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Cooked Ground Turkey: How to Check for Doneness

Cooked Ground Turkey: How to Check for Doneness

Are you looking for an alternative to ground beef? An excellent alternative ground meat is ground turkey; however, it can be more challenging to determine if the meat is fully cooked.

Since ground turkey meat is very lean, the last thing you want to do is overcook it; however, if it is undercooked, there is a high risk of getting food poisoning from eating the undercooked raw meat.

The best way to determine if the ground turkey is fully cooked is by taking its temperature and looking at the color and texture. 

Can you undercook ground turkey? 

It is possible to undercook ground turkey. If the inner temperature of the meat is not at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it is unsafe to consume.

Though it is possible to serve burgers made from ground beef medium or medium-rare, it is not safe to serve ground turkey the same way. 

How can you tell if the ground turkey is undercooked? 

It is best to avoid relying solely on the appearance of ground turkey meat. Different meats by different packaging companies, such as Jennie-O, Purdue, and Hormel, all prepare the meat differently. Therefore, it may look different from the other brands when thoroughly cooked. 

When undercooked, the color and texture of the ground turkey may vary and look uneven. 

How to know when the ground turkey is fully cooked? 

Ground turkey typically turns a light brownish color when fully cooked. Additionally, you can use a meat thermometer.

According to Michigan State University, the ideal temperature for cooked ground turkey meat is between 165 degrees Fahrenheit to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. 

What color should ground turkey be once cooked? 

If your ground turkey was light pink when you started cooking it, then if there are any signs of the same pale pink color in the meat, it needs to be cooked longer.

The meat should have a consistent color, which may appear like light brownish color. 

If the meat was smoked before grounding, it might still have a slightly pink color, but it will differ from the original pink color. 

What does cooked ground turkey supposed to look like?

Raw ground turkey meat is pinkish, and when cooked, it is a light brownish color. When looking at the ground turkey, cut the largest piece and look to see if it is uniformly colored inside. A uniform color means the meat is fully cooked (easier to tell with a turkey roaster). 

How can you tell if the ground turkey has gone bad? 

The best way to tell if the ground turkey has gone bad is to smell it. If it has a sour or foul smell, it is best to toss it away.

Additionally, if the color of the meat is dull and no longer pink than when you first purchased it, give it a whiff because it may have gone bad. Another way to tell if the ground turkey has gone bad is to feel it. If it feels sticky to the touch, the meat is no longer safe to eat. 

Why does ground turkey meat go bad quickly? 

How quickly ground turkey spoils depends upon temperature and exposure to air. Bacteria and microorganisms multiply at temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, which means they can grow at fast rates.

After about two hours, ground turkey meat left at room temperature becomes full of bacteria and inedible. 

If there is doubt about whether the ground turkey is spoiled or not, it is best to err on the side of caution. First, throw the meat away because rancid poultry is one of the high-risk foods associated with food poisoning. 

What are the different methods to cook the ground turkey? 

Ground Turkey

There are three commonly used methods for cooking ground turkey – cooking it in a pan, baking it, or grilling it.

The cooking method determines how the ground turkey meat is being used and what you are cooking. It can take between 14 and 16 minutes to cook ground turkey in most meals. 

Ultimately, ground turkey meat can be used in any meal ground beef would typically be used in.

Some meals that are perfect for ground turkey meat include meatballs, meatloaf, burgers, stroganoff, tacos, sloppy joes, chili, pasta bakes, stuffed bell peppers, and stir-fry. 

How to Cook Ground Turkey in a Frying Pan

When cooking ground turkey in a frying pan, you will need ground turkey, olive oil (or any cooking oil), salt, pepper, a spatula, and a 10 to 12-inch skillet. Add the oil and preheat the pan. Place ground turkey in the pan and add seasonings to taste with salt and pepper. 

Cook on medium heat, stirring the meat regularly and dividing it with the spatula. Continue splitting the ground turkey meat into smaller bits as it continues to cook. Cook the ground turkey until it browns and has a uniform color.  

How to Bake Ground Turkey

Baking ground turkey is commonly used to prepare meals, including meatloaf. Prepare the ground turkey for baking by heating a skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add onions, carrots, and garlic, sauteeing the vegetables until softened. Mix sauteed vegetables with ground turkey, parsley, two eggs, and bread crumbs. 

Spray the inside of the meatloaf pan with nonstick cooking oil and place the turkey mixture into the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake turkey meatloaf for about 40 minutes. Use a thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the meatloaf is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When fully cooked, remove turkey meatloaf from the oven and let sit for five minutes before transferring meatloaf to a serving platter. 

How to Grill Ground Turkey

Grilling ground turkey burgers is similar to grilling hamburgers. Season the ground turkey to taste, using the same spices as you would for hamburgers.

Use the ground turkey mix to create patties and place them on the grill (gas or charcoal) over medium heat for five to six minutes per side. The juices will run clear when you have fully cooked meat, and the internal temperature should be at least 165 F. 

Serve patties on a bun with traditional hamburger toppings, such as onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and lettuce.