Can you cook beef and pork together, or is it better to keep them separate? If you’re using the same preparation technique for both—grilling kebabs, for example—it would certainly be more convenient to cook them together. But is this a good idea?
Can You Cook Beef And Pork Together?
When attempting to cook two different types of meat at the same time, you need to take the recommended internal temperature into account. Beef and pork can both be safely consumed at 145 degrees Fahrenheit, which eliminates the risk of cross-contamination. Therefore, it’s fine to cook them together.
A Word About Internal Temperature
When you’re attempting to cook two types of meat at the same time, internal temperature is the first thing you have to consider.
Not all types of meat can be safely served at the same temperature. Chicken, for example, should attain an internal temp of at least 165 before you eat it. This will ensure that any potentially hazardous bacteria are killed off in just a few seconds.
When it comes to pork, a minimum internal temp of 145 is suggested. Experts used to claim that pork had to be cooked to 160, but nowadays it’s considered safe to pull the pork from the heat at a slightly lower temperature.
The USDA offers the same recommendation for beef. Although you can consume beef at rare to medium rare (around 120 to 140 degrees) with minimal risk, it’s considered safer to heat it to 145.
This means that you should be able to cook beef and pork together without worrying about cross-contamination. As long as both the pork and the beef achieve that safe internal temperature before you serve them, you should be good to go.
It’s important to note that these guidelines refer to whole muscle cuts like steak and pork chops. Ground meat plays by a different set of rules. For more information, see Safe Temps for Ground Meat, below.
Safe Temps for Ground Meat
Despite the fact that beef and pork are technically safe to consume when cooked to 145 degrees, these rules don’t apply to ground meat products.
The bacteria that may infect humans reside on the surface of the animal’s flesh. As long as you cook a ribeye steak or a pork tenderloin to 145, those bacteria should be destroyed, as the exterior of the cut was exposed to high heat.
When you feed meat through a grinder, though, the flesh on the surface gets all mixed in with the rest. That means the meat in the center of your burger could be contaminated with bacteria.
The only way to offset the risk of infection is to cook ground meat to at least 160 degrees all the way through. This is easy enough when you’re browning the meat in a skillet, but if you’ve made burgers or meatloaf, it’s important to use a thermometer.
Do Beef and Pork Taste Good Together?
Absolutely. When you think about it, there are plenty of dishes that combine beef and pork, and with delicious results.
Meatloaf and meatballs, for example, usually call for a mixture of pork and beef. The same is true of many casseroles and pasta sauces. The pork offsets the richness of the beef without sacrificing flavor or texture.
On the grill, you can put cubes of beef and pork together on the same skewer. You’ll be cooking them to the same internal temperature, so there’s no risk of cross-contamination.
You can even marinate beef and pork in the same container, assuming you want the same flavor profile for both cuts. Just be careful not to leave the pork in the marinade for too long, or the proteins in the meat will start to break down.
Bear in mind that if you’re grilling vegetables as well, these should go on different skewers. Otherwise, the veggies will be mushy by the time the meat is cooked. For best results, add the vegetable skewers to the grill while the meat is resting.
Things To Consider When Cooking Beef and Pork Together
Obviously, larger cuts of meat will take longer to cook through than smaller ones. If you’re smoking a beef roast and a large cut of pork at the same time, try to make sure they weigh roughly the same.
If there’s a major size discrepancy between the two cuts, put the larger one on the smoker first. Wait until it’s had a chance to cook for a while before you add the smaller cut. You should estimate your cooking times based on the weight of each individual cut.
Degree of Doneness
How do you like your steak? Do you prefer to take it off the grill when it hits the 115-degree marker, or leave it until it’s warm and just slightly pink in the center?
If you’re grilling pork chops and steak together and you prefer your red meat on the rare side, plan accordingly. It might be a good idea to wait until you turn the pork chops before you slap the steak on alongside it.
Cut of Meat
Some cuts of beef, like brisket, need to cook to at least 195 degrees before they reach the desired level of tenderness. Others, such as prime rib, should be served medium rare.
Similarly, pork tenderloin is at its best when served at 145 to 150 degrees. On the other end of the spectrum, a tougher cut like Boston butt or a rack of spare ribs can cook to 200 degrees before it needs to come off the heat.
Keep these things in mind when you’re planning a mixed grill. The cuts that require a higher serving temperature need to be cooked low and slow. Smoking a pork tenderloin alongside a beef brisket might yield uneven results, even if you time it properly.
Our advice would be to choose pork and beef cuts that require similar cooking times and temperatures. That way, you can start and finish the process at roughly the same time.
Before cooking beef and pork together, consider the flavor profile you’re trying to create. While these meats can complement each other under the right circumstances, they aren’t interchangeable.
Recipes that include apples and cider, for example, are delicious with pork but won’t do much for a beef steak. Conversely, if you’re planning to use mesquite as one of your smoking woods, it’s better to stick to red meat.
On the other hand, there are plenty of seasoning options that work well with both beef and pork. Teriyaki marinades, jerk spices, Cajun spice rubs, Indonesian-style peanut sauces—the list goes on and on. Trust your instincts.
One indirect benefit of adding pork to recipes that call for beef: pork is often available at a lower price.
The next time you’re buying a supply of steak or ground beef for a party, consider stretching out the portions by offering pork as well. Depending on what you have in mind, this technique can be a real money-saver.
Try mixing some ground pork in with your beef before shaping the meat into patties. The sweetness of the pork will add a whole new dimension to your grilled burgers. A 50-50 ratio is preferable, but feel free to experiment.
Since beef and pork are both safe to consume when cooked to 145 degrees, it’s fine to cook them together. The trick is to find cuts that require similar cooking times and techniques. Otherwise, you’ll be making more work for yourself.