How can I tell if grilled meat is cooked to a safe temperature?

When grilling, the goal is to cook the meat evenly on the inside, while preventing it from burning on the outside. To view safe cooking temperatures for a variety of meats, be sure to check out this list at To measure your meats, buy an instant-read food temperature, available at most kitchen supply stores.

If you are grilling ground beef (found in hamburgers), it is especially important to cook the meat well -- at an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit with no pink in the center. Leaving even the tiniest bit of pink in your hamburger could exposure your family E. coli, a bacterium that is carried naturally in the intestines of cattle. For cuts of meat that remain intact during processing (like steak), E. coli tends to remain on the surface. When the meat is grilled, the high temperature kills the bacteria. However, when beef is ground to make a hamburger, any contamination may be thoroughly mixed into the center of the meat. Thus, if the meat is not fully cooked all the way through, bacteria may not be killed and can be passed along to the person who consumes it.
The best way to make sure meat is grilled to a safe temperature is to use a meat thermometer. Using the meat thermometer makes sure that the internal temperature is high enough to have killed off any unsafe bacteria. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source.

For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160° F. Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165° F. Meat such as hamburgers can turn brown before they reach the safe temperature, so just cutting the meat in the middle and looking at it is not a reliable method.
Using a thermometer can help you determine if grilled meat is cooked to the proper temperature. See this handy, dandy chart for safe, minimum internal temperatures:

Happy grilling!

PS:  Don't forget to grill tons of veggies!
Meat and chicken cooked on a grill often browns very quickly. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. USDA recommends cooking all whole cuts of meat to a minimum temperature of 145 degrees F, and then allow the meat to rest for three minutes before carving or consuming. This recommendation applies to beef, pork, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops. Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160 degrees F. All poultry should reach a minimum of 165 degrees F.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.