Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Roast Meat

Roasting Times

The best way to determine if meat is cooked properly is to use a thermometer. There are two types of thermometers that can be used for meat: meat thermometers and instant-read thermometers.

Meat thermometers are inserted into the meat before cooking and left in during cooking. Instant-read thermometers are inserted into the meat for about 10 seconds and then removed. Instant-read thermometers are not heat-proof, so they cannot be left in the meat while cooking. Test with an instant-read thermometer at the recommended minimum cooking time.

USDA Recommended Temperatures for Meat Doneness

Type of Meat
Recommended Temperature
Beef (all cuts but ground)
140°F (rare)

150°F (medium-rare)

160°F (medium)

170°F (well-done)

180°F (very well-done)
Ground Beef
160°F to 170°F
160°F (medium)

170°F (well-done)
140°F (fully-cooked)

170°F (uncooked)
Lamb 140°F (rare)

160°F (medium)

170°F (well-done)

When using a thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of the meat, not touching bone or fat. For larger cuts of meat, such as roasts
, it is recommended that the meat be cooked until the thermometer registers 5°F to 10°F below desired doneness. Allow roasts to stand about 15 minutes before carving. During the standing time, roasts will continue to rise 5°F to 10°F. Begin carving when the thermometer registers the desired temperature.

Find a helpful roasting time chart with weights and suggested cooking times and temperature in the final section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Carve Meat: Once you’ve prepared a succulent cut of meat, don’t ruin it by carving it poorly! Find helpful tips on carving all kinds of meat in this article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.