Meat is very pink no matter what temp

These burgers are …from left to right (160 for 40 mi , 155 for 40min, 144 for 40min 137 for 60 min) as you can see they were all noticeably pink. almost indistinguishable . Anyone have a clue what’s going on here?

Checked temps with insta read

Insta read of water and internal temp are only a couple degrees lower

I don’t have any first hand experience with different temperatures for beef. Everyone likes it the same so we do not vary much. I have always thought they would look like the meat pictured here:

Personally, I like a pink burger. However, when you have a guest ask for well done and they get pink, they are not happy :slight_smile:

Were the burgers individually bagged? Were they vacuum sealed or did you use water displacement technique to ensure there was no air in the bags? Were the burgers frozen at the beginning? (What was the starting temperature?)
Was the bath up to temperature before you put them in, or are you including the ramp-up time in that 40 minutes?

btw - if this is mass produced ground that you’re getting at a big chain grocery store, I wouldn’t be eating any of it pink. Too high a risk of ecoli poisoning (at least in the US). I’d only take that risk at a small butcher that I knew.

If you look at the Food Lab’s guide for steak, they’re saying 156F for well done - minimum one hour. (and that would be from a thawed state, not frozen). Given how thick those burgers are, I’d be tempted to try about 90 minutes at that temperature. I’m thinking they simply haven’t been cooked long enough.

Edit: Also see that the Food Lab has a burger guide. :slight_smile:
(Looks like your burgers are a bit thicker than the one’s they have in their pictures). Thickness, obviously, increases your cooking time (not the temperature).

They are actually sliders so they may look thicker because of their scale. They were at refrigerator temp and individual bagged in ziplock using water displacement method. It was a package of vacuum sealed grass fed beef. The “well done” one hit an internal temp of 156. I cooked each one individually in a vary large vessel so they did not change bath temp significantly.

Thanks for the help

Have you calibrated your thermometer?

My insta-read read 32f when I put it in ice water (that’s the only test I did). And the water temp per the ANOVA and the read out on the insta-read were within 1.5-2 degrees of each other

Always best to do both a high and low calibration test. But I get what you are saying.

Are you worried about food safety or just the appearance?

Appearance, I seem to recall reading some explanation somewhere, but until I can recall where and drag it back up, I’d rather not try to recite from memory and possibly give you misinformation.

Food safety wise, you are way in the clear with all of your cook times at those temps. Grading doneness by color or color of juices is highly inaccurate and the USDA has been discouraging it’s practice for decades now.

Here’s a reference chart and a USDA whitepaper with the kill times and explanations

Compliance Guidelines For Meeting Lethality Performance Standards For Certain Meat And Poultry Products

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Found it.

It has to do with the pH, the natural pigment and the level of fat in the meat. Lean ground beef is more likely to remain pink even after it is cooked to a safe temperature. The USDA classifies it as a phenomena and admits it is unpredictable, but, so long as it is cooked to proper temperatures / times, the meat is safe. Conversely, some meat will brown fully before it has reached a safe point.

Here’s the full article:

USDA - Color of Cooked Ground Beef as It Relates to Doneness

Hope that helps some.


It’s because it was cooked under vacuum, ie, sous vide. The color change in meat, is due to oxidation of the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. When none is available, the meat doesn’t transition. The same thing happens when you braise in a liquid.

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Thank you for the help

Huh? If that was the case, all of the meat that we cook via sous vide wouldn’t transition in colour (and that simply isn’t the case).

I thought the info on the USDA site was likely a little more applicable.

Me, I simply think they weren’t cooked long enough.

Read Harold Mcgees on food and cooking. Dude I’m a chef and have been for many many years, and have worked with water circulators/cryovacuums AND explaining them in school. You can braise a short rib at 200 degrees x 24 hours and the inside will still be colored pinkish. Greying occurs from denaturing of iron molecules in the myoglobin, and the presence of o2 that binds. Sustained temperatures of 140 or more are what required to denature myglobin and presence of 02, results in color change. Also some grocery store beefs can be treated with nitrites/other things for color retention and will and cannot transition
If he says his water circulator AND thermometer are reading the correct temp, I would trust it.
Now why you would want to use a sous vide cook for a hamburger, that’s another story…
Also, try cooking a burger using the grill and compare the results

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This is a very good read as well

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Another good read as well

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just from looking thru this posting…there might be a possibility of nitrates (either granulated or naturally derived) added to the meat at or before the time of grinding. this would help to maintain a pinkish hue regardless of doneness especially in a sous vide application.

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