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Is Grilled Chicken Healthy?

Grilled chicken is healthier than say fried chicken or some red meats. How you prepare and cook your chicken will depend on just how healthy it is.

A huge health benefit to grilling chicken is that the fat is able to drip away from the chicken as it cooks leaving just the natural juices. However, there are downfalls with grilling as well.

Let’s go over all of the pluses and minus’ of grilled chicken in this post so that you can make an educated decision of whether or not you think it is healthy or not.

grilled chicken on a grill

Is grilled chicken healthy? Yes, grilled chicken can be a healthy choice but it is all in how you prepare the chicken and how hot you cook it.

Charred chicken is said to not be healthy so you want to make sure to be mindful of that and if you get a char on your chicken and consider cutting it off before serving it.

Preparing grilled chicken so its healthy

When you are grilling it is important to keep an eye on the chicken as the grill can flare up, especially with the fat dripping. You want to keep flipping the chicken every few minutes to help prevent charring on it.

How you prepare your chicken will impact just how healthy your grilled chicken is. If you add lard, butter, fatty oils, or sugars to it then it isn’t going to be so healthy no matter how you choose to cook it.

Let’s go over a few of the pros and cons of grilling chicken.

Top 3 pros of grilled chicken

chicken with a flare up on the grill

1. Fat drips away

As I said earlier in this post when you grill chicken the fat drips away from the chicken instead of it sitting in its fat while it cooks.

This makes for a leaner chicken and keeps it from absorbing the fat as it cooks. If you were to fry chicken the fat can’t escape and therefore you end up eating it. The less fat in the chicken the healthier it is.

2. Retains moisture

Grilled chicken has a tenancy to retain its moisture quite well. This goes hand in hand with the first pro, the fat drips away while the natural moisture stays in.

Also, keep in the nutrients of your chicken.

Make sure to keep a close eye on it and check the temperature with a thermometer to help know when it is ready to come off the grill.

When you bake, fry, or crockpot your chicken you will notice that it dries out a lot faster than if you grill it. Dry chicken is not so appetizing.

3. Flavor creator

Grilling chicken adds its own flavor without adding all kinds of marinades or other fats. Using a smoker, charcoal, or gas grill all offer their own flavor profiles.

The best part is that all you need is a little olive or avocado oil and a little salt and pepper and you will have great flavors with any grilling method that you choose.

The olive oil is a healthier option for your grilled chicken. If you love grilled chicken then you’re going to also want to know how to reheat grilled chicken.

Top 3 cons of grilled chicken

grill marks on chicken on the grill

1. Char is not your friend

Char on the chicken can be harmful. Now, there is a big difference between char and grill marks. Nice brown grill marks are what I like to call “flavor”.

According to the National Cancer Institute eating charred chicken and other charred foods can cause cancer. The char on the meat produces two cancer-causing carcinogens.

Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are two chemicals that are formed when you cook at high heat over an open flame causing char.

So you want to be careful when cooking your chicken to make sure that you don’t get a char on it.

2. Takes skill to grill

Grilling can take some skill and proficiency to get it right without drying it out or charring the chicken. Once you do it a few times you will get the hang of it.

Being consistent with the heat and preventing flare-ups will help you from getting char on your chicken and overcooking it.

When you overcook the grilled chicken you will get less of the nutrients that it has to offer when cooked properly.

3. Secrets in seasonings and sauces

When you season your chicken with either a dry rub or a marinade you need to be mindful of what is in it. A lot of times poultry seasoning and marinades include sugars and other fats that are not so healthy.

Just because you are grilling your chicken doesn’t make it healthy. You have to be aware of how you are adding your flavor and what exactly you are using.

Read the ingredients to make sure that what you are putting on it is also healthy.

You can take a simple healthy chicken with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and turn it into unhealthy simply by adding a marinade full of vegetable oil or sugars.

Now if you have leftovers you might be wondering how long grilled chicken is good for.


The advantages outway the disadvantages as long as you are mindful of how you are cooking your chicken and the ingredients that you are using. Check out my post on the advantages of grilling.

Be careful not to char your chicken and keep your seasoning to a healthy choice and you will have a good healthy grilled chicken for your next BBQ or dinner meal.

Advantages & disadvantages of grilling healthy Chicken

Less fat*Char*
Retains moisture*Takes practice*
Great flavor*Marinades and spices can add fats and sugars*
Easy cleanup
Faster cooking
Social experience
Can grill anywhere
( The * states the health advantages and disadvantages)

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