Bacteria from the animal are often present on the surface of the raw meat and poultry. When the meat is ground, the bacteria are mixed throughout the meat.
When cooking a hamburger, make sure you handle the meat safely. Keep the meat cold until you cook it and keep work surfaces clean. Always wash your hands before and after handling the ground beef.
After about 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time, check the burger for doneness. Place an instant-read in the center of the thickest burger. If the burgers are quite thin, insert the thermometer horizontally, from the side.
USDA Temperature Guidelines
According to the USDA, the minimum safe temperature for ground meat is 160 F (71 C), or well done. For ground turkey or chicken, the minimum safe temperature is a little higher, at 165° F (74 C). It typically takes from 10 to 15 minutes to reach either temperature, depending on the thickness or size of the hamburgers. It is particularly important to cook ground meat to a safe temperature for children or the elderly. They are the most likely to be seriously affected by a foodborne illness.
After using a food thermometer, always clean it with hot soapy water.
Though any temperature under 160 F (71 C)—or 165 F (74 C) for ground poultry—is not considered safe for ground meat (USDA Guidelines), here is a list of cooking times for varying degrees of doneness for burgers:
- Rare: 120 to 125
- Medium Rare: 130 to 135
- Medium Well: 150 to 155
- Well Done: 160 to 165
Now that you know how to cook a burger safely, it's time to cook some up. Here are some delicious burger recipes for you to try out at your next barbecue.