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Hamburger Temperature Guide

Updated On July 12, 2021

Everyone loves juicy, moist, and tender hamburgers. But, many culinary enthusiasts end up making burnt food, mainly beginners. The reason is the lack of temperature awareness. With that in mind, we bring you the best temperature guide to make a mouth-watering hamburger and impress friends and family.  
First of all, let's get into the primary rules. Store-bought ground beef is only safe if cooked to an inner temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71°C). This requirement is from the official USDA website and applies to all pre-ground meat. Cooking meat at a specific temperature will kill any lingering bacteria. Hence, it will be safer to eat.

If you are using ground poultry, the cooking temperature varies a bit. You should heat it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to make it safe to eat.  

It is better to get a precise meat instant-read thermometer. This kind of device can give you the most reliable temperature read and it definitely allows more control while cooking. You can check the readings of the thickest part of the meat anytime. Before and after using this thermometer, make sure to clean and sanitize it.

Not everyone has the same taste for burgers. Some would prefer eating completely seared beef. Meanwhile, others enjoy a burger that has a slight moisture texture.
barbecue grill
If you want, you can pull the hamburger off the grill even if it is 10 degrees less than the target temperature. Due to the trapped heat, the patty will still continue to cook over some time, even if it is not on the grill.

Aiming for Rare Hamburger

To make an excellent rare cooked hamburger, follow these simple steps:
  • First of all, cook the burger patty for around 2 to 3 minutes on both sides to start the rare sear. After that, grill the burger to the internal temperature of 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. You may check the grilling times temperatures chart here.
  • As you know, a rare burger is a little pink on the inside, while the outer part is perfectly cooked, because of that, you need to check if the meat is well-seared on the outside.
  • When you touch it, it should feel smooth and spongy, with little resistance.

Aiming for Medium-Rare Hamburger

medium-rare hamburger
The medium-rare hamburger will have juicy and tender meat. To make this kind of hamburger, you need to cook and grill it for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Make sure that the center has a tint of pink or red. After that, check if the outer part is well charred and has a golden brown shade. (1)

Now, cook the meat until the internal temperature comes between 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of meat will be a little spongy, but not much. In short, it has a texture between smooth and spongy.

Aiming for Medium Well Hamburger

Cook the burger until it reaches the internal temperatures of 150 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit. After that, it will get a little pink in the very center, but the outer parts will start to dry out.

Aiming for Well Done

Grill the meat for 6 minutes on each side. It will have a muted brown shade rather than red or pink in the center. Make sure to take it off the heat after it attains an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The meat should be a little hard to touch and will look almost dry.

Direct Heat Grilling

burger steak grillling
You can quickly make hamburgers by placing them over direct heat. While cooking these burgers over direct heat, you will notice their vertical and quick rise in temperature. Here is a picture for your reference to see how the cold meat is being cooked. (2)

Lines on the meat are from the grill and as they darken, it signifies that the meat is cooking at a rapid pace. Look closely at the meat when the temperature hits between 153 degrees Fahrenheit (67°C) and 157 degrees Fahrenheit (69°C), you can get an idea of how it looks in different temperatures.

In just 30 seconds, the temperature of the meat rises from 153 to 157 degrees Fahrenheit (69°C). If you are not paying attention to the grill, you will end up with burnt meat pieces.

Two-Stage Cooking Method

If you use this method, you will be preparing hamburgers in two different heat stages. First of all, set up the grill on low heat. Making burgers on low heat makes it easier to control the cooking time of the hamburgers.

In the initial stages, keep the hamburgers on the low heat side of the grill. Leave them on the grill for some time, as the burgers will get ambient heat. Plus, they will be cooked at a slow and controlled pace. Check here when is the best time to buy a grill

Turn the grill off when they are 20 degrees Fahrenheit less than the target temperature. Now, keep these burgers on. Continue to cook the hamburgers until they reach the desired temperature. 

Try this two-stage cooking method if you want a good hamburger with perfect doneness. Besides that, this procedure will ensure that the meat is less exposed to heat than the direct grilling method.

The hamburgers cooked on direct heat for an internal temperature of 153 degrees Fahrenheit will have a final temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This increase in temperature happens due to the residual heat momentum.

The residual heat momentum will be less if you cook burgers using the two-stage method. Besides that, you can have plenty of time to pick up the hamburgers from the grill. In this way, you do not have to deal with burnt or overcooked hamburgers.

Bottom Line

We hope that the information in this post will be beneficial to you. Though everyone is not born with the skills to make a perfect hamburger, you can learn it over time. Practising and adapting the technique of tracking meat temperatures goes a long way in making perfectly cooked hamburgers. 
(1) medium-rare -
(2) direct heat -

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About the author 

Albert Thompson

Albert hails from Kentucky where grilling is a lifestyle. He brings with him his years of experience in the cooking sector and the product sector, but dont let that fool you, he practices what he preaches and enjoys a big rack of ribs every weekend.