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Is baked chicken as good as grilled?

When it comes to cooking chicken, two of the most popular methods are baking and grilling. Both techniques produce moist, flavorful chicken, but they achieve it in different ways. So which is better – baked or grilled chicken? There are pros and cons to both cooking methods.

Baked Chicken Basics

Baking uses dry, ambient heat to slowly cook food in an enclosed oven. To bake chicken, you season bone-in chicken parts or bone-less breasts, arrange them in a baking dish, and cook at a moderate temperature (usually 350-425°F) for 30-60 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

The enclosed environment traps moisture released by the chicken as it cooks, keeping it tender and juicy. Baking allows you to easily add flavors like herbs, spices, citrus, or sauce to the chicken or baking dish. It takes minimal involvement – just season, arrange, and bake. While oven baking does require more time than grilling, it also allows you to bake multiple pieces at once.

Grilled Chicken Basics

Grilling chicken involves cooking it directly over a hot flame fueled by gas or charcoal. The high heat of the grill sears the outside of chicken, creating delicious caramelized flavor. Fat and juices drip down onto the flame, producing smoke that infuses the chicken with savory grilled flavor.

Grilling takes less time than baking since the heat is more intense – bone-in chicken parts take about 20-30 minutes on a preheated grill. The key is keeping the thicker parts further from the heat and the thinner parts closer to it. Smaller boneless breasts take just 8-12 minutes. Frequent flipping and basting keeps the chicken moist.


When it comes to nutritional value, baked and grilled chicken are fairly similar. According to the USDA, a 6 oz cooked chicken breast contains:

  • Calories: 263
  • Protein: 43 g
  • Fat: 8 g

The method of cooking does not significantly alter the calories, protein, fat, or other nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Both baked and grilled chicken are high in protein, low in fat, and contain no carbs.

However, grilling may cause some of the fat to drip away, whereas baking traps more of the fat in the cooking dish. So grilled chicken may be slightly lower in fat and calories than baked chicken.


Flavor is where the cooking methods differ the most. Baked chicken develops flavor from seasonings, sauce, and retained juices. Grilled chicken gets flavor from smoke, char, and caramelization.

Baked Chicken Flavor

Baked chicken takes on the flavors it is cooked with. Using an acidic marinade, classic herb blend, or flavorful sauce imbues the chicken with taste. The enclosed baking environment also keeps the meat very moist and tender.

However, baked chicken skin may not get as crispy since it is not exposed to direct heat. You can get crunchier skin by basting with oil or broiling for a few minutes after baking.

Grilled Chicken Flavor

The high dry heat of the grill sears and browns the exterior of the chicken, adding delicious caramelized and charred flavors. The smoke from rendered fat and juices dripping on the flames also infuses the chicken with a wonderful savory essence.

Grilling brings out the natural flavors of the chicken itself, so just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper is all you need to make it taste amazing. The direct heat also crisps up the skin nicely.


When comparing the convenience factor, baking often has the advantage for larger meals while grilling is great for quick cooking.

Baked Chicken Convenience

One major advantage of baking is that you can cook multiple pieces of chicken at the same time – a whole baking sheet full if needed. This makes it easy to prepare chicken for larger groups, meal prepping, or leftovers.

The oven does the work for you once the chicken goes in, freeing you up for other kitchen tasks. Just check periodically and remove once it reaches proper doneness. Cleanup is fairly minimal too since everything is contained in the pan.

Grilled Chicken Convenience

Grilling is less convenient for large batches since you can only fit a few pieces of chicken on the grill at once. It also requires more active involvement since you need to continuously flip and monitor pieces.

However, grilling has the major advantage of speed when cooking individual servings. It takes less than half the time of baking. This makes it great for quick weeknight meals.

Grilling also adds a lot of flavor with little effort, eliminating the need to marinate chicken. Cleanup can be more involved though since you have to clean the grill grates.

Which is Healthier?

Both grilled and baked chicken can be part of a healthy diet. Chicken is a lean protein that provides nutrients like niacin, vitamin B6, selenium, and choline with minimal fat and no carbs.

However, there are some health considerations with each cooking method:

Baked Chicken Health Benefits

– Retains more juices and natural flavor since it cooks more slowly in a closed oven.

– Cooking with the skin on retains healthy fats and flavor.

– Oven baking is lower risk for charring or producing carcinogens compared to grilling directly over an open flame.

Grilled Chicken Health Benefits

– Cooking over high heat can create heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which may be carcinogenic when consumed in excess. These compounds increase with charring.

– Grilling allows fat to drip away rather than sitting in a baking dish, possibly producing slightly leaner meat.

– Gets excellent flavor from smoke and charring without needing as much salt or oil.

So grilling in moderation along with other cooking methods is likely fine, but avoid charring the chicken too much. Both baked and grilled chicken can fit into a healthy diet when prepared properly.


