Proper Internal Temperature of Chicken And Other Meats

How do you tell when meat is done? What is the proper internal temperature of chicken? What is the proper internal temperature of pork? What is the proper internal temperature for a steak?

Using a meat thermometer is the most accurate way to tell if your chicken or other meat is done. There are minimum temperatures which must be reached in order for the meat to be safe.

Following is a chart of the proper minimum recommended internal temperature for chicken, seafood and other meats.
Proper Internal Temperatures

Background Info

Why use a Meat Thermometer?

A critical factor in controlling possible bacteria in food is controlling the temperature. Bacteria grows very slowly at low temperatures, multiplies rapidly at room temperatures, and is destroyed at high temperatures. Raw meat can harbor harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli. So, to be safe, meats must always be cooked thoroughly in order to reach an internal temperature capable of killing any possible bacteria. A meat thermometer is the most reliable test available to indicate if bacteria has been eliminated from your meat.

Research has shown that color changes are not a reliable indicator. A brown hamburger may not have reached a high enough temperature to kill all bacteria. But if it is cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F it is safe, regardless of color.

How Do You Use a Meat Thermometer?

  • Make sure to always insert the meat thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the meat.
  • The best place to test the internal temperature of chicken or turkey is behind the inner thigh.
  • It should not touch bone, fat, or gristle. You will not get an accurate internal temperature if it does.
  • Begin checking the temperature toward the end of cooking, but before you expect it to be ready.
  • Be sure to clean your meat thermometer with hot soapy water before and after each use.
  • Safety Note: Do NOT partially cook meats and then put them in the fridge to finish cooking later because bacteria will continue to grow until the meat reaches its proper internal temperature.
  • What Is Rest Time?

    “Rest time” is the period of time between when the meat is removed from the heat source until it is sliced or cut. Three minutes of rest time should be allowed as its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, continuing to destroy harmful bacteria.

    Recommended Internal Temperature of Poultry, Meats and other Proteins

    Meat Type Temperature Notes
    Internal Temperature of Chicken Whole 165° Make sure no blood runs in juices
    Internal Temperature of Chicken Breast 165° Opaque throughout
    Internal Temperature of Chicken Thigh 165-175°
    Internal Temperature of Pork Roast/Chop 145° Medium Rare Never eat pork less than medium rare
    Internal Temperature of Pork Roast/Chop 160° Medium Never eat pork less than medium rare
    Internal Temperature of Pork Roast/Chop 170° Well Never eat pork less than medium rare
    Internal Temperature of Ham Whole/Half 145° Maximum of 160°
    Turkey/Duck Whole 165° Make sure no blood runs in juices
    Beef/Veal/Lamb All 145°
    Beef Steak Rare 125°
    Beef Steak Medium Rare 135°
    Beef Steak Medium 145°
    Beef Steak Medium Well 155°
    Beef Steak Well Done 165°
    Ground Meats All 160° Meatloaf, etc.
    Leftovers/Casseroles 165°
    Egg Dishes 160°
    Fish All 145° Opaque throughout and flakes with a fork
    Clams/Oysters/Mussels Until Shells Open Do not eat ones where the shell does not open

    What You Can Do

    Which Type Meat Thermometer is Best?

    Make sure your thermometer is designed for meat and poultry, not for candy or anything else.

  • Ovenproof Types: Place into meat at the beginning of cooking time and read throughout cooking. The temperature indicator will slowly rise as the meat cooks. Great for roasts.

  • Instant-Read & Digital Types: Not intended for oven use, but gives about a 15 second read when inserted into cooked food. Great for hamburg patties.

  • Pop-Up Types: Most often used for poultry, in fact many turkeys come with them already inserted.

  • Microwave-Safe Types: Designed only for microwave ovens.
  • Using the proper tool will ensure you reach the proper internal temperature of chicken, pork or any other meat. For more information on cooking foods properly visit FDA.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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