Can You Put Olive Oil on Chicken Before Grilling It?


Grilling adds an appealing slightly smoky taste to halved or cut up chicken, while the hot, dry heat crisps the skin. However, chicken tends to stick to grill grates. You can coat chicken pieces with regular vegetable oil to deter sticking but for extra flavor and healthier chicken, use pure or extra light olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil imparts the most intense olive flavor but a generally lower smoking point makes it harder to use for direct-heat grilling.

Application Procedure

  • For halved chicken, use your hands to coat the bird with oil. Drizzle a tablespoon or so of oil on the top of the chicken at the breasts and massage it into the skin on the top and bottom of the bird. Be sure to get the oil into all of the nooks and crannies in between the thighs and wings. For extra moistness, rub some oil underneath the skin, being careful not to puncture it. Arrange chicken parts on a baking sheet or in a shallow baking pan and brush them with olive oil on all sides. Treat boneless breasts or thighs the same way for grilling.

Pure Olive Oil

  • Pure olive oil is made from olives that are pressed with heat to extract the oil, so it has a more delicate olive flavor and a soft yellow hue. You can still taste a hint of olives but the flavor is much less pronounced than in extra virgin olive oil. It also typically costs less than extra virgin, making it a good choice when the flavor of the oil doesn't matter so much.

Extra Light Olive Oil

  • For grilled chicken with no taste of olives, use extra light olive oil to coat it. Extra light olive oil, despite the name, has the same amount of calories as the other options but no discernible olive flavor. If you like your chicken skin extra crispy, this is the best choice as it has a higher smoking point than pure olive oil.

Infused Olive Oil

  • To add extra flavor to grilled chicken, infuse your olive oil prior to coating the chicken. For chicken with a hint of citrus, add a little lemon juice to olive oil before coating your chicken with it. To add the taste of your favorite herb to grilled chicken, place whole sprigs of rosemary, thyme or other fragrant herbs into a small jar or container and immerse them in olive oil. Let the herbs steep in the oil for a few days in the refrigerator until the flavors are fully absorbed. Remove the herbs and use the flavored oil to coat the chicken.

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