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What color does ground turkey turn?

Ground turkey can transform colors for a variety of reasons as it cooks. The normal shade changes happen as the meat warms up and proteins respond to heat. Notwithstanding, a few different tones can show spoiled or crude turkey. Realizing expected tone changes can assist you with deciding food safety.

Normal Color Changes

When you initially put ground turkey in a skillet, it has a pink or red tone. This comes from the myoglobin protein in muscles that stores oxygen. As the meat warms, the protein holds less oxygen, and the tone continuously changes:

  • Pinkish red – Uncooked, oxygenated turkey
  • Dull pink – Turkey warmed to 135°F
  • Light pinkish gray – Turkey warmed to 140°F
  • Grayish brown – Fully cooked turkey at 165°F

Right when ground turkey loses its red shade altogether, you realize it’s totally cooked through. The USDA suggests cooking ground turkey to 165°F to slaughter microorganisms and make it safe for eating.

Why Raw Turkey is Pink

The pink or red shade of crude ground turkey comes from myoglobin. This protein stores oxygen in muscle cells. At the point when meat is handled, oxygen tangling with the myoglobin makes oxymyoglobin, which has a splendid red tone.

Ground turkey frequently looks pinker than entire turkey pieces. Since processing blended various sorts of turkey muscle, it might contain more myoglobin than a single piece of meat. Minced turkey can likewise get more presented to oxygen during handling, further heightening the red shading.

Color Changes During Cooking

As you warm up ground turkey, the protein particles react to heat by delivering oxygen. The meat continuously loses its red tone. Here are the normal shading changes ground turkey experiences as it cooks:

Internal Temperature Meat Color
Raw Pinkish red
135°F Dull pink
140°F Light pinkish gray
165°F Grayish brown

At 135°F, the myoglobin starts to lose its bond with oxygen, making the shade duller. As temperatures reach 140°F, the meat loses significantly more oxygen, showing light pinkish gray. By 165°F, the color has generally faded to grayish brown, showing it’s completely cooked.

Why Cooked Turkey Turns Gray

Fully cooking ground turkey to 165°F makes the shade grayish brown. At this high temperature:

  • The myoglobin protein is denatured and can’t hold oxygen.
  • Most moisture has evaporated from the meat.
  • Carotenoid pigments are obliterated.

The loss of pink myoglobin combined with diminished moisture and carotenoids leaves turkey showing up grayish brown when cooked through. This dull, non-transparent shade lets you realize it’s protected to eat.

White or Green Spots

Now and again, cooked ground turkey gets white or green spots on its surface. Here’s the means by which to decipher those tones:

Meat Color Cause
White spots Fat or connective tissue
Green spots Reaction with iron and sulfur

Little white spots or specks on cooked ground turkey are normal. These are tiny bits of fat or connective tissue that got blended into the ground meat. They remain white after cooking.

Green spots happen when myoglobin in the meat reacts with iron and sulfur mixes during cooking. It’s a harmless chemical response, so the turkey is as yet ok to eat in case it’s cooked through.

When Ground Turkey is Brown or Gray Before Cooking

Crude ground turkey is expected to have a pink or red shade from myoglobin. In any case, on the off chance that it shows up chestnut or gray preceding cooking, that can be a sign of spoiling.

Dulling of the red shade happens for two reasons:

  • Bacterial development causes the meat proteins to separate.
  • Oxidation happens from introduction to air or light.

Both of these can bring about foulness or abatement in freshness. If ground turkey has lost its ordinary red tone preceding cooking, it’s most ideally to discard it.

How to Tell If Cooked Turkey Has Gone Bad

Cooked ground turkey that began new should hold its grayish earthy colored tone for a few days in the cooler. In any case, with time, the shade can fade, getting more gray, greenish or yellowish.

Different indications cooked turkey has turned bad include:

  • Slimy surface
  • Sour smell
  • Mold development

These mean bacterial development or breakdown has happened. Ensure cooked turkey has no odd shadings or surfaces. Also, take care to eat leftovers inside 3 to 4 days to forestall spoiling.

Safely Reheating Cooked Turkey

At the point when you heat up cooked ground turkey that has been appropriately put away, check its tone prior to eating. The meat ought to hold its typical grayish earthy colored shade.

On the off chance that the turkey has gray, green, or yellow tones, discard it. Those hues show aging. Just reheat turkey that has kept up with its typical cooked shade.

For food safety, reheat ground turkey to 165°F. Check the internal temperature with a food thermometer to guarantee microorganisms are killed.

Key Points

  • Crude ground turkey normally has a pink or red color from myoglobin proteins holding oxygen in the meat.
  • As the turkey warms during cooking, it continuously loses red shading and turns dull pink, light grayish pink, then grayish earthy colored at 165°F.
  • Grayish earthy colored cooked turkey shows the meat is safe for eating since microbes have been killed.
  • Watch out for abnormal tones like gray, yellow, or green, which can show aging. Discard any ground turkey with those tones.
  • When reheating cooked turkey, check it has held its typical grayish earthy colored shade to guarantee it’s as yet new.


The shade of ground turkey can uncover significant data about its newness and safety. Pink or red turkey is typical when uncooked. As meat cooks, standard shading changes happen because of protein and compound responses. Grayish earthy colored meat shows turkey is cooked through and safe to eat. Notwithstanding, unusual tones might mean potential spoiling. Monitoring the shade of ground turkey at all phases of taking care of and cooking assists you with deciding whether it’s new and prepared to enjoy.