How to Know When Your Food is Done Cooking

How to Know When Your Food is Done Cooking

Ensuring your food is properly cooked before digging in is super important, especially for poultry and seafood. Even the most experienced griller may have trouble identifying if their meat is finished. We’ll teach you the ins and outs of checking your meat, so you can eliminate the guesswork and serve up perfect meat each time you grill.  


The USDA has a set list of minimum recommended temperatures your meat should be at before you stop cooking. There is a certain temperature for each type of meat; therefore, the temperature for chicken will be different from beef. This temperature is the minimum temperature your food must be at to prevent foodborne illness.   

  • Beef, lamb, pork and veal: 145F 
  • Pork rib and shoulder: 190F-205F 
  • Ham (raw): 160F 
  • Ham (precooked): 140F 
  • Poultry: 165 F 
  • Fish and shellfish: 145 F 
  • Ground meats: 160F 

Reaching the optimal temperature and knowing you've reached it are two different things.

Because you don't want to cut into the meat before its done and has rested, it can be challenging to know if your meat is finished cooking.

There are a few ways to check if your meat is done without sacrificing the flavor and juices inside. Option one is to use a thermometer. This method doesn't require injuring the beautiful meat you're grilling and will let you know if you've reached the minimum temperature for safety.

The second option is called the "touch test." This method is for testing the firmness of red meat in comparison to your palm. By placing your thumb to various fingers on the same hand, the firmness of your palm will mimic a steak. Thumb to pinky is well done; thumb to pointer is rare.

Lastly, an option is practice. It's true; practice makes perfect. So, the more experience you have with grilling, the easier it will be to know when meat is done.