I'd like to know when to take my steaks off the grill and please everybody.
What is the internal temperature a steak should be cooked to for Rare/Medium Rare/Medium/Well?
Extra-Rare: 125F (52C)
Rare: 135F (57C)
Medium-Rare: 145F (63C)
Medium: 160F (71C)
Well-Done: 170F (77C)
Note: Extra-Rare and Rare are not recommended by USDA
7Also note, you'll want to remove steaks from the heat when they're about 5 degrees below the temperature you're aiming for. The outside of the steak will continue to cook the inside of the steak while it sits on the plate.– ClintonJul 9, 2010 at 19:24
In my state, many restaurants will not serve medium-rare so I also assume there is a potential danger there also.– DinahJul 9, 2010 at 19:55
2Several resources, including the Culinary Institute of America's "The Professional Chef" recommend that all meat reach an internal temperature of 160°F to be considered safe. This is why most restaurants now print the disclaimer about undercooked meats on their menus. (amazon.com/Professional-Chef-Culinary-Institute-America/dp/…)– JYeltonJul 9, 2010 at 20:18
4It's much different for ground meat, which is far more prone to bacterial infections. Ground meat has had a vastly greater proportion exposed to surface area and in contact with potentially unclean surfaces and handlers. Steak, on the other hand is basically sterile except for the exterior. Exterior temps on even rare steaks typically reach well above 160, since they are seared.– OcaasiJul 31, 2010 at 6:52
1It's possible that the restaurants that won't serve rare steaks are using needle-injected or mechanically tenderized steaks, which can transport surface contaminants to the interior. Apr 21, 2013 at 23:35
There are the temperatures recommended by the USDA and then there are the temperatures recommended for taste.
- Rare: 120-125F
- Medium Rare: 130-135F
- Medium: 140-145F
- Medium Well / Well: not appropriate when talking about taste
I agree with the temperatures given for doneness by @BarrettJ, but especially when grilling flat cuts of meat like steak, pork chops, chicken breasts, etc., it's difficult to use even an accurate instant read thermometer to determine doneness. In my case, I grill on charcoal most often, and it's practically impossible to avoid hotspots. If I always relied on a thermometer reading, I'd have to test each steak or chop to know when I was done.
So, I'd recommend using the thermometer a few times, but pay close attention to how the steak feels when pinched or poked with a finger. Here is an example of an article that describes this with rules of thumb for how to tell roughly how done a piece of meat is. But rather than comparing how your steak feels with the firmness of the palm of your hand (as per the article), I'd recommend taking the thermo reading, feeling the steak, looking at how well done the meat is when it's cut open and adjusting accordingly on your next grill session. Soon it will be second nature, you can save the instant read for roasts, and your friends will deem you "The Grill Whisperer".