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Is Shake and Bake healthier than frying?

With the popularity of air fryers and concerns around eating healthy, many people wonder if Shake ‘N Bake is a healthier alternative to fried chicken. Shake ‘N Bake is a seasoned coating mix that allows you to “fake fry” chicken in the oven. But is it actually healthier than deep frying chicken? Here’s an in-depth comparison of the nutrition, ingredients, and cooking methods.

Nutritional Comparison

When comparing the nutrition facts, Shake ‘N Bake appears to be a healthier choice over fried chicken:

Nutrition Facts 3 oz fried chicken 3 oz Shake ‘N Bake chicken
Calories 245 160
Fat 15g 6g
Saturated Fat 4g 1.5g
Cholesterol 85mg 55mg
Sodium 115mg 370mg

As you can see, a 3 ounce portion of Shake ‘N Bake chicken has significantly less calories, fat, and cholesterol compared to fried chicken. However, it does contain over 3 times more sodium.

Lower Calories

Frying chicken adds a significant amount of extra calories and fat. When chicken is submerged in hot oil, the batter absorbs the oil, packing in extra calories and fat. A 3 ounce fried chicken breast contains about 245 calories and 15g total fat.

In contrast, when chicken is oven-baked with Shake ‘N Bake, very little oil is used. Shake ‘N Bake only adds about 160 calories and 6g of fat for the same 3 ounce portion. That’s a savings of 85 calories and 9g of fat simply by choosing Shake ‘N Bake’s oven method.

Less Saturated Fat

The source of fat also differs between the two cooking methods. The primary source of fat in fried chicken is the frying oil, which is high in saturated fat. Only a small amount comes from the chicken itself. Saturated fats are linked to high cholesterol levels and heart disease risk when eaten in excess.

Bake chicken relies more on the natural fat in the chicken for moisture and flavor. As a lean protein, chicken is relatively low in saturated fat naturally. Shake ‘N Bake adds only a small amount of vegetable oil, which is lower in saturated fat.

Lower Cholesterol

Fried chicken contains a whopping 85mg of cholesterol in a 3oz portion. This is because deep frying causes more cholesterol to migrate from the chicken into the oil.

Shake ‘N Bake chicken has just 55mg of cholesterol for the same serving size. Because it is baked rather than submerged in hot oil, less cholesterol leaches out. Plus, no cholesterol is added from the oil.

Higher Sodium

The one downside of Shake ‘N Bake is that it contains significantly more sodium. There are 370mg of sodium in 3oz of Shake ‘N Bake chicken, versus just 115mg in fried chicken. This is because Shake ‘N Bake relies heavily on salt and seasoning to add flavor.

The high sodium content is one reason why Shake ‘N Bake should be enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.

Ingredients Comparison

When comparing ingredients, Shake ‘N Bake also comes out slightly ahead:

Shake ‘N Bake Ingredients

  • Enriched wheat flour
  • Salt
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Garlic powder
  • Spices
  • Paprika
  • Natural flavor
  • Yellow corn flour
  • Sugar
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Nonfat milk

Fried Chicken Batter Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Baking powder
  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Canola oil (for frying)

Shake ‘N Bake contains MSG, which some people prefer to avoid, although it’s generally recognized as safe by health authorities. The frying batter contains fewer artificial ingredients.

However, the big difference is the oil used for frying. Frying chicken soaks up a lot of oil, whereas Shake ‘N Bake requires only a small amount of oil for baking. From an ingredients standpoint, avoiding the large quantity of frying oil makes Shake ‘N Bake a bit healthier.

Cooking Process Comparison

The cooking method also impacts the nutrition profile:

Deep Frying

Frying cooks chicken in hot oil, normally around 350°F. The chicken is submerged in the hot oil for about 10-15 minutes until cooked through and crispy.


  • Very fast cooking time
  • Crispy, crunchy texture
  • Delicious, moist, and juicy


  • Absorbs a lot of oil, increasing calories/fat
  • High temperature causes more cholesterol migration
  • Can make kitchen greasy
  • Risk of burns from hot oil

Baking with Shake ‘N Bake

Shake ‘N Bake is baked in the oven at 375°F for about 45-60 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.


  • Minimal oil used
  • Lower calorie and fat
  • No oil splatters
  • Simple to make


  • Longer cook time
  • Can dry out if overcooked
  • Doesn’t get as crispy
  • More dishes to wash

Overall, baking creates a healthier nutrition profile by minimizing the amount of oil absorbed. However, frying makes a crunchier and more moist finished product.

Taste Comparison

Most people agree that fried chicken tastes better than Shake ‘N Bake. Frying creates a crispier, juicier, and more flavorful end result. The hot oil helps seal in moisture and adds rich flavor from the oil and batter.

Shake ‘N Bake can end up a bit dry and less crispy. The flavors are also less rich without absorbing as much oil. However, seasoning Shake ‘N Bake well and not overcooking can still produce tasty oven-baked chicken.

Cost Comparison

Cost for 2 servings Fried Chicken Shake ‘N Bake
Chicken (1lb) $3 $3
Breading/coating $0.50 $0.85
Oil $0.60 $0.10
Total $4.10 $3.95

The costs are fairly comparable. Shake ‘N Bake costs a bit more than a simple flour dredge, but saves significantly on oil. Overall, the total costs are very close.

Convenience Comparison

In terms of convenience, frying chicken is faster but makes more dishes to wash. Baking with Shake ‘N Bake takes longer but avoids any oil splatter cleanup.



  • Short fry time of 10-15 minutes


  • Heating up oil takes time
  • Oil splatters make kitchen messy
  • More cleanup of oil and utensils

Shake ‘N Bake


  • Easy oven setup
  • Minimal dishes


  • Longer 45-60 min bake time
  • More prep coating chicken

For quicker cooking opt for frying, but for easier cleanup, Shake ‘N Bake wins.

Healthiest Cooking Tips

While Shake ‘N Bake is generally healthier than fried chicken, there are some tweaks you can make to improve its nutrition:

1. Use Healthy Oils

Brush chicken with olive oil or avocado oil instead of canola oil before coating for more monounsaturated fats.

2. Reduce Sodium

Cut back on salt in the coating or use low-sodium Shake ‘N Bake to decrease the sodium content.

3. Remove Skin

Chicken skin adds significant saturated fat and calories. Remove skin before cooking to cut almost 100 calories and 5g fat per serving.

4. Bake Not Fry

Obviously baking avoids the extra calories and fat from frying. But you can oven “fry” for a crispier crust by starting at a high temp then turning down.

5. Pair With Veggies

Balance your meal with roasted veggies and a green salad instead of another starch like mac and cheese.

The Winner?

Overall, Shake ‘N Bake comes out slightly ahead as the healthier choice compared to fried chicken.

The pros of Shake ‘N Bake:

  • Lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol
  • Contains less saturated fat
  • Minimizes oil used for cooking
  • Fewer pans to clean up
  • Slightly lower cost

However, fried chicken does taste significantly better. Many people opt to enjoy fried chicken in moderation as an occasional indulgence.

You can make Shake ‘N Bake healthier by using olive oil, decreasing salt, removing skin, and pairing it with vegetables. Both cooking methods have their place depending on your priorities for health, taste, and convenience!