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Food Safe Cooking Temperatures

Large, juicy roast sitting with a blue thermometer being inserted to check the temperature

Cooking is a balancing act. You need to cook meat and other foods long enough to kill germs but not so long that they dry out and lose flavor. Finding that sweet spot isn’t always easy. But take a tip from the professional cooks in our test kitchen: Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature. Then compare the results with the safe temperatures listed on this page.


Test Kitchen-Recommended Temperatures

Ground meat and meat mixtures Temperature
Beef, pork, veal and lamb
160°F (71.1°C)
Turkey, chicken 165°F (73.9°C)
Beef, veal and lamb – roasts, steaks and chops Temperature
Medium-rare 135°F (57.2°C)
Medium
140°F (60°C)
Medium-well 145°F (62.8°C)
Poultry Temperature
Whole chicken or turkey
170-175°F (76.7-79.4°C), as measured in deepest part of thigh**
Legs or thighs 170-175°F (76.7-79.4°C), as measured in deepest part of thigh**
Breast
165°F (73.9°C)
Stuffing (cooked in bird)
165°F (73.9°C)
Pork Temperature
Chops, roasts, ribs
145°F (62.8°C)
Ham Temperature
Fresh (raw)
145°F (62.8°C)
Precooked (to reheat)
140°F (60°C)
Egg dishes Temperature
Egg-based entrees
160°F (71.1°C)
Custard, sauces, ice cream base
160°F (71.1°C)
Seafood Temperature
Fin fish
Flesh should be opaque and flake easily.
Lobster, crab
Flesh should be opaque and pearly.
Scallops
Flesh should be opaque, milky white and firm.
Shrimp
Safe to eat when flesh turns pink.
Clams, oysters, mussels
Safe to eat if shells have opened during cooking. Discard any unopened shells.
Miscellaneous Temperature
Leftovers and casseroles
165°F (73.9°C)
Microwave dishes
165°F (73.9°C)
**Poultry is safe to eat at 165° (73.9°C), but we prefer the taste and texture when the legs and thighs are cooked to 170-175° (76.7-79.4°C).

Person inserting a thermometere into the thickest part of the thigh of a cooked chicken

Several meat temperatures are lower than we used to recommend, thanks to research into “carryover cooking.” Scientists call it that because heat “carries over” from the hot surface of a piece of meat to the cooler interior after the meat has been removed from its heat source. That’s why many professional kitchens, ours included, use temperatures slightly lower than recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). If that’s your preference, too, we suggest you remove your meat from the oven or grill before it reaches your target temperature, then let it stand for several minutes so it can finish cooking: 5 minutes for steaks and chops all the way up to 15-20 minutes for roasts.

Important: Reduced meat temperatures aren’t for everyone. Pregnant women, infants, the very elderly and people with compromised immune systems should only eat meat that’s been cooked to the higher temperatures recommended by the USDA. But for healthy adults, many food scientists and chefs see little risk in eating meat that’s cooked to slightly lower temperatures.


Official USDA Guidelines

Product Minimum internal temperature and rest time
Beef, pork, veal and lamb
Steaks, chops, roasts
145°F (62.8°C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Ground meats 160°F (71.1°C)
Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked) 145°F (62.8°C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Fully cooked ham
(to reheat)
Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140°F (60°C) and all others to 165°F (73.9°C).
All poultry (whole bird; breasts, legs, thighs, and wings; ground poultry; stuffing) 165°F (73.9°C)
Eggs
160°F (71.1°C)
Fish and shellfish 145°F (62.8°C)
Leftovers
165°F (73.9°C)
Casseroles
165°F (73.9°C)