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Why Does Cooked Steak Turn Gray?

When it comes to grilling the perfect steak, there is nothing more disappointing than when you take a juicy medium-rare cut of beef off the grill and find that it looks greyer than juicy brown on the outside. It’s easy to assume at this point that either your steak was overcooked or too high of a flame was used – but both explanations don’t fully explain why cooked steaks turn grey. In this blog post, I will be exploring what causes cooked steaks to turn grey as well as various techniques for avoiding ending up with an unwanted discolored steak.

Reasons Why Cooked Steak Turns Gray

Red meat gets its distinctive bright red color from myoglobin, a protein that is rich in iron.  The more of this protein in the meat then the darker the meat will look and the more attractive and tasty too! Strictly speaking the myoglobin in the raw meat reacts with oxygen to give this color. If the meat is exposed to oxygen in the air for too long then it will start to turn gray as the myoglobin becomes metmyoglobin.

Too Low A Cooking Temperature

Far and away the biggest cause of a gray steak is not getting your pan to a high enough temperature. In order to get your steak to brown nicely on the outside it needs to be cooked at a temperature between 284°F to 355°F (140°C to 180°C). If you don’t get your steak into that sort of temperature range then you’re going to and up with it gray on the outside. Too long at a higher temperature and you will just end up with a blackened steak.

Storing Steak in Wrong Place

If you’re not storing your steak correctly, it can lead to discoloration. Steak should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and brought to room temperature before cooking.

How Do I Get The Perfect Steak

If you want to avoid a gray steak then here are some simple steps that should help you produce a tasty, juicy piece of meat.

1.) Sear the steak on high heat for a short period of time to lock in those juices.

2.) Cook the steak to your desired level of doneness. Turning regularly using tongs.

3.) Check the steak is Ok to eat using a meat thermometer. USDA recommends an internal temperature 145°F (63°C). Don’t start prodding the meat with a fork as you will end up losing some of the juices.

grilling the perfect steak

Make sure to avoid burning your steak though!

It’s usually best to let your steak rest for a few minutes before serving but don’t leave your culinary masterpiece sitting out too long!

How to prevent your steak from turning grey

Make sure that you store your raw steak correctly in the fridge making sure to only take it out when you are ready to cook it. When cooking your steak make sure to use high enough temperatures so that browning can occur (284°F to 355°F).

Is it Ok to eat steak that has turned Gray?

Normally red meat that has turned grey should be viewed with some suspicion since it may indicate the meat has gone off. This is because the process of oxidization to the point where the meat undergoes a color change takes some time and would indicate that the steak is probably no longer safe to eat since it has been incorrectly stored. If the surface of the meat is slimy that is another indication that you are dealing with spoiled meat. 

grilling mistakes

Why Does Cooked Steak Turn Gray: Summary

I hope this article has answered all of your questions about why cooked steak can turn gray. From trimming and preparing the meat properly to using the correct temperatures when cooking, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your steak stays juicy and flavorful. Be sure to discard any steaks that have turned gray, to ensure food safety and quality.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Why does my steak turn gray?

Cooked steak can turn gray due to a variety of reasons, including improper trimming, overly high temperatures during cooking, salt or seasoning applied too early before cooking, and using too much oil it is most often caused by cooking at too low a temperature.

Why did my oven-baked steak turn brown?

Oven-baked steaks can turn nice brown crust due to a natural chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction that takes place when proteins are exposed to heat – this reaction often results in a brown color on the outside of the steak straight.

Why does my broiled steak have black edges?

Broiled steaks can have black edges due to overly high temperatures or prolonged exposure to direct, intense heat from the broiler element. To prevent this from happening, make sure to use moderate temperatures and keep an eye on your flank steak cold as it cooks.

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