Low in calories and rich in protein, chicken is a top food for healthy eaters. While there are many ways to cook chicken, grilling and frying are the most popular methods. The results are quite different, which brings us to most people’s dilemma.
Is grilled chicken healthier than fried chicken? How many calories are there in grilled chicken vs fried chicken? And, how often can you indulge in your favorite treat?
In this post, we give insight into what you need to know so that it’s easy to decide between the two types of chicken.
Brief Comparison- Grilled vs. Fried Chicken
|Grilled Chicken||Fried Chicken|
|Over direct heat (grill or outdoor stove)||Meat is placed in hot oil|
|Nutrients Value||Minimal loss of vitamins and minerals||-Loss of minerals and vitamins.|
-Adds saturated fat
|Effect on Cholesterol||Skin increases cholesterol||Skin and high-fat increases cholesterol|
|Final Result||Crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside||Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.|
|Health Impact||Helps to maintain a healthy weight||Can lead to weight gain|
Grilled chicken vs Fried chicken – The Difference
When you hear grilled chicken, what comes to mind? Is it the taste of something chewy and crunchy while tender on the inside?
Grilled chicken is cooked by exposing it to heat on an outdoor grill or stove. It’s cooked one side at a time. Grilled chicken can be seasoned or marinated for a few hours before grilling. The result is nicely, browned and flavorful chicken depending on the source of heat. Wood and charcoal add smoke flavor, unlike chicken grilled over gas.
On the other hand, fried chicken is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It’s prepared with a mix of seasonings and is breaded or floured, then fried in oil. The flour or bread crumbs make the chicken crispy, but it still retains its tenderness on the inside.
Is Grilled Chicken Healthier than Fried?
For those getting on a healthy diet, you will discover that grilled chicken is healthier than fried chicken. It’s because the fat in the chicken drips off, which reduces its calorie count.
Not to mention, you don’t have to add butter or oil since grilling locks in the chicken’s moisture. It does not lose lots of vitamins and minerals. And, you can serve it with a variety of healthy foods, including vegetables and fresh herbs.
Fried Chicken vs. Grilled Chicken Calories
Nutritionally, there’s a world of difference between fried and grilled chicken.
First, grilled chicken is not drowned in oil. Whether you grill with the skin on or not, grilled chicken contains fewer calories than fried chicken.
There are different cuts in chicken from thighs to chicken breast, drumsticks, and wings. Let’s compare calories in chicken thighs and breasts. These are the most popular cuts for grilling and frying.
A grilled 3.5-ounce thigh contains 229 calories and 15.5 grams of fat with the skin on and 209 calories, 10.9 grams of fat without the skin.
A 3.5-ounce, grilled, skinless chicken breast contains 165 calories and 3.6 grams of fat. There are 197 calories and 8 grams of fat with the skin on.
Looking at fried chicken; a KFC original fried chicken breast contains 320 calories and 14 grams of fat compared to 490 calories and 29 grams of fat when it’s double fried.
Say you fry your chicken at home. A 3.5-ounce fried chicken thigh with the skin on has 246 calories and 12 grams of fat. Without the skin, it has 200 calories and 13 grams of fat.
The skin adds calories and fat. But it’s not necessarily bad. Fat takes long to digest which increases satiety. It may help cut on snacking and you can also wait longer before your next meal.
As you can see, the calorie difference in fried chicken vs. grilled chicken is staggering. We like to say that fried chicken is more of a treat rather than a smart way of eating your chicken.
Frying vs. Grilling- Which Cooking Method is Better?
Fried food is put in a pan or fryer that contains hot oil. The high heat conductivity and high temperatures cook the food. You can either shallow fry or deep fry chicken. But this method adds saturated fat to your food. This is the bad kind of fat because it increases levels of blood cholesterol.
Because of the high calories in fried chicken, it results in weight gain. If you eat fried food regularly, it’s difficult to maintain a healthy weight and a lose weight program.
When you grill food, you expose it to direct heat on a grill. You place the food on a grate or wire grid that sits above the heat source. This method uses thermal radiation to cook the chicken. Because the fat in food drips off, it reduces your fat intake. This means you can maintain healthy weight.
