Is Chicken Still Pink After Cooking?

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By: Rachae's Nosheri


Chicken should only be considered fully cooked when its juices run clear, but is it harmful if its flesh still retains some color?

Once an internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, there’s no reason to panic over pinking chicken meat. Here are a few potential reasons for its pink hue: 1. Myoglobin.

Cooking Time

Color of cooked chicken depends on its length of heating time. Cooking times depend on factors such as cut size and method (baking, frying or stir-frying). A larger piece will take longer because heat takes more time to penetrate its center; additionally, oven or pan temperature plays an important role as does chicken temperature at entry into these processes.

Myoglobin levels in chicken meat affect its color as well, with more myoglobin leading to darker colors while less will produce pale or even white hues. Therefore, deboning before cooking ensures all myoglobin from outside is removed and all can be evenly distributed throughout its surface.

Another factor affecting the color of chickens is how long they have been stored in the refrigerator. If left too long in there, its color can change significantly; becoming pale or yellow while even possibly emitting rancid smells.

When cooking chicken, it’s essential to use a meat thermometer to assess for doneness. A meat thermometer will tell you whether the internal temperature has reached at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternately, inserting a knife into the bird and looking for clear juices is also a reliable method.

As with other foods, color should not be the sole determinant of whether a chicken dish is properly cooked. If its hue changes from yellow or orange to brown after overcooking, that indicates an unsafe state. Furthermore, different color changes could indicate contamination by bacteria or viruses.

If you own a digital probe thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of a chicken breast and set an alarm when its temperature reaches 162 F. When this alarm beeps, remove from oven and allow chicken to rest for at least 30 minutes prior to carving – this allows its temperature to continue reducing to safe levels for consumption.


Many are aware of the dangers associated with undercooked poultry, such as salmonella and campylobacter. These bacteria commonly found in chicken are known to cause life-threatening illnesses like typhoid fever, foodborne illness, gastroenteritis or diarrhea which may result in severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and fever; necessitating hospitalization for treatment.

Although cooking poultry to its safe internal temperature is important, some consumers remain reluctant to eat their poultry due to its color or texture. They may shudder at instructions such as “cook until no longer pink and juices run clear” when reading up on proper preparation of poultry dishes. But appearance and juiceness alone do not indicate whether a dish has reached full cook status.

Recent studies have demonstrated that chicken can only be safely consumed when its internal temperature has reached an appropriate threshold, regardless of its color or other external influences such as age or source of production or slaughtering methods. A thermometer is the only reliable way of guaranteeing that poultry has been cooked to such temperatures as to eradicate harmful bacteria.

Apart from these factors, when chicken is cooked it may also turn slightly pink due to nitric oxide gasses interacting with myoglobin proteins to change their color and cause changes. Younger chicken or bones removed varieties tend to look pinker.

However, light pink chicken with juicy texture should usually be fine to consume. Mold growth indicates spoilage and should be discarded immediately; for greater assurance that 165-degree Fahrenheit has been reached before consumption is guaranteed.


Chicken cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit may still appear pink after reaching this target, due to multiple reasons. Some may use color as an indicator, while the most accurate way to determine doneness is via temperature readings; once reached, chicken can safely be consumed.

Pinking around the bone occurs due to pigment seeping out from bone marrow into meat, although it does not necessarily indicate undercooking of chickens. Young chickens’ bones contain more myoglobin and therefore this coloration could also occur.

Myoglobin is a protein that transports oxygen throughout muscle tissue. It can be found both light and dark meat, though more concentrated in leg and thigh muscles – hence their classification as “dark meat”. Myoglobin can leak out from bone marrow into meat, leaving pink-tinged bones and joints.

Myoglobin can often become denatured during the freezing process, which indicates that the chicken was properly prepared without being exposed to harmful bacteria or parasites. Though not ideal, this does indicate proper cooking without risk from bacteria or parasites.

When it comes to cooking chicken, many are wary about eating pink-tinged pieces as they fear they have not been fully cooked and could pose a health risk. But in reality, eating slightly pink chicken is perfectly safe to consume provided it has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit or above. For added peace of mind when eating pink chicken, a food thermometer will provide accurate readings so there are no doubts whether your poultry has reached full cooking temperatures.


Hemoglobin is a red-colored protein found in vertebrate blood that binds oxygen and transports it to tissues. Its iron-containing tetrahedral structure comprises four tightly bound heme groups that bind tightly and two non-heme proteins that don’t covalently bind. Each hemoglobin molecule can hold four oxygen molecules when oxygenated; when reduced its color changes to purplish blue. Hemoglobin can also be found in invertebrates, fungi and plants.

Hemoglobin can remain in cooked chicken meat, creating its characteristic pinkish hue. This could be caused by any one of several methods for preparation such as smoking or grilling, as well as factors like its diet, slaughtering methods, and type of bones it possesses.

Some types of poultry meat can become pink after being cooked because the bones and surrounding meat contain more hemoglobin than other parts. Young chickens in particular often appear pink due to thin skins and less dense muscles which allow oven gases to more easily access their internal regions and react with hemoglobin in these birds’ bodies.

Chicken meat often has its characteristic pink hue due to a higher content of myoglobin due to the muscle use for expelling energy, such as when flapping wings or walking around. Myoglobin denatures more quickly than hemoglobin when exposed to heat, thus leading to steak turning from deep red to grayish brown in hue.

The USDA advises that chicken should be cooked until its juices run clear and its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, though this does not guarantee doneness; to make sure your chicken is safe to consume use a thermometer to accurately gauge whether or not its finished. Even after it has been fully cooked bacteria can still exist within its meat or juices due to improper storage or handling while frozen and thawing out.

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Rachae's Nosheri

Rachael’s Nosheri is a Jewish deli located in 120 S. 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. We serve breakfast and lunch comfort foods and deli sandwiches. Our extensive menu and reasonable prices make us a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Our food is pretty good if you’re in the mood for deli sandwiches, and we’re known for our American, Bagels, Breakfast, Lunch Specials, and Sandwiches.

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