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posted July 05, 2023

Internal Temperatures for Meat

Cooking your meat to the correct internal temperature is key to getting the juiciest, most flavorful, and safest meat. Internal temperatures for meat vary depending on the type of meat and how you are cooking it.

Meat thermometer in a brisket with text overlay - Internal Temps for Meat.

Steak Internal Temp

Intro here. for more information on temperatures for steak, see my Steak Temperature and Doneness Guide.

  • Rare – 120-125 degrees F
  • Medium Rare – 130-135 degrees F
  • Medium – 140-145 degrees F
  • Medium Well – 150-155 degrees F
  • Well Done – 160-165 degrees F

Steak with an instant-read thermometer showing 120 degrees F.

Roasts and Brisket Internal Temp

Tough cuts like brisket or chuck roast benefit from “overcooking” them. You will go far past the temperatures recommended for food safety, but these higher temperatures will yield the best texture and moisture. These tough cuts have high quantities of tight connective tissue and dense fats. These tissues begin to break down at around 195 degrees F, but really soften between 200-210 degrees F. Using a thermometer to track temperature is a great start, but you can also use your sense of touch to determine tenderness. If you want a brisket that will slice, it could be perfectly tender between 198-204 degrees F. If you want a chuck roast that easily shreds, you might need to cook it until 210 degrees F internally.

The process of cooking a brisket is much more involved than just getting it to this final target temperature. I highly recommend reading my post on How to Smoke a Brisket to help you get your brisket cooked to 200 degrees F.

Whole chicken reading 165 degrees F.

Chicken Internal Temp

Chicken needs to be cooked to an internal temp of 165 degrees F minimum, but I prefer to take the dark meat (legs, wings, and thighs) up to 175 for a better texture. Be sure you are cooking your chicken to 165 degrees F, and you are taking the temperature in the thickest part of the meat.

  • Breasts – 165 degrees F
  • Legs and Thighs – 175 degrees F
  • Whole and Ground Meat – 165 degrees F

 

Turkey Internal Temp

Turkey is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Be sure to test a whole turkey in multiple places with a reading of at least 165 across the entire bird (for food safety purposes).

  • Whole Turkey – 165 degrees F
  • Turkey Legs – 175 degrees F
  • Turkey Wings – Flats to 170 degrees F, drums to 175-180 degrees F*

*These are my recommended times for the best results. The higher temperature for legs and wings results in meat that pulls right off the bone.

Turkey legs reading 175 degrees F.

Pork Internal Temp

Chops, loin, and tenderloin are great at 145 degrees F, but things like the pork shoulder and ribs are better to the higher temperatures (between 195-205 degrees F). Ground pork and sausages are recommended to hit 165 degrees F. See the list below for all cuts of pork.

  • Medium Rare – 145 degrees F
  • Medium Well – 155 degrees F
  • Well Done – 160 degrees F
  • Ground Pork – 160 degrees F
  • Ribs/Pulled Pork – 200 degrees F
  • Ham – 145 degrees F

Catfish reading 145 degrees F.

Seafood

The internal temperature of seafood will vary depending on what you’re cooking. Whole filets like whitefish or salmon need to come to 145 degrees F. If you’re cooking shellfish like crab or lobser, aim for 155 degrees F. Shrimp also needs to be cooked to 155 degrees F, but I prefer watching shrimp and knowing it’s cooked when it’s opaque throughout and in a loose “C” shape.

Lastly, clams, oysters, and mussels need to be cooked until the shells open. Discard any that don’t open while cooking.

  • Whole/Filets – 145 degrees F
  • Crab, Shrimp & Lobster – 155 degrees F
  • Clams, Oysters & Mussels – Cook until shells open

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