Apart from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you will not be dealing with conditions associated with unhealthy weight. such conditions include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
Charring which happens when you grill food, causes the formation of HAAs (Heterocyclic Aromatic Amine). This chemical is carcinogenic and has been linked to cancer in animal studies. Grilling also causes the formation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). This chemical has also been linked to cancer.
Make Grilling Safer
- Microwave the Meat
When you microwave the meat before cooking, you decrease the cooking time. It reduces HAAs and PAH formation.
- Cook Over Medium Flame
This will help prevent HAAs and PAH formation since these chemicals form when cooking over very high heat.
- Remove Chicken from the Marinade
Shake off excess marinade and pat dry chicken before placing it on the grill. This helps to promote even browning.
- Save the Sauce for the End
Sauce and glazes contain sugar which burns easily. Saucing too soon also ruins the flavor of the food.
- Grill smaller cuts of meat because they cook faster than large ones. It’s best to use a thermometer and ensure the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature ensures it is done and not overcooked.
How Often Should You Eat Fried Chicken?
Again, fried chicken is not a smart food choice for every day. It’s better left as a treat.
There’s nothing inherently bad about eating fried chicken once a week. Gordon Ramsey recommends eating fried chicken once in three weeks.
Our recommendation is to maintain a healthy meal plan such that eating fried chicken once in a while won’t tip the scale. This means paying attention to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meat. Indulge in fried chicken rarely.
Can You Eat Grilled Chicken Every Day?
It’s easy to eat grilled chicken every day since it’s healthy and protein-packed.
However, you can still gain weight when you eat grilled chicken every day. Studies have shown that getting more than 20% of your calories from protein can lead to weight gain. It’s best to keep your daily protein intake at 15% of your food.
Remember that grilled chicken has considerable amounts of fat. You are better off limiting grilled chicken to 3-4 times a week. It will ensure that you are not missing out on super-important nutrients in other sources of food.
How to Grill Chicken
Grilling chicken is a quick way to enjoy tender, juicy chicken that is flavorful. While it’s synonymous with summer grilling, it can be difficult to master.
Here’s the easiest way to grill chicken breasts.
You will need:
- Good quality chicken breasts
- A charcoal or gas grill
- Salt and pepper
- Meat thermometer
- Marinade (optional)
- BBQ sauce (optional)
- Pound the chicken if it is thick on some parts and thin on the other parts.
- Marinade for about 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
- Oil you grill grates by using a paper towel dipped in vegetable or grapeseed oil.
- Preheat the grill to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a medium-high temperature that gets the grill ready for direct cooking.
- Shake off excess marinade and throw out the marinade.
- Place the chicken breasts in a single layer on the grill.
- Cook each side for 7-8 minutes with the grill open. Flip the chicken and cook for another 7-8 minutes. Do not lift the meat to check if it’s done.
- Use the meat thermometer to test if the chicken is done. The internal temperature should read 165 degrees. If you don’t have access to a meat thermometer, cut into one piece and ensure it’s white, and not pink all the way through.
- Now, you can take your chicken breasts off the grill and put them on a serving plate.
Wait for 5 minutes before serving the chicken. Waiting allows the juices to settle into the meat, so they don’t come pouring out when you cut into it.
And that’s it! A simple way to enjoy grilled chicken.
Can You Make Fried Chicken on the Grill?
Yes, you can. Fried chicken on the grill is an incredible way to eat chicken without the mess that comes with frying food.
We are talking crispy, breaded chicken which is a healthy version of the classic fried chicken.
Let’s alter our grilled chicken breasts to enjoy grill-fried chicken breasts.
- Preheat the grill to 300F or medium-low heat if you are using a charcoal or gas grill.
- In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper, herbs, and grated cheese.
- In another bowl, whisk 2-3 eggs.
- Form a breading station and dunk the chicken into the beaten eggs.
- Then, press each of the chicken breasts into the dry mixture.
- Place the chicken breasts directly on the grill and cook for 4-6 minutes before flipping or rotating.
- Check to see the meat is thoroughly cooked by ensuring the internal temperature is 165 degrees or the juices are running clear.
- Remove the chicken from the grill, and rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
The next time you crave some fried chicken, be sure to try our grill-fried chicken breasts recipe.
Grilled chicken vs. fried chicken is worlds apart. You have a healthy choice of grilled chicken as opposed to fried chicken. Now you can make an informed choice in which of the two types of chicken you prefer.