Why is Smoked Chicken Pink? What You Need to Know


pink smoked chicken

There is nothing quite like the taste of smoked chicken. Many people consider it to be superior to grilled, baked, and even fried chicken. The same could be said for almost any type of meat. Once you use a smoker to prepare it, you may never look back again.

Despite its popularity and flavor, there is a lingering question on the minds of many people; why is smoked chicken pink?

Due to the slow process of smoking at a low temperature, a protein found in the muscle and marrow, myoglobin is not fully broken down. Myoglobin has a purple color, which combines with gasses produced by smoking and colors the meat pink.

The pink color seen in smoked chicken has nothing to do with it not being fully cooked. This pink color is not something that is limited to chicken. In most smoked meat, a colored ring, usually known as a ‘smoke ring’ is left behind. Once the meat has been colored in such a way, it will not disappear, even if you cook it more. Of course, if you cook chicken after smoking it, you are just overcooking it and will likely dry it to a leathery consistency.

Why is Smoked Chicken Pink Near the Bone?

It is also common for the pink coloring in smoked chicken to be seen more near the joints and bone. That is due to the same reason why the rest of the meat may be pink. It has to do with the protein, myoglobin. Since that protein is in the joints and marrow in higher concentrations, the meat is naturally colored in that way.

As long as you are smoking chicken properly, there is no reason for you to be concerned about the safety of the meat. Even if the meat is pink (as smoked meat should be), you can rest easy. Proper smoking techniques produce a safe and delicious finished product that you can enjoy at any meal.

What Should Smoked Chicken Look Like?

There is a big difference between the appearance of smoked chicken when you compare it to raw or bloody chicken. Although it can be a little disconcerting when you first see smoked chicken done properly, there is no reason to compare it to any meat that has not been cooked properly.

If you’ve ever had chicken that has been undercooked, it has a look all of its own. The pink coloring is quite different than the pink color of smoked chicken. The difference can also be seen in the consistency of the meat. Compared side by side, you can easily tell the difference. When you see the pink color of smoked chicken often, you come to realize that it is a sign that it was done right.

How To Smoke Chicken Properly

As you know, smoking chicken, or any type of meat, is a process that takes a long time. It is done at a lower temperature for longer, so it is important to make sure you are smoking it to perfection.

Part of the process of smoking chicken has to do with preparing it properly. There are many different methods and recipes that you may like, each of which is going to add something to the flavor. You might enjoy experimenting with the different recipes to see which suits your taste. You will have a favorite in no time.

When it comes to the actual smoking process, it is all about temperature and timing. Generally speaking, you would set the smoker temperature at 250F and smoke the chicken for about 40 minutes per pound. The chicken is officially finished when it reaches an internal temperature of 165F.

What Type Of Thermometer Is Best For Smoking Chicken?

Consistency is the key to using a smoker successfully. If you aren’t able to track the temperature accurately on an ongoing basis, you are guessing at the results, at best. That is what most people experience when they try the built-in thermometer on their smoker and they end up with BBQ that is far too dry.

There are three things to look for in a smoker thermometer. You need to consider the design, the accuracy, and the speed. It is also important to consider the price, as there are expensive and cheap thermometers but, if you go by price alone, you are likely to be disappointed.

Thermometer Design: The best choice for a smoker thermometer is one with 2 probes. This allows you to keep track of the internal temperature of the meat and the temperature of the smoker. Consider the size of the LDC screen and the ease of operation. There are also some thermometers that connect to an app on your phone, but this isn’t something everyone wants to fuss with.

Thermometer Accuracy: Once you have a thermometer, you can always check it for accuracy, typically by using a boiling water test. It is good to do this once per year or if the thermometer has been dropped. Prior to buying a thermometer, you will have to rely on feedback from other customers and the reputation of the company selling the thermometer.

Temperature Read Speed: Some people are focused on using an instant-read thermometer, which actually takes a few seconds to register. This can be convenient but if you are willing to sacrifice a few seconds of your time, you can often get a high-quality unit at a much lower price.

As you spend more and more time at the smoker, you will discover your own style of creating the perfect BBQ. It doesn’t matter if you are smoking chicken, fish, beef, or any other meat, it adds something to it that is undeniably delicious.

You are also likely to experience some hiccups along that way, some of which may cause you to question what you have just made. Trust in the system and especially trust your thermometer and the passing of time. You will find that the colors that concern you at first will be the colors that give you confidence with experience.

William Johnson

Will has loved smoking food in his free time for the last few years. Each major holiday or off-weekend, Will spends days testing and prepping new recipes for perfection.

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