Meat Temperatures

The ultimate guide to internal meat temperatures and smoking meat temperatures. Everything you need to know about making delicious BBQ.

Meat Temperatures
Meat Temperatures

Anyone who has ever cooked meat knows that there is a delicate balance to be struck between undercooking and overcooking. 

Undercooked meat of any kind can be dangerous, due to the presence of harmful bacteria, while overcooked meat can be dry and unpalatable. As a result, it is essential to cook meat to the designated safe internal temperature to ensure both food safety and incredible flavor.

Fortunately, a few simple guidelines can help home cooks achieve perfect results every time. By following these tips, you can rest assured that your meat will be safe and delicious.

A Comprehensive Guide to Different Meat Cooking Temperatures

Safe meat temperatures vary depending on the type of meat you’re cooking. For instance, pork and beef are safe to eat at 145°F whereas poultry must reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F to be safe for consumption.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide for cooking different types of meat safely while prioritizing mouthwatering taste and texture.

Meat Temperatures Chart

Use the meat temperatures chart below to find the safe internal meat temperatures of different types of meat.

Meat Internal Temp
Poultry 165°F (75°C)
Poultry, Ground 165°F (75°C)
Beef, Ground 145°F (65°C)
Beef, steak or roast 165°F (75°C)
Veal 165°F (75°C)
Lamb, ground 165°F (75°C)
Lamb, chops 165°F (75°C)
Mutton 165°F (75°C)
Pork 145°F (65°C)
Ham 145°F (65°C)
Ham, precooked and reheated 165°F (75°C)
Venison, ground 165°F (70°C)
Venison, steak or roast 145°F (65°C)
Rabbit 160°F (70°C)
Bison, ground 145°F (65°C)
Bison, steak or roast 145°F (65°C)

Smoking Meat Temperatures

Use the meat smoking temperatures chart below as a general guideline for ideal temperatures to smoke different types of meat on a pellet smoker, charcoal smoker, or electric smoker.

Meat Cook Temp Finish Temp
Poultry 275°F (135°C) 165°F (75°C)
Beef, ground 225°F (105°C) 145°F (65°C)
Beef, Brisket 225°F (105°C) 202°F (95°C)
Beef, steak (rare) 225°F (105°C) 125°F (95°C)
Pork 225°F (105°C) 165°F (75°C)
Veal 225°F (105°C) 165°F (75°C)
Lamb 225°F (105°C) 165°F (75°C)
Mutton 225°F (105°C) 165°F (75°C)
Ham 225°F (105°C) 165°F (75°C)
Venison 225°F (105°C) 165°F (75°C)
Rabbit 225°F (105°C) 165°F (75°C)
Bison 225°F (105°C) 165°F (75°C)
Fish 225°F (105°C) 165°F (75°C)

Poultry Meat Temperatures

Poultry includes chicken, turkey, duck, and quail and may refer to the whole bird or specific parts of the bird like the legs, thighs, or wings. Poultry is a lean protein that is low in saturated fat and high in vitamins and minerals.

Poultry can be cooked at a variety of temperatures, but it is very important to cook it to the right final temperature to ensure food safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mention that raw poultry may contain Campylobacter. The notorious bacteria can lead to severe symptoms, including vomiting, bloody stools, and fever. Other common bacteria may include Clostridium perfringens and Salmonella.

Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid contamination. Whether you’re frying, grilling, or roasting poultry, even ground poultry, aim to reach this final internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fish Meat Temperatures

Fish is a great option for a healthy, delicious meal. Thanks to its omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and iodine, fish is one of the healthiest types of meat available, especially for metabolic and hormonal balance.

However, cooking fish to perfection can be tricky – if you don’t do it right, you’ll end up with a rubbery, dry mess that lacks flavor. The key is to cook it at the right temperature.