The price difference between baked and grilled chicken comes down to the equipment needed.

Oven baking just requires a basic baking sheet and oven, which most kitchens already have. There is essentially no extra equipment cost.

Grilling needs either an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan. Propane and charcoal grills start around $100 for a small portable model. Electric grills cost closer to $200+. Indoor grill pans cost $25-50.

You do have the recurring cost of propane or charcoal for outdoor grilling. However, an outdoor grill also facilitates cooking other meats, veggies, and more.

So baked chicken has a lower equipment cost upfront, but grilled chicken costs more for the initial grill purchase. Ongoing costs are minimal for both.

Taste Comparison

Overall, baked and grilled chicken both taste delicious with some key differences:

Baked Chicken Taste

– Very moist and tender meat when cooked properly
– Infused with marinade, seasoning, or sauce flavors
– Herb-roasted flavors shine through
– Skin may be soft rather than crispy

Grilled Chicken Taste

– Char and caramelized flavors on the exterior
– Smoky, savory flavor from drippings
– Crunchy skin from high heat
– Sauce or seasonings less pronounced

Baked chicken excels at delivering non-grilled flavors like lemon, herbs, or teriyaki. Grilled chicken highlights the natural smoky essence. It comes down to which flavor profile you want.

Best Uses for Each

Based on their different strengths, here are the best applications for baked vs grilled chicken:

Best Uses for Baked Chicken

– Roasting a whole bird or bone-in parts
– Cooking for groups or meal prepping
– Adding sauces, marinades, or rubs
– Enhancing flavor with herbs, spices, citrus
– Keeping skin moist and tender

Best Uses for Grilled Chicken

– Fast weeknight meals
– Simple seasoned chicken with salt and olive oil
– Maximizing smoky, charred flavors
– Getting crispy skin
– Infusing smoke flavor without needing a lot of seasoning

So baking works well for larger meals and saucy flavors, while grilling excels at fast cooking and smoky flavors.

The Verdict

So is baked or grilled chicken better? The answer is that they both have merits and work better in different scenarios.

For home cooks, having options for both baked and grilled chicken makes you the most versatile. Baking excels at roasted flavor in larger batches, while grilling provides quick charred flavor for fast meals.

Combining both cooking methods along with other techniques like pan frying, air frying, or poaching gives you an arsenal of options to keep your chicken exciting. Varying the flavor and texture keeps it fresh.

In terms of nutrition, baked and grilled chicken are nearly identical. Both offer an excellent source of lean protein. Grilled may have slightly less fat if juices can drip away while baking seals in more moisture and fat. But the differences are minor.

So focus more on the flavor you want and how much chicken you need to prepare. Want roasted lemon herb chicken for the whole family? Baking is your best bet. Need a fast weeknight meal for two? Throw some chicken on the grill.

Chicken is versatile enough to experiment with different cooking methods. So bake, grill, and enjoy this lean protein in all its glory!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is baked or grilled chicken healthier?

Chicken is a healthy lean protein no matter if it is baked or grilled. Grilled may have slightly less fat if juices can drip away, but both are still low fat options. Grilling at high temperatures can potentially create carcinogens though, so baking may be slightly healthier.

What is better for weight loss, baked or grilled chicken?

For weight loss, it is best to avoid high fat sauces and breaded chicken. Plain baked or grilled chicken breast is ideal. They are nearly equal in calories and protein content. Choose based on which you find more satisfying.

Which cooking method retains more moisture?

Baked chicken tends to be moister since the enclosed oven environment traps moisture released during cooking. Grilled chicken exposed directly to high heat can dry out faster unless continuously basted.

How much time does each cooking method require?

Baked chicken takes 30-60 minutes depending on thickness. Grilled chicken cooks much faster at just 8-15 minutes per piece. Grilling requires more active monitoring though.

What gives baked chicken more flavor?

For baked chicken, marinades, rubs, and sauces add a lot of flavor. Herbs, spices, citrus, garlic, and wine work well. Broth or oil in the baking dish also keeps it moist and tender.

What gives grilled chicken the most flavor?

For grilled chicken, dry rubs work better than wet marinades which can burn. Smoke, char, and caramelization produce the signature grilled flavor. Brining helps keep it juicy.

Which cooking method produces the crispiest skin?

Grilled chicken skin gets crisper from the direct high heat. Baked chicken skin may be soft and rubbery unless you broil it after baking or coat it in oil.

Which is easier for cooking large quantities?

Baked chicken is much better for cooking higher volumes since you can use multiple oven racks or baking sheets. Grilling can only accommodate a few pieces at a time.

Which requires more expensive equipment?

Grilled chicken requires purchasing an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan which cost over $100 typically. Baked chicken just needs a basic oven and baking sheet which most kitchens already have.