How To Keep Chicken From Sticking To The Grill?

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Let’s be honest. We’ve all had our fair share of chicken sticking to the grill surface. I know I have. After trying a lot of hacks that are supposed to be super effective, I almost gave up hope.

Surprisingly, I found out that following a few easy and straight instructions can solve this issue. Combining the right ways to do it is the only thing you need to prevent your chicken from sticking to the grill surface.

I’ve tried to cover everything I’ve discovered during my adventurous cooking journey regarding how to keep chicken from sticking to the grill. Keep going through to learn the hacks. 

How To Keep Chicken From Sticking To The Grill – Learn The Hacks

First of all, you have to keep your grill clean. If you clean your grill every time after cooking, a light cleaning should be enough. If you don’t, you need to go through a thorough cleaning process.

  • Take the grill temperature to 350 degrees F. Don’t forget, the temperature is the key to every yummy dish.  
  • Season your grill in the right way. It helps to keep from sticking chicken to the grill.
  • Use a grill mat because the chicken is less likely to stick when on grill mats. 
  • Use oil with a high smoking point. Olive oil, for example, is the best one for grilling chicken.
  • Use a basting brush to apply a light layer of olive oil, season your meat, and then start cooking.  It can create a vast difference. 
  • Don’t flip early. When cooking chicken, wait for 4 to 5 minutes before flipping. The time can vary depending on the meat’s thickness.
  • The optimum time for flipping is 4.5 minutes after you put the chicken on a hot grill. If you still see the chicken sticking, wait for another 30 to 40 seconds before flipping.  
  • If you want to flip your chicken without sticking to the surface, use long tongs for precise movements.
  • Use open vents for higher temperatures on a charcoal grill. 
  • Keep the lid closed when you want to increase the temperature and vice versa. 
  • Maintain the grilling time. Depending on the size of your chicken pieces, the length of cooking time will vary.
  • If you are grilling small pieces like breasts or thighs, 6 to 8 minutes on each side should do it.
  • Bigger pieces take longer to cook. Check if your chicken is cooked well enough all the way through before you serve. To do so, you can use one of these digital meat thermometers
  • Sometimes chicken remains undercooked and it causes foodborne illness. So be careful about chicken doneness.
  • Cut into the thickest meat part to ensure that there’s no pink meat remaining in the middle and the juices are running clear.

Topcellent Tip: One little tip I discovered that works are pre-cooking your chicken in the oven. Pre-cooking your meat for 1 hour in the microwave can decrease your cooking time on the grill and help prevent sticking. Don’t forget to flip the chicken after 30 minutes when preheating. 

As obvious as it sounds, a clean grill will help prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill. Sometimes we don’t bother to clean the whole grill thinking that it doesn’t affect our food. 

I can’t emphasize the fact enough how important it is to use a clean grill for a nonstick chicken grilling experience. Trust me, you will notice the difference yourself.  

If you prefer cleaning your grill before you cook rather than after, use a grill brush on a hot grill to make the grates clean. It becomes much easier when the grill is hot. 

Putting your chicken to the grill before the grill is hot enough will result in sticking your meat. So what do you do? You make the grill hot enough. 

But how hot is hot enough? 350 degrees F. If you can keep up this temperature, you will get a perfect piece of grilled chicken without sticking it. 

How do you know if you have reached the optimal temperature? If you are not a pro at grilling, you should use a thermometer to make sure the temperature is acceptable. 

Many people perform the half when it comes to seasoning. They either oil their chicken or the grill grates. Doing both can help you get the best result out of grilling. 

Only a light layer of cooking spray can make your grill grates more nonstick. Apply the oil to cold grill grates, or you will cause flames. The safest way is to spray oil on cold grills.  

If you don’t have cooking spray, you can use an oil-dipped paper towel to wipe the grates with it. Make sure you don’t use too much oil. If the oil drips from the grates, it will flame up.

Grill mats are fantastic when you want mess-free cooking. Before I used a grill mat, food particles would fall through the grates inside the grill. It isn’t enjoyable to clean. 

The grill mates hold the extra food and make the grill clean. And that’s just a side benefit. When you want your chicken not to stick to the grill, a mat is an excellent option for providing a nonstick surface. 

I’ve used the one from Renook, and it’s terrific. Your chicken doesn’t stick, and you get a clean grilling.  

As I mentioned earlier, it’s equally essential to oil both the chicken and the grill. What oil you choose also has an impact on your meat. 

Using a good pair of tongs can assist you like an invisible pair of hands. When you can’t use your own hands for flipping the meat or moving it around, tongs can come in very handy. 

Using spoons doesn’t give you complete control over the meat. My personal favorite is the set from Hotec. You’ll know their worth once you start using them. 

Temperature control works differently with each meal. For example, when preparing a perfect burger, the grill should reach medium-high heat. That’s approximately 375 degrees.

How you can control the temperature depends on the grill type. If you are using a charcoal grill, the more airflow you can provide, the hotter your grill will get

Gas grills work the opposite way. If you close the lid, the heat stays locked inside the grill and creates higher heat. 

Reasons Why Chicken Sticks On The Grill

Multiple mistakes can lead to chicken sticking to the grill. Starting with temperature, oil, time, and other issues can result in this unwanted outcome. Make sure you know where you are making mistakes so you can prevent them from happening again.

  • Grill grates

The meat stays in touch with the grill grates. It’s no wonder that the grates will have an impact on this occurrence. 

When you don’t prepare your grates properly, it can react with your meat season resulting in sticking. Dirt sitting on your grill grates is one of the most common reasons for meat sticking to it.

