Smoked Chicken – Why is it pink?

June 22, 2017 | BBQ 101
Smoked Chicken – Why is it pink?

Why did the chicken turn pink? 

…Because it was smoked!

One of the questions we get asked the most is about why our sticky chicken can look pink on the inside. And it’s totally understandable – we’re brought up to believe that seeing pink in chicken means it’s undercooked.

But that’s not the case with low and slow barbecue – here’s why!

The cooking process

Smoked Chicken – Why is it pink?
Stuart, our Pitmaster in Shoreditch, glazing chicken with Unholy sauce

As an authentic smokehouse, we smoke all of our meat low and slow – in simpler terms, this means we cook at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.

When you talk about U.S barbecue, many people traditionally think of pulled pork and ribs. But when chicken gets the low n’ slow treatment it adds a whole new dimension.

After brining, Red’s Pitmasters smoke our sticky chicken for 3 hours over oak wood, glazing it three times in Unholy BBQ sauce during the process.

The science

Smoked Chicken – Why is it pink?

*dons lab coat*

Myoglobin is a protein stored in muscle, which when mixed with water takes a pink appearance. When exposed to high temperatures, myoglobin breaks down to give a consistent white colouring across the whole piece of meat.

As we smoke our chicken at a lower temperature for a much longer period of time, the myoglobin doesn’t fully break down. This creates a pink tinge to the meat – the same reaction that causes the smoke ring you see on our brisket and ribs.


Smoked Chicken – Why is it pink?
A visible smoke ring on brisket slices

This doesn’t mean it’s undercooked, just that it’s been smoked. We probe all of our chickens on the pass to make sure they have hit an internal temperature of 75 degrees before they arrive at your table.

So next time you see a pink chicken in Red’s, fear not, and enjoy!

Join the flock
Tap here to sign up to our newsletter
Join the flock
Offers, exclusive deals & all things Red’s True BBQ
Sign Up