Proper Thermometer Placement

These drawings illustrate proper placement of a food thermometer in meat, poultry, thin foods, and combination dishes. (Note: To avoid burns, remove food from direct heat for testing when necessary.)

Image of Ham with Thermometer

Image of Steak with Thermometer
When taking the temperature of beef, pork, or lamb roasts, the food thermometer should be placed midway in the roast, avoiding the bone. When cooking hamburgers, steaks, or chops, insert a thermistor or thermocouple in the thickest part, away from bone, fat, or gristle. If using a dial bimetal thermometer, read "Thin Foods" below.

When the food being cooked is irregularly shaped, such as with a beef roast, check the temperature in several places.

Image of Chicken with Thermometer

Image of Turkey with Thermometer
When cooking whole poultry, the food thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone).

A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher temperatures. If stuffed, the stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.

If cooking poultry parts, insert food thermometer into the thickest area, avoiding the bone. The food thermometer may be inserted sideways if necessary. When the food is irregularly shaped, the temperature should be checked in several places.

Hamburger with Thermometer Thin Foods
When measuring the temperature of a thin food, such as a hamburger patty, pork chop, or chicken breast, a thermistor or thermocouple food thermometer should be used, if possible.

However, if using an "instant-read" dial bimetallic-coil food thermometer, the probe must be inserted in the side of the food so that entire sensing area (usually 2-3 inches) is positioned through the center of the food.

To avoid burning fingers, it may be helpful to remove the food from the heat source (if cooking on a grill or in a frying pan) and insert the food thermometer sideways after placing the item on a clean spatula or plate.

Image of Leftovers with Thermometer

Image of Quiche with Thermometer
Combination Dishes
For casseroles and other combination dishes, place the food thermometer into the thickest portion of the food or the center of the dish. Egg dishes and dishes containing ground meat and poultry should be checked in several places.
Last Modified Jul 23, 2013