Important Temperatures in Cooking


145°F/63°C -- Egg whites begin to thicken 

150°F/ 65°C--Egg whites become a tender solid although ovomucin yolk cords will coagulate much higher. The yolk protein starts to thicken.

158°F/70°C-- Egg yolks set.

165°F/73°C-- Whole egg sets. If eggs are cooked at 212F for too long they get rubbery as proteins continue to coagulate and water is pushed out from between protein molecules.

NOTES: Egg white contains approximately 40 different proteins with Ovalbumin (54%), and Ovotransferrin 12% being the major components. Ovalbumin begins to set at 180°F/80C while Ovotransferrin only begins to set when heated to 140°F/60C. Egg yolks contain lipoproteins which coagulate at about 158°F.

If eggs are cooked at 212°F for too long they will just get rubbery as proteins continue to coagulate and water gets pushed out from between protein molecules.

Keep in mind salmonella is killed instantly when subjected to a temperature of 165° F.


120°F/50°C -- Meat develops a white opacity as heat sensitive myosin denatures. Coagulation produces large enough clumps to scatter light. Red meat turns pink.

140°F/60°C -- Red myoglobin begins to denature into tan colored hemichrome. Meat turns from pink to brown-grey color.

140°F/60°C -- Meat suddely releases lots of juice, shrinks noticebly, and becomes chewy as a result of collagen denaturing.

160°F/70°C -- Connective tissue collagen begins to dissolve to gelatin.

NOTES: At 140°F changes are caused by the denaturing of collagen in the cells. Meat served at this temperature med-rare is changing from juicy to dry. At 160°F/ 70°C connective tissue collagen begins to dissolve to gelatin. This however is a very lengthy process. The fibers are still stiff and dry but meat seems more tender. Source: Harold McGee -- On Food and Cooking 


158°F /70°C -- Breast meat in birds gets dry as collagen contracts and meat gets tougher.

165°F/ 73°C -- Leg meat is full of connective tissue and is chewy if cooked below this temperature.

NOTES: Collagen (fibrous protein constituting a good part of meat) contracts and gets tougher over 70°C/158°F. Thus, the tip is to cook below this temperature to keep the meat tender for breast meat. 


Caramelization or caramelisation (see spelling differences) is the oxidation of sugar, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color. Caramelization is a type of non-enzymatic browning reaction. As the process occurs, volatile chemicals are released producing the characteristic caramel flavor. The reaction involves the removal of water (as steam) and the break down of the sugar. The caramelization reaction depends on the type of sugar. Sucrose and glucose caramelize around 160C (320F) and fructose caramelizes at 110C (230F). 

Caramelization temperatures Sugar Temperature 

Fructose 110° C, 230° F 

Galactose 160° C, 320° F 

Glucose 160° C, 320° F 

Maltose 180° C, 356° F 

Sucrose 160° C, 320° F 

The highest rate of the color development is caused by fructose as caramelization of fructose starts at 110C. Baked goods made from honey or fructose syrup will therefore give a darker color. Source:


285°F (140°C) -- Browning or the Maillard Reaction begins 

NOTES: Browning, or the Maillard reaction, creates flavor and changes the color of food. Maillard reactions generally only begin to occur above 285°F (140°C). Until the Maillard reaction occurs meat will have less flavor. Shown above are two identical dishes cooked (left) below (140°C) and right at much higher temperatures. Both caramelization and the maillard reaction only occur on the right producing the noticeable brown color. 


160°F/70°C -- Temperature needed to kill E.coli and Salmonella.


While Salmonella is killed instantly at temperatures above 160F keeping the temperature for longer periods of time at lower temperatures will also be effective. See the chart below.

Times for given temperature, fat level, and species needed to obtain 7-log10 lethality of Salmonella*
------------------------------------ fat%=5 ----------------------

temp F  chicken turkey
150 2.8 min 3.7 min
155 47.7 sec 1.2 min
160 14.8 sec 26.1 sec


Times for given temperature, fat level, and species needed to obtain 7-log10 lethality of Salmonella*

-------------------------------- fat%=12 ------------------------------------

temp F  chicken turkey
150 4.2 min 4.9 min 
155 54.4 sec 1.3 min
160 16.9 sec 26.9 sec


For more data see: Complete Time Temperature Tables