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After getting a new stove with a much better heat control I am trying to learn more about using the right temperature for the right task.

I assume that things like rice, bacon, chicken breast, stirfry, fish... each have an ideal cooking temperature, not to mention even more than one setting while being prepared.

Does anyone knows any good website with broad advice or just a temperature table for common cooking tasks / food?

UPDATE:

Looking at the comments I would like to make clear that I am more interested in cooking temperatures in a pan, not an oven. Also got an external thermometer and my stove has 17 heat positions. Having such a wide range and also being able to immediately change the temperature (induction), I realized that now I can play better with temperatures changes during cooking, something that was not possible before with stoves retaining heat.

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If there's something you think isn't coming out well, I'd ask about it specifically. There are a ton of different ways just to cook rice! SAJ14SAJ has listed most of the things that are ever cooked to temperatures (just omitting a list for specific meats), and really, for most things besides meat, actually using a thermometer is overkill, especially because your stove doesn't actually have direct temperature control, just power levels. –  Jefromi Sep 29 '13 at 3:28
    
Different types of dishes do indeed have a different ideal environment temperature (as opposed to the internal temperature which SAJ listed), or at least temperature ranges. I haven't answered this because I don't have a chart for them. But I wouldn't trust a stove to really get your pan to the temperature it promises, my newly minted induction stove promises that and its guesses are so wildly off as to be worse than useless. –  rumtscho Sep 29 '13 at 11:44
    
@rumtscho I have to respectfully disagree with the assertion that dishes have an ideal temperature. There are many techniques, and a wide range of tolerance in each, so I don't think you can select an ideal temperature for any given food. –  SAJ14SAJ Sep 29 '13 at 11:47
    
@SAJ14SAJ there are not that many basic cooking techniques in the world, and all of them have an ideal range. For the more forgiving of them, the range is very wide (e.g. stewing vegetables) as long as you are prepared to take a considerable variation in cooking time. For others, there is a very narrow range, e.g. deep frying produces the best results at ~185 celsius oil temperature. –  rumtscho Sep 29 '13 at 12:03
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@Francisco important note after your update: The answer you accepted provides internal temperatures, which you can measure by sticking a candy thermometer into the middle of the food item, which is a good practice, but is only very loosely related to the stove setting. If you are planning to use an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of the pan surface, then this is not the chart you wanted. –  rumtscho Sep 30 '13 at 10:31

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you are asking about the ideal oven setting for a given food, well, there isn't one, and so there will be no chart of such settings. Then you have to consider that there are a myriad of techniques and recipes, which may indicate different oven temperatures for the same food.

Almost every food can be cooked in a variety of ways, at a variety of temperatures. Often, even a single food can be cooked at a fairly wide variety of temperatures for similar results, if you adjust the time to match.

Even something as simple a chicken thigh can be braised in the oven at low temperatures (250 F), or high temperature roasted at 500 F, depending on what the cook is doing.


If you are asking about the internal temperature to target:

The fundamental assumption that items have an ideal temperature is not really true when you start to look at different foods in detail:

  • Even a simple food like a particular cut of beef cooked as a roast has a range of temperatures based on the taste of the diners
  • Some foods need to not only be cooked at least to a particular temperature, but also need to hold that temperature for long enough for the desired changes in the food to take place
  • Some foods are delicious at a wide range of donenesses in different dishes or contexts, or even in the same dish or even the same piece of food (for example, a stir fried pepper may be nearly charred on the outside, and only lightly cooked on the inside). There is no single temperature.

For these reasons, a single master reference of target cooking temperatures is not going to be terribly useful, even if one exists.

There are some temperatures that are good to know (or at least have available as a reference) as a cook, since they apply to a large number of situations frequently encountered in cooking:

  • Butter is pliable for laminated pastry, or creaming method in baking. 68 F / 20 C.
  • Most starches will thicken at 180 F / 82 C.
  • Most custards will similarly thicken around 180 F / 82 C.
  • For meats (with credit for this data to Meathead):
    • 120 F / 49 C. Myosin starts to denature; red meats start to turn from "purple" to red
    • 130 - 134 F / 54 - 57 C. Most red meats are now medium rare
    • 140 F / 60 C. Collagen starts to contract and toughen
    • 150 F / 65 C. Actin starts to coagulate and toughen the meat
    • 155 F / 68 C. Meats are essentially well done
    • 160 F / 61 C. Collagen starts converting into gelatin at reasonable rates, more rapidly at higher temperatures
  • Simmering or braising temperatures. 180- 2 99 F / 82 - 93 C.
  • Water boils (at sea level). 212 F / 100 C.
  • Temperature achieved in a 15 lb pressure cooker at sea level. 250 F / 121 C.
  • Sugar work (data from Baking 911):
    • 215 - 234 F / 101 - 112 C. Thread stage.
    • 234 - 240 F /112 - 115 C. Soft ball stage.
    • 242 - 248 F / 116 - 120 C. Firm ball stage.
    • 250 - 268 F / 121 - 131 C. Hard ball stage.
    • 270 - 290 F / 132 - 143 C. Soft crack stage.
    • 300 - 310 F / 148 - 154 C. Hard crack stage.
    • 320 F / 160 C. Caramelization begins.
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I find it great that you took the time to put this information together, but I feel that it does not address the question. What you have listed are internal temperatures of the food. From the question text, the OP is concerned about stove setting, which, if correct, will provide the temperature of the pan, and not the internal temperature of the food, and this is a different matter entirely. Maybe you could make a self-answered question for this answer. –  rumtscho Sep 29 '13 at 11:40
    
@rumtscho If that was the intention of the question, then it is even more difficult to answer, as there are a myriad cooking techniques, and most foods can be cooked acceptably at a wider range of temperatures than many cooks realize, given the trade off of time and temperature. –  SAJ14SAJ Sep 29 '13 at 11:42
    
actually, it is not such a difficult question to answer. It is like saying that in the oven, a simple cake is best baked between 160 and 180 celsius, and a custard usually at around 120 celsius. But actually controlling this temperature in a pan is another matter. The sentence "stove with a much better heat control" makes me think that the OP is intending to use the temperature indicator of the hobs to control temperature, not a thermometer, and is not aware that such an indicator is a useless marketing gimmick. –  rumtscho Sep 29 '13 at 11:50
    
I am reversing the downvote, as it is indeed not as clear-cut what he meant as I thought, and if he comes back and says that your answer was what he was looking for, you'll get an upvote from me. –  rumtscho Sep 29 '13 at 11:50
    
I have never seen a "hob" or burner element with a temperature indicator. That would be almost impossible to reasonably engineer as two of the critical variables (diameter of the pan, content of the pan) are not in control of the cook top maker. Even if they had some sort of contact or infrared thermometer for the bottom of the pan, it would only measure one spot or region. That simply doesn't pass the gut test. Any cooktop offering such a feature would be deceiving its users. –  SAJ14SAJ Sep 29 '13 at 11:53

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