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 Thermapop.)
But my husband takes Cameron’s word as law when it comes to barbecue, so he bought a Thermapen not long after that conversation. And over the next few months, I fell in love with that little thermometer too! It turns out that using a digital thermometer makes cooking meat WAY easier than I thought. Here are a few of the benefits I’ve experienced from “cooking to temp” so far.
Benefits of Cooking Meat to Temperature
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.
More peace of mind. I don’t have to worry about accidentally undercooking something or making someone sick.
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 instead, you only have to make one small hole, which reduces overall moisture loss.
No more guessing. Cooking to temperature eliminates the guesswork that I used to do when cooking meat. “Is it done yet?” “Is this cooked enough?” “Should I give it another minute?” When you have clear guidelines, cooking can be much less stressful. :-)
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. (But if you choose to walk on the wild side and cook your steaks to 130, or medium-rare, your secret is safe with me!) ;-)
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.