When you first learn to cook with ground turkey, it can be a bit tricky to master. Unlike chicken breasts or thighs, ground meat is made up of various cuts and pieces of different muscles. It can be hard to know how long to cook it until it’s done without sacrificing its moisture and flavor. But don’t worry! Ground turkey is an easy cut of meat to work with once you know exactly how to do it. Here are some tips on how to know when the ground turkey is done so you can enjoy the best results every time you make a ground turkey recipe.
How To Know When Ground Turkey Is Done
1. How to tell if the ground turkey is done using a thermometer
The best way to know when the ground turkey is done is by using a meat thermometer, like this one. When you cook with ground turkey, it’s important to use a meat thermometer because the color of the meat doesn’t always tell you if it’s safe to eat. For example, pink turkey breast isn’t necessarily underdone. It could be perfectly safe and tasty! But if you aren’t sure, then use your meat thermometer.
2. Pulling apart the meat
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, another way to tell if the ground turkey is done is by pulling the pieces apart with your hands. If they are easily pulled apart and are no longer pink inside, that means they are fully cooked. This method works well when cooking ground turkey in recipes that don’t require high heat or long cooking times (like this ground turkey and vegetable soup).
3. Cooking the meat to 165 degrees
The USDA recommends cooking all poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. Ground turkey is no different. If you’re cooking ground turkey in a recipe that requires high heat and a long cooking time (like this spicy turkey meatloaf), use this method to know when it’s done.
4. Color of the meat doesn’t tell you if it’s safe to eat
The color of the cooked ground turkey doesn’t tell you if it’s safe to eat or not. Pink ground turkey can be perfectly safe and delicious! It doesn’t mean anything if the meat is pink inside, so don’t worry about that when cooking ground turkey! No one likes undercooked meat, but worrying about pink meat just adds unnecessary stress while you cook dinner! So stop using color as your guide for when the meat is done and instead use a meat thermometer.
5. The juices run clear
If you’re cooking a ground turkey on the stovetop, one way to tell if it’s done is by using a spoon to check the juices in the pan. If they run clear, that means the meat is fully cooked. If you’re cooking ground turkey in the oven, you can use this trick to know when it’s done too! Just use a spoon to check if there are any pink juices left in the pan. If there aren’t any pink juices left after about 20 minutes of cooking, then it’s done!
6. Take it out of the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes
The final way to know when the ground turkey is done is by taking it out of the pan and letting it rest for 5 minutes before serving or cutting into it. This allows all of the moisture from the inside of the meat to evaporate and be reabsorbed into other parts of the meat, which helps keep it moist and juicy. Plus, it gives you a little time to finish up any other parts of the recipe and make sure everything is ready to eat!
What Are Some Signs That Your Ground Turkey Is Undercooked?
1. It doesn’t look done
Undercooked ground turkey is usually a little pink with some pink juice in the pan. If you’re cooking a recipe that calls for the meat to be cooked all the way through, this is not what you want. You want a ground turkey that looks like it just came out of the package. The color should be even and there shouldn’t be any juice in the pan if it’s done correctly.
2. It doesn’t smell right
If your ground turkey smells rubbery or fishy, then it’s not ready yet! Ground turkey needs to cook all the way through to get rid of that smell, so keep cooking! If your recipe calls for browning your ground turkey first, make sure you do this until it is nicely browned but not burnt before moving on to the next step. This will ensure that your meat stays tender and juicy when you cook it all the way through later on.
3. It’s not as tender as it should be
If you’re using ground turkey for a recipe that calls for a very tender cut of meat, you might end up with meat that’s still tough or chewy. This is usually because the meat wasn’t cooked all the way through. So how do you know when the ground turkey is done? The best way to tell is by cutting into it! Here are two ways to cut into your ground turkey to check its doneness.
- First, always remember to thaw your ground turkey first. This is important because it allows the meat to cook progressively and evenly. You’ll also want to make sure you give yourself enough time for it to thaw completely. It could take anywhere between 24 hours and a full day depending on the size of the meat and how much you’re defrosting.
- When using a microwave, set it on defrost mode and remove any packaging that comes with your ground turkey. Then, place it in the microwave and let it sit for at least 20 minutes before cooking with it.
- Once the ground turkey has been properly defrosted, you can begin cooking with it! Cook in small batches so that each piece of meat can be cooked thoroughly without being overcooked or dried out as a result of being cooked too long. You can easily cook three or four servings of ground turkey at a time if you have a smaller stove or limited cooking space.
Tips For Cooking Ground Turkey In The Oven
1. Use a meat thermometer
When you’re cooking turkey or chicken, the USDA recommends using a food thermometer to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. You can insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and leave it there until it beeps to let you know that your meat has reached an internal temperature of 165°F. This is a good indicator of when your ground turkey is done.
2. Check for doneness with your eyes and hands
If you don’t own a meat thermometer, there are still ways to determine if the ground turkey is done. Listen to how it sounds while cooking in the oven: When your turkey is done, it should be making a sizzling sound as it cooks in its juices. If you press on top of your ground turkey with tongs or a spatula, its surface should spring back quickly when you release pressure. If not, continue cooking until your ground turkey is firm and resilient.
3. Check the color
The color of the turkey will also change as it cooks. It should be a golden brown, but not burnt. As ground turkey cooks, its juices will start to evaporate and its surface will get drier. If your turkey is still wet-looking when you take it out of the oven, it’s not quite done yet. The same goes for if your turkey has a dark brown or black color on its surface. This means that your meat is overcooked and dry.
4. Check for doneness with a thermometer
If you’re still unsure after checking on your ground turkey every few minutes, use a thermometer to confirm when it’s done. When cooking meat in the oven, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of your meat so that it doesn’t touch any bones or fat (which can make it inaccurate). Keep in mind that you should still cook ground turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
Ground turkey is an easy cut of meat to work with once you know how to do it. All you need to do is make sure to defrost it before cooking and use an instant-read thermometer to know when it’s done. You can also bake or fry your turkey in a large pan to add more flavor. Ground turkey is low in calories, high in protein, and gluten-free, making it a healthy substitute for ground beef in many recipes. If you are still not sure when your ground turkey is done, then try following these tips for the best results every time.