Fish should be cooked quickly over high heat – this will help to seal in the moisture and prevent it from drying out. When it’s done, the flesh should be opaque and flaky and the meat thermometer should read 165°F. So next time you’re in the mood for fish, remember to turn up the heat!

Beef Meat Temperatures

Ask any chef and they’ll tell you that Beef is one of the most versatile and delicious meats out there. It can be cooked in so many different ways and is packed with nutrients like protein and Iron, making it a great choice for a healthy meal. However, it’s important to cook your beef to the right temperature, otherwise, it can be tough, dry, or unsafe.

When planning to cook ground meat like beef, aim for an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This beef doneness temperature will ensure that your beef is juicy, full of flavor, and safe for consumption.

Steak Temperatures

Ideal temperatures for steak are a little different than ground beef, as everyone has different steak doneness preferences. We recommend you check beef doneness regularly and remove steaks as soon as they hit the target temperature so as to not overcook your desired doneness.

Furthermore, steak cooking temperatures can vary depending on the cooking method you use. If using a smoker, you may opt for the low and slow cooking method, or if you prefer a crispy crust with a near-raw interior, you may choose to sear your steak at high temperatures.

The following steak temperatures chart outlines the various steak doneness temperatures.

Steak Doneness Level Internal Temp
Rare 120-130°F (49-54°C)
Medium Rare 130-135°F (54-57°C)
Medium  135-145°F (57-63°C)
Well 145-155°F (63-68°C)
Well Done 155-165°F (68-74°C)

Veal Meat Temperatures

Veal is a type of meat that comes from young cows. It is very tender and has a mild flavor, making it a popular choice for many dishes. Veal can be cooked in a variety of ways, but it is important to cook it to the right final temperature to ensure that it is safe to eat.

Veal should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and it should be given a rest time of at least three minutes before being served. This rest time will enhance the meat flavor by allowing it to reabsorb the juices. When cooked properly, veal will be juicy and delicious, and it will make a perfect addition to any meal.

Lamb Meat Temperatures

Lamb is a delicious and versatile type of meat that can be cooked in a variety of ways, whether that be rare, medium, or well done. However, a lamb that is overcooked can be tough and dry, while a lamb that is undercooked can be unsafe to eat.

Whether you like your lamb rare, medium, or well done, cooking it to the right temperature will ensure that it is delicious and safe to eat. Overall, it’s recommended to cook raw meat from lamb to an internal temperature of 145-165°F for a medium-well to well-done doneness.

Mutton Meat Temperatures

Mutton is a type of meat that comes from adult sheep that are more than two years old. Mutton has a stronger flavor than lamb, and it requires more cooking time to become tender.

Mutton is best when it is slow-cooked at a low temperature. This allows the meat to become tender and fall off the bone. When cooking Mutton, be sure to cook it to an internal temperature of 165°F.

Mutton can be roasted, baked, or stewed. It is often used in curries and other flavorful dishes, being a delicious and nutritious option for any meal.

Pork Meat Temperatures

Pork is one of the most versatile meats out there. It can be cooked in numerous ways and has a wide range of flavors, making it a popular choice for home cooks and professional chefs. Different types of pork cuts include pork chops, belly, ribs, and bacon, and they can be roasted, grilled, baked, or even stir-fried. Depending on how it’s cooked, pork can be tender and juicy or crisp and crunchy.

When cooking pork, it’s essential to choose the right cut of meat and cook it to the proper temperature. Pork chops, roasts, and loins must be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, while ground pork must reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit. By following these guidelines, you’ll ensure that your pork is delicious and safe.

Ham Meat Temperatures

Ham is a type of meat that is often cooked to the same temperature as other meats, even though it is sold pre-cooked. It’s recommended to cook precooked ham at a lower temperature so that it does not dry out.

Ham can be either baked or grilled and served with either a sweet or savory sauce. Ham should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit and then it is usually thinly sliced.

