What Should Pork's Internal Temp Be?

Last Updated on June 14, 2024 | 0 Comments
pork's internal temp

Are you tired of trying to guess the correct pork internal temp while preparing pork chops, tenderloin, cutlets, ribs, ham and other meat? Do recipes consistently turn out dry and overcooked because you’re worried about food-borne illnesses like e-coli, salmonella and listeria?

With different amounts of fat, collagen and muscle fibers, cuts of pork vary greatly in thickness. Between tender cuts, tough cuts and ground pork, you’ll find a wide variety of pork internal temp recommendations depending on what you’re cooking and the methods used. This, of course, causes even more confusion in the kitchen.

Don’t give up trying new recipes and experimenting with pork shoulder, crown roast, ground pork and loin chops just because you’re worried about the correct pork internal temp. To make your cooking easier and safer, we’ve compiled a guide to help you gain confidence while cooking to the correct pork internal temp.

 

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Minimum Internal Temp of Pork

Cook to a minimum pork internal temp of at least 145° F. This prevents foodborne illnesses that can happen from eating undercooked pork. For best results, some thicker cuts of pork, such as the pork shoulder (also known as the pork butt), should be cooked to a higher internal temp.

Best Internal Temp for Tough Cuts of Pork

  • Examples: Pork ribs, shoulders
  • Ideal Internal Temperature: 170° to 210° F
  • Best Cooking Method: anything low and slow, like a slow cooker

Some cuts of pork come from muscles that get a lot of use or bear a lot of weight, which makes them tough. They have larger amounts of collagen in the meat. When the meat maintains a temp of 160° F while cooking, the collagen breaks down into gelatin, and this liquified gelatin makes the meat tender.

These cuts need to be cooked “slow and low” to allow the collagen to break down before getting to the correct pork internal temp. A slow cooker with added moisture, such as broth or water, is an excellent way to cook tough cuts of pork.

To achieve the correct pork internal temp, cook at or below 275° F until the meat is tender. To achieve tenderness, cook to a high pork internal temp of at least 170° F. Don’t go beyond 210° as that will dry it out. For pulled pork, go with 200° F. For ribs, 180 to 195° is a good range.

pork shoulder in roasting pan with vegetables
via Canva

Best Internal Temp for Tender Cuts of Pork

  • Examples: Pork chops, tenderloins
  • Ideal Internal Temperature: 145° F
  • Best Cooking Method: Pan-seared before roasting, sous vide

Tender cuts of pork come from muscles that get little use or bear little weight. This makes them tender and juicy. This type of cut needs to be cooked at high temperatures for a short time to prevent dryness.

For the best results, sear the outside of the meat in a cast iron pan. This gives it a crust-like exterior that can then be transferred to a 425-degree oven. You’ll want your meat thermometer to read 145° F at the thickest section of meat. Once this internal temp is reached, the pork should be immediately set aside to prevent overcooking and dryness.

Alternatively, submerging a tender cut of pork in boiling water will cook it to the perfect tenderness in a shorter amount of time. This sous vide pork tenderloin recipe is the perfect example of this type of cooking. Just sear the tenderloin when it’s finished in the water bath and enjoy a tender, flavorful meal that was far easier to prepare than it tastes.

sous vide pork tenderloin
via Cozymeal

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Ground Pork Internal Temp

  • Examples: Sausage patties, meatloaf
  • Ideal Internal Temperature: 160° F
  • Best Cooking Method: Fried, baked, browned

With ground pork, harmful pathogens are found on the outside. When ground and mixed, the pathogens get distributed throughout the meat. This means that a higher pork internal temp, 160° F, is needed to safely cook and kill the pathogens.

stir-fried basil ground pork
via Canva

How to Measure Pork’s Internal Temp

The best and easiest way to measure the internal temp of all types of meat, whether it’s pork ribs’ internal temp or chicken thighs’ internal temp, is with an accurate meat thermometer. Meat thermometers are available in digital and analog versions. The Harold Import Co. thermometer is a terrific kitchen tool that allows you to clearly see the meat’s temperature whether using a grill, rotisserie, sous vide or slow cooker.

For an accurate reading, measure the thickest part of the meat. Make sure the thermometer isn’t touching the bone, gristle or fat. 

Before slicing, let the meat sit for a minute or so. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, meat should rest for at least three minutes in order to kill any remaining bacteria. It also allows the juices to distribute for maximum flavor. A large cut of meat may need to sit for 15 minutes.

Harold Import Co. Large Face Meat Thermometer
via Harold Import Co.

Pork Doneness Temps

Like smoked chicken or turkey, a small amount of pink in pork is normal. You can cook pork to various pork internal temps that will result in more or less pinkness. Keep an eye on the juices while cooking. If they’re clear, the meat is probably done.

  • Medium-Rare Temp: 145 to 150° F
  • Medium Temp: 150 to 155° F
  • Medium-Well Temp: 155 to 160° F
  • Well-Done Temp: 160° F
pork steak cooked to medium-rare pork internal temp
via Canva

Learn to Cook Pork With Confidence in a Cooking Class

Looking for ways to learn how to cook the perfect cut of pork? Cooking classes led by world-class gourmet chefs are an excellent way to become confident at getting the ideal pork internal temp and texture every time (or beef, salmon, chicken or whatever else your palate desires).

From cooking classes in Denver to cooking classes in New Orleans, there’s sure to be a cooking class near you ready to help you elevate your kitchen skills, whether you want to learn to grill the perfect burger or cook a classic gumbo. There are also live, interactive online cooking classes for when you prefer to learn at home.  

 

chef preparing pork
via Cozymeal

Pork can be tricky to prepare. If you’re worried about safety and foodborne illnesses while cooking tough and tender cuts of pork to the correct pork internal temp, use our tips to gain confidence. You’ll soon be roasting, grilling and marinating savory pork chops, shoulders and ribs your friends and family will love.

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