Cooking meat well is essential for the final taste of your dish and your safety. Undercooked poultry can lead to food poisoning, such as salmonella.
So, you want to avoid this type of intoxication at all costs, and making sure your meat is well done is the best way to stay safe and enjoy a delicious meal with your friends and family.
The main rule says that ground turkey is cooked when the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165 degrees F.
But there are other aspects to consider to decide if your ground turkey is done.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about cooking your turkey right!
What color should ground turkey be when cooked?
While the raw state of ground turkey is a shade of pink, when it is exposed to top heat, this meat tends to change in appearance.
The best way to describe the color of ground turkey is light brown shade and slightly translucent.
Also check: Can you Cook Frozen Ground Turkey?
As the meat continues to cook until it is well done, its translucent appearance will become more opaque.
It is not unusual for the turkey ground meat to appear in shades of white and grey when cooked.
Also, the seasonings added to the meat will have a significant impact on the way it looks like.
So, if you add a lot of herbs to your meat, you will notice a greenish tint to it. Same happens if you add ground carrots and your dish has a slight orange shade.
Knowing all the ingredients in your recipe is crucial to establish the color of your ground meat.
On the other hand, most recipes call for the ground turkey to be cooked by itself, before adding the rest of the ingredients. If this is the case, you will be able to inspect its color with no alterations.
More often than not, your cooked ground turkey will be a light shade of brown on the outside and white on the inside.
This is different from ground beef, which turns a darker brown color when it is fully cooked.
How long should you cook ground turkey?
Ground turkey will be done faster than other types of turkey when you cook it on the stove. You can expect this type of meat to be done in 13 to 18 minutes.
For the ground turkey to be well cooked, it needs to reach a temperature of 165 degrees F.
If you plan to cook your ground turkey in the oven, such as in a meatloaf recipe, it will take more than double the time it takes on the stove.
You will need to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and let your meat cook for around 40 minutes.
When you cook your meat in the oven, using a meat thermometer is the best way to decide whether your dish is well done or needs more time.
Is it OK for ground turkey to be a little pink?
While raw ground turkey has a pink hue, the meat loses this color as it is exposed to heat. But many people wonder if it is safe to consume ground turkey that still has a little pink in its appearance.
The answer is relatively simple. As soon as you check the meat temperature and this is above the minimum limit, you can consider it safe for consumption.
Usually, the cooked ground turkey will not have a pink color but a light brown shade. But if your meat still shows a shy shade of pink while the thermometer shows it is well done, you can consume it without any safety concerns.
But if the meat is well done, why can you still see a pink shade? According to scientists, the main reason for that might be the interaction between the hemoglobin in the meat and the gasses of a heated electric or gas oven.
This interaction generates a chemical reaction that preserves the shade of pink in the meat, even beyond its optimum cooking point.
The same chemical reaction happens in cured meats or smoked hams that also maintain a shade of pink even though they are cooked.
If you notice large portions of pink ground turkey in your dish, it is better to not eat it so you don’t expose yourself to any risks.
Can you undercook ground turkey?
You sure can undercook ground turkey, but it is not recommended to consume it until it is well done so you avoid food poisoning.
If you are not checking the meat’s inner temperature to ensure it is safe to consume, you could undercook it and potentially put your guests at risk.
You can avoid this by inspecting the shade of the meat as it is cooking and keeping an eye on the cooking time. These two aspects will give you a fair indication regarding how well your turkey is cooked.
While serving burgers, for instance, made of beef that is not always cooked, such as rare or medium rare, is not a healthy option for ground turkey meat.
Can you overcook ground turkey?
Cooking your ground turkey meat too much is also a possibility. This type of meat is one of the easiest to overcook.
Turkey meat is low in fat, meaning it will only take a few minutes to overcook. The risk of overcooking your ground turkey makes it much more essential to check the internal temperature to ensure you avoid such an outcome.
Overcooked turkey is drier and has a milder flavor. It will also look more crumbly and change the texture of your dish.
So, by cooking your turkey too long, you will also compromise its taste. Monitoring your cooking time and the meat’s internal temperature can help you avoid an overcooked ground turkey that can compromise your entire recipe!
The best way to cook ground turkey
Being one of the healthiest lean meats, the turkey should also be cooked correctly to enjoy its delicious taste and healthy levels.
Regardless of the recipe you want to make with ground turkey; specific tips will enhance its taste and flavor exponentially.
Adding olive oil can help your ground meat maintain a juicy texture and conserve flavor. The great aspect of ground turkey recipes is that they are not set in stone. You can get creative with seasonings and the rest of the ingredients to create the best dish for your taste.
While you can cook your ground turkey in a slow cooker, cooking it on the stove or in the oven is still recommended.
It can take even a couple of hours to cook your dish in a slow cooker, and you might not even be very fond of the taste.
Many chefs think cooking a ground turkey on the stove is the best option for most recipes. This is the best method because it gives your turkey a delicious flavor, it is fast, and the risk of overcooking it is minimal.
How can you tell when your ground turkey is bad?
Like any other type of meat, a bad ground turkey will have a different smell and color. A little bit of a sour scent is a sign that the meat is not safe for consumption anymore.
As it goes bad, the color of the meat will change too. The shade of it could have hues of green or even blue. If you notice such changes in your ground turkey, it is better not to consume it.
A less common but still possible sign is the changes in the meat’s texture. Ground turkey with a slimy and sticky texture is probably not good anymore.
Ground turkey should always be stored in the fridge or the freezer because it goes bad fast if left at room temperature.
The maximum time you should leave this meat at room temperature is two hours. If you decide to store your meat in the fridge, put it in an airtight container.
These containers will not allow bacteria to reach the meat and multiply, making your ground turkey last longer and in better conditions.
And as always, when you doubt the quality of your poultry, you should throw it away rather than consume it.
Ground turkey can be the main ingredient in various foods, from burgers to soups, stews, meatballs, and even pasta.
You can cook it in a variety of ways as well and use your favorite herbs and seasonings on it. But one thing stays the same when it comes to this type of meat: the temperature it needs to reach to be well done.
Make sure your ground turkey cooks up to 165 degrees F at minimum before you consume it, and also check the quality of the meat before cooking it.
If you have these two aspects in mind, you will enjoy a healthy and nutritious meal with a rich flavor every time you cook with ground turkey!