I had a BBQ this weekend, and I've come to pride myself on my BBQ'ing skills... except turkey burgers. Cook them too short and you're endangering your guests. Cook them too long and they get really dry.

I can visually tell when to flip a burger (because the juices come to the surface), but are there any visual clues for when to flip a turkey burger, and when to take it off the grill?

2 Answers 2


I use an instant-read thermometer. It's by far the simplest method.

I use the Taylor 9842 Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer. As Darin states, you're shooting for 165℉ for turkey.

My old Taylor died a few weeks ago. After reading rave reviews from Cooks Illustrated, and Alton Brown's recommendation, I splurged and got a Thermoworks Thermapen. It is amazing!

  • 165 degrees is the temperature you'll be aiming for. Jul 21, 2010 at 0:09
  • by "instant-read," do you simply mean a digital thermometer that you stick into the side of the meat that's wired into a digital display? Jul 21, 2010 at 0:15
  • @Ben: I updated my answer with the specific one I use. It's not "wired", the display is directly on the probe. Just stick it in and press the button. You can even calibrate it with a glass of ice water using a little screw on the side.
    – hobodave
    Jul 21, 2010 at 0:25
  • anything else I can do besides a thermometer? Jul 21, 2010 at 2:27
  • @Mike: Considering we're talking about avoiding salmonella here, I'd just use the thermometer... Also, be careful not to cross-contaminate the beef, which you'll likely not be cooking to 165.
    – derobert
    Jul 21, 2010 at 8:27

In addition to a thermometer you can use the "touch" method which takes some getting used to and is difficult to explain clearly via text:

Touch the tip of your ring finger to your thumb. Then with the index finger on your other hand touch the fleshy portion between the thumb and index finger on the hand that has the ring finger and thumb touching. The fleshy portion should feel more firm than soft, this is about the way that medium-well should feel in meat. If your turkey burger feels the same way, it should be done.

As for other doneness using this method:

-Hand open loose = rare

-index finger to thumb = medium rare

-middle finger to thumb = medium

-ring finger to thumb = medium well

-little finger to thumb = well done (aka "shoe leather")

Note that for some people there can be very little difference in firmness of the muscle changes as you switch fingers so it's something that really mainly comes with experience for most people using the "touch method".

This is only for individual cuts/burgers etc. Roasts and whole birds require a thermometer.

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