The oven is an easy and versatile way to cook almost any type of meat, but it can be a bit daunting if you haven’t done it before. Read on to find out the best way to cook different types of meat in your oven.
Before you start
When cooking meat in the oven, you will need one essential piece of kitchen equipment—a meat thermometer. This will allow you to test the interior of your meat and ensure it is cooked to the correct temperature. You will also need a sturdy, deep oven tray.
Tips for cooking all types of meats
- If you want to achieve a crispy golden outside to your meat, you can start off the cooking at a higher temperature, then reduce the temperature to the one recommended below once a crust has formed.
- Using the fan setting in your oven will help you achieve a crispy exterior. If you choose to use a fan setting, you can reduce the temperature you set your oven to by 10–30°F.
- Remember that the internal temperature of your meat will continue to rise about 5–7 degrees after being removed from the oven, so take this into account when taking the temperature of your meat.
- After you have cooked meat in the oven, it is important to let it rest before cutting into it. The juices need time to redistribute throughout the meat, which is why it needs to rest. Otherwise, the juices will run out when the meat is cut, leaving you with dry meat.
To cook chicken in the oven
When roasting chicken, the general rule is to preheat the oven to 350°F and cook it for 30 minutes per pound. If the chicken has been stuffed, the roasting time will need to be increased by 15 minutes for a small chicken and 30 minutes for a large one.
To cook a turkey in the oven
It might seem like you should be able to use the same formula for roast chicken when roasting turkey, but that isn’t the case. Due to the turkey’s large size, it needs to be calculated differently.
The simplest way to calculate turkey roasting times is to cook it for 13 minutes per pound at 350°F for an unstuffed turkey (about three hours for a 12- to 14-pound turkey) or for 15 minutes per pound at 350°F for a stuffed turkey.
You will need to check the temperature about three-quarters of the way through using your meat thermometer, then every 10 minutes. Roast until the temperature reads 165°F when checked at the thickest part of the thigh meat and the thickest part of the breast meat.
To cook beef in the oven
Except for tenderloin, most roast beef cuts should be cooked at 350°F. Cooking time for beef cuts is determined by personal preference as to whether you like your beef rare or well done.
- For rare beef—Cook for 20 minutes per pound and ensure the internal temperature reaches 140°F.
- For medium beef—Cook for 22 minutes per pound, and ensure the internal temperature reaches 160°F.
- For well-done beef—Cook for 24 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 170°F.
Tenderloin, on the other hand, must be roasted at 400°F. The internal temperature for tenderloin also differs. For rare, the internal temperature will be 115–120°F, for medium it will be 120–125°F and for well done it will be 130–135°F.
To cook ribs in the oven
Standing rib roast cooking times also vary based on your preference.
- For rare—Cook for 20–25 minutes per pound, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 140°F.
- For medium—Cook 25–30 minutes per pound to reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
- For well-done—Cook for 30–35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 170°F.
To cook lamb in the oven
When cooking lamb in the oven, as with other types of meat, the key is to calculate the cooking time based on the weight. At a temperature of 325°F, the lamb should be cooked for about 20 minutes per pound, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat reads 145°F.
To cook a pork roast in the oven
When roasting pork, make sure the internal temperature reaches 180°F. This is extremely important from a food safety perspective, as undercooked pork can lead to foodborne illness such as trichinosis.
To begin cooking your pork roast, preheat the oven to 350°F. The cook times for different cuts are as follows:
- Center cut—40 minutes per pound
- Pork spare ribs—40 minutes per pound
- Pork loin—45 minutes per pound
- Rolled pork loin—50 minutes per pound
Remember, these cooking times are just a guide, and you need to verify the internal temperature with a thermometer.
To cook a ham in the oven
Whole ham is a popular meat to cook in the oven, particularly during the holidays. The length of time it is cooked will vary depending on weight and whether or not you are starting out with uncooked ham or a precooked ham.
- Uncooked whole ham—This should be cooked for about 20 minutes per pound at 350°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Precooked ham—This should be cooked for about 15 minutes per pound at 350°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 130°F.
By following the temperature and cooking times in our guideline, you can feel confident in cooking different types of meat in your oven!