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This Guide Makes It Easy To Cook Meat With Confidence

A woman confidently captures a photo of the cooked meat on her stove using her phone.

A few years ago, my nephew Cameron (the Pitmaster of Bam Bam’s BBQ in Orem, Utah) introduced us to a a digital meat thermometer called the Thermapen. The idea of using a meat thermometer outside of Thanksgiving was new to me at the time, so at first I didn’t really understand what the fuss was all about.

It’s not exactly cheap for a kitchen tool, so why shell out the money just for a digital thermometer? (Though I did recently learn that in addition to the standard Thermapen, they also make a smaller, more affordable model called the ThermoPop.)

But my husband takes Cameron’s word as law when it comes to barbecue, so he bought a Thermapen not long after that conversation. Over the next few months, I fell in love with that little thermometer too, because it turns out that using a digital thermometer makes cooking meat so much easier.

Related: 6 Extremely Useful Questions To Ask At The Meat Counter

Cooking Temperatures Cheat Sheet

4 Benefits Of Cooking Meat To Temperature

Here are a few of the benefits I’ve experienced from “cooking to temp” so far:

  1. It’s more accurate. If I want to cook a steak to medium doneness, I just reach for my thermometer and cook till the inside reaches 145°F.
  2. More peace of mind. I don’t have to worry about accidentally undercooking something or making someone sick.
  3. Juicier meat. Cutting into a piece of meat to check its doneness often results in a lot of moisture loss! When you use a digital thermometer, you only make one small hole, which helps cut down on overall moisture loss.
  4. No more guessing. Cooking to temperature eliminates the guesswork that I used to do when cooking meat. “Is it done yet?” “Should I give it another minute?” Clarity makes cooking much less stressful. :-)

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Cooking Temperatures Cheat Sheet

Internal Temperature Guidelines For Meat

Today I wanted to share some simple guidelines you can follow when cooking meat to temperature. There are medium-rare, medium, and well-done temperature recommendations for pork, lamb, and beef, as well as general temperature guidelines for fish, poultry, and more.

In case you’re curious, these temperature recommendations come from the FDA. I included a disclaimer at the bottom to let you know that the FDA recommends cooking beef and pork to at least 145°F. (But if you choose to walk on the wild side and cook your steaks to 130°F, or medium-rare, your secret is safe with me!) ;-)

Cooking Temperatures Cheat Sheet

I’ve taken these meat temperature recommendations and turned them into a very handy printable chart! Print it out and hang it up in your kitchen somewhere so you can easily reference it when you’re cooking. Download the printable chart using the link below.

Is It Done Yet? Guide To Internal Meat Temperatures

Download this guide to internal meat temperatures, then print it out and keep it in your kitchen for easy reference.

Guide to confident internal meat temperatures.

Download The Meat Temperatures PDF

Do you use a digital thermometer in the kitchen?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • Thank you, Jillee.I really appreciate the meat guide, it will really come in handy. I have a meat thermometer but never use it, guess I should start.

  • Thank you for the guide! I recently started using an instant read digital — a way cheaper one from Amazon (15.99) that I used as stocking stuffers last year. (Didn’t know if I was free to post a link here, it is Thermapro. Even when cooking burgers on the stove, no need to cut into meat so see what it looks like ever again! Your guide will be a handy thing to have — thank you!

  • I love my Javelin thermometer. I use it for everything from meats to water when making bread and also for cakes. For my cakes it sure beats a toothpick and the cake is never dry or overcooked around the edges. It’s the perfect kitchen tool and worth the money.

  • I have had a Thermapen on my wish list for a while. I finally settled on a $10 instant thermometer on Amazon to “test drive” how much I would actually use it. IIt is arriving today)! I do have a question, though. You said you guys got a Thermapen, but that is not what you are using in the above pictures. Is what you are using something you like better?

  • Thank you so much for these cheat sheets! I just put digital meat meat thermometer on my list of things to checks to check into and buy. Now, thanks to your husband, I know where to start looking.

  • So much this! I only recently started using a meat thermometer, and it makes cooking meat so much easier for me, especially chicken! I couldn’t believe I’d made it to my 30s without knowing this trick, so I feel better now knowing I wasn’t the only one not using one. :)

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