What are the best cooking temperatures for various cuts of beef?

What are the best cooking temperatures for various cuts of beef?

I remember once watching an episode of Hell’s Kitchen in which Gordon Ramsay told the chefs to prepare cuts of beef by temperature. But the only one I can remember is “a well-done burger”.
And I don’t want to wade through old HK episodes looking for it.

So can anyone tell me the episode this was in or better yet, just list the cuts below please…

Rare:
Medium-Rare:
Medium:
Medium-Well:
Well-done: (burger)

There are actually only three: medium rare, rare, and a good veterinarian could still save this.

The minimum temp for steak is 145F. That’s what I always go for because I like it bloody but hot. Then I stop, rest it for 5-10 minutes, and devour.

Burgers are a little higher, 160F. IIRC the e coli that you’re killing at 145F on the surface of the steak, whoops you ground it into the inside of the burger so a higher temp is needed. This blog supports that.

I’m gonna dissent very hard here. 145 with carry over is gonna get to 152-153 which is well done. It’s not close to medium, let alone rare. Rare is pull at 118 or so, Medium-rare, pull at 126, Medium at 132

We have a $20 (?) digital thermometer and most recently have been using a cast iron skillet on the stove. We had good results. I wonder how the thickness of the steak might affect the results. Anyway, we follow government recommendations.

As far as the OP’s question, it is totally personal choice as to what temperature is “best”.

I cook most of our meat sous vide and am happy with the results. Even for “hamburgers” I’ll grind steaks, form burgers, vacuum seal, then sous vide rare (120-124F). A quick torch sear and it’s good to go.

For pulled pork, I’ll sous vide at 160 for anywhere from 6 hours to 72 hours (the 3 day thing was accidental, things happened that delayed dinner at home. It was delicious).

My standard for all meat (below temperatures before resting time, ie when you take it off the heat) is

Rare: 50C/120F (beef)
Medium Rare: 55C/130F (beef, maybe lamb)
Medium: 60C/140F (beef, lamb, maybe pork)
Medium-well: 65C/150F (beef, lamb, pork)
Well: 70C/160F (always for chicken)

For cuts of meat with a lot of connective tissue, like chuck and brisket (also pork shoulder and chicken thighs), you want to continue cooking well beyond the safe temperature. That’s because the collagen that makes them tough breaks down into gelatin only at higher temperatures. I cook brisket to 195 F, for instance.

This is what I go by as well, aiming for MR for beef (unless braised) at 130F when removed and reaching 135F while resting. That goes for roasts as well as steaks.

If braising a tough cut of beef like brisket or chuck (pot roast), or pork shoulder for shredded pork, you need to get it to about 200F and simmer for a long time. Or use pressure.

Agreed, I kind of ignore temperatures when slow cooking tougher cuts, and just go for a really long time instead (eg 5 hours for pulled shoulder of pork).

Agree except for the chicken thighs. While braising chicken thighs is certainly a thing I’ve done (with white whine and white beans, vegetables, and chunks of thick cut bacon subbing for lardons), they’re also just fine grilled with indirect heat at 350F for about 40 minutes, along with the chicken drumsticks they’re separated from. I like to finish that with another ~5 minutes (2-3 mins. a side) of med direct heat to crispen up the skin.

That may not contradict you, actually - I’ve never meat-thermometered what temperature that results in with the chicken pieces upon removal as they’re pretty small, it could well be 195F or higher.

Yeah, 145 is hard medium. lobotomyboy, if your meat thermometer is saying 145 and you’re still getting a lot of pink inside and oozing myoglobin, you might want to get a new thermometer, seriously.

According to Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking” (THE definitive food science book), the temps are as follows (from Chapter 3: Meat):

  • 100 F - Raw
  • 110 F - Bleu
  • 120 F - Rare
  • 130 F - Medium Rare
  • 140 F - Medium (USDA “Rare”)
  • 150 F - Medium Well (USDA “Medium Rare”)
  • 155 F and above - Well (USDA “Medium”)

Just some notes:

  1. cooking thermometers can be unreliable. A high quality digital like a ThermaPen is excellent, but they still have to be used correctly. A roast can be very hot on the outside and still quite cold in the center. The exterior heat can conduct through the meat and the thermometer itself to throw off the reading, so the old fashioned stick it in the meat and leave it thermometers can be far off. Quick read thermometers take time to read so you have to leave it long enough for the temperature to stabilize, but not too long to allow conducted heat to throw it off. The best thing you can do is use the same thermometer consistently and keep track of how the meat turns out when it reads particular temperatures so you can find just the right temp reading for what you want.

  2. Tough cuts of meat need time at low temperature to tenderize the tough parts, The final temperature doesn’t matter, you can cook to the doneness as any other cut, but if the temperature gets too high all the fat will run out and the meat will get very dry, and parts of it may get very tough. Slow cook at 145F for the best combination of safety and quality, turn up the heat toward the end if you want more doneness.

  3. Pros can test there meat by feel. If you aren’t a pro you’ll mess it up. Not if you’re just cooking for yourself or someone who doesn’t care, but as soon as you try to cook someone else’s steak to a specific level of doneness and you use your fingers to see how well done it is, you will turn out to be wrong. The more important it is to get it right for that person, the further off you will be. That’s why the pros actually use a thermometer even if they say they can tell from the feel.

  4. In case anyone doesn’t get it by now, you need to cook hamburger to a higher internal temperature because parts of the meat infected with E. Coli can be in the middle of the meat. This is not a problem with intact cuts of meat like a steak or a roast. But some roasts are rolled, with exterior meat in the center, so those have to be cooked through also. It is extremely rare for people to become ill from eating undercooked meat from the center of an intact cut as long as the outside has been properly cooked to 145F or above.

For medium rare or rare steak, you want it as hot as possible so you sear the outside but leave the inside succulent and pink/red, depending on your taste. For that, you need a grill. Try as I might, I’ve never found an electric cooker of any kind that can do that properly.

I agree that grilling on natural heat is 1000% the best way to go. On the very rare occasions I’ve cooked good steaks on our electric stovetop rather than grilling, I’ve had success getting a good sear by turning the electric burner on high and letting a cast iron skillet get good and hot before I throw the steaks on.

Bleu is my go to style for a good steak. Very very hot pan, seared for less than 60 seconds each side.

It’s a year old.

I always assumed that rare would be 145—what the USDA deems the least cooked (yet still safe) you could consume. I’ll have to keep an eye on it.

That’s not true. USDA recommendations are based on achieving a 6.5-log10 reduction in salmonella, and it’s a temperature and time curve. At 145 Fahrenheit you can get a 6,5 log10 reduction in 4 minutes, but if you hold it for 112 minutes you can reach the same reduction at130 degrees and get much better tasting beef.

That recommendation they have for chicken to go to 160 Fahrenheit is based on the reaching the 6.5-log10 reduction in 0 seconds, essentially instantly, but if you want to hold it at 135 F for 36 minutes you can get the same result and better flavor and texture in your chicken.

Thanks for the link! I wouldn’t mind cooking slower/longer to get a better end product but I’d never seen any tables like this.

That’s the great thing about sous vide, you can hold it at whatever temperature you want for as long as you want without overcooking it. You can get rare from edge to center, then a 30 second sear on each side in a hot cast iron skillet and you’re done.