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CDC: Cook your Thanksgiving dinner to this temperature, or else

Published Nov 28th, 2019 1:37PM EST
turkey cooking temperature
Image: Shutterstock

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Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s a time for us to reflect on all the things we love most about our lives eat way too much food and get unreasonably angry when the refs ruin the biggest NFL game of the week. It’s tradition, of course, to feast until we’re ready to pop, but it’s important to make sure that epic Thanksgiving meal is actually safe to eat.

The CDC loves to remind us of food preparation guidelines, and with good reason. Coming down with a case of E. coli is going to put a serious damper on your Black Friday shopping trip, so let’s all do our best to follow the minimum temperature requirements for our holiday meat.

When cooking meat, the type of meat you’re preparing determines how hot it needs to be in order to ensure all potentially dangerous germs are killed. Here’s the rundown, which should cover just about anything you might be tossing on the grill or in the smoker today. Remember, a good food thermometer should be used to measure the internal temperature of the meat:

  • Cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal: 145°F (for at least three minutes)
  • Fish: 145°F
  • Ground beef, including hamburger: 160°F
  • Poultry, like a massive Thanksgiving turkey: 165°F
  • Pre-cooked meats like hot dogs or sausages: 165°F

If we’re getting super specific, the CDC even has a few tips specifically for Thanksgiving turkey preparation. Here’s how the CDC recommends cooking your big bird:

Set the oven temperature to at least 325°F. Place the completely thawed turkey in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Cooking times will vary depending on the weight of the turkey. Use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165°F. Check by inserting a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest portions of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. Even if your turkey has a pop-up temperature indicator, you should still use a food thermometer to check that it is safely cooked.

In addition to that, food health experts advise you to let your cooked turkey stand for at least 20 minutes before you dive in, so hold off on carving it up to ensure everyone will enjoy the meal and the days that follow.