Safe meat cooking temperatures

Knowing the minimum safe meat cooking temperatures is vital to ensure you don't make the person eating your food ill. I am referring to the internal temperature of the meat, not the oven setting. To do this accurately you will need a meat thermometer either ovenproof or digital.

Each type of meat will have it's own ideal internal temperature, depending on how well-done you like it.

The following chart gives the minimum figures, in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.

I have included chicken, although technically it is poultry, not meat.

Meat thermometer in joint of beefA meat thermometer in a well-done joint of beef

Meat type



145F or 63C


160F or 70C

Well done

170F or 77C


180F or 83C


145F or 63C

160F or 70C

175F or 80C


(Should not be served rare)

145-160F or 63-70C


(Should not be served rare)

165F or 75C

Using a meat thermometer

There are two main kinds of meat thermometer - instant read and ovenproof.  

The ovenproof variety are designed to be inserted into a joint of meat and left there will it roasts. It needs to be placed into the thickest part of the meat, not touching a bone, and preferably so that you can see the gauge through the oven door. This way you won't need to open the oven to check the temperature it has reached. 

Some feature a marker on the edge, enabling you to see clearly when the pointer reaches the optimum temperature.

Do remember that when you take an ovenproof meat thermometer out it will be HOT, so use an oven glove!

The instant read thermometer is not left in the oven but used to quickly test for doneness, and gives a digital readout in seconds. It can also be used for candy making and fried foods.

The skewer test

If you don't have a thermometer you can try the skewer test to get a rough idea of your meat is likely to be cooked.

To do this you insert a skewer into the thickest part of the joint. If it is cool when you remove it, then the meat is rare (or not cooked), if it is warm then the food is medium and if it feels hot then you can be fairly confident that the meat is well done.

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