How to Keep Chicken from Sticking to the Grill (5 Easy Tips)

Tired of chicken sticking on your grill? Learn how to keep chicken from sticking to the grill through this guide.

A barbecue party is never complete without some good, old-fashioned grilled chicken. There is something delicious and mouthwatering when you put a thoroughly seasoned piece of drumstick, thigh or breast on the grate and let the heat from that burning coal cook it into a juicy, slightly charred, crispy delight. To top it all off, that perfect grill marks and char on each piece of meat really sets off a gastronomical party. You can actually smell the smoky aroma that is wafting from that barbecue staple.

Now, if only each serving of that chicken meat is perfect and kept together, right? Don’t you wish that you can have that perfect, whole, immaculate looking piece of chicken off your grill all the time?

Let us face the truth. Grilling chicken or some other protein in general can turn from a fiesta into a disaster all because the food has fallen through the grill or worst, it has stuck unto the grill!

If there is something that most foodies and professionals will tell you is that we eat with our eyes first. Imagine the horrifying sight of getting your piece of chicken off the grill and realizing a chunk of it is left on the grill! Not only are you missing out on good, tasty meat but, your presentation has totally gone south and now your barbecued food looks unappetizing.

The disaster does not stop after the party because the minute you turn to look at your grill, you will see a horrifying mess of food stuck and charred onto the grate. Cleaning your grill is important but when it has a ton of hardened, gunky mess, it can be quite a tedious task that you do not want to actually deal with.

Why Does Food Get Stuck in a Grill

Why Does Food Get Stuck in a Grill?

In order for you to get a solution on how to keep your chicken from sticking on the grill, you have to understand the reason why it actually gets stuck in the first place. Getting into the root of the problem will make it easier for you to avoid having to deal with this type of grilling mishap in the future.

These are the major reasons why food sticks unto the grill:

  1. There is no oil on the meat or the grate is not lubricated.
  2. The grill grate itself is dirty to begin with.
  3. The grill is not hot enough.
  4. The chicken is marinated in a sauce or seasoned with sugar.

There are certain elements, especially sugar, that burns easily and transforms into carbon which sticks to the grill grates. So, if your marinade or rub does contain some sugar, you have to expect some charred particles sticking onto your grill.

How to Prevent Chicken from Sticking to the Grill

How to Keep Chicken from Sticking to the Grill (5 Tips)

So, what can you do to prevent your chicken from sticking onto the grill? These are some of the simple tips which you can follow.


People will tell you that it is important that you oil your grate before grilling something. What most people forget to include is that you need to use the type of oil that has a high smoking point. Oils like peanut oil, corn, palm and avocado are pretty good choices since they have smoking points of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. So, this will not burn or smoke until it reaches that high temperature point.

If your grill is already hot and you forgot to oil it, take two sheets of paper towel, ball them up and dip in the oil. Now, with a long rubber thong, hold the oiled-up paper towel and rub them on the grates.

Seasoning the Grate

You can also treat or season your grill grate just as you would a cast iron pan to reduce sticking. Simply wipe your grill grates with oil then heat to temperature (don’t go beyond the oil’s smoking point.) Remove the grate and allow it to cool. Once it’s cool enough, re-oil and then place them back onto your grill.

Cooking Spray

People also use cooking spray to keep chicken or any food from sticking onto their grill grates. However, it is important that you use the spray before you start the fire to avoid any accidents. Cooking sprays often have highly flammable butane or propane compressed gasses in order to get that oil spraying so if it gets sprayed over open flame, it can be dangerous.

Cooking sprays use high-temperature canola oil which has a great, high smoking point so it is a good preventive measure to take. Plus, it will really help your grates release your chicken better and without leaving residue.

Oiling the Meat

One good way to utilize oil as a means to prevent food from sticking is to actually oil the meat itself instead of the grates. Just dry the meat that you are going to grill and lightly oil it. The oil from the meat will make the grate smoother and will help stop the food from sticking. Chicken in particular can greatly benefit from this method.

Start by patting the chicken dry with paper towel, season then lightly oil it using a canola or olive oil. Put the chicken on the grill SKIN SIDE down. The skin side has less meat so there is lesser chance of it adhering to the grates.


A good method you can use to avoid chicken from sticking onto the grate is to pre-heat your grill properly. Heat the metal grate high enough so that when the food gets in contact, it automatically singes it. This will help create steam when the meat’s moisture creates contact with the heated metal bars of the grate and that steam will keep the food from bonding with the metal surface.

You need to be able to hear your protein sizzle once you lay it on the grill. This means that steam is produced and will actually help release your meat from the grates and once the moisture has evaporated, it will give your chicken those luscious grill marks. Again, do not allow your protein to touch the metal grates without hearing that nice, delicious, sizzling sound.


This method actually defeats the purpose of grilling but, it can greatly reduce the risk of getting your food stuck on the grill. This pre-cooking will help firm the meat and stops it from adhering unto the metal surface. Once your food has started cooking at higher temperature, it reduces the ability to bond with your grate once you lay it on the grill.

You can lightly sauté your chicken or any protein (especially the soft ones like fish) on a pan before you actually finish it off on the grill. The meat at this point will have firmed up and will not mesh unto the grate. This is especially helpful if you have thin wire grill grates which easily gets food stuck unto it.


The simplest way to lessen the chances of chicken sticking into your grill is to make sure that you start off by cooking on a clean, residue-free grate. Burnt carbon from previous barbecue sauces stuck or left on the metal grates will definitely act like magnets and food you plan to cook next will stick to it.

Always give your grates a good clean scrubbing with a scrub pad or a grill brush or even balled up foil to scrape off any excess burnt carbon or pieces of stuck protein. Rinse with clean water and then you can start pre-heating your grill and prepare to barbecue that chicken without fear of sticking.


Finally, it is very tempting to keep on flipping or poking your chicken to check if the side is already done. You should try to avoid doing this as much as possible because you are doing more harm than good to your lovely barbecue. You have to have patience and let the grill actually do its work. Food, especially chicken, needs to have enough time to cook or heat up high enough in order to effortlessly get released from that metal grate.

Wrapping it up…

Chicken or any other type of meat on the grill should be an enjoyable experience. You do not have to suffer or do a hit-or-miss experience with your food. Try these tips to keep your grill crust free with food coming off it effortlessly. Plus, cleaning your grill after will be something you look forward to rather than dread because only little to no residue is left behind.

Happy grilling and may your next barbecue chicken meal be a yummy success!

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