Why is my chicken pink?

…Because it was smoked!

We get asked occasionally why our Cajun chicken can look pink on the inside. And we get it – we grow up thinking that pink in chicken means it’s undercooked.

But that’s not the case with smoked barbecue, and there is real science behind it.

As an authentic BBQ joint, 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.

Most people think of pork and ribs when they think of BBQ. But when chicken gets the low n’ slow treatment, it adds a whole new dimension.

At Shaffer’s, we brine our Cajun Chicken for 48 hours and then smoke it for 3 hours at 275 degrees over oak and hickory wood.

So here’s where the science comes in…

Myoglobin is a protein stored in muscle, which when mixed with water (brine) takes on a pink appearance. When exposed to high temperatures, myoglobin breaks down to give a consistent white coloring 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.

This doesn’t mean it’s undercooked, just that it’s been smoked. We probe all of our chickens on the breast to make sure they have hit an internal temperature of  at least 165 degrees before they get to you.

If you are accustomed to BBQ chicken at Shaffer’s in Woodstock, know that BBQ vs Smoked chicken are two very different processes with a very different outcome. BBQ Chicken in Woodstock is cooked at 400-500 degrees for 1.5-2 hours and will not be pink.

If you would like to read a detailed explanation, here is a link to the USDA site:


So next time you see a pink tinge to the Cajun chicken at Shaffer’s BBQ & Market, worry not, and enjoy!