Internal Temperatures for Perfectly Cooked Meat

Cooking meat to the ideal internal temperature is crucial for achieving juicy, flavorful, and safe results. The internal temperature varies depending on the type of meat and the cooking method used. Let’s dive into the recommended internal temperatures for different meats and learn how to achieve the best results.

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

Steak Internal Temp

When it comes to steaks, achieving the perfect internal temperature is a matter of personal preference. Here are some guidelines to help you serve steak cooked to your liking:

  • 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

Preparing tough cuts of meat like brisket or chuck roast requires higher internal temperatures to achieve the perfect texture and moisture. These cuts have high amounts of connective tissue and dense fats, which break down and tenderize as the temperature rises.

While the recommended food safety temperature is around 195 degrees F, the best tenderness is usually achieved between 200-210 degrees F. To determine tenderness, you can also rely on your sense of touch. A brisket that slices perfectly may be tender at 198-204 degrees F, while a chuck roast that easily shreds might require cooking until 210 degrees F internally.

Whole chicken reading 165 degrees F

Chicken Internal Temp

Chicken should always be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F for safety reasons. However, for better texture, it is recommended to take the dark meat (legs, wings, and thighs) up to 175 degrees F. Make sure to measure 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
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Turkey Internal Temp

To ensure a perfectly cooked turkey, it’s important to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Test the temperature in multiple places on the whole turkey to guarantee food safety.

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

*Note: The higher temperature for legs and wings results in meat that easily pulls right off the bone.

Turkey legs reading 175 degrees F

Pork Internal Temp

Different cuts of pork require specific internal temperatures to achieve optimal tenderness and flavor.

  • Medium Rare: 145 degrees F (for chops, loin, and tenderloin)
  • 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 for seafood varies depending on the type of seafood being cooked.

  • Whole/Filets (e.g., whitefish, salmon): 145 degrees F
  • Crab, Shrimp & Lobster: 155 degrees F
  • Clams, Oysters & Mussels: Cook until shells open (discard any that don’t open during cooking)

By understanding and monitoring the internal temperatures of various meats, you can ensure perfectly cooked dishes that are both safe to eat and full of flavor. For more cooking tips and mouth-watering recipes, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ.