How to Tell When Meat is Done
Simply put, the only way to truly be certain that meat is done is to use a meat thermometer. You may have heard of a few other methods — like cutting the meat open to check its color or looking at the clarity of juices — but food isn’t completely safe for consumption until it has reached an internal temperature hot enough to kill bacteria. Perhaps the most popular myth is comparing the exterior of the meat to the firmness of certain parts of your hand. However, this tactic is unreliable because everyone’s flesh is different, and bounciness varies among every cut of meat. See the chart below for USDA specifications for food doneness (and a few expert recommendations for different cooks of beef).
|Type of Food||Minimum Internal Temperature (° Fahrenheit)|
|Beef (Bleu)||100–110 degrees|
|Beef (Rare)||120–130 degrees|
|Beef (Medium-rare)||130–135 degrees|
|Beef (Medium)||140–145 degrees|
|Beef (Medium-well)||150–155 degrees|
|Beef (Well-done)||160–175 degrees|
|Beef, Pork, Veal, & Lamb||145 degrees|
|Ground Meats||160 degrees|
|Uncooked Ham||145 degrees|
|Fully Cooked Ham (to reheat)||165 degrees|
|Fish & Shellfish||145 degrees|
Because internal temperature will continue to rise while your food rests, you can remove steaks and burgers from the grill when the meat thermometer reads 5 degrees below the minimum temperature. Roasts, meanwhile, can be taken off heat about 5–10 degrees before hitting the required temperature. When checking on your food with a meat thermometer, be sure to stick it midway into the thickest part of the meat where no bone or gristle is present for an accurate reading. Larger cuts of meat require three or four measurements in different areas to ensure doneness.
You know how to check meat’s doneness, but what about when? We’ve listed approximate times for when to check certain types of food below, though it will ultimately vary depending on factors like thickness of the meat and how hot the grill is. Just remember that these times are only a guideline and that you should always use a meat thermometer to determine doneness.
|Type of Food||Cook Time|
|Filet Mignon & Center-cut Ribeye (Rare)||3–4 minutes per side|
|Filet Mignon & Center-cut Ribeye (Medium-rare)||3½–4½ minutes per side|
|Filet Mignon & Center-cut Ribeye (Medium)||4–5 minutes per side|
|Sirloin Strip, Ribeye, & Porterhouse (Rare)||4–6 minutes per side|
|Sirloin Strip, Ribeye, & Porterhouse (Medium-rare)||5–7 minutes per side|
|Sirloin Strip, Ribeye, & Porterhouse (Medium)||6–8 minutes per side|
|Boneless, ¾- inch Pork Chop||8–12 minutes per side|
|Boneless, 1½-inch Pork Chop||12–20 minutes per side|
|Bone-in, 1½-inch Pork Chop||20–30 minutes per side|
|Chicken Breast||9–10 minutes per side|
|Fish||8–10 minutes per side|
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