Food Guide

Pink Corned Beef: Unraveling the Mystery Behind its Color!

Have you ever been to a delish deli, ordered a sandwich, and wondered why the heck the corned beef was pink? You’re not alone.

The stuff’s always been an eyeball-grabber on the menu, but if you’re a real corned-beef-lover, you know it’s the best part of the meal.

So, why is corned beef pink?

To start, corned beef isn’t really beef at all.

That’s right, it’s not even corn.

1. The saltpetre

1. The saltpetre

Beef cured with saltpetre turns a shade of pink.

The saltpetre is a combination of salt, sodium nitrate, and other flavourings.

The cure changes the colour of the beef to a bright shade of pink.

It also adds a unique flavour to the meat.

Many people enjoy the distinctive taste of corned beef.

2. History of corned beef

Corned beef is a type of beef that has been cured with salt and spices.

It is typically made from brisket or round cuts of beef.

The curing process usually takes place in a brine solution.

The beef is left to cure for a period of time, during which it acquires a pink colour and a distinctive flavour.

3. Cooking corned beef

There are many ways to cook corned beef.

It can be boiled, baked, or fried.

Some people also like to eat it raw, as a type of steak.

The most common way to prepare corned beef is to boil it in water with spices, such as black pepper and bay leaves.

2. The smoke

2. The smoke

The corned beef is pink because it is cured in a salt solution that contains nitrite, which gives the corned beef its distinctive color.

Nitrite is also added to provide a distinct flavor and to help preserve the meat.

The amount of nitrite in corned beef is regulated by the FDA, and it must not exceed a certain level in order to be considered safe for human consumption.

The most common way to cure corned beef is to immerse it in a solution of salt, water, and nitrite for several days.

This process draws out the moisture from the meat, so it is then re-immersed in fresh water to remove the excess salt.

The corned beef is then left to dry, which further reinforces the pink color of the meat.

3. The beef

3. The beef

Beef is a rich source of protein, iron, and other nutrients that are essential for good health.

It is also a popular meat that is enjoyed by many people around the world.

However, not all beef is the same.

There are different grades of beef, and some of them are higher in quality than others.

The best beef is usually graded as Prime or Choice, while lesser-quality beef is usually graded as Select or lower.

The grade of beef is important because it affects the overall quality of the meat.

Prime and Choice beef are usually more tender and flavorful than Select beef.

They are also more expensive.

As a result, many people who enjoy beef may prefer to buy Prime or Choice grade beef over Select or lower-grade beef.

4. The water

While it is true that corned beef is colored with nitrites, which are known to be carcinogenic, the amount of nitrites in corned beef is not significant enough to be harmful to your health.

In fact, the biggest risk associated with corned beef consumption is the high amount of salt that is typically used in the curing process.

Too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, so it’s important to enjoy corned beef in moderation.

5. The time

While it is possible for corned beef to turn pink after cooking, this is not necessarily a good thing.

Corned beef is typically a deep red color, and this is due to the fact that it is cured using nitrates.

During the curing process, the nitrates are converted into nitrites, which help to preserve the meat and give it its characteristic color.

While nitrites are generally considered safe, there have been concerns raised about the long-term health effects of consuming them.

Some people choose to avoid corned beef for this reason.

It is also worth noting that corned beef is typically high in sodium, which can be a concern for some people.

If you do choose to eat corned beef, it is best to do so in moderation and to choose a product that is naturally low in sodium.

In a nutshell

So, you can see that corned beef isn’t naturally pink.

The colour comes from the curing process.

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Emily W.

Emily Wong is an Asian-American food writer the founder of With nearly 8 years of experience, she has a passion for making cooking accessible to everyone and sharing her personal experiences with food. Emily's vision for is to create a community of food lovers who are passionate about cooking, eating, and sharing their experiences with others. Read my story
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