How to Use a Meat Thermometer the Right Way

Aug 30, 2023Jackson Hole Buffalo Meat Admin

By this point, it's common knowledge that a reliable thermometer is the only foolproof method to ensure your meat is cooked to perfection, rendering timers, charts, and the infamous "poke test" obsolete. Temperature, being consistently accurate, is the key. For instance, white poultry meat achieves optimal juiciness at around 150°F, while dark meat is perfect at 165°F or above. However, for game meat, a final temperature of 120°F results in rare, 130°F in medium rare  140°F or medium, and 150°F in medium-well. 


The takeaway? Invest in a good thermometer to put an end to overcooking your meat.


But, there's a crucial detail: a thermometer is only effective if you know precisely where to insert it. Given the diverse nature of meat with varying heat conductivity properties, the goal is to measure the coolest part of the meat, not necessarily its exact center. Therefore, aiming for the very center isn't always the ideal approach.


When dealing with thinner cuts, like steaks or chops, this becomes even more challenging due to their slim profile. Our technique doesn't focus on finding the exact center. Instead, it targets the general area. Without fretting over depth, simply insert the thermometer until it emerges on the opposite side (or hits a bone in the case of larger bone-in cuts). As you retract the thermometer, the temperature reading will spike, then gradually drop as you approach the center. Keep withdrawing the thermometer slowly until you reach a low point—the point where the numbers start rising again. This lowest reading is the temperature you should rely on.


While it's true that this method doesn't guarantee the precise coolest point, it significantly improves accuracy compared to the haphazard "poke and pray" technique. It provides consistently dependable results, ensuring you serve perfectly cooked meat without the guesswork.


 Here is helpful guide for pull temperatures vs. your final temperature 


Doneness  Pull Temp  Final Temp (after resting) 


115-120 F (46-49 C)

120-125 F (49-52 C)

Medium- Rare

120-125 F (49-52 C)

130-135 F (54-57 C)


130-135 F (54-57 C)

140-145 F (60-63 C)


140-145 F (60 -63 C)

150-155 F (65-68 C)

Well Done

150 F (66 C ) and above

160 F (71C) and above

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