Poultry’s Recommended Internal Temperature: Is It Done yet? | Barbecue Tricks

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Poultry’s Recommended Internal Temperature: Is It Done yet?

Looking to safely cook chicken or turkey, without having it come out dry and flavorless? The USDA says to cook until the juices of the wings and thighs run clear. The only way to do it is use a thermometer (see below), and remember the wings and thighs reach a higher temperature faster than the breast. Here are some simple guidelines for safe internal temperatures that will keep your poultry tasting great! All measurements are Fahrenheit.

  • Ground Chicken or Turkey 165 degrees
  • Whole Chicken or Turkey 180 degrees (thighs, wings & legs) / 160 – 165 degrees (breast) Note: This should occur at about the same time.
  • Chicken or Turkey Breast 170 degrees
  • Duck 180 degrees
  • Grilled or Roasted Quail 145 degrees

In general, The USDA suggests poultry be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 before serving. This is lowered from a pre-2006 recommendation of 180 for turkey. Many of us have become too dependant on the “factory installed” thermometer that comes in frozen birds these days. These are likely to err on the side of “over cooked.”


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It is important to remember that internal temperature will indeed rise a bit while “resting” off the grill.

One universal tip is to watch for the juices to run clear but the best way to really know is by using an accurate instant read thermometer. You may already have an old dial faced version in your gadget drawer. In theory these are just fine and worked for many years; however I almost always find myself questioning the results. We prefer some of the really good digital instant read thermometer now available. In less than ten seconds you’ll really know what temperature you have.

Cooks Illustrated spends a lot of time researching and testing the best of the best and when it comes to thermometers they suggest a model made by Thermapen for about $80 (based on pin-point accuracy and quick respnse time). But there are a few less expensive models.

NOTE: If the thermometer you’re using needs to be “converted” from Fahrenheit to Celsius use this formula: Subtract 32 degrees from the (Fahrenheit) reading, then divide that number by 1.8. The result is the Celsius.

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About Bill West

Bill West a BBQ enthusiast and Country Music aficionado in Charleston, SC. You can follow him: http://twitter.com/BarbecueTricks http://www.youtube.com/user/BarbecueTricks

One Response to “Poultry’s Recommended Internal Temperature: Is It Done yet?”

  1. Grabmale says:

    Tried it, made it!
    Thanks for sharing. I’ll stay tuned.

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