Ground turkey internal temp – Cook like a pro

ground turkey internal temp

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At this point, it is not a secret that the internal temperature is a very important factor when determining that your dish is ready to serve. If you love cooking and barbecuing, you probably know that the internal temperature of a turkey is 165 F, but is it true for ground turkey as well? What is the ideal ground turkey internal temperature? Keep on reading and find out everything you need to know.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • Ground turkey internal temp
  • How to tell when ground turkey is done?
  • Tricks and tips for cooking ground turkey
  • And more!

What is ground turkey?

Ground Turkey is a mixture of turkey meat with turkey skin and visible fat processed together until the desired form emerges. The majority of ground turkey is made from thighs and drumsticks rather than a turkey breast, which is more costly. Of course, when you go to a Butcher’s shop, you can ask the butcher to mince turkey breast if you prefer an even leaner option.

Ground turkey is a common alternative to ground beef that can be used in various dishes such as burgers, meatballs, tacos, and others. It is an excellent source of protein, minerals, and vitamins, such as zinc, iron, vitamin b6, and others.

raw ground turkey meat

Ground turkey internal temp

The internal temperature of meats is important for killing harmful bacteria so you can have a safe meal every time. The ideal ground turkey internal temperature recommended by the USDA is 165 F. At this temperature, you can prevent foodborne illnesses by killing bacteria or parasites that may be present in the meat.

While undercooking ground turkey can cause unpleasant surprises, overcooking can result in a dry and tough texture. Because of this, it is important to determine the right internal temperature. The easiest and most reliable way is to use a meat thermometer.

Did you know?

Why is it important to cook ground turkey to the right temp?

Bacteria can be typically found on the surface of the meat, but when talking about ground turkey, bacteria can penetrate deeper into the meat. When preparing burgers or meatballs, there is no way to know which parts of the meat were on the surface before mixing it, so cooking to the optimal internal temperature matters a lot. Of course, this doesn’t mean that bacteria will be present in your meat, but better be safe than sorry.

ground turkey meatball

How to tell when the ground turkey is done?

As mentioned before, using an instant-read thermometer is the easiest and most reliable way of determining that ground turkey has cooked to a safe internal temperature. All you need to do is insert the thermometer in the center of the meat, making sure that you don’t touch the heat source.

How do you know when ground turkey is done without a meat thermometer?

If you don’t own a meat thermometer, I highly recommend getting one because it will be a helpful tool that you will often use in the kitchen or when grilling. If you are a barbecue enthusiast like me, the chance that you don’t own a meat thermometer is pretty low; however, if you do find yourself without one, here are a few tips on how to determine whether your ground turkey is done:

  • Texture: test the meat; it should be firm, but if it’s still mushy, it means that it still needs to be cooked.
  • Color: While the color of the meat is not the best way of determining whether your meat is ready, it can still indicate that you need more cooking time. When you see a change from pink to brown, it is a sign that the meat is fully cooked. However, I would mention here as an important note that pink doesn’t always mean that your ground turkey is undercooked. The meat can still be cooked through if it appears slightly pink in the middle. 
cooking ground turkey
  • Cooking time: Time can also be a great indicator of doneness, but it really depends on the cooking method. Different recipes require different cooking times. 

How long does ground turkey take to cook? To mention a few examples: cooking ground turkey in a pan usually requires around 10-13 minutes, but this depends on the heat level; in any case, don’t forget to stir the meat to prevent it from burning. Hamburger patties require around 6-7 minutes on each side.

One of the main problems with not using a meat thermometer is that you can easily overcook the meat resulting in a dry and tough texture. Not to mention that you can burn the meat, which then can stick to the pan, resulting in a bitter taste. So while you can determine the doneness of cooked ground turkey by visual cues, I would strongly recommend using a meat thermometer for the best results.


Tips and tricks for cooking ground turkey to perfection

  • Use fresh ground turkey, or defrost it before cooking. Although it is possible to cook a frozen ground turkey if you want the best results, thaw it before preparing a delicious meal. If you have frozen turkey in your freezer, the best way to defrost it is to let the meat thaw in the fridge, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. 
  • Use a nonstick pan: This is probably a no-brainer, but using a nonstick pan is important to prevent an unpleasant cooking experience for yourself and your guests or friends and family.
  • Don’t forget to season the meat well: The seasoning is essential if you want to make your dish stand out. Using the proper seasoning can make a huge difference in tastes and flavors.
  • Use a meat thermometer: As mentioned before, a meat thermometer is an extremely useful tool that will greatly ease your cooking experience. Investing in a high-quality thermometer is a must if you don’t own one.
  • Use a lid: If you are hungry and want to speed up the cooking process using a lid is a great idea, an easy and simple way to cook a quick delicious meal.
  • Let it rest: The final step is letting the meat rest. It’s not a secret that rest time is important, even if it’s cooked ground turkey.

Read more >> Best wood for smoking a turkey

How to store cooked ground turkey?

If you want to store cooked ground turkey properly, there are a few things to remember. First, cool down the ground turkey to room temperature. After this, keep it safely in the fridge. Use airtight containers to preserve the freshness for as long as possible and prevent contamination.

storing cooked ground turkey

Label the date: if you plan to keep the leftover cooked turkey in the fridge, you can do so for up to 4 days at 40 F or less while in the freezer for 3-4 months.

How to reheat leftover ground turkey?

Reheating cooked ground turkey is simple, and you can do so in the microwave, stovetop, or oven. If you choose the microwave, make sure to stir it at least once to avoid hot spots and ensure even heating. In any case, ensure that the ground turkey’s internal temp reaches 165 F.

Conclusion: Ground turkey internal temp

Cooking ground turkey can be a fun way to pass the time, and knowing the ideal internal temperature is important to ensure safety and a delicious meal. If you find yourself with some leftover cooked ground turkey, just store it in the fridge or freezer, then reheat it properly to maintain its quality.


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Tom Wilmer

I'm Tom Wilmer, an award-winning pitmaster and BBQ judge. I share my passion for barbecue through my blog, BBQ Soldiers, offering recipes, tips, and smoker reviews. Let's grill together!

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