Grilled Chicken VS Fried Chicken According To 8 Key Differences

Did you know that people worldwide consume almost 140 million chickens daily?

Well, I am sure I make a larger-than-average contribution to these fascinating stats. I cannot seem to have enough chicken despite eating it every day.

But I am always conflicted about whether to go for grilled or fried chicken. Sometimes I even end up getting both when ordering takeout. If like me, you are always finding it hard to decide which one to buy or cook; this article is for you.

I will explain the key differences between grilling and frying chicken. Also, I will answer a few questions you might have about frying and grilling. So make sure you stick with me to the end, so you do not miss anything.

Let’s jump straight in! First, Let’s learn about the 2 different cooking methods.

What is Grilled Chicken? 

air fryer chicken wings

Grilled chicken is any chicken that is cooked on a grill or a charcoal stove. The grill can be electric, charcoal, or an air fryer grill combo, but the results are usually the same.

The idea behind grilling a chicken is exposing it to an open flame to allow the radiation heat to cook it fast. Grilling the chicken also helps give it a nice smoky flavor. Especially when using a charcoal grill.

And like grilling all other food, the chicken also ends with some nice grill marks. Grilled chicken is typically served as a main course. It goes best with a side of veggies, potatoes, or any other carbs you prefer. Grilled chicken can also make a perfect snack when barbequing. 

Also, from my experience, grilled chicken always tastes better when you marinate it. Marinating and leaving it in the fridge overnight makes it highly flavorful. Plus, marination can also prevent the formation of free radicals when grilling. It hence makes your chicken even healthier.

Grilled Chicken Benefits

Most of us love grilled chicken for its flavor. Plus, it is always fun to fire up the grill and make fantastic meals with family over the weekend. But grilled chicken has several other benefits. Here is a quick overview of some of them:

It is Healthier

Grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook food. For starters, you can grill your chicken without using any oil. Grilling can be as simple as just seasoning the chicken and throwing it on the grill.

The excess fat on the chicken will also drop off through the grates when grilling. And so you always end up with a lean protein. 

More Nutritious 

Grilled chicken is highly nutritious, especially when compared to frying. You will lose very few important nutrients when you cook your chicken over an open flame.

Other cooking methods, like deep frying, destroy some of the vitamins and nutrients. And so you end up with tasty and crunchy chicken with less nutritional value.

Grilled Chicken is Tastier

The truth is taste is highly subjective. Personally, the taste of grilled chicken is just amazing for me. But I still have several friends who swear fried chicken tastes much better. 

That being said, grilling locks on all the chicken juices. It does this by quickly searing the exterior, making it more flavorful.

Plus, marinating the chicken before grilling ensures it will be more flavorful. And this is more so if you remove the skin to ensure the flavors get deeper into the chicken.

Grilled Chicken Is Easy to Make

You do not need to be a gourmet chef to make grilled chicken. You only need to ensure the temperature is right. Also, remember to flip and baste the chicken as it cooks for the best outcomes.

What is Fried Chicken? 

Fried chicken is typically breaded chicken that is deep-fried in hot oil. Many people will also call it crispy chicken as it has a nice and crunchy exterior. 

You can make fried chicken on the stovetop using a pan filled with oil or cook it in a deep fryer. Also, you can make fried chicken using a pressure fryer. An air fryer also works well. And this is more so if you want to make the chicken healthier with fewer calories.

Immersing the chicken in oil comes with some health concerns. The oil usually adds some calories to the chicken, making it less healthy. And so, fried chicken might be the best option for you when watching your weight.

Grilled vs Fried Kitchen: 8 Key Differences You Should Know

The choice between fried and grilled chicken largely depends on your preferences. And probably also your mood. But here are a few key differences to keep in mind when not sure what to eat:

1. Taste and Flavor

air fryer whole chicken

So which one tastes better?

Again this largely depends on the tastes and flavors you prefer. And, of course, what you are craving. Still, grilled chicken tends to be more flavorful. And there are many reasons for this.

