Why Is My Hamburger Meat Turning Grey?

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Here we will discuss why it is that your hamburger meat is grey. This can occur before the burger meat is cooked, and after it is cooked. It can look unappetizing or dangerous when the meat looks this way, but we will cover what is really going on with the meat, and how to know if it is a problem or not.

A good rule of thumb is to look at your food with your eyes and smell it with your nose to see if it is good. However, with hamburger meat, this is a little bit different. There are some things that you want to look at when eyeballing the hamburger meat, but it is more than just the color.

First off, if you are cooking the hamburger meat and it turns grey while it is cooking, then this is normal. This happens naturally as the myoglobin in the meat begins to heat up. The proteins in the meat will turn from a reddish color to a grayish brown. It doesn’t mean that the meat is bad when it does that.

However, one thing that you want to look for with this coloring is to see if it will turn from a light grey color to more of a brown. If the meat stays this color and it doesn’t begin to slowly darken to a brown, then you might be cooking the hamburger meat on too low of a temperature.

If the temperature isn’t high enough, then the light grey color might stay, and the inside of the burger may never cook. So, the light grey color could be an indication that the inside of the patty isn’t cooking, or it is cooking too slow. Increase the temperature for cooking the patty to get it to a brown color on the outside, which is what you are aiming for.

However, looking at the burger meat while it is cooking isn’t the best way to tell if the meat is cooked properly. Using a thermometer is the best way to check and see if the inside of the burger is still cold, or if it is even cooking at all.

Uncooked Grey Hamburger Meat

If your hamburger meat is grey before it is cooked (or kind of brown), then there are some important things that you should know. Hamburger meat will turn brown in areas on the meat where there is no sufficient oxygen. It is not the temperature of the meat that affects this when this is happening, but the oxygen.

So, if you are concerned about hamburger meat that is brown or gray in its center before cooking it, it is normal. It doesn’t mean that the meat should be thrown out, or that it is bad. Not even in the slightest.

However, the two ways to tell if hamburger meat is bad, is by looking and feeling it to see if it is slimey. Hamburger meat will become slimey and appear brown or gray when it is spoiled. The other way to know if the meat is bad is by smelling it. If it smells off and funky (sour), then it is bad, and should be discarded.

Even if the entire hamburger meat turns from a red color to a brown or grayish color, the meat is still good, as long as it isn’t slimey and smelling bad. Over time, even if the hamburger meat is used briefly and then placed back into the refrigerator or freezer, it can still turn grey, meaning that the cause is oxygen related, not an issue of freshness.

Grey Hamburger Patties

When hamburger patties are premade and stored for cooking burgers later, if they are stacked on one another, they may begin to turn grey or brown on their surface. This is normal too, as it is basically the same process that has already been described about the hamburger patties being depraved of oxygen.

If for instance, certain parts of the meat is exposed to oxygen and other parts are pressed against other pieces of meat, then the parts that are pressed against the meat will over time turn grey. This doesn’t mean that some type of bacteria or degradation is happening in the hamburger patties; and that they should be thrown out.

If the hamburger patties are green, then that is a different story. It is time to throw the hamburger patties away. They can also smell bad just like other meats when they do go bad, which is another indication to thrown them away. However, the main thing you want to use is your nose to detect if hamburger meat has gone bad, as the grey or brown color might confuse the eyes on what it is really seeing.


If the meat is brown or grey while it is cooking, then it a normal chemical reaction that happens in the meat, where the myoglobin that causes the meat to have its red color begins to turn grey then brown. Nothing is wrong with red meat for hamburgers, steak, or any other type of meat used in these circumstances.

If you received meat from a meat dealer that has this discoloration, it doesn’t mean that the meat dealer is trying to cheat you by mixing new meat with old meat in the package. The color of meat is not the best indicator of bad or fresh meat. Fresh meat that is packaged differently may also look differently, even if it is meat that has been cut from the same piece at the same time. The freshness of the meat is better determined by its smell if it looks grey or brown in certain areas.

For grounded meat for burgers in a package, it is common for the very bottom of the meat to appear grey or brown, because this area is the least exposed part to oxygen. The surface of the meat that is left exposed to oxygen usually is red or purple in color, but either way, it is safe to eat.

Another thing to consider is the type of meat from the same type of meat that is taken from different parts of the animal to be used for burgers. Usually the meat for burgers of every type are taken from the chuck, but if it isn’t, then some of these meats can be less or more effected by how brown, grey, red, or, purple that they will appear to be. Some meats will actually turn brown or grey faster than other meats.

Basically, market places generally will try to sell their meats while they look red, because unknowing individuals will not want to buy grey or brown looking meat, since it appears to be bad. This is why they try to keep the meat bright and red when/while packaging the meat.

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