Key Cooking Temperatures

 

32°F 0°C water freezes
75-85°F 24 – 30°C Ideal dough temperature for wheat-based yeast breads.  (Put your thermometer into the center of the dough to check the temperature)
85°F 29°C  A great temperature for fermenting and proofing bread.
140°F 60°C Water at this  temp or higher and you risk killing some (or all) of your yeast.
145°F 63°C Denaturing of protein begins (that what we refer to as cooking protein)* Proteins are like coiled rubber bands when you heat or physically denature them they coil often trapping air and water inside.
155°F 68°C

Cheesecake: Bake until edges are light brown and center is almost set.  Take the cheesecakes out of the oven when the cheesecakes reaches 155°F at the center to avoid over baking.  Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

158 °F–176

70–80 °C

Poaching is diferent form other forms of moist heat. Unlike simmering and boiling it uses a relatively low temperature. Notice that is about the same temperature that egg set. Used for  delicate of foods, like eggs, fish, and fruit.

175°F 80°C Eggs set (important for custards, flan, crème brûlée)
185°F 85°C Eggs in a custard, quiche, flan begin to curdle and get grainy.
160° F-200 71-100 °C Connective tissue begins to liquefy. For tough pieces of meat (brisket) long cooking time are needed above this temperature. As you get to 180°F and 200°F collagen begins to melt and turn into gelatin. (this is why stews are cooked around 180° to 200°F in moist heat for many hours)
200°- 205°F 93- 96°C Quick breads, like banana  zucchini , at 200-205°F (93°C). At that point, the baking powder/soda will have released its carbon dioxide, the proteins from the eggs will have coagulated and the starches from the flour will have gelled.  This is also the internal temperature for dense cakes like carrot or velvet cake
205°- 210°F 96- 99°C At this internal temperature lighter cakes such as angel food and sponge cake will be done.
285°F – 310°F 154°C

As the  surface temperatue reaches 285°F – 310°F  the Maillard reaction accelerates browning, which is caused by chemical changes in proteins and sugars and results in thousands of delicious new molecules. The Maillard reaction begins at lower temps, but really takes off at 310°F (154°C).

 

 

 

 

 

Mechanical Thermometer face

 

 

Note: * I’ve included more information about carryover temperatures at the end of this section

INGREDIENT

STOP COOKING WHEN TEMPERATURE REACHES

FINAL SERVING TEMPERATURE

BEEF & LAMB

Rare

115 – 120°F

120 – 125°F (after resting)

Medium-Rare

120 – 125°F

125 – 130°F (after resting)

Medium

130 – 135°F

135 – 140°F (after resting)

Medium-Well

140 – 145°F

145 – 150°F (after resting)

Well-Done

150 – 155°F

150 – 160°F (after resting)

PORK

Medium

140 – 145°F

145 – 150°F (after resting)

Well-Done

150 – 155°F

155 – 160°F (after resting)

CHICKEN

White Meat

160°F

165°F

Dark Meat

180°F

185°F

FISH

Medium

140°F (for white-fleshed fish)

140°F

 

 

 

Chicken thighs can benefit from being cooked to an internal temperature higher than 165 degrees Fahrenheit is their abundance of proteins such as collagen.

If thighs are only cooked to 165 F the texture will be chewier than if they were cooked until 185 degrees Fahrenheit/ 85 degrees Celsius. Cooking thighs to 185 F allows the meat time to tenderize, convert the tough collagen into silky gelatin.  This is also why you smoke brisket to a temperature of about 200°F.  It allows the collagen in the brisket to convert to gelatin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread

 

Most breads are finished baking at about an internal temperature of 190°. Breads enriched with butter, eggs, or milk are finished when the internal temperature is closer to 200°F.The temperature of the longer-baked rustic artesian loafs will not get much  above 210°F, because the moisture it contains, even when fully baked, prevents it from going past the boiling point of water, or 212°F degrees. For rustic breads if you want a hard crunchy dark brown crust and you do not want a gummy interior cook the bread until it reaches 210° F and then cook it for an additional 15 minutes – until it sounds hollow when tapped.

Quick breads, like banana  zucchini , at 200°F (93°C). At that point, the baking powder/soda will have released all its gas.

 

 

 

Baked loaf of homemade high hydration bread on cutting board with digital thermometer sticking into loaf.

 

 

 

 

212° F water boils at sea level. Also the temperature microwave ovens cook food.A microwave oven cooks food because the water molecules inside it absorb the microwave radiation and thereby heat up and heat the surrounding food.

