Getting going on the grill, but need to know the internal temperatures for the meat your cooking? This will give you everything you need to know about cooking your meat so it’s just to your liking, whether it’s steak, pork, chicken, hamburger, or anything in between.
Have you ever grilled up some meat only to have it overdone? Or not even cooked all the way through?
People can be scared of the grill. They worry they’ll ruin what they’re cooking and they won’t have anything for dinner. Or even worse, they’ll ruin the meal for a party they’re hosting.
I GET IT. Really, I do.
It can be intimidating! But it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is:
- know what temperature you want to cook your meat to and
- use a thermometer to check the temperature as it cooks.
It really is as easy as that.
When you know those two things, it takes all the guesswork out of grilling.
This post is going to discuss all things internal temperature. Check out this post about how to use a meat thermometer if you need some guidance with that.
A quick note on meat thermometers, because you are going to be much better off if you have one. If you need to get one, I strongly recommend a Thermapen meat thermometer (this is the purple one pictured above). We’ve had ours forever – it’s very accurate and has held up well.
Okay, on to the internal temperature of meats!
Internal Temperatures for Meats
Did you know different meats need to be cooked to different temperatures? And even then, there’s some leeway in terms of how much you want your meat cooked.
Let’s break it down, starting with…
Cook to 160 degrees F
This refers to any ground meat – beef, pork, chicken, etc. So if you’re grilling up hamburgers or meatballs, this is for you.
Ground Meat Recipes
Cook to your liking, in the following range*:
- Rare: 115 degrees F
- Medium Rare: 125 degrees F
- Medium: 130 degrees F
- Medium Well: 140 degrees F
- Well: 150 degrees
This refers to other cuts of beef besides ground beef, including any types of steak or roast. There’s a range here, and it depends on your preference. The USDA recommends cooking these cuts of beef to 145 degrees F (measured in the thickest part of the cut of meat).
*pull the meat from the grill when it reaches this temperature and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. The temperature will increase a couple of degrees as it rests. Additionally, cook a larger and fattier cut like brisket to 203 degrees F.
Poultry (Chicken, Turkey, etc.)
Cook to 165 degrees F
Poultry is different than beef in that there is not a temperature range – you need to cook it all the way through. This goes for any cut of chicken, turkey, or other poultry (think game hens, pheasant, etc). This should ensure that there are no pink parts left, as that would indicate the meat isn’t fully cooked.
There is one caveat to this, which is when you’re cooking a whole turkey. To do this, you want the breasts to be an internal temperature of about 150 degrees F and the thighs and legs should be at the typical temperature of 165 degrees F. For a full recipe, see my post on how to smoke a turkey.
Cook to 145 degrees F*
Pork sits somewhere between beef and poultry in that it does have a temp you need to cook it to, but there are some cuts where you want to cook higher than that. I’m talking specifically about larger and fattier cuts like pork shoulder and pork butt – cuts where you bbq or smoke them. For those, you want the internal temp to be at least 203 degrees F as this is where the connective tissue breaks down and the meat gets really tender.
*cook larger and fattier cuts like pork shoulder and pork butt to 203 degrees F.
Cook to 145 degrees F (but really it varies)
Again, the USDA recommends cooking all seafood to 145 degrees F, but you’ll find that some seafood can get a little dry or tough when cooked to that temperature. I tend to cook salmon and halibut closer to 135 degrees F in the thickest part.
Shrimp can be tough to get a temperature read on (depending on the size), so mostly it’s about sight – you want the shrimp to be completely opaque and the color to be light pink. Scallops are similar – you want them to be opaque and firm.
Below is a handy internal temperatures chart you can use as a quick reference guide. Pin it for later so you have it when you need it!
If you found this post helpful know in the comments below – I love hearing from you!