What Is The Healthiest Way To Cook Chicken?

Chicken is one of the top lean protein options when it comes to meat. In fact, chicken is the most consumed meat per capita in the United States, according to the National Chicken Council. Even though the poultry itself is known for its health benefits, it can become an unhealthy choice based on the way you cook it.

So what is the healthiest way to cook chicken? The answer varies depending on who you ask. Grilling is the go-to option for many, as it provides flavoring on the meat without adding unhealthy sauces or oils (via Livestrong). 

But if you're looking to flex your chef skills with a unique way to cook chicken, you can try poaching or sous vide. Both use water as the main cooking mechanism, but poaching uses boiling water and a sauce pan with no seasonings (via Women's Health). Registered dietitian Rebecca Lewis tells Women's Health that if you're missing the flavor you gain from other cooking methods, you can incorporate poached chicken into other dishes with vegetables and seasonings, such as soup.

Avoid cooking your chicken this way

Sous vide preparation uses a vacuum-sealed food pouch. Chicken is placed inside with seasonings, and the entire pouch is put in a water bath at 140 degrees for up to three hours, according to Healthline. The non-direct heat eliminates the potential for harmful carcinogens as an added bonus. However, if sous vide or poaching sounds too intimidating, you can opt for steaming, pressure cooking, or even the microwave.

Of all methods of cooking chicken, health professionals agree one should be avoided: frying. Although tasty, frying chicken is one of the most unhealthy ways to cook it due to the calories and sodium added by the oil and flour (via Women's Health). If your heart is set on crispy chicken, try oven baking it on the broil setting instead, with minimal oil.

Whichever way you choose to prepare your chicken, be sure it's thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees to keep yourself safe from foodborne illnesses.