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Is It Okay For Chicken To Be A Little Pink

Is It Okay For Chicken To Be A Little Pink? Answered (2022)

Last Updated on November 13, 2022 by Shari Mason

Have you ever cooked chicken and been alarmed by the pink color it turned? Don’t worry; that’s perfectly normal. So is it okay for chicken to be a little pink? 

In this blog post, we will discuss the science behind why chicken turns pink when cooked and provide some tips for avoiding overcooked chicken.

Can Chicken Be A Little Pink And Still Be Okay?

slightly cooked chicken

The USDA recommends cooking chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. However, sometimes chicken can be a little pink even after it’s been cooked to this temperature.

This is usually due to the type of chicken or the cooking method. 

For example, younger chickens tend to have less pigment in their meat, which can cause it to appear pink even when it’s fully cooked.

Similarly, chicken that has been grilled or fried may also appear pink due to the high heat of the cooking process. 

While a little pink chicken may not be aesthetically pleasing, it is perfectly safe to eat as long as it has reached the recommended internal temperature.

Why Does It Sometimes Have A Pink Tinge?

If the chicken is cooked properly, the pink tinge is usually due to the presence of myoglobin. Myoglobin is a protein that helps to store oxygen in muscle tissue. 

It is found in higher concentrations in dark meat, such as chicken thighs, which is why these cuts of chicken are often slightly pink even when fully cooked.

Can Chicken Be Cooked For 2 Hours And Still Be Pink?

Yes. It is possible for a chicken to still be pink after cooking for two hours and reach this minimum internal temperature.

This can occur if the chicken is cooked at a lower temperature, such as in a slow cooker or oven set to a low temperature. 

As long as the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it is safe to eat, regardless of the color of the meat. 

It is a common misconception that chicken must be cooked until the meat is no longer pink to be safe to eat.

Read: How Long Will Vacuum-Sealed Chicken Last In The Fridge?

Can It Still Be Pink At 165 Degrees Temperature?

baked chicken on a skillet

Yes. It’s perfectly normal for the cooked chicken to still be slightly pink at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The pink color is due to myoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in the muscle tissue. Myoglobin is denatured when meat is cooked and turns pink to red. 

However, this process takes time, and the myoglobin can remain pink even after the meat has reached a safe internal temperature.

So, if you’re cooking chicken and it still looks slightly pink at 165 degrees, don’t worry—it’s probably just fine.

What Happens If You Eat Slightly Undercooked Chicken?

Food poisoning is the most common, which can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. More serious consequences can include bacterial infections like salmonella [1] and campylobacter. 

These infections can lead to fever, nausea, and even death in severe cases. Eating undercooked chicken can also increase your risk of contracting a virus like avian influenza.

How To Avoid Overcooked Chicken?

First, make sure to use an accurate cooking thermometer. Chicken is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Second, cook chicken pieces separately to ensure even cooking. Thick chicken breast pieces may need to be cooked longer than smaller pieces or shredded chicken. 

Third, use lidded cookware to prevent too much heat from escaping during cooking. 

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different cooking times and methods until you find a method that works for you.

FAQs

What does undercooked chicken look like?

Undercooked chicken can look different depending on how it is cooked. It can be pink, red, or brown, and the meat may be soft or rubbery.

Can cooked chicken still be pink near the bone?

Yes. When chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature (165 degrees F for poultry), the pink color near the bone is due to a chemical reaction between the protein in the meat and the pigment in the bone. 

This reaction is called “rigor mortis,” which happens when the meat dies. The muscle cells contract and squeeze out the blood, which causes the meat to turn red to pink.

How do you measure a chicken’s internal temperature?

The best way to measure the internal temperature of chicken is by using a food thermometer. You can either use a digital thermometer or an instant-read thermometer.

When you insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, it should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Should you rest the chicken before serving?

Not really. There is no need to rest the chicken before serving. Resting chicken can make it tougher and drier.

The best way to cook chicken is to cook it until it’s fully cooked through and then let it rest for a few minutes before serving. This will ensure that the meat is juicy and tender.

Final Thoughts

While it may be alarming to see a chicken still pink in the middle, this does not mean that it is necessarily undercooked and unsafe to eat. 

If the juices are running clear and the internal temperature of the meat registers at 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, then your chicken is safe to consume. 

In fact, according to some experts, chicken cooked through but still slightly pink in the middle can be more juicy and flavorful than its well-done counterpart. 

So if you’re ever in doubt, use a food thermometer to ensure your chicken is fully cooked before digging in.

Reference:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/salmonella/symptoms-causes/syc-20355329
Shari Mason

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