Say goodbye to guessing, and hello to a safer and more accurate way of telling when your meat is done.

Breana Killeen, M.P.H., R.D.
August 28, 2020
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Judging when meat is “done” doesn’t need to be a matter of touching or cutting into or worse yet blindly guessing. Simply aiming for an appropriate temperature is the solution. And an instant-read thermometer is the key to success. Here are a few of our favorites that we use in the test kitchen—plus, get our helpful tips to accurately read the temperature of your meat.

How to Temp Meat the Right Way

It’s important to make sure you’re cooking your proteins to a safe temperature. Refer to the chart below for safe cooking temperatures, according to the USDA.

All poultry

165 degrees Fahrenheit

Ground meat
(beef, veal, pork & lamb)

160 degrees Fahrenheit

Whole cuts of meat
(steaks, roasts & chops)

140 degrees Fahrenheit

Our Favorite Instant-Read Thermometers

Taylor Compact Waterproof Digital Pen Thermometer
$13.00
SHOP IT
Amazon
ThermoPop
$34.00
SHOP IT
ThermoWorks
Original Meater
$69.00
SHOP IT
Amazon

How to Use the Thermometers

Digital or not, be sure to calibrate your thermometer by sticking it in ice water. It should read 32℉; if it doesn’t adjust it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To check the temp of your meat, insert the probe into the thickest part, without hitting any bones. For thin cuts and round roasts, like a pork tenderloin, get the most accurate read by inserting the thermometer horizontally in the middle of one side of the meat instead of from the top down.

For perfectly cooked, tender meat, remove it from the heat when it’s 5℉  below the desired temperature. Let it rest on a clean cutting board for at least 5 minutes—the temperature will continue to rise about 5℉  and the juices will redistribute too.

This story originally appeared in EatingWell Magazine June 2019.