The Exact Temperature Needed For A Perfectly Well-Done Burger

Sometimes cooking meat can be mysterious — how are you supposed to know when your chicken breast or steak is cooked to perfection? Among the most deceptive meats to try and cook are hamburgers because there are so many mistakes that can be made while cooking them. If you just throw one on a red hot grill and cook until the outside is browned, the inside could still be raw, and if you like your burgers well done this is definitely a no-go. Luckily there is a way to tell when your hamburger is perfectly well-done and ready to eat: its temperature. While it's never safe to eat raw meat, some types of beef can be safely eaten at a variety of temperatures. For hamburgers, however, the recommendation is clear.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the ground beef in hamburgers needs to be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit before it can be safely eaten. Luckily for the well-done lovers out there, this temperature recommendation should produce a well-done hamburger. But just like how baked goods keep baking even when you take them out of the oven, your burger will do the same when you take it off the heat. When your meat thermometer is around five to 10 degrees away from 160 degrees Fahrenheit, it might be the perfect time to remove your burger to make sure it's perfectly well-done and still juicy, rather than overcooked and dry.

Can burgers be different temperatures?

Despite the USDA's recommendation, not everyone likes their burgers well-done; there are some people out there who prefer a pinker patty. For a medium-rare burger, cook until the thermometer registers around 130-135 degrees Fahrenheit, and for a medium burger, cook until it reaches between 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit. Outside of safety recommendations, there's not one official way burgers are "supposed to" be cooked, and it really all depends on personal preference and even the burger recipe you're following.

The USDA claims that even well-done ground beef can still be pink inside so judging your burger's doneness by appearance alone is not enough. If you're concerned about food safety, it might be best to just follow their temperature and cooking guidelines to avoid all possibility of food-borne illness. Taking the temperature of your hamburgers is super easy using a food thermometer — all you need to do is insert it sideways (parallel to your heat source) and make sure you're getting the thickest part of the patty to get the best reading possible.