How to Keep Chicken From Sticking to Grill? 5 Proven Methods!

December 5, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

You can keep chicken from sticking to the grill by applying a light coating of oil to the meat, cleaning the grill, preheating the grill, etc.

These methods have worked for me for years, and I’ve consistently recommended them to others. I learned all these techniques in culinary school, and I’ll be showing you all I learned. Bear in mind that these methods also work for other types of meat. Let’s begin!

how to keep chicken from sticking to grill

Best Ways to Prevent Chicken from Sticking to Grill

Let’s discuss six of the best ways to keep your chicken from sticking to the grill surface.

1. Applying Oil

Applying cooking oil to the chicken can prevent the flesh from sticking to the grill surface.  Gently pat the chicken with a paper towel. Season the meat with your preferred seasoning, and then brush it with a thin layer of cooking oil.

Then, place the chicken on the grill. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes per side. If your chicken is still sticking to the grates, cook it for another 60 seconds before flipping or removing it.

Apart from just oiling your chicken with regular oil, It is also important that you use oil with a high smoking point. Lower-end oils will start smoking before reaching a high point, which means the oil will turn into carbon and produce the binding agents that will cause the chicken to stick.

Olive oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil are examples of oils with smoking points above 400 degrees F, making them ideal for grilling. 

2. Apply Cooking Spray

You can also use cooking spray on your grill to prevent the chicken from sticking. These sprays are a good substitute for oiling your grill, and they use oils with a high smoking point.

Cooking sprays may also contain highly flammable gases. These can cause accidents if not used properly. For this reason, you should always use spray before starting a fire. The fire will flare up if you spray it while the grill is on.

3. Cleaning the Grill

Cooking chicken on a dirty grill also causes the chicken skin to stick to the grill. If the grill isn’t clean, the oil and carbon residue will combine to form a sticky substance that will cause the meat to stick. So, it’s important to clean your grill before or after using it. Simply use a brush, scrub pad, and warm water to clean the grill and remove any residue. 

If you’re cleaning the grill before using it, it’s best to preheat the grill until it is warm to the touch before cleaning the grill. This way, the particles and residue from the grill will be easier to clean. If you want to clean the grill after using it, simply wait until the grill cools and becomes warm to the touch before cleaning it.

4. Preheating the Grill

Even though it can be tempting to grill the chicken right away and let it cook, it is crucial to preheat your grill before adding the chicken to direct heat. When the chicken comes into contact with the hot grill grates, steam will be generated. This steam prevents the proteins in the chicken from sticking to the grill grates.

5. Grilling On Wood Planks

Grilling chicken on wooden planks is a good way to prevent sticking to the metal grates. Planks are also excellent for delivering smoky flavors to the chicken. The flip side is that the meat will take longer to cook.

Chicken Quarters on the Flaming Grill

Why Chicken Sticks on the Grill?

There are several reasons why chicken sticks to stick to the grill. Here are some of these factors:

Grill Grates

Considering the chicken is always in contact with the grill grates, it’s no surprise that these grates play a major role in your chicken sticking.

When the grate is not properly prepared, it can react with the meat and seasoning, resulting in sticking. One of the most common causes of meat sticking to the grates is dirt.

Even if you’ve prepared everything correctly, if the grates are dirty, you won’t be able to keep your chicken from sticking to the grill. 


One of the most common causes of chicken sticking is failure to oil the grill before cooking. So, make sure you oil the grill. You can also use cooking spray instead of cooking oil.


Your cooking temperature is also vital. If you don’t control and maintain the temperature, your chicken will stick to the grill’s surface. 

Cooking Time

Overcooking the meat or undercooking the chicken can also result in sticking. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to cooking times when grilling. 

How to Cook Chicken on the Grill?

Cooking chicken that doesn’t stick to the grill requires some knowledge of the best steps. I used chicken thighs in this recipe but you can also use chicken wings and chicken breasts. Here’s how I grill chicken that doesn’t stick to the grill:

Grilled Boneless Chicken Breasts on Cast Iron Grilling Pan

Step 1

First, I recommend buying and grilling fresh chicken if you can. However, if you can’t find fresh chicken, frozen chicken also works well.

Step 2

Before grilling the chicken, brine it for at least two hours. Brining helps keep the chicken thighs moist. You can prepare a brine by diluting 1/4 cup of salt in 4 cups of water. You can also use spices like thyme and rosemary to add extra flavor to the chicken. Add the brine and chicken to a large resealable bag and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours.

Step 3

When the chicken is done brining, remove it from the bag and pat it dry with a paper towel. Now slather a thin layer of oil on the chicken. Then, season with 1 teaspoon of pepper, salt, smoked paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder. If you want to add a smokier flavor to the chicken, add flavored wood chips to the grill before smoking.   

Step 4

Preheat the grill for about 20 minutes on medium-high heat (350 °F). Now, apply olive oil with a brush to the grill grate. Then add charcoals, ignite your charcoal grill, and preheat for about 15 minutes.

Once the grill is heated, place the chicken on the grill grate and grill for 7 minutes per side. Make sure the grill is not overcrowded. If you have a lot of chicken, you may have to cook the meat in batches.

Add barbecue sauce on both sides of the chicken 5 minutes into the grilling session and allow it to cook till it’s cooked and crispy. Once the cooking time is up, check the chicken’s temperature to ensure it is completely cooked. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature and remove the chicken once it reaches 165F

Step 5

When your grilled chicken is cooked all the way through, remove it from the grill and set it aside for 5 minutes to rest. This allows the juices to settle and makes the chicken even more juicy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Recommended Temperature for Chicken?

It is always safer to cook the chicken to a temperature of 165 °F. Remember to move or flip the chicken around the grill so that it does not stick to the grill grates and cooks evenly. It is also critical to monitor the grill’s temperature while cooking and adjust the heat as needed. If it seems like the chicken is burning on the exterior before it’s done, reduce the heat slightly and keep an eye on it until it’s fully cooked.

2. How Can I Tell When to Flip My Chicken?

Knowing when to flip your chicken is vital for perfectly cooked chicken. Checking for grill marks on the underside of the chicken is the best way to determine when it’s time to flip it. Another method is to use a spatula or tongs to lift one side of the chicken. The chicken is ready to flip when it easily comes off the grill without sticking.

Grilled Chicken Breast on the Flaming Grill

Final Thoughts

Keeping your chicken pieces from sticking to the grill can be done with any of the methods we discussed. These methods include ensuring you have a clean grill, seasoning with high-smoking point oil, preheating the grill, and so on. Don’t forget to be patient and allow the grill to do its thing. Turning food too soon will not allow the meat to unstick from the grill.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Pitmaster Central is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon (.com,, .ca etc) and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Keep Reading
Copyright 2024 Pitmaster Central, all rights reserved.