Meat Cooking Times and Temperatures

By Peggy Epstein

A perfectly prepared meat dish is a result of the perfect combination of several factors: a quality piece of meat to start with, the right cooking method and the know-how required for cooking meat at the right temperatures for the right amount of time. Whether baking or grilling meats--including beef, pork and lamb—it is important to take into consideration the cut as well as the size. In addition, rather than relying on the outside appearance of a cooked piece of meat, it is vital to check the internal temperature before serving any meat dish.

Meat thermometer
credit: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
Meat thermometers are invaluable.

Roast Beef

Roast beef with vegetables
credit: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
Roast beef

Baking meat is an easy preparation method and allows the cook to attend to the side dishes once the main dish is in the oven. Some common cuts of beef, with examples of their typical weights, should be baked as follows. A standing rib roast that weighs 6 to 8 lbs. should roast for 23 to 30 minutes per lb. in a 300- to 325-degree oven. Sirloin tip roasts weighing 4 lbs. should bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes per lb. for rare and 40 minutes per pound for well done. A 4 to 5 lb. rolled rump roast needs to bake in a 325-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes per lb. A whole tenderloin weighing in at 5 lbs. should cook in a 425 degree oven for 45 to 70 minutes. Tenderloins should only be cooked rare, medium rare, or medium; they are generally too tough if cooked until they are well done.

Grilled Beef

Steaks on the grill
credit: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
T-bones on the grill

Beef should be grilled over a medium high heat source and can be served anywhere from rare to well done. A ¾" thick rib eye steak and 1" thick strip steaks should each cook 5 to 9 minutes on each side. For 1" porterhouse, ribeye, and t-bone steaks, grill from 6 to 11 minutes per side. Hamburger patties that weigh 6 ozs. usually take from 4 to 8 minutes on each side.

Roast Lamb

Leg of lamb with soup and casserole
credit: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
Leg of lamb

A 7 lb. whole leg of lamb should bake for 15 to 30 minutes per pound depending on how done you want it. A 3 lb. crown roast should bake from 20 to 35 minutes per pound, and a 6 lb. shoulder roast should bake for 20 to 30 minutes per pound. The oven temperature for lamb should be 325 degrees.

Grilled Lamb

Raw lamb chops
credit: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
Lamb chops

Lamb should be grilled over high heat. One-inch thick lamb chops should grill between 5 and 10 minutes per side. Lamb steaks that are 1" thick should cook for 5 minutes on each side. A 7 lb. butterflied leg of lamb will take a total of 40 to 50 minutes on the grill.

Roast pork

Rolled Roast Pork with Cranberry Jelly
credit: Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images
Pork roast

A 350 degree oven is required for roasting most cuts of pork. Pork loin roast, crown roast and shoulder roasts bake for 20 minutes per pound. A pork tenderloin should roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, and a rack of pork ribs will take two hours in a 450 degree oven.

Grilled pork

Pork chop with potato pancakes
credit: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
Grilled pork chop

Bone-in and boneless pork chops that are ¾ inch thick should grill for eight minutes per side, and a one-pound pork tenderloin needs to be grilled for 15 minutes. A five to eight pound pork shoulder or picnic shoulder should grill for 30 to 35 minutes per pound. Grilled smoked ham should be heated through for eight to ten minutes per pound.

Internal Temperatures

Meat thermometer and gravy boat
credit: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
Invest in a good meat thermometer

Investing in a good meat thermometer takes the guesswork out of figuring out when the meat is done. No matter what method is used to prepare pork, the internal temperature should be 160 degrees. Baked lamb and beef should be cooked to 145 degrees form medium-rare, 160 degrees for medium, and 170 degrees for well done. Internal temperature for rare beef should be 140 degrees and 170 degrees for well-done. Lamb should be cooked from medium-rare (145 degrees) to well-done (170 degrees).