Test Doneness Without a Meat Thermometer

Fancy schmancy meat thermometers are cool and all, but what about those instances where you just don’t have one? Who, when they’re going camping, says, “Honey, we should bring the meat thermometer!” Who calls a friend to make sure there will be one at the next barbeque? The point is that it’s easy to test how well meat is cooked with this simple trick. All you need are two hands.

For each level of doneness, you’ll touch a finger to your thumb. Keep your hand relaxed. Then, using the opposite hand, poke the fleshy part at the base of your thumb. Feel that? That’s how a cut of meat would feel if you poked it with your finger when it’s cooked to that point. See, easy!


For rare, touch index finger to thumb. Do the poke test. That’s what rare meat feels like.

For medium-rare, touch middle finger to thumb.

For medium, touch ring finger to thumb.

For medium-well, touch pinkie to thumb.

Last but not least, for well-done (if you’re cooking well-done steak, we need to have a chat :) ), open your hand and poke the center of your palm.

For chicken or pork (where generally, well-done is the way to go), use the open palm test.

Try it and let me know what you think in the comments!


5 thoughts on “Test Doneness Without a Meat Thermometer

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