Be Aware of Safe Meat Temperatures When Grilling

Outdoor grilling is America's summer pastime, and indoor grilling is the perfect way to create healthy dishes while changing up your regular menu anytime of the year. On the other hand, it's important to cook all meat to a safe temperature to avoid illnesses. Here's what you need to know about safe meat temperatures for a happy grilling season.

Get the Right Equipment

An instant-read thermometer is a must-have when cooking meats, especially on the grill. It's not safe to rely on color or feel alone. Some meats, such as pork, can still be pink even when properly cooked and knowing the difference between a rare steak and a perfectly cooked medium rare takes a trained eye.

An instant-read thermometer lets you quickly determine the internal temperature of your meat without disrupting the cooking process or needing to cut through to the center and send those tasty juices flowing. Plus, you can pick a basic model up for under $15 so there's no reason why every kitchen shouldn't have one.

Safe Meat Temperatures

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, these are the numbers you need for safely preparing meats. (All temperatures are listed in degrees Fahrenheit.)

  • Ground Meats. Bacteria and other problems typically stay on the surface of meats and grinding them up means mixing in all the bad guys. For that reason, any ground or mixed products must be cooked to 160. This equates to about 12 to 15 minutes on the grill and 7 to 9 minutes on a skillet.
  • Beef, Veal, Lamb. Whole steaks, roasts, and chops are safe to eat when an internal temperature of 145 has been reached. This is approximately 10 minutes total on the grill or in a skillet. To achieve a more well-done product, add a few minutes or finish in a 350-degree oven. Be sure to rest your meats for at least 3 minutes before eating!
  • Poultry. All poultry must be cooked to 165 degrees regardless of bird or cut. This will take about 10 minutes on the grill for a boneless breast and 6 minutes for cutlets. Wings, drumsticks, and bone-in pieces should be cooked indirectly and allotted about 30 minutes for wings and 45 minutes for other bone-in cuts.
  • Pork. Fresh pork and ham should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees before allowing them to rest for at least 3 minutes. For thick chops, this is 8 to 10 minutes on the grill or in a skillet.
  • Seafood. Most seafood does not come with temperature recommendations; cooking until it's opaque, firm, or white is typically recommended. Most fish fillets will be safe at 145 degrees while shellfish, scallops, and other more delicate pieces require a quick hand and a close eye. Fillets will need 6 to 10 minutes on the grill or in the skillet while delicate pieces will be fully cooked in 2 to 4 minutes.

Cooking with Confidence

Now that you know the proper temperature to cook your meat to (and how to determine your meat's temp!), you're ready to grill up a meal that'll make the neighbor's mouth water. For more safety tips, check out Mr. Appliance's Grill Safety blog!

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