Medium: 140 – 145 F/60 – 63 C, light pink with brown exterior, hot throughout and gives slightly to the touch
- Medium Well: 150 – 155 F/65 -69 C, brownish gray exterior with very light pink center and feels firm to the touch
- Well Done: 160+ F/71+ C, gray or brown all the way thorugh and firm to the touch
- Brisket: 165 – 175 F/74 -79 C, serve when meat pulls apart with ease
- Ground Meat: 160 – 165 F/71 – 74 C, slide thermometer into side of beef patty to measure and deepest part of the meatloaf
It is extremely important to make sure that poultry is cooked to the right internal temperature, which is 165 F/74 C. This applies to all types of poultry including chicken, turkey, duck and more.
To test the temperature of the leg, place the thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and for the breast, be sure to place it into the thickest part of the meat.
- Breast Meat: Should be white and have clear juices
- Thigh or Leg Meat: Pale white/tan colored with almost a hint of purple
Pork, the other white meat, is very popular because of it’s unique flavor and it’s inexpensive price. Like beef, it comes in all cuts and sizes.
When taking the temperature of chops or steaks, remember to slide the thermometer in through the side and when in a roast, make sure the thermometer is placed mid-way between the bone and the skin in the deepest part of the flesh.
- Medium: 140 – 145 F/60 – 63 C, pale pink middle
- Well Done: 160 F/71 C, uniform brown color throughout
- Ribs: 180 – 200 F/82 – 93 C, cooked medium – well done
- Pork shoulders: 195 – 200 F/90 – 93 C, pale white to tan, cooked medium – well done
- Brisket: 195 – 200 F/ 90 – 93 C, pale white to tan, medium – well done
- Ham: 160 F/71 C, usually pre-cooked upon purchase
- Sausage: 160 F/71 C, cooked until no longer pink
FISH & SEAFOOD
Whether you’re in the mood for a simple fish filet or a fancy lobster, it’s important to know the safe internal temperature before eating it. There’s almost nothing worse than bad seafood and how you feel after eating it.
- Ahi Tuna: 115 – 120 F/46 – 49 C, usually served rare or seared-rare
- Tuna: 125 F/51 C, usually served medium-rare
- Trout: 130 F/54 C, fish should be white and flakey
- Halibut: 130 – 135 F/54 – 57 C, fish should be white and flaky
- Cod: 130 – 135 F/54 – 57 C, fish should be white and flaky
- Red Snapper: 130 – 135 F/54 – 57 C, fish should be white and flaky
- Sea Bass: 130 – 135 F/54 – 57 C, fish should be white and flaky
- Salmon: 130 – 135 F/54 – 57 C, fish should be pink and flaky
- Shrimp: 120 F/49 C, cook until medium rare and they start to turn pink
- Lobster: 145 F/62 C, cook until pink, placing the thermometer into the tail
- Scallops: 120 F/49 C, cook until they turn to opaque
- Clams, Mussels, Oysters: cook until the shells open up wide, closed shells means that they’re dead so discard them
DESSERTS & MORE
When baking, it’s always a good to remember that a cake will continue to bake in the pan after you remove it from the stove so it’s useful to have a wire rack on hand.
- Cake: 205 – 209 F/93 – 98 C, bake until a toothpick comes out clean
- Cheesecake: 150 F/65 C, no higher than this as the cheesecake will crack
- Pies: should be bubbling up in the middle and around the edges with a golden brown crust
- Eggs: 160 F/71 C, this is to ensure that all the salmonella has been killed