What Is the Red Juice in Steak?

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If you have ever enjoyed a tasty steak, then you must have caught sight of the red juice that spills out. If you are wondering what the red juice in steak is, then look no further. 

Read our article to discover everything about the red in steak, also known as a “bloody steak.” So, get ready to get answers, bust some myths, and learn if the red in steak is safe to consume.

Have you ever been preparing steak, and your steak starts to look like it’s leaking blood? The thought of consuming raw meat is very frightening, so the sight of the red juice in steak can dissuade many of us from eating it. Well, fear not. That red in the steak is safe for consumption and is the source of a steak’s flavor.

Properties of the “Red Juice”: Myoglobin in Your Steak

That red liquid you see is just a combination of water and a protein called myoglobin. The iron inside this protein turns red in color when it is exposed to oxygen. This process is very similar to what hemoglobin does in our bodies. Let’s find out some interesting properties of the protein myoglobin.

The structure of a sub-unit of myoglobin is made from a combination of oxygen and iron-binding proteins. The red hue in the meat showcases the presence of myoglobin in them. So, the darker the red pigment is, the more myoglobin there is.

Beef is popularly known to have higher myoglobin as compared to chicken. Additionally, pork and lamb contain mid-average amounts of this protein. Moreover, older cows or pigs will have higher myoglobin as compared to younger ones. The presence of myoglobin is more prevalent in mammals. So, their meat is popularly referred to as red meat.

You must also have noticed your red steak turning brown if it is left in the fridge for too long. This color change is because myoglobin’s chemical structure changes over time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the steak is now spoiled. We recommend smelling the meat to judge its freshness rather than basing it on the color.

Related: How to Tell if Steak is Bad

We all know that well-done steaks look brown and don’t have the red color that rare and medium-rare steaks have. This difference is because the myoglobin darkens when it is exposed to heat for a prolonged period.  The reduced myoglobin also turns the well-done steak a little gray.

Myth: Rare or Medium-Rare Steak Is Healthier than a Well-Done Steak

red juice in steak

Now that we have established that the red liquid oozing out of your steak isn’t harmful, we can move on to busting some popular myths surrounding it.

If you are a meat-eater, you must have come across the saying that rare or medium-rare steaks are healthier than a well-done steak. People claim that the higher the content of myoglobin, the better it is.

This idea is a popular myth as the richness of the valuable nutrients stays the same regardless of cooking time. The amount of iron, zinc, and protein contents is the same in a well-done or rare steak. So, don’t get caught up in missing out on healthy alternatives. Instead, choose the degree of doneness according to your taste.

Myth: Rare Steaks Have Blood in Them

Because of the higher presence of the red liquid in a rare steak, people often believe that rare steaks have some blood in them. This idea is yet another myth, as the red juice is simply the myoglobin content.

The rarest steak you buy in a grill house or restaurant will not contain any blood, even if it looks like a bloody steak. However, if you don’t want any red liquid in steak, you can let your steak stand for a while after cooking. This extra time will spread the concentrated red liquid in the steak throughout the piece of meat.

Next time, don’t be afraid of a medium-rare or a rare steak just because it looks like a bloody steak. We can vouch that a steak with red liquid in it is entirely safe to consume. In fact, steak purists will judge you if you order a well-done steak at a steakhouse. So, enjoy the juicy and succulent flavors that come with the presence of the red juice in your steak.

Check out our recipes, informational guides to learn more about how to cook the perfect steak!

Written by:
Adam Wojtowicz
Adam Wojtowicz

Adam can tell you the difference between a flank steak and skirt steak and any other cut of meat. He loves sharing his knowledge of steaks with everyone, ensuring you get the perfect steak every time.