 

 

285°F –The reaction is a type of non-enzymatic browning which typically proceeds rapidly from around 140 to 165 °C (285 to 330 °F).  (the temperature that protein browns). The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acids and a reducing sugar, usually requiring the addition of heat. Like caramelization, it is a form of non-enzymatic browning. The Maillard reaction takes place only when both protein and carbohydrates or sugars are present. Cooked at high heat, protein breaks down into its building blocks, amino acids, which then react with a group of sugars known as simple sugars.

 

 

Therefore, if you want your turkey or pot roast to turn brown and get the delicious flavors that are achieved by the Maillard reaction, your protein needs to get above 285°F – this is the temperature the protein needs to get to in order to reach this temperature you need to cook off all the liquid (For example: on the steak or liquid released from mushrooms. Your pan or oven need to be hotter that the 285°F. That is why we sear meat or cook mushrooms over high heat and never want to over crowd the pan. If moisture is in the pan you are cooking at 212°F and will not achieve browning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Instant Read Thermometer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(bread also has protein and browns at this temperature. By the way- that is why deep fry with a high percentage of cornstarch it stays a pale color; unlike wheat flour, corn starch does not have  protein. Therefore if you deep fry something that has a corn starch batter even though the temperature is above 300°F it will not brown)

 

 

 

320°F – to 356°F caramelization temperatures

 

 

 

If your food has enough color (a turkey, bread …. and you don’t want it to get darker, lower temperature  below the  caramelization  temperature and Maillard temperature 260°F (127°C) It will continue to cook but not get any darker.

 

 

 

Deep frying Temperature of Oil:

 

 

 

Oil Temp.
Time
Internal Temp.

Beer Battered Fish

365 °F

3 to 5 minutes

145 °F

Chicken wings

375 °F

8 to 10 minutes

165 °F

Chicken Strips and Chicken Tenders

350 °F

3 to 5 minutes

165 °F

Crispy Fried Chicken

375 °F

12 to 15 minutes (finish cooking in a 225 °F oven, if needed)

165 °F

Doughnuts

375 °F

2 to 4 minutes

Falafel

350 °F

4 to 6 minutes

French fries

325 °F

 400°F

Blanch first at 275 F-325°F for 3 to 4 minutes; then fry at 360F – 375°F for another 3 to 4 minutes

Mozzarella sticks

350 °F

2 to 3 minutes

Onion Rings

375 °F

2 to 4 minutes

Potato chips

375 °F

8 to 10 minutes

Turkey

375 °F

3 to 5 minutes per pound

165 °F

Tempura Vegetables

375 °F

1 to 2 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

Candy Making- Sugar Temperatures (Fahrenheit/Celsius)

 

 

 

Sugar Stage Description Fahrenheit Celsius 
Thread Syrup will form a loose thin thread. Used for sugar syrups not candy. 223-234°F 106-112° C
Soft Ball Syrup will form a soft, sticky ball that can be flattened when removed from the water. Used for caramels, fudge, pralines,  fondant, and butter creams. 234-240°F 112-115° C
Firm Ball When a very small amount of sugar syrup is dropped into a very cold water it forms a ball and holds its shape but is still very sticky when pressed with your fingers. Used for caramels, butter creams, nougat, marshmallows, Italian meringues, and toffees. 242-248°F 116-120° C
Hard Ball When syrup is dropped into cold water it will form a hard, sticky ball that holds its shape, but it is still pliable. Used for caramels, nougat, divinity and toffees. 250-266°F 122-130°C
Soft Crack When a small amount of sugar syrup is dropped into Cold water it can’t be stretched between your fingers and separated into hard but not brittle threads. Syrup will form strands that are firm yet pliable. Used for butterscotch, firm nougat, and taffy.
Hard Crack With a small amount of sugar syrup is dropped into cold water it will solidify but still separate into hard brittle threads. Syrup will form threads that are stiff (brittle) and break easily. Used for brittles, toffees, glazed fruit, hard candy, pulled poured and spun sugar. 295-310°F 146-155°C
Light Caramel When poured onto a white plate the syrup will be color of golden honey. Used for glazes. 320- 335°F 160 -170°C
Carmel Syrup will become transparent and will change color,  dark reddish amber. Used for pralines, brittles, caramel-coated molds, and nougatine. 335-355°F 160-180°C

 

 

 

 

 

So, why go above 350°F?