For example, grilled chicken does not have any breading. This makes it easy for the chicken to take on any marinades or spices you add. In short, you will be in more control of the flavor when grilling.

Grilling over an open charcoal flame gives the chicken a distinctive smoky flavor. This authentic flavor is hard to achieve when deep frying. Even if you smoke the chicken after frying, it will still not have the same flavor.

Still, frying can also give food a unique flavor if you spice up your breading properly. The breading also locks in the juices. This allows for a more intense chicken flavor.

2. Nutrition Value

If you are frying and grilling the same chicken size, the nutrition is the same when they are raw. But, the cooking process will change things significantly.

Grilling chicken ensures you retain more nutrients and vitamins. Also, you do not need to add other ingredients that can alter the nutritional value. Unless, of course, you add too much salt or over-spice the chicken during marination.

The exact nutritional value of grilled chicken depends on factors like chicken type. Still, you should expect to get around 120 mg of sodium and 3.6g of fat per 100g of chicken.

When frying chicken, some healthy vitamins and minerals will be lost. Also, the breading and deep-frying process will add other things like saturated fat. Plus, the breading also increases the carbs in your chicken. 

100g of fried chicken will have around 240 mg of sodium, at least 18.82g of fat and 16.32g carbs.

3. Cooking Time

Fried foods are hard to beat when it comes to cooking speed. This should explain where they get their “fast food’ tag. And so, it should be clear from the onset that frying will be faster. It will take a fraction of the time you need to grill.

You can fry a chicken breast in as little as 10 minutes. It all depends on the power and efficiency of your deep fryer. Other appliances like the air fryer and pressure fryers can even fry it much faster. These machines often require less than 5 minutes to get the oil to the optimal frying temperature of 350 to 375°F.

You can grill a thin piece of chicken breast in a little over 10 minutes. Still, you often need at least 30 minutes when grilling most foods. Also, setting up your grill takes more time. You must clean up the grill and give the coals enough time to light. Plus, you also need to allow the grates to get hot.

4. Calories

No doubt fried chicken will have more calories than grilled food. Frying chicken means that it will absorb lots of fat from the oil. This can increase the number of calories greatly. 

Plus, unlike grilling, where fat melts and falls through the grates,  frying retains all the fat. And the breading can also add a significant amount of calories to your fried chicken. A typical 100g portion of fried chicken will have almost 300 calories.

Grilled chicken will have far fewer calories since you do not need to add oil when cooking. 100g of grilled chicken will have less than 150 calories. And you can further reduce the calories by removing the skin before grilling.

5. Protein

air fryer chicken legs

The amount of protein in chicken stays mostly the same when cooking. Whether you fry, grill or boil chicken, you should end up with pretty much the same amount of protein.

The only difference can come from the other ingredients you add to the chicken. When making breaded fried chicken, it is possible to add a small amount of protein to the chicken. Things like milk and buttermilk, often used for breading, have some protein.

Removing the skin when grilling chicken also means you can lose small amounts of protein. Still, both fried and grilled chicken will have around 30g of protein.

6. Ease of Cooking

I have an electric grill that heats super fast. I can hence have my grilled meats ready in just a few minutes. I see little difference between the cooking time on my grill and the deep fryer. 

All this means is that the ease of cooking for grilling and frying depends on what you are using. For instance, a charcoal grill will take more effort and time to cook than an electric deep fryer.

But overall, frying chicken is much easier than grilling. Most digital deep fryers and air fryers have presets. These preset will set your cooking time and temperature. And so you will only need to heat the appliance and leave it to do the rest.

Grilling requires a more hands-on approach. You have to keep flipping the kitchen to prevent burning. Also, you need to baste every few minutes to make the flavor more intense.

7. Preparation Cost

With all the fast foods everywhere, fried foods are the cheapest and easiest to get. But is fried chicken cheaper to make at home than grilled chicken?

