Is it because I used a poor cut of meat? Did I not cook it fast enough? Should I have removed it from the heat sooner? Is my cut too thick? Is my temperature probe too conservative?

4 Answers 4


This question is a little vague, but probably your temperature probe is lying to you, or you're not accounting for resting your meat. I would suggest a legit thermometer rather than one that gives you hints about the meat -- you'll have more control over the final product.

Temperature Guide:

  • Medium Rare Beef has an internal temp of 145F / 60 Celsius
  • Medium Beef has an internal temp of 160F / 70 Celsius
  • Well Done (ruined) has a temp of 170F / 75 Celsius

Remember that on resting your beef will rise roughly 10F / 12C in the middle as the heat distributes. So, if you pull the beef out at 160F / 70C, it will be well done by the time you eat it.

If you want Medium Rare, pull it out at 135F / 55C.

  • Great answer! Yes, the temperature continues to rise in the meat after you remove it from the heat source. Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 15:07
  • It's easy to understand how this would be confusing if you had something which flashed 'medium well' on it and that was it. I'm always annoyed when companies try to dumb things down like this -- it's not hard to learn the actual rules in this case.
    – Peter V
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 15:12
  • 7
    While those temperatures are what the USDA recommends, I tend to find them a bit high. So the definition of medium rare can also be part of the problem. I've seen Medium Rare defined as anything between 130 and 145, which is a significant difference. See wikipedia for more details on ranges: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_(meat)
    – yossarian
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 19:19
  • I agree with youssarian, you should subtract at least 5 degrees celcius from these to match your description
    – Thorst
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 9:07

There are a few things going on here. First, when I test meat without using a thermometer (as most cooks in an industrial/restaurant kitchen do) I use a neat technique that is available to anyone with hands. With your non-dominant hand, touch your thumb meat (the inner thumb, where it meets your hand). This approximates rare. Then touch your index finger to the tip of your thumb (dominant hand). This can approximate medium rare. Then do the same with your middle finger, medium, ring finger well, and pinky, super well.

Actually, most cooks in a restaurant just get used to what the meat feels like since they cook so many steaks.

Now to your question. Certain cuts will feel different when cooked at different temps. Also, certain cuts will look more cooked in the middle and still be tender (feeling like rare - e.g., fillet). So if this is going on, I would just cook the steak until you like it (but remember to let it rest).

In my kitchen, we have several meat thermometers, so your problem can be remedied by testing with different thermometers. I recommend every kitchen have at least two, and probably three. Troubleshooting meat is multi-pronged and learning how to not rely on a thermometer can help a great deal.

  • 1
    the above method works well, but you've got to be working the line (cooking a lot of steaks) to get it right....former sous chef
    – michael
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 11:11

I run into this problem when the probe is placed wrong. The tip should be in the center of the thickest part of the meat, not too close to any bones or large fat chunks.

If ti is too far off center, then the thermometer will read done when the deepest part of the meat still has to cook some more.

  • i am experiencing the opposite Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 18:46
  • 1
    Not sure why this was down voted. Actually, this is a valid observation. Maybe not the best answer, but not worth negative points. Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 16:59

If you don't let meat rest for the juices to redistribute and cut it open the juices run out turning a rare piece of beef to a well done looking piece of beef. Let the meat rest at least 15 minutes so this doesn't happen.


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