Why It’s Sometimes OK To Eat Chicken That’s Pink After Cooking

Why It’s Sometimes OK To Eat Chicken That’s Pink After Cooking

You cut into your fully-cooked chicken and see pink. Panic time? Throw it back in the oven? Not necessarily.

Picture: [puamelia]

The Kitchn reminds us that when all parts of the chicken have reached at an internal temperature of at least 165F (74C), it’s safe to eat, regardless of colour:

The USDA further explains that even fully cooked poultry can sometimes show a pinkish tinge in the meat and juices. This is particularly true of young chickens whose bones and skin are still very permeable. Pigment in the bone marrow can colour the surrounding tissue and make the bones themselves look very dark. Hemoglobin in the muscles can likewise react with air during cooking to give the meat a pinkish colour even after cooking. The chicken’s feed and whether it’s been frozen can also affect the final colour.

We’ve probably all been warned to stay away from pink poultry meat thanks to salmonella concerns, but your thermometer, not your eyes, are the best guide. That said, if you’re not cooking and taking the temperature of the meat yourself, it’s probably best to avoid pinkish poultry.

Chicken Still Pink After Cooking? Don’t Panic [The Kitchn]


  • You can cook chicken at lower temperatures quite safely, you just need to hold it there longer, e.g. via sous vide. However, in my experience there is a VERY fine line between succulence and a raw-ish texture, one that’s kinda off-putting even if you like your steaks rare.

    • That is true. There’s something unappealing about eating chicken that is actually rare (not pink), even if it doesn’t make you sick. Where as succulent chicken can be white and moist/juicy but definitely not dry.

  • This doesn’t explain why my food thermometer shows 87°C as the safe temperature for poultry. I assumed it was because it’s from an American brand and Americans apparently like their food extra well done. The 74°C is consistent with what I found at this more local source:

    Even at 87°C which I find to be way overcooked, I found that chicken can still be quite pink. I’ve also found that chicken wrapped in bacon or ham (mignon/cordon bleu) to have an extra pink appearance despite being cooked. Generally though I’ve found you won’t get any blood or fluid in the meat when it’s cooked to a safe temperature. In the end though I’ll go with the temperature over appearance because there’s nothing like overcooking your meat to the point of ruining it and yet still finding it pink inside.

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