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Serving Temperatures for Meat

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2008

What temperature should meat be when served? We outline the ideal serving temperatures for optimal flavor and juiciness.

A thermometer takes the guesswork out of knowing when a roast is done. To ensure that the probe stays in the roast, insert the thermometer at an angle. To get an accurate reading, push the probe deep into the roast and then slowly draw it out until you locate the center of the meat (indicated by the lowest temperature). Avoid bones and pan surfaces. And take more than one reading.

The ideal serving temperatures for optimal flavor and juiciness are listed below. If food safety is your primary concern, cook all meat until well-done. Note: The meat should come off the heat 5 to 10 degrees below the desired final temperature, as the internal temperature will continue to rise as the meat rests.

Type of Meat Rare Medium-Rare Medium Medium-Well Well-Done
Beef 125 degrees 130 degrees 140 degrees 150 degrees 160 degrees
Ground Beef 125 degrees* 130 degrees* 140 degrees* 160+ degrees
Lamb 125 degrees 130 degrees 140 degrees 150 degrees 160 degrees
Pork ** ** 150 degrees 160 degrees

*The USDA recommends cooking all ground beef to 160 degrees.
**Not recommended

Inserting the thermometer at an angle and avoiding bones and pan surfaces will ensure and accurate reading.