Meat thermometer

Meat thermometer
A meat thermometer with a dial. Notice the markings for each type of meat

A meat thermometer is a thermometer used to measure the internal temperature of meat, especially roasts and steaks, and other cooked foods. The degree of "doneness" of meat correlates closely with the internal temperature, so that a thermometer reading indicates when it is cooked as desired. Meat should always be cooked so that the interior reaches a temperature sufficient to kill pathogens that may cause foodborne illness; the thermometer helps to ensure this.



A meat thermometer has a metal probe with a sharp point which is pushed into the meat, and a dial or digital display. Some show the temperature only; others also have markings to indicate when different kinds of meat are done to a specified degree (e.g., "beef medium rare").

Meat thermometers are usually designed to have the probe in the meat during cooking. Some use a bimetallic strip which rotates a needle which shows the temperature on a dial; the whole thermometer can be left inside the oven during cooking. Another variety commonly used on turkey is the pop-up timer, which uses a spring held in by a soft material that "pops up" when the meat reaches a set temperature.

Other types use an electronic sensor in the probe, connected by a flexible heat-resistant cable to a display. The probe is inserted in the meat, and the cable comes out of the oven (oven seals are flexible enough to allow this without damage) and is connected to the display. These types can be set to sound an alarm when the specified temperature is reached. Wireless types, where the display does not have to be close to the oven, are also available.


The probe can be inserted into the meat before starting cooking, and cooking continued until the desired internal temperature is reached. Alternatively the meat can be cooked for a certain time and taken out of the oven, and the temperature checked before serving. The tip of the probe should be in the thickest part of the meat, but not touching bone, which conducts heat and gives an overestimate of the meat temperature.


For poultry insert the meat thermometer into the thigh, but do not touch the bone. The suggested temperature for poultry to reach before it is safe to consume is 85°C (185°F), unless the poultry is stuffed, in which case the temperature in the center of the stuffing should be about 74°C (165°F)[1].

Beef, lamb, or veal

For beef, lamb, or veal insert the meat thermometer away from bone, fat, or cartilage. The meat should reach a temperature of between 63°C (145°F) for rare, and 77°C (170°F) for well done.[1]


Pork needs to reach a slightly higher temperature 71°C (160°F) than beef, lamb, or veal but otherwise the same rules for use of the thermometer apply.[1]

Ground meat, casseroles, and eggs

For ground meat, casseroles, and eggs insert the thermometer into the thickest area.


  1. ^ a b c Canadian Food Inspection Authority Accessed 2011-03-20

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