Understanding the Categories of Doneness

Understanding the Categories of Doneness

Many people disagree as to what a medium rare or rare steak is. This is because there can be slight variations in these categories based on region, cut of meat, or individual preference. Even though some people have slightly different criteria, the categories of doneness and each one’s characteristics generally include the following:


Rare-this means meat that is mostly red in the center and only slightly cooked on the outside.  Beef that is cooked rare will have an internal temperature of between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. If the internal temperature is less than 120 degrees, it is considered to be raw meat and not safe for consumption.

Medium rare meat is slightly more done than rare meat is. A steak cooked medium rare will be pink or dark red on the inside and light or medium brown on the outside. The internal temperature of medium rare meat is about 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Medium steaks have a pink center with bands of light gray or brown inside as well. They are slightly darker on the outside and have light juices flowing from them. Their internal temperatures will read between 140 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Medium-well beef will have only a thin band of pink inside and little or no flowing juices. It will be medium or dark brown on the outside with internal temperatures registering from 150 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

Well done steaks do not have any pink or red inside them whatsoever. They will also be very dark on the outside, and may even appear to be charred. Their internal temperatures will be at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.