Where To Insert Temp Probe In Turkey

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Do you know exactly when you should be probing your turkey? First, you need a meat thermometer to get an accurate reading, but where do you insert them?

You want to have two probes ready to insert into the thickest part of the thigh and breast meat but because we are looking for two different temps, Ill will explain more below. 

Where To Insert Temp Probe In Turkey

You want to have two probes that you can insert into the thickest part of the thigh and breast meat.

– The safe temperature to consume breast meat is 165°F.

– The safe temperature to consume thigh or leg meat is 180°F.

White Meat (Breast) vs. Dark Meat (Leg & Thigh)

The white breast meat from Turkey has a lower target temperature reading. This is mainly due to the protein structure and low-fat content. The dense proteins and water content allow quicker cooking and a temperature difference.

Dark meat contains more fat and connective tissue which takes longer to break down. The fat acts as an insulator that retains more heat during cooking.

A higher temperature allows for the fat and connective tissue to break down. Remember the difference between each meat before your probe placement.

Looking for Turkey Recipes?

Here are some of my favorites turkey recipes, they are tested to ensure you end up with the juiciest bird each and every time.

Turkey Smoked on a Pit Boss

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Turkey Smoked on a Gas Smoker

Don’t forget your needs sides for your turkey!

Why It’s Important To Have Proper Probe Placement

Monitoring The Safe-To-Eat Internal Temperature

The correct placement of temperature probes ensures your turkey is cooked. Above are the minimal correct temperatures for both dark meat and brown.

Consuming raw turkey will ruin your holiday season! Increasing the risk of foodborne illness from your underdone turkey.

Helps With Timings & Organization

Cooking a turkey is no easy feat with the main issue of organizing general cook times. Knowing the exact temperature of the meat gives you way more control when cooking!

Prevents Overcooking

Thirdly, the correct placement of your probe will ensure you don’t overcook the meat.

How The Temperature Probe Works

We should all know a temperature probe is a chef’s favorite tool. But how does it work?

An instant-read meat thermometer is used to measure the internal temp of… meat! The metal probe has a semiconductor that is sensitive to changes in temp.

The sensor isn’t located right at the end as you may think. Instead, it is about an inch down and toward the middle of your probe. This is very important to remember before placement

Note: Read further as we cover the different varieties of cooking probes best for a turkey.

Types Of Thermometers for Accurate Temperature Readings

You want any type of digital thermometer that you can monitor in real time. There are many varieties, from an oven-proof thermometer you can leave in the turkey. Or a standard meat probe that you can insert quickly and then remove with minimal effort.

Avoid The Bone When Inserting A Food Thermometer

Touching a turkey bone when taking a temperature reading will be inaccurate. Bones conduct and retain heat differently from the proteins in turkey meat.

Which means the bone may be hotter or cooler than the temp of your food. Be especially careful when inserting the probe into the dark meat to avoid the leg bones.

Do I Take The Temperature Reading From An Uncarved Turkey?

Yes, you should always take the temperature when your turkey is whole. Carving the turkey will considerably lower the temperature of your meat. It will also be more challenging, as the individual pieces are smaller.

How To Calibrate A Meat Probe In An Ice Bath

An ice bath sets the standard and well-known conditions to work from. In this case, the condition is the point of freezing.

– Grab a standard drinking glass or mug and fill it with ice and water.

– Let it stand for a minute for the temperature to average and the water to get cold.

– The ice water should be a consistent 32°F or 0°C.

This temperature is known as the base for your calibration.

Summarizing Where To Insert Probes In A Turkey

I hope you now understand where to place a temperature probe in a turkey. Remember…

– You will monitor 2 separate temperatures for the white and dark meat.

– Understand the type of thermometer you have.

– Calibrate your probes as per above.

– The sensor is an inch down, so you must position it accordingly.

– Insert into the thickest part of the breast and the thigh/leg.

– Avoid bones for an inaccurate reading.

– Do not carve the turkey before you know it’s at a safe temperature.

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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