Our Test Kitchen’s Guide to Food-Safe Cooking Temperatures

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Do you find yourself guessing if your chicken is done or that your steak is a perfect medium-rare? Check out (and print!) our guide to food-safe cooking temperatures for meat, fish and more.

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—our Test Kitchen staffers love this digital thermometer from Thermoworks.

Learn how to use a food thermometer, 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 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).

Taste of Home

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)
Ribs 185°F-195°F (85°C-90.5°C)

With these guides, cooking up roasts, filets, whole birds and more should be a breeze!

Get started with these roasts!
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