Whether you prefer to bake, roast, grill, or smoke, you should have the proper cooking temperatures for meat. Obviously, this keeps your family safe from micro-bacteria. Secondly, it also makes the meat taste better. You don’t want your meat overdone or underdone. You will want to always use safe meat cooking temperatures. Let’s get started!
1. Beef is the Easiest and Safest Meat to Cook – 115 to 160 Fahrenheit (40-70 Celsius)
You can cook beef anywhere from very rare (and slightly seared) to very well done (completely brown all the way through). Beef is the most versatile meat, and you can safely cook it in a variety of temperatures without worrying about microorganisms.
Searing first locks in the lipids and allows for a nice, long cook. You will have great success with all your meat if you sear it first. This forms a wall so that the melted lipids don’t drain from the meat, making it hard and tough. Instead, the melted lipids break down the meat on the inside, making it juicy and very tender.
Beef is the only meat that can be eaten rare. Don’t get us wrong. We strongly encourage you to thoroughly sear and cook your meat all the way through. However, beef is the only meat that you can cook rare with pink all the way through.
2. Lamb is Similar to Beef (and should NOT be eaten Completely Rare!) – 130 to 160 Fahrenheit (55-70 Celsius)
Lamb has a similar texture to beef. It tastes a little wilder than beef and has a slightly gamey feel.
Lamb is often used as filler meat in complex dishes. Many complex Native American, Indian (from India), Pakistani, and Middle Eastern dishes have lamb in them. Lamb makes great filler meat and can take a lot of seasonings and spices without becoming too spicy.
Lamb can be spiced and cooked similar to beef. Lamb can also be treated in many ways similar to beef. You will want to use the mid-range cooking temperatures (140 F) to cook your lamb. Make sure there is a lot of light sauce to brighten the slightly heavier taste of lamb.
3. All Poultry (Chicken and Turkey) Needs Higher Temperatures and Should be Checked in the Breast and Thigh – 165 to 175 Fahrenheit (75-85 Celsius)
Poultry is often misunderstood. Any helpful meat guide will walk you through the grilling and smoking steps. We have some tips for you below.
The breast and thigh meat are the last to cook fully. Whether you are cooking a small pheasant or a huge turkey, make sure that you check the temperature of the breast meat first and the thigh meat second. The thigh meat, in particular, requires higher cooking temperatures to be fully done. This is your final test on your poultry.
Braise and cook in a sauce to prevent drying out. Often, game meats like venison and turkey dry out quickly in an oven or in a smoker. Use a lot of basting, as well as braising and sauce, to get your poultry nice and juicy after it is finished cooking.
Review the ultimate buyer’s guide and decide whether a green mountain grill or a traeger grill will suit you best.
4. Pork requires Medium Temperatures and Fast Cooking – 145 to 160 Fahrenheit (65-70 Celsius)
Pork is surprisingly easy to cook. Unfortunately, it is also easy to overcook.
Pork meat cooks quickly so grill or smoke it last. If you are grilling or smoking several varieties of meat, put your pork in last because it will have a much shorter cooking time.
Ground pork requires higher temperatures to make sure you got everything. You will need to cook ground pork at a higher temperature just because it has a combination of meat and fat in it.
5. Smoked Salmon requires Lower Temperatures for a Longer Time – 120 Fahrenheit (50 Celsius)
In a pan, salmon only takes a few minutes to cook. In a smoker, you will want to extend this time period by quite a long time.
Smoke your salmon for 3 hours at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are in a hurry, it is possible to smoke it for less than 2 hours at 220 degrees Fahrenheit. However, we don’t recommend this. 3 hours at 120 will produce a nice flaky, glistening salmon ready to eat.
Grill your salmon evenly and preferably wrapped in a sauce. If you are grilling your salmon, make sure you wrap it in some sauce and completely have it wrapped in foil. Salmon dries out quickly on the grill.
6. Grilling Requires Far More Temperature Monitoring than Baking or Roasting
If you are grilling, then you are already using meat thermometers of some type. After a few accidents with overcooking food, you will want to perfect your technique.
Set yourself up for success with wireless meat thermometers. Of course, wireless thermometers can be found everywhere, but there are some specifically designed for grilling. You can even find a guide on wireless meat thermometers to help you grill more than one meat at a time.
You can gauge the temperature for more than one meat at a time. Your thermometer will come in different meat settings. You can customize it for each individual roast you are grilling. You can even set alarms to notify you of a temperature reading. This will free you up to entertain our guests at your barbecue.
Meat temperatures are not just about safety. They are about getting the perfect level of juiciness and grilled freshness. You don’t want to overcook your meat and have to douse it with sauce and butter to make it edible. You don’t want to undercook it for any reason whatsoever. By checking your meat regularly, you will make sure that everything is tender, juicy, cooked down, and ready to ravenously eat.
One final note: Remember to always keep spatula and pot handles turned to the side. Grilling and smoking safety around children is of paramount importance.