What temperature should meat be before cooking?

Hi all, first time caller here. I’ve looked and looked and I can’t find the answer to a very fundamental question. All the recipes show cooking times and temperatures but what temp should the meat be BEFORE cooking? In other words, should it come straight from the fridge to the cooking or should it come to room temperature first? For example, I would assume a chicken breast at 38 degrees would take longer to cook than one which is at room temp to start with. Thanks.

Welcome Kev, if you’re new to SV cooking you will progress to competency faster in your new cooking technique by ignoring your conventional cooking knowledge and experience. - Except maybe the food safety rules you have been following, - or maybe not. Chicken breasts at room temperature scare me.

To answer your initial temperature question, it’s as cold as possible. Cold raw food is safe food. Uncooked food at room temperature is incubating pathogens and potentially hazardous.

You didn’t ask why, but i’m going to tell you anyway to help you understand my first comment. Heat transfer in SV cooking is so much more effective than in conventional cooking that initial food temperature makes little difference in cooking time. What is important is knowing how long it takes for heat to reach equilibrium throughout the food item and that’s always thickness dependant.

I’m going to refer you to a secret site many of us have found useful in understanding the fundamentals of SV cooking. I hope you will discover Doug Baldwin’s time and temperature tables particularly helpful.


Thank you so much for the quick reply. All makes sense. I’ll check out the site below as well. Thanks again!

You’re welcome. I’m glad you found the information useful.

SV cooking can be challenging at first, so don’t hesitate to ask if you have more questions.

Happy cooking, - and keep well.

Many cooking sites will instruct you to remove your meat from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. This is a dangerous practice as it can take a thicker piece of meat hours to reach room temperature in the middle. During this time the meat is often in the danger zone. Be safe and keep it cool until you are ready to cook.