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How to check meat doneness

How do you like your meat? Rare? Medium rare? Or how about it Well Done? Every outdoor cooking sesh has folks with different demands. And it’s hard to tell how done your meat is on the griddle. Well, until now because we’ll teach you the techniques the top chefs use in this guide. It’s all in the touch, and if you read this right, you’ll be able to measure doneness like a pro with your fingertips. No tools, no tricky cutting. But for those who need it, we teach you how to use a thermometer too. Now go ahead, read up and let’s get griddling!

What is Meat Doneness?

It’s how much heat you put in the meat. That’s doneness - plain and simple. And each degree has a different texture and flavor. You can feel it as soon as you start cutting on the plate. So check out the differences below - and why not try out each degree of doneness on your griddle? Then comment us your favorite. And hey, these are for red meat - not chicken, pork or anything else!
  • Rare: barely hits the fire. The middle is bright red as can be, soft, and delicate. You’ll be surprised how cool it is (we mean both in awesome and in temperature). The surface gets charred to a light brown color and is chewy.
  • Medium Rare: heats up more and a top choice among chefs. The color is pinker and the brown surface is firmer. Press down, and you can feel it spring-like basketball sneakers.
  • Medium: the pink gets browner and feels firm. All that heat has charred the surface, and this is how most folks in America eat beef. It feels familiar and has got that tasty texture.
  • Medium Well: there’s only a hint of pink left, and the texture is stiffer. The surface’s well charred and dark brown by now. Less soft, but crisper flavor.
  • Well Done: totally browned. There’s no pink left, and the surface is charred up. This is as solid as meat can be, so there’s no spring left. Well done gets a lotta hate, but for some, the crunch is what makes meat proper meat (especially if slow cooked).

Check the Doneness of Your Griddled Meat with These Techniques

Touch Method

The touch method is split into three techniques, and each one uses your hands differently to measure doneness. Since you don’t need to cut into the meat or puncture it with a thermometer, you’ll be locking in all the flavor and feel like a pro. There are three versions of the touch method, and you should try all of them before picking your fave. It might take some time until you master this, but the juicy meats will be worth it.

The Face Feel

For some chefs, the face test is easier and more precise than other techniques. You can measure four types of doneness with your face, from Rare to Well Done:
  1. Keep your face relaxed, don’t make any facial expressions or smile;
  2. Touch the middle of your cheek. That’s how Rare meat feels;
  3. Touch the tip of your nose. That’s the softness of Medium Rare;
  4. Touch the tip of your chin. That’s how Medium doneness feels;
  5. Finally, the firmness of your forehead is like Well Done. Touch it to check how it feels.

The Palm Touch

This technique uses your palm and fingers. As you switch fingers, your palm becomes firmer and feels just like Rare, Medium or Well Done meat.
  1. Hold your hand out, palm facing up;
  2. Make an OK sign 👌
  3. Use your other index finger and press the base of your thumb. That’s how Medium Rare meat feels like;
  4. Now, switch over and make the OK sign with your middle finger. Keep your other finger at the thumb base. That’s how Medium meat feels;
  5. Make the OK sign with your ring finger. That’s the feeling of Medium Well meat;
  6. Finally, press your pinky and thumb together. That’s how Well Done meat feels.
Try out each OK sign until you get the hang of the firmness of each meat doneness. Then, compare the firmness of your hand with the meat you’re cooking on the Blackstone griddle.

The Fist Test

This touch technique is easier than the OK sign one but less precise. Just don’t overdo the fist clenching and you’ll be alright:
  1. Hold out your hand in a relaxed fist. Keep a “tunnel” between your curled fingers. The doneness on the meat feels just like your fingers touching your palm. That means the more you jab, the more done it gets;
  2. Start with your fingers barely prodding your palm. Your nails will be facing you in a “tunnel” shape. This is how Rare meat feels;
  3. Clench your fist a little more. The “tunnel” closes up, leaving just a little breathing space. This is how Medium doneness feels like;
  4. Clench your fist tight, closing the “tunnel.” Close it for good and jab that palm hard! This feels like Well Done meat.

Thermometer Method

If you’re unsafe with the touch method, you can buy a meat thermometer and measure doneness by temperature. It’s precise, and if you stab correctly, you’ll lose fewer juices and get the doneness you want:

How to insert the thermometer

# Red Meat
Red meat such as beef, lamb, and pork are the hardest to prod correctly with a thermometer. Follow these steps carefully, so you don’t get incorrect readings and check doneness with top precision:
  1. Insert the thermometer needle into the thickest part of the roast, without bone or fat;
  2. Push the thermometer until the tip punctures the other side of the meat;
  3. Slowly pull the thermometer back up;
  4. As you pull up, the temperature on the thermometer will skyrocket.
  5. Pull it up more - the temperature starts dropping.
  6. Continue pulling, then STOP when the temperature begins to skyrocket again. We mean STOP! That’s the perfect spot for measuring doneness with your thermometer: the readings are more precise.
# Poultry
When it comes to poultry meat, measuring temperature is simpler: there are no degrees of doneness - all you need are these two steps:
  1. For whole poultry, insert the thermometer needle into the thickest part of the chest
  2. For poultry parts, insert in the thickest area and avoid any bones

Doneness temperatures

Once you’ve inserted the thermometer correctly you can measure up your meal’s doneness. We studied up the Fahrenheit degrees for each doneness degree (pun intended, sorry folks). So now - with your thermometer prodded in fine order - just check its gauge for the temperatures below. Then take out your meal when it’s the doneness you love best.
# Red Meat
Rare: 130 - 140°F Medium Rare: 140 - 145°F Medium: 155 - 160°F Well Done: 165 - 170°F
# Poultry
Whole poultry: 180°F Breast: 170°F Thighs: 180°F
Do you have any questions or tips on how to check meat doneness? Please drop a comment below and let’s talk!