The truth is that there is no straight answer to this. Several factors come into play. And the costs of both grilling and frying chicken depend on your specific situation.

If you use an electric grill, things will be cheaper. There is hardly any other significant cost besides buying the chicken. And maybe the electricity you will use. But a charcoal grill can make things a little more expensive. This is more so if you use natural wood coals, as they are now quite pricey. A 3kg bag of wood charcoal will cost up to $10.

Still, frying chicken also means you have to consider the cost of oil. With global cooking oil prices always rising, frying can be more expensive.

8. Impact on Your Long-Term Health

Chicken forms an important part of most people’s meals. It is a staple in many homes, and most of us take it almost daily. The average person will consume over 20 chickens every year. And so you cannot overlook the long-term impact of chicken on your health.

Most studies agree that fried chicken has a more adverse impact on your long-term health. Fried chicken contains more unsaturated fats. Eating too many unsaturated fats increases the risk of various cancer types. 

Plus, eating too much fried chicken often means you end up taking in too much salt. High sodium levels can lead to health issues like heart disease and even hypertension.

Grilled chicken is much healthier for you in the long term. For starters, it has fewer calories, meaning less risk of obesity. Also, it is easy to reduce the formation of free radicals. Free radicals usually form when cooking at high temperatures. You can do this by marinating your chicken before grilling. 

Is Grilled Food Good for You?

Grilling is one of the healthiest ways of cooking food. It has several advantages. The main one is that it preserves nutrients and vitamins. And so grilled food will be more beneficial for your body.

Grilled food will also have less fat. The cooking process does not require you to use a lot of oil. Plus, it allows you to remove some fat from the food. The open flame burns and melts fat. The fat then drains from the food through the grates.

Another thing that makes grilling good for you is that it brings you outdoors. Most of our time is spent indoors. Firing up the grill is a good excuse to spend some time outdoors. You can hence enjoy more fresh air and the sun.

Is Grilled Chicken Healthier?

Grilled chicken is healthier than fried chicken, no matter what you consider. But the biggest advantage is that it has significantly lower calories. Grilled chicken will contain up to half the calories you get in fried chicken.

Plus, the chicken will retain more nutrients and vitamins. Most of these important compounds will be lost when frying. And so grilling chicken means your body will not lose out on these key things. Remember, your body needs vitamins and minerals to grow and boost your immunity.

Grilling vs Pan Frying

air fryer chicken wings

Grilling and pan-frying are two of the healthiest way of cooking food. But are they really the same?

If you cook often enough, you should already know they are quite distinct. Each will be ideal for different kinds of foods and situations.

Grilling typically entails cooking foods on hot grates. It is often over an open flame. But it is still possible to grill without using an open flame. For instance, most electric grills will not have an open flame. They grill by heating the grates.

Also, grilled food will typically have a smoky flavor. Plus, the food often has a slight char and a crispy outside layer.

Pan-frying entails cooking in a heated pan. The pan can be over a charcoal, electric stove or any other heat source. Unlike grilling, you often have to use oil to prevent food from sticking. Oil is also vital to ensure the best cooking outcomes. 

Pan-fried food often retails its original taste and is quite crispy. Also, pan-fried food tends often has an excellent aroma.

Still, grilling food is healthier than both pan and deep frying.

Wrap Up: Should You Eat Grilled or Fried Chicken?

So how do you prefer your chicken? Grilled or fried?

Well, I prefer both, depending on the mood and season. Nothing beats crunchy fried chicken after a stressful day. Or when you want something to uplift your spirits. But grilled chicken is unbeatable on a warm summer Sunday. Grilled chicken is perfect when you want to enjoy a barbecue in the backyard with family and friends.

That said, grilled chicken is the healthier option of the two. It has fewer calories and will also retain most of the minerals and vitamins. Still, fried chicken is the quickest to cook and cheaper to buy when ordering takeout.

Now you know each chicken’s advantages and disadvantages. It should be easier to make up your mind on what to cook or order.

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