Don’t send your friends home with food poisoning. A true grill master creates meals that are both delicious and safe.
The best way to ensure your masterpieces are cooked to safe temperatures is to use a meat thermometer. There are many different types of thermometers for all types and cuts of meat. A digital instant-read thermometer is your best bet because it will most accurately read both thin and thick cuts. This type is the most versatile, but dial oven-safe thermometers get the job done as well in larger cuts.
Grill your meat according to your recipe, and check the temperature a few minutes before your time is up. This allows you to gauge how long you need to keep cooking. Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat as this will take the longest to cook. If the internal temperature has been reached, you can avoid drying out your meat by over-grilling. Clean your thermometer before testing a different piece of meat between reads to avoid cross-contamination.
Cook times and temperatures will vary based on the type of meat you use. Here are some common types of meat and the temperature to reach in order to avoid poisoning:
- Beef and lamb (medium rare): 140 – 145 degrees Fahrenheit**
- Chicken and turkey: 170 – 190 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pork and Ham: 160 – 165 degrees Fahrenheit
** For medium cooking, reach 150 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and for well-done cooking reach 165 – 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Seafood is a bit tricky because of its small size. Shrimp, lobster, lightly-colored fish, and crab should be cooked until they are opaque and whitish/gold. If they begin to shrink up or become dry, you’ve overcooked them. For darker fish like salmon, tuna, and other fin fish, 145 degrees Fahrenheit is a safe temperature.
A thermometer can last a while if used, stored, cleaned according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you begin to get inconsistent reads or have had a thermometer longer than recommended, toss it. Don’t poison your friends because of a bad read!
Follow these guidelines and your friends will revere you as the grill master who serves impeccably delicious and safe grilled masterpieces.