 

  • Breads: High temperatures (>425ºF) are really important in bread baking because higher temperatures lead to a better, faster rise before the gluten in the bread (and also the crust) has a chance to set.
  • Puff pastries: Baked at 350ºF, puff pastries fall short when compared to those baked at 400ºF, because at 400ºF steam is released quickly between the layers, allowing for more expansion and height before the layers set and dry in place.
  • Muffins: Baking muffins at 350ºF works, but did you know that if you start muffins in a hotter oven (even as high as 425ºF), you will get a taller muffin top? Baking the same recipe at 350ºF will lead to a less-domed muffin that has spread out and not up. (See image: The muffin in front was baked at 350ºF, the muffin in back at 425ºF first, then finished at a lower temperature.)

 

 

 

 

 

FOOD SAFETY

 

Danger Zone (40 °F – 140 °F)

 

Leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause bacteria  to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40°F and 140°F,  This range of temperatures is often called the “Danger Zone.” If the temperature is less than 40°F it is too cold for most bacteria to reproduce— and above 140°F (60°C), the temperatures begins to be lethal to bacteria.

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Carry Over Temperatures: (From https://blog.thermoworks.com)

Item Mass Pull temp Highest temp achieved Total carryover
Pork chop, cooked at 300°F 150 g 140°F 144.9°F 4.9°F
Pork chop, cooked at 425°F 150 g 140°F 151.5°F 11.5°F
Beef chunk, cooked at 300°F 260 g 140°F 148.4°F 8.4°F
Beef chunk, cooked at 425°F 286 g 140°F 153.2°F 13.2°F
Pork chunk, cooked at 300°F 274 g 140°F 143.9°F 3.9°F
Pork chunk, cooked at 425°F 340 g 140°F 151.0°F 11.0°F
Pork loin, cooked at 300°F 1229 g 140°F 146.5°F 6.5°F
Pork loin, cooked at 425°F 1329 g 140°F 155.5°F 15.5°F
Salmon, cooked at 300°F 276 g 140°F 147.3°F 7.3°F
Salmon, cooked at 425°F 314 g 140°F 159.0°F 19°F
Chicken, cooked at 300°F 198 g 157°F 162.9°F 7.9°F
Chicken, cooked at 425°F 245 g 157°F 169.9°F 12.9°F

We can make several key observations by examining this data.

  • First, we can see the effect that cooking temperature has. In every case, the meat that was cooked at the higher temp experienced more carryover than meats cooked at the lower temps. A pork loin cooked at 425°F (218°C) experienced 9°F (5°C) more carryover than a loin cooked at 300°F (149°C). If you want a pork loin that is not overcooked and you’re cooking at that higher temperature, you’ll need to pull it several degrees earlier!
  • Second, we can see how mass affects the carryover. For the three pieces of pork cooked at each temperature, you can see the carryover increasing as mass increases. In the 300°F (149°C) oven, the chop had 4.9°F (2.7°C)of carryover, while the loin had 6.5°F (3.6°C). In the 425°F (218°C) oven, the carryover increased from 11.5°F (6.4°C) in the chop to 15.5°F (8.6°C) in the loin. (I don’t think the chop and the chunk were different enough to overcome experimental error in this experiment. Hence the chunk experiencing slightly lower carryover.

With so many variables in a cook, publishing a chart that shows carryover times would be practically impossible. We’d need an entry for every cook temp, for every mass, for every shape, and for every kind of meat or bread. That doesn’t mean you should give up hope of mastering your cook. It just means you’ll have to get a feel for how much carryover to expect given the specific circumstances of each cook.

Using tools such as the ChefAlarm®, with its Min- and Max-temp display can help you establish the carryover for any given recipe.

 

CONCLUSION

When cooking, temperature matters. Using a thermometer to gauge your pull temps is in every way better than using physical artifacts to check doneness. And if pressing a steak or cutting a chicken is the wrong way to hit an exact temperature, how much worse are they for determining a temperature you have not yet arrived at?

If you want to perfect your dish, you have to account for carryover cooking, and the only way to do that is to use accurate, reliable temperature instruments. Yes, there is a learning curve as you account for cook temp, the size of your food, and the kind of food you are cooking. But as you learn how those variables operate in your own kitchen, you’ll start to elevate your cooking in ways you’ve never imagined.

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Michael holding plate of pesto crab cakes

Hello, I'm Michael!

I aspire to share recipes that you and your family can enjoy while also learning about cooking fundamentals along the way. I attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, CA and now enjoy cooking as a hobby. 

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