What is the Minimum Internal Cooking Temp for Ground Beef?

Ground beef is a versatile and popular meat used in many dishes like burgers, meatballs, tacos, chili, and more. However, raw ground beef can contain harmful bacteria that can lead to foodborne illness. That’s why it’s critical to cook ground beef to the proper internal temperature to kill any pathogens.

When cooking ground beef at home, what is the minimum safe internal temperature?

Below we’ll cover the recommended ground beef cooking temperature, why temperature is so important for safety, how to accurately measure it, and tips for cooking ground beef safely.

What is the Minimum Internal Temp for Ground Beef?

The safe minimum internal temperature for ground beef is 160°F (71°C). Ground meats, including beef, veal, pork, and lamb, should always be cooked to at least 160°F to ensure any potentially harmful bacteria like E. coli or salmonella are killed.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states ground meats must reach 160°F as measured by a food thermometer before removing from heat.

Why is Proper Cooking Temperature Important?

Cooking ground beef thoroughly to 160°F minimum internal temperature isn’t just for perfect doneness – it’s critical for food safety.

Raw ground beef can contain dangerous pathogens including:

  • E. coli – Ground beef is one of the foods most often linked to E. coli outbreaks. E. coli cases can lead to severe complications and hospitalization.

  • Salmonella – Salmonella cases often cause fever, stomach cramps, and diarrhea lasting 4-7 days. In severe cases it can become life-threatening.

  • Campylobacter – This bacteria causes cramping, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea. Usually lasts 2-5 days but can lead to long-term health issues.

Heating ground beef to a high enough internal temperature is the only way to kill these and other pathogens. The pasteurization point to destroy E. coli is around 156-158°F. So a minimum temp of 160°F provides an extra safety buffer.

Below 160°F, bacteria can survive and multiply very rapidly in the “danger zone” between 40-140°F. So it’s critical to cook diligently to 160+°F and prevent illness.

How to Measure Ground Beef Internal Temp

Since appearance and cooking times aren’t reliable ways to gauge doneness, a food thermometer is essential for cooking ground beef safely.

Types of Food Thermometers

There are several types of food thermometers that will work for measuring ground beef temperature:

  • Instant-read thermometer – Gives a quick temp reading in 1-2 seconds when inserted in the thickest part. Good for thinner burgers and meatballs.

  • Oven-safe thermometer – Remains in the meat while cooking with a display outside the oven. Best for roasts and thick cuts.

  • Thermometer fork – Has a heat-safe probe for leaving in meat. Handy for grilling burgers.

  • Infrared thermometer – A non-contact sensor takes surface temperatures. Good for very thin items.

How to Get an Accurate Reading

To correctly measure ground beef internal temperature:

  • Insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the meat, away from bone, fat, or gristle.

  • For burgers, take temperature in the side, not just surface. Measure meatloaf and meatballs at the center.

  • Wait 15-20 seconds before reading the temp to allow it to equilibrate.

  • Clean the thermometer probe thoroughly between tests to avoid spreading bacteria.

  • Verify thermometer accuracy periodically in boiling water (should read 212°F) or an ice bath (should read 32°F).

  • Use caution not to cross-contaminate raw meat juices with cooked foods or prep areas.

What Temperature Indicates Ground Beef is Cooked?

  • Rare: 120-125°F – Never eat burgers or ground beef rare! Beef is only safe below 145°F if it’s whole cuts like steaks and roasts.

  • Medium-rare: 130-135°F – Too low for ground beef safety. Should reach 160°F minimum.

  • Medium: 140-150°F – Potentially unsafe if not yet 160°F. Keep cooking!

  • Well-done: 160°F and above – Safe to eat! Ground beef at 160°F+ meets safety standards.

Double check temperature in multiple spots to confirm ground beef is fully cooked through. If under 160°F, continue heating until safely past the minimum.

Ground Beef Safety Tips

Follow these tips when cooking ground beef at home to prevent foodborne illness:

  • Always use a food thermometer – It’s impossible to visually check ground beef doneness. Take temperatures to verify 160°F.

  • Wash hands and cookware – Prevent cross-contamination by washing after handling raw meat. Don’t reuse platters or utensils for cooked food without cleaning first.

