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Are burgers on the George Foreman Grill healthy?

The George Foreman Grill is a popular small indoor electric grill that can be used to quickly cook burgers, chicken, vegetables, sandwiches, and more. It uses a clamshell design that grills both sides of food at once, reducing overall cooking time. Many people opt to use a George Foreman Grill because it provides a convenient way to make burgers indoors without needing a large outdoor grill.

However, there has been some debate over whether burgers cooked on a George Foreman Grill are actually healthy. On one hand, the grill drains away much of the fat that otherwise ends up in a pan or dripping into an outdoor grill. This reduces the overall calories and fat content compared to some cooking methods. On the other hand, some claim that any type of grilling, including on a George Foreman Grill, can produce carcinogens that may increase cancer risk.

So are burgers made on a George Foreman Grill good for you or not? There are several factors to consider when determining the health impacts.

Fat and Calorie Content

One of the biggest health considerations with any burger is its fat and calorie content. Burgers have a reputation for being high in saturated fat and calories, especially from unhealthy add-ons like cheese or bacon. However, the George Foreman Grill’s slanted grooved design helps drain away much of the fat from burgers as they cook.

According to the USDA, a typical 4-ounce beef burger made from 80% lean meat contains approximately 283 calories and 18 grams of fat, with 7 grams saturated fat. If made from 90% lean meat, the numbers go down to 232 calories and 14 grams of fat, with 5 grams saturated.

When cooked on a George Foreman Grill, the fat that drips away removes about 42% of the total fat and 38% of the saturated fat, according to testing by Cook’s Illustrated. This brings a 4-ounce 80% lean burger down to around 236 calories and 10 grams of fat, with 4 grams saturated. A 90% lean burger becomes approximately 189 calories and 8 grams of fat, with 3 grams saturated.

So in terms of macronutrients, burgers cooked on a George Foreman Grill have significantly less fat and calories compared to other cooking methods, while still providing all the protein of a meat-based burger. This makes them a healthier choice if you’re trying to reduce fat or calories in your diet.


Another big health concern often raised regarding George Foreman Grills is the potential formation of carcinogens, compounds linked to cancer. All high-temperature cooking methods have the potential to create small amounts of carcinogens through a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction. These include heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Grilling is one of the highest risk cooking methods when it comes to carcinogen formation because the intense direct heat can accelerate Maillard reactions. Even short grilling times and lower temperatures have been shown to produce detectable amounts of HCAs.

However, carcinogen formation depends heavily on the specific temperature, cooking time, ingredients, and preparation method used:

  • Higher temperatures and longer cook times increase HCA formation.
  • Marinating meat before grilling can reduce HCA formation by up to 88%.
  • Flipping meat frequently prevents the buildup of HCAs.
  • Pre-cooking meat reduces HCA formation during grilling.
  • Coating the grill surface with oil can increase PAH formation.

George Foreman Grills are designed to cook at lower temperatures (around 240°F) compared to open flame or backyard charcoal grilling, which can reach over 700°F. The clamshell lid also reduces exposure to direct flame. In addition, the nonstick coating minimizes the need for added oils, while the grooves allow fat to drip away rather than burning onto the cooking surface.

Overall, following proper cooking guidelines can minimize the formation of carcinogens when using a George Foreman Grill:

  • Preheat at lower temperatures before adding meat
  • Flip burgers frequently while cooking
  • Avoid overcooking or charring meat
  • Clean grill thoroughly after each use

While no grilling method can fully eliminate the risks, moderation is key – dietary guidelines still recommend limiting red meat intake to no more than a few servings per week. So enjoying an occasional burger off the George Foreman likely poses minimal risk, though chicken, fish, or veggie patties are healthier alternatives.

Nutritional Value

In addition to fat content and carcinogens, the nutritional value of a burger can vary based on preparation, ingredients, and doneness.

Burgers provide protein as well as a number of vitamins and minerals:

  • Protein – builds and repairs muscles and tissues
  • Iron – oxygen transport and cognitive function
  • Zinc – immune health and cell growth
  • Vitamin B12 – red blood cell formation
  • Niacin – metabolism and hormone function

However, overcooking red meat can degrade some of its nutritional quality. For example:

  • Rare/medium doneness retains more B vitamins than well-done
  • Iron absorption decreases with extended cook times
  • Overcooking causes more protein damage and loss

Since the George Foreman Grill cooks relatively quickly at lower heats, it likely preserves more of the vitamins and minerals compared to charring on a backyard grill. Still, avoiding overcooking and char marks will maximize nutrition retention.

You can also boost the nutrition in burgers made on a George Foreman Grill through healthy toppings and ingredients like veggies, avocado, ketchup, mustard, or hummus. Some healthy additions include:

  • Lettuce – vitamin K, antioxidants
  • Tomato – lycopene, vitamins C/K
  • Onion – quercetin, sulfur compounds
  • Mushrooms – selenium, riboflavin

Overall, cooking burgers on a George Foreman Grill drains away some fat while providing a fast, convenient cooking method to enjoy the nutrition of beef in moderation.

Healthier Cooking Options

While George Foreman Grills offer a healthier burger cooking method by removing fat and grill quickly at lower temps, there are even healthier alternatives to consider:

1. Chicken or Turkey Burgers

Swapping beef for chicken or turkey can cut down on fat, calories, and potential cancer risks. Ground turkey breast provides fewer calories and fat grams than 85% lean ground beef.

2. Portobello Mushroom Caps

Grilled portobello caps have an earthy, meaty flavor and texture, while providing nutrition without carcinogen concerns.

3. Veggie Patties

Patties made from veggies, beans, grains, etc. have no fat or cholesterol while providing fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Grill carefully to avoid crumbling.

4. Grilled Chicken or Fish

In place of burgers, cooking boneless chicken breasts, salmon fillets, shrimp, or other non-processed proteins is lower risk.

5. Baked Sweet Potato

For a meatless meal, baked sweet potatoes pack fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Top with veggies or hummus for protein.


George Foreman Grills provide a convenient method of cooking burgers indoors while draining away fat and using lower temperatures. Burgers made on a George Foreman Grill offer less fat and calories compared to fattier cooking methods. However, all high-heat cooking like grilling has risks of producing small amounts of carcinogens. Following proper usage and preparation guidelines can help minimize this risk. Leaner meats, healthy toppings, and proper doneness provide healthier burger options. For maximum health, swapping beef for chicken, fish, veggies, or meatless alternatives may be even better options to grill. Overall, enjoying the occasional burger cooked on a George Foreman Grill can be a relatively healthy option when done properly. But variety and moderation remains key for a balanced, risk-reducing diet.