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The ultimate steak cooking chart

Written by the YesChef staff

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Edward Lee
Teaches From Buttermilk to Bourbon
Discover how to cook steak, veal, pork, and lamb to perfection with our steak temperature cooking chart. Achieve your desired internal temperature with pro tips from renowned chefs Edward Lee and Nancy Silverton. Learn how to use a meat thermometer and how to tell when meat is properly cooked. Whether you like your steak cooked rare or well done, we have the answers, and you’ll never doubt meat cooking temperatures ever again.
Chef Edward Lee
Teaches From Buttermilk to Bourbon

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When meats are cooked to different internal temperatures, they have a specific taste, texture, and juiciness. It is crucial for every home chef to understand that proper internal cooking temperatures will enable them to achieve meat greatness and practice proper food safety measures when cooking animal products.   According to the USDA, the safe minimum internal temperature for chicken is 165°F (73.9°C). However, some people prefer the taste and texture of chicken thighs when their internal temperature is a few degrees higher. By contrast, the internal temperature of beef can vary between 80-160°F (26.7 – 71.1°C) depending on your taste. In terms of food safety standards, cooking beef to a minimum of 145°F (62.8°C) followed by at least 3 minutes of rest is recommended.   If this sounds complicated or confusing, don’t fret, YesChef is here to help.

Steak cooking chart

Follow our simple steak cooking temperature chart, and check out our 7 tips for grilling steak.
Meat Internal Temperature Internal Description
Beef (Steaks & Roasts)
Extra Rare or Blue (Bleu) 80 – 100°F (26.7 – 37.8°C) Deep red color
Rare 120 – 125°F (48.9 – 51.6°C) Bright red center
Medium Rare 130 – 135°F (54.4 – 57.2°C) Very pink center
Medium 140 – 145°F (60 – 62.8°C) Light pink center
Medium Well 150 – 155°F (65.5 – 68.3°C) A hint of pink in the center
Well 160°F (71.1°C) and above Uniformly grey or brown
Veal (Shanks, Chops & Roasts)
Rare 135°F (57.2°C) Bright pink center
Medium Rare 145°F (62.8°C) Very pink center
Medium 160°F (71.1°C) Light pink center
Well 170°F (76.7°C) and above Uniformly grey or brown
Pork (Chops & Roasts) 145°F (62.8°C) Light pink center
Lamb (Shanks, Chops, Roasts & Legs)
Rare 135°F (57.2°C) Bright red center
Medium Rare 140 – 150°F (60 – 65.5°C) Very pink center
Medium 160°F (71.1°C) Light pink center
Well 165°F (73.9°C) and above Uniformly grey or brown
Ground Meat 160°F (71.1°C) and above Uniformly grey or brown
  A great pro kitchen tip from chef Edward Lee is to remove the meat from the heat a few degrees early in order to account for carryover cooking. This means that the internal temperature of the meat will continue to slightly rise while the meat rests.

How to use a meat thermometer

High quality meat can be expensive. Overcooking meat, even by a few degrees, can result in wasted product and even bigger disappointment. For those who regularly cook meat, we recommend investing in a meat thermometer, which is an essential tool in the kitchen. 

 

Wondering how to use a meat thermometer? Simply insert the thermometer through the side of the meat until it reaches the center of the thickest part (if there is a bone, make sure not to touch it). Remove the meat from the heat as soon as the internal temperature reads 5°F (about 3°C) below the desired doneness. Allow the meat to rest for 5-10 minutes to retain juices and reach the final temperature.

How to check for doneness without a meat thermometer

Don’t have a meat thermometer? Monitoring the cooking time also gives a good indication when the meat is ready. Check out our grilling steak cooking time chart to learn more about how to use this technique and get specific timings for grilling flank steak, grilling a ribeye, and more.

How do you know when steak is cooked through?

As we said, nothing can beat a thermometer. However, in their YesChef lessons, chefs Nancy Silverton and Edward Lee discuss cues that can help assess doneness without a thermometer.   Chef Nancy Silverton looks for the “give” and uses her hand to do so. The feel of a rare steak is equated with the soft flesh, right below your thumb when it’s pressed against your index finger (AKA the “finger test”). If the steak has much more give than a soft and bouncy feel, it needs more time on the grill.   Chef Edward Lee says to note the “sponginess” of the meat when touched. The longer steak gets cooked, the more it turns into a sponge-like texture. When it’s very rare, you will see your indentation in the meat. When it’s medium to well done, it bounces back much more quickly.   Now that you’ve studied our steak cooking chart, a perfectly grilled steak is just minutes away.
Disclaimer: According to the USDA, beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C) or above, and ground meats to 160°F (71.1°C). Check out the full USDA food safety guidelines.
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Edward Lee

James Beard Award’s Best Book of the Year winner for writing (Buttermilk Graffiti, 2019); James Beard Award’s Best Chefs in America nominee, 2011-2017), featured on PBS’s Mind of a Chef (Season 3)

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