  • Cook frozen ground beef thoroughly – Even if browning ground beef frozen, cook to 160°F for safety.

  • Bring sauces, soups, and chili to a boil – Heat any dishes containing ground beef to a full rolling boil after adding meat.

  • Cook and crumble large batches – For quick weeknight meals, cook a few pounds ground beef in advance to 160°F and portion for refrigerator storage up to 1-2 days.

  • Don’t use “medium” preset on electric appliances – Appliance presets for medium often don’t reach safe 160°F. Always double check with a food thermometer.

  • Rest larger roasts before carving – Temperature can rise 10°F after removing meat from heat. Let rest 3 minutes before taking the temperature.

Cooking ground beef seems simple, but taking proper safety precautions is essential. Follow the 160°F minimum internal temperature guideline, utilize a food thermometer, and handle raw meat carefully. This ensures your ground beef dishes will be safely delicious for the whole family to enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ground Beef Cooking Temperature

Here are answers to some common questions about determining when ground beef reaches a safe minimum internal temperature:

Is ground beef safe at 155°F?

No, 155°F is too low for safely cooked ground beef. Always cook to 160°F minimum internal temperature according to USDA guidelines. This kills any potential E. coli, salmonella, or other bacteria.

What if my burger looks brown in the middle at 145°F?

Never rely on visual cues to determine if ground beef is safely cooked. Always take the internal temperature, even if the burger appears browned. Continuing cooking to 160°F ensures it reaches the proper temperature for food safety.

Why is the minimum temperature different than a steak?

Whole cuts of beef like steaks and roasts only require 145°F minimum internal temperature. But the grinding process can introduce pathogens throughout ground beef, necessitating the 160°F temperature.

Is it safe to eat rare ground beef from a local farm?

No, regardless of the source, ground beef should always be cooked to 160°F minimum internal temperature to kill bacteria that may be present after grinding. Even beef freshly ground onsite could cause illness if undercooked. Don’t take risks with ground beef temperatures for food safety.

What temperature kills E. coli in hamburger?

Heating ground beef to 156-158°F is sufficient to destroy any E. coli bacteria present. The USDA recommends cooking to 160°F as an extra buffer. Verify 160°F+ temperatures with a thermometer to ensure ground beef safety.

Does browned ground beef mean it’s cooked through?

No, ground beef can brown before reaching a safe internal cooking temperature. Always take temperature rather than judging by visual color, especially for large batches. Cook thoroughly until reaching 160°F minimum.


When working with raw ground beef, it’s always smart to be vigilant about food safety. Check the internal temperature with a food thermometer in multiple spots to guarantee it reaches the USDA recommended minimum of 160°F. This kills any pathogens like E. coli that could be present after grinding.

While visual indicators aren’t reliable, using a food thermometer takes the guesswork out of ground beef doneness. Follow the 160°F rule, clean cooking tools thoroughly, and handle raw meat carefully. These habits ensure cooked ground beef stays safe and delicious for your family to enjoy.

Cooking 101: Proper cooking Temperatures to Ensure Safe Food – White Apron Catering, Lake Worth, Fl


What is the minimum internal cooking temperature for ground beef Servsafe?

Minimum Internal Temperature & Rest Time
Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb Steaks, chops, roasts
145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Ground Meats
160 °F (71.1 °C)
Ground Poultry
165 °F

What is the minimum internal cooking temperature for ground beef quizlet?

What are the minimum internal cooking temperatures for poultry, fish, pork, and ground beef? – Poultry: 165°F (74°C) for 15 sec. – Fish: 145°F (63°C) for 15 sec. – Ground beef: 155°F (68°C) for 15 sec.

Why is the required minimum cooking temperature for ground beef is 155?

Killing Bacteria in Ground Beef You cannot kill the bacteria by freezing ground beef. Instead, the bacteria will remain dormant while the meat is frozen and becomes active once thawed. Cooking ground beef to an internal temperature of 155°F is the only way to destroy the germs.

Is 145 OK for ground beef?

With beef, you’ve got to treat those cuts of meat like hamburger and cook them thoroughly to 160 degrees F to be safe.

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