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How to Use a Meat Thermometer 02:23

Brandon Boudet

Using a thermometer boosts confidence in the kitchen by taking the guessing game out of cooking meat.

How to Use a Meat Thermometer 02:23

Brandon Boudet

Using a thermometer boosts confidence in the kitchen by taking the guessing game out of cooking meat.

Easy
Prep Time Cook Time Total Time Serving Size

The Steps

  1. 1. Use a thermometer to ensure that meat is cooked to a safe temperature. Simply insert the thermometer into the meat and check the reading. The tricky part is to insert the thermometer into the proper place. 00:22

  2. 2. Most people cook their turkey to about 160 degrees, but Chef Brandon removes his bird from the oven when it measures about 150 degrees because the meat will continue to cook through residual heat. 00:58

  3. 3. To get an accurate reading, place the thermometer into the thickest part of the animal. For a turkey, this is the thigh muscle. It is the part that takes the longest to cook and will have the lowest temperature. Be careful not to pierce through the meat. 01:11

What You'll Need

Equipment 

Meat thermometer

Ingredients

Turkey, chicken, or other meat - cooked 


Chef Notes

Using a meat thermometer takes all the guessing out of meat doneness. While it is important not to undercook meat for food safety reasons, it is also important not to overcook the meat so it doesn't become dry and tough. The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat, as it takes the longest to heat to temperature. For a very thin steak or hamburger patty, insert the thermometer into the meat sideways.

According to the FDA, internal cooking temperatures for food safety are as follows:
Ground or mixed beef, pork, veal, lamb - 160 degrees
Ground or mixed turkey, chicken - 165 degrees
Fresh beef, pork, veal, lamb - 145 degrees with a 3 minute rest time
Chicken, turkey, duck, goose - 165 degrees
Ham, raw - 160 degrees
Pre-cooked ham, to reheat - 140 degrees

There are different types of meat thermometers. Features can include digital or analog screens and an "instant read" feature that measures quickly. There are also probe thermometers that are inserted into the meat as it cooks in the oven and beeps when it is at a designated temperature. 

To calibrate a meat thermometer, bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a glass with ice and cover with water. First, test the thermometer in the boiling water. If it doesn't read 212 degrees, slowly adjust the small nut on the back of the thermometer. Next, test the thermometer in bowl of ice water. If it doesn't read 32 degrees, adjust again. Digital thermometers must be adjusted by a professional. 

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Chef Brandon Boudet

Los Angeles

Chef Brandon, born and raised in New Orleans to a large Italian family, is serving up killer Italian cuisine at his New-York ... read more