If the grates are dirty, there’s no way you can prevent your chicken from sticking even if you’ve done everything else correctly. 

  • Temperature

The first reaction I always get when I ask about chicken sticking on the grill is whether the grill was hot enough or not. Not controlling the temperature and maintaining it can cause your chicken to stick to the surface. 

You already know how important temperature control is when it comes to cooking. Now you know it has an impact on sticking your chicken too. 

  • Oil

One of the elementary reasons for chicken sticking is not oiling it beforehand. Not using oil on the grill grates is another reason. 

  • Dirty grill

Using clean grill grates doesn’t end your responsibilities. You have to use a whole clean grill. The dirt residing in the grill can get to the food which can cause your meat to stick to the grill.

  • Time

Cooking the meat for too long or not cooking the chicken enough can lead to sticking. Time management is very crucial when it comes to grilling your chicken.

Do You Grill Chicken With Lid Open Or Closed

Sometimes, the most difficult questions hold the simplest answers. It’s a very common question among cooking enthusiasts if you should keep the lid open or not during grilling. 

The thickness of the chicken is the key to your answer. If your chicken is thick, you will need to cover the lid. If it’s equal or thinner than ¾ inches, you can grill while keeping the lid open. 

Two Alternative Ways Of Grilling Chicken That Won’t Stick 

How you grill your chicken depends on your preference and recipe. I’m sharing two methods that support nonstick grilling. If you are struggling with chicken sticking to the grill grates, you try these for a change. 

  • Grilling On Wood Planks

The chicken sticks to the grates while grilling. If you use wood planks, your chicken doesn’t come in contact with the grates and therefore doesn’t stick. 

Planks are also very effective for providing you with smoky flavors. Cedar planks from Grill Gourmet are a very popular choice among bbq lovers nowadays. 

  • Using Aluminum Foil

Few people suggest using aluminum foil for grilling chicken. The argument in favor of this method is the same as using a grilling mat. 

You can get a mess-free nonstick grilling experience if you cook your chicken by placing it inside aluminum foil. 

However, I don’t prefer using aluminum because you can’t get grilled chicken aesthetics when using aluminum foil. Grill mats are designed in a way to provide the chicken with those beautiful stripes you want on your chicken. 

Oil Or Butter Which Is Better For Grilling Chicken

When you are grilling chicken, always go for oils. Not just any oils, but the ones with a high smoking point. 

Butter has a rather low smoking point (around 300 degrees), whereas some oils like olive oil have a higher smoking point (near about 400 degrees). So if you want to prevent your chicken from sticking, it’s better to use oil than butter. 

Direct Heat Or Indirect Heat For Grilling Chicken

For a perfectly grilled chicken, use both direct and indirect heat for cooking. For the first 8 to 10 minutes, cook your chicken on direct heat. 

Don’t forget to flip your chicken halfway through. Then switch the meat to indirect heat and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Using both methods helps prevent your chicken from sticking to the surface.

Oiling The Grill VS The Meat 

A common question regarding meat sticking to the grill is, do you oil your grill or the meat? Why can’t it be both? If oiling the meat can prevent it from sticking, wouldn’t oil both results better?  

If you want to make sure the meat doesn’t stick to the grill, oil your grill and then oil your meat. If you are trying to eat and cook healthy, apply a light layer on both. And go for healthier oil like olive oil. 

Do you oil chicken before seasoning?

Oiling your chicken before seasoning makes it easy for the spices to stick to your meat. So, it’s better to oil the chicken before you season your meat rather than after.   

Should you grill chicken on foil?

You can grill chicken on aluminum foil for mess-free and nonstick grilling. But, aluminum prevents your chicken from having the stripes you want from your grilled chicken, so be prepared to sacrifice that if you want to use foil. 

What do you spray on chicken when grilling?

You can spray sauce on your chicken to add flavors when grilling. You can either make it yourself or buy a ready-made spray to use.  

Do you flip chicken on the grill?

Yes, flipping the chicken is essential. You don’t want your chicken to be cooked on one side and stay raw on the other. Flip the chicken halfway through to get an evenly cooked grilled chicken. 

Can you use olive oil on grill grates?

Yes, you can. Oils with a high smoking point are recommended to use for oiling the grates. Olive oil has a very high smoking point between 375 and 405 degrees. 

How do you pre-cook chicken before grilling?

You can pre-cook your chicken in a microwave for 1 hour. Flip the chicken after 30 minutes. Pre-cooking can lessen the cooking time and prevent sticking. 

Can you grill the chicken without oil?

If you don’t use oil while grilling your chicken, the chicken is bound to stick to the grates. You can use other cooking methods without oil, but oil is mandatory when it comes to grilling. 

Which side of chicken do you grill first?

Always grill the chicken’s skin side first. For a beautifully cooked grilled chicken, it’s better to cook the skin side first. 

How long do I parboil chicken before grilling?

Parboil your chicken for 30 to 40 minutes if it’s a whole chicken. 15 to 20 minutes if it’s wings. 10 minutes for breasts and 5 minutes for thighs, legs, or quarters.


I guess that’s all the queries you can have about how to keep chicken from sticking to the grill. Remember that cooking is a delicate matter regardless of what you are cooking. If you are not patient enough or you don’t have the right knowledge about executing a perfect dish, you will end up wasting time, energy, and money. 

I recommend gathering everything you need before you can get to the cooking part. This way, you won’t have to stop halfway through to get something. Even though cooking is a place where you can experiment your way through the right path, it’s better to be prepared for everything. Keep grilling and, most importantly, keep grilling the right way.  

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