Ham can be either dry-cured or wet-cured. The difference between the two is that dry-cured ham has had the water removed from it, while wet-cured ham has not. Ham is usually served cold, but it can also be served hot. It can be eaten as is, or it can be used in recipes such as sandwiches, omelets, and soups.

Venison Meat Temperatures

Venison is game meat, referring to deer or elk. Venison is a type of meat that is both delicious and nutritious, and when cooked properly it is juicy and full of flavor.

The best way to cook Venison is to sear it on the outside while leaving the inside near rare. This will help to seal the juices and prevent the meat from drying out. Venison is also a leaner meat, so it is important to not overcook it. A safe internal temperature for venison is 145F.

Venison can be enjoyed by itself or added to other dishes such as stews and pasta sauces. For a truly unique experience, try Venison jerky! It is a great way to get your protein without all the fat and calories.

Bison Meat Temperatures

Bison, also known as American buffalo, is a type of meat that is becoming increasingly popular. It is leaner than other types of meat, such as beef, and has a more intense flavor. Bison is also a good source of protein, iron, and other nutrients.

When cooking bison, it is important to cook it to the right temperature. If it is cooked too long, it can become tough and dry. Bison is best-cooked medium-rare, at 145° F. This will help to preserve its flavor and keep it juicy.

Bison can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilled, roasted, or pan-fried. When cooking bison, be sure to use a cooking thermometer to ensure that it reaches the desired temperature. Bison is a delicious and healthy alternative to other types of meat. Give it a try today!

Rabbit Meat Temperatures

Rabbit is lean meat, which means it is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Rabbit can be cooked in a variety of ways, but it is important to cook it at the right temperature to ensure that it is safe to eat. When cooking rabbit meat, the recommended minimum internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Rabbit can be cooked using a variety of methods, including grilling, baking, roasting, and sauteing.

Rabbit is a versatile meat that can be used in a variety of dishes, from stews and casseroles to stir-fries and pasta dishes. It is a delicious and healthy option for your next meal.

Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Recommendation by USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shares different meat cooking temperatures in its meat safety temperature chart. The institution ultimately recommends cooking raw meat until it reaches a safe temperature.

Here’s an overview of what the USDA suggests.

  • Ground Meats: 160F
  • Ground Poultry: 165F
  • Pork, Beef, Veal, Lamb: 145F and a resting temperature of 3 minutes
  • Ham: 145F, and allow to rest for 3 minutes
  • Fully Cooked Ham: reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140F, and all others to 165F
  • Poultry: 165F
  • Fish: 145F

Tips for Using a Meat Thermometer

Now that you know the safe temperature to cook different meat types, it’s time to learn how a food thermometer works. Of course, you need to use the device properly to ensure you get the right reading. Here are a few steps to help you.

  • Opt for a quality thermometer. A simple probe with a dial has become old school. Choose a digital, instant-read thermometer for the most accurate results. Such thermometers take a few seconds to display the meat temperature.
  • Stick it in the thickest part of the meat. Because the meat surface is hotter than the center, sticking it on surface level won’t do the trick – you may end up getting incorrect readings. Make sure you place your meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Also, ensure the probe isn’t touching bone.
  • Check the temperature often. Make sure you check the meat temperature frequently when the meat gets close to being ready.
  • Clean the thermometer. Always wash the thermometer probe to make it clean and safe for use the next time.

Tips to Store and Reheat Meat

Although cooking meat at a specific temperature destroys harmful bacteria, it’s important to store leftovers properly to keep them safe for consumption.

Keep the following tips in mind to avoid foodborne diseases and ensure your meat is safe to consume.

  • Always keep the food below 40F (4 degrees Celsius) when storing it in the refrigerator.
  • Avoid leaving leftovers out of the refrigerator. The food becomes unsafe to consume if left outside for more than 2 hours.
  • If you want to keep the food out for guests to graze, warm it to a temperature around 140F and keep it warm using a warming tray or an oven.
  • In general, try to consume leftovers within three days