Today, I have developed a comprehensive meat temperature chart for different kinds of meats. All of these are printable so that you can have them on hand whenever you need them!
If you find this educational article handy, make sure to take a look at the many other informational contents on my website.
Why Are These Meat Temp Charts Important?
Now, before getting to the meat temperature charts, it’s important to understand why this information is essential for cooking different kinds of meat.
First and foremost, it all comes down to food safety. As you may know, bacteria thrive at specific temperatures. This is called the temperature danger zone. In this range, bacteria have the optimal living conditions to multiply rapidly and ultimately reach dangerous levels.
Some bacteria on food (meat specifically) are perfectly fine to ingest. However, many others can be potentially deadly. Some of these include Salmonella, Shigella and Vibrio.
All these are extremely dangerous and can not only cause varying degrees of food poisoning, but actual death!
If you cook food to a specific temperature, you essentially kill most of these harmful bacteria. But, the entire piece of meat needs to reach that minimum temperature.
Doneness Of The Meat
The second big reason meats require specific cooking temperatures is so you can prepare them to have their optimal texture and flavor. My meat temperature charts will also help with achieving the doneness you like.
Perfectly cooked fish is better than undercooked and overcooked fish. The same pretty much goes for every type of meat.
Now, of course, people prefer different levels of doneness. But the temperatures can help guide you to achieve that texture and flavor.
How To Accurately Measure The Internal Temperature For Meat
When measuring the internal temperature of meat, you must measure the thickest part of the cut. It should be right in the center of that thick area.
If you push it through, you obviously aren’t getting an “internal” reading.
It helps to have a proper meat thermometer. You can look at this list to help narrow down some options for you.
Chicken Internal Temperature
So, let’s start with the meat chart temperature for chicken.
As you may know, this type of meat has no room for error. The minimum internal temperature for chicken is always 165ºF (74ºC) – no exceptions! This goes for every type of cut, including a whole chicken.
Other ways you can tell when the chicken has been cooked for long enough is when the meat is no longer pink and no juices are running out of the cut. You should slice the thickest part of the cut open to check what it looks like internally.
Meat Temperature Chart For Ground Meat
There are a bunch of different kinds of ground meat. But luckily, all of their minimum internal temperatures are pretty much the same.
For poultry like chicken, duck, and turkey, you can cook the ground meat until it has an internal temperature of 165ºF (74ºC).
For ground meat like pork, beef, and lamb, you can cook them for slightly less time or until the internal cooking temperature reaches 160ºF (71ºC).
So, how do you measure this internal temperature?
Again, just take the temperature of the largest meatball or the thickest part of the meatloaf. Whichever area is biggest and would take the longest to cook. If it has the needed internal temperature, obviously the smaller areas would too.
Internal Temperature For Pork With Meat Temperature Chart
Now, when it comes to pork, there are some variables. The exact cooking temperature needed depends on the type of cut or pork product you are cooking.
Pork is also one of the few cuts of meat that can be cooked to varying degrees.
Let’s take pork tenderloins or chops, for example. For these cuts to be safe to eat, they can be cooked to 140-145ºF (60-63ºC). This is also considered to be “medium” cooked pork.
You CANNOT cook pork rare or medium rare (at lower temperatures). Anything lower than 140ºF won’t kill the harmful bacteria.
You can also cook the chops to medium well, which has an internal temperature of 149-155ºF (65-68ºC). And finally, well-done pork chops have an internal temperature of 160-165ºF (71-74ºC).
Ground pork, as I’ve mentioned, has to be cooked to 160ºF (71ºC). Uncooked ham (which is how they are mostly sold) has to be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF (63ºC)
And finally, pulled pork has to be cooked well. That’s because it has a bigger surface area for more bacteria to thrive on and because it has already been cooked. Just to be safe, I would recommend reheating or cooking pulled pork until it has reached 205ºF (96ºC).
Again, refer to the meat temperature chart for easy reference.
Internal Temperature For Beef
Beef can be cooked to virtually any degree of doneness, as you can see on this meat temperature chart.
Rare beef has an internal temperature of 118-125ºF (48-52ºC). Medium rare is cooked until its internal temperature is 129-134ºF (54-57ºC).
Medium beef should be between 140-145ºF (60-63ºC). And well-done beef cuts, which are the most cooked, are usually between 160-165ºF (71-74ºC) internally.
Internal Temperature For Salmon and Seafood – Meat Temperature Chart
Finally, fish, alongside chicken, is one of the most dangerous meats to undercook. Loads of harmful bacteria easily grow on it.
A good rule of thumb for seafood and fish (no matter what you are working with) is that the internal cooked temperature should be 145ºF (63ºC). That goes for fish and shellfish (clams or mussels).
But there are other more specific temperatures you can follow. Remember, some types of fish can be safely consumed raw. But, you have to be confident that what you are eating raw is fresh.
You can cook salmon for slightly less time than most fish. You can leave it until it’s about 110-125ºF (45-50ºC). That is the minimum safe temperature.
Personally, I like it a little more cooked, at around 130-135ºF (54-57ºC).
Other types of seafood, like crustaceans, can be cooked until they become opaque. There isn’t a specific internal temperature for these.