Ground turkey is a popular healthier option than ground beef or pork. Apart from being low in fat, turkey meat is rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Like any other poultry, turkey needs to be cooked properly. So, what is the safe ground turkey temperature?
The recommended internal temperature for ground turkey is 160 to 165°F, but you also have to consider the cooking time.
In this guide, you’ll find interesting points to remember about ground turkey and its safe cooking temperature.
What Is The Safe Cooking Temperature For Ground Turkey?
To cook ground turkey, it needs to reach the safe cooking temperature of 165°F. To ensure that you get the temperature right, you’ll need a kitchen thermometer.
Rely on your thermometer. Not only will it guarantee you reach the minimum safe internal temp, but it will help you from over-cooking it, which can cause it to dry out.
If you’re making turkey burgers, keep in mind that this is not beef. This means that you can’t serve your turkey burgers medium-rare like you might want to with beef patties.
Since turkey meat’s density is lower than pork or beef, bacteria can penetrate deeper.
In other words, you should always cook your turkey burgers all the way through to kill off the bacteria.
How To Cook Your Ground Turkey Perfectly
The easiest way to cook this is to use a stove top. We cook ground turkey for making taco salads using this technique. It’s easy and fool-proof.
Another way is to use the oven. Unlike stovetop cooking which requires you to stir until it’s done, oven-cooking will take as little as 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F before placing the ground turkey inside in a baking dish.
How To Tell If Ground Turkey Is Already Cooked
I highly recommend you get a good-quality instant-read thermometer. This is a great investment because it will let you cook any meat to its safe recommended temperature and you can monitor it from another room.
As previously stated, your ground turkey is considered safe when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
If you’re cooking turkey burgers or meatloaf, you can take them off the heat at 160°F and tent them with foil. The temperature will continue to rise at least five more degrees because of residual heat.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you may also use the usual signs that ground turkey meat shows as it cooks.
While raw, ground turkey is pinkish with a little sheen. As it cooks, however, it mostly turns and opaque grey/brown. The bright pink of the raw turkey completely disappears. Obviously, the visual checks are harder when formed into a meatloaf or burger patties – so grab yourself a thermometer to be safe.
Choosing the Right Turkey
When you’ve decided which recipe to make, you should be able to figure out the right type of ground turkey to use.
This is important because the right percentage of fat will also help with the flavor. Regular ground turkey will have around 7-10% fat, while lean ground turkey has 3%. Ground turkey breast has only 1% fat.
While some packages will be labeled accordingly by manufacturers, others will simply be labeled “ground turkey” which may be a mixture of white and dark meat.
For dishes with sauces, I recommend using a lean turkey blend.
Ground turkey that has a higher fat ratio is best for burgers and meatballs.
Tip: I like to ask my butcher to make a fresh grind of my preferred mix of breast and thigh meats. I also guarantee I get the freshest mix possible.
What Parts Are In Ground Turkey?
Ground turkey is made of trimmed meat from the turkey’s thighs and drumsticks. It usually has a low-fat content that varies a little.
Some manufacturers include a little fat in the mix while others are composed mainly of turkey breast meat.
This is a good option as a lower-fat protein source because you can avoid extra calories.
What Are The Benefits?
Ground turkey is low-fat and has few calories. It’s the a great protein option if you’re cutting down on calories or trying to lose weight.
Additionally, ground turkey is a good source of vitamin B3 or niacin. This is a water-soluble vitamin that helps with the body’s liver function.
Besides vitamins, it’s also high in protein, which makes it easy to reach your targeted protein intake. As for minerals, ground turkey has selenium which helps prevent heart disease, dementia, and even some cancers.
Simply put, ground turkey meat has a load of benefits, so it’s a good idea to make it a part of your diet.
Does it Taste Good?
I think ground turkey is tasty on its own, but it definitely does well with additional seasonings.
How to Tell if it has Gone Bad
You will know if the ground turkey has gone bad when it starts to smell. If it smells foul, then it’s no longer safe to eat.
Another sure sign of spoilage is when it has a slimy texture. This shows that bacteria in your mince have multiplied. In this case, the meat should be disposed of immediately.
You should also check the color. If it no longer has a light pink color, it’s time to discard it.
Pay pretty close attention to these signs if you suspect the ground turkey may be bad. Food poisoning is serious, so it’s always best to throw out food that shows any signs of spoiling.
Does it Spoil Easily?
Ground turkey meat can spoil quickly depending on the stored temperature and the degree of air exposure.
If the environment temperature is about 40ºF or higher, it’ll promote the rapid growth of bacteria and microorganisms.
It’s not as dense as beef, so bacteria can easily penetrate it more easily.
Keep it refrigerated in a sealed container for up to two or three days. If you can’t use it in that time frame, you should freeze it.
If you’re having doubts about whether your turkey is spoiled or not, it would be better to get rid of it rather than risk suffering from food poisoning.
Delicious Ways To Cook With Ground Turkey
Because ground turkey has a mild flavor, it will easily absorb any other, so it works in so many recipes, including ones that call for ground beef or pork.
Try air frying meatballs or making them in the oven for a lighter meal that’s still scrumptious. Of course, grilled meatballs are perfect for your BBQ parties and will cook really fast, which is wonderful when you’re having hungry guests!
Homemade hamburgers are very appreciated in my family and as much as we love a juicy pink-in-the-middle beef patty, turkey burgers are also scrumptious!
Replacing ground beef or pork in soups and chillies with minced turkey will lighten them up and I can guarantee you won’t regret the substitutions.
For a special one-pot meal perfect for feeding a crowd, make this smoked chili. The smoky flavor is to die for and everyone will ask for seconds!
Let’s not forget about the countless pasta dishes, including the popular bolognese sauce.
Most are hearty recipes, so using ground turkey will keep the calories and fat on the lower end while still offering plenty of protein for a balanced meal.
The safe internal temperature for ground turkey is 165°F.
If you want to be extra sure that your ground turkey meat is cooked and safe to eat, use an instant-read thermometer.
Not only will it guarantee it reaches the safe temp, it will also help you cook it for just the right amount of time, so it remains moist and tasty.
Other Time and Temperature Articles
Ginny Collins is a passionate foodie and recipe creator of Savor and Savvy and Kitchenlaughter. Indoors she focuses on easy, quick recipes for busy families and kitchen basics. Outdoors, she focuses on backyard grilling and smoking to bring family and friends together. She is a lifelong learner who is always taking cooking classes on her travels overseas and stateside. Her work has been featured on MSN, Parade, Fox News, Yahoo, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and many local news outlets. She lives in Florida where you will find her outside on the water in her kayak, riding her bike on trails, and planning her next overseas adventure.