Does grilled chicken have a lot of carbs?

Grilled chicken is generally considered a low-carb food. A 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving of grilled chicken breast with no skin contains 0 grams of carbohydrates.

Carbs in Grilled Chicken

The number of carbs in grilled chicken can vary depending on the cut and preparation method:

  • Chicken breast: 0 grams of carbs per 3.5 oz (100 grams)
  • Chicken thigh: 0 grams of carbs per 3.5 oz (100 grams)
  • Chicken drumstick: 0 grams of carbs per 3.5 oz (100 grams)

Plain grilled chicken with no breading, batter, or sauce has virtually no carbohydrates. However, the carb count can increase if the chicken is marinated, breaded, or cooked with a sauce.

Comparing Grilled Chicken to Other Proteins

Grilled chicken is one of the lowest carb protein options compared to other meats and proteins:

Food Grams of Carbs
3.5 oz grilled chicken breast 0g
3.5 oz steak 0g
3.5 oz salmon 0g
3.5 oz grilled shrimp 0g
3.5 oz firm tofu 2g
3.5 oz portobello mushroom 3g
3.5 oz grilled burger patty 0g
1 large egg 0.6g

As shown, most unbreaded grilled proteins contain 0-3 grams of carbohydrates per serving.

Does Cooking Method Change the Carbs?

The cooking method can impact the carb count in grilled chicken:

  • Grilled: Plain grilled chicken is 0 grams carbs.
  • Baked: Baked chicken breasts without breading or marinade are also 0 grams carbs.
  • Fried: Breaded and fried chicken tends to be higher in carbs due to the breading. About 5-10 grams of carbs per serving.
  • Roasted: Roast chicken is typically seasoned with sauces and glazes that may add 5-15 grams of carbs per serving.

To keep grilled chicken low carb, avoid breading or fried coatings. Also limit sugar-based glazes and sauces.

Does Marinating Change the Carbs?

Marinades and seasoning can increase the carb content in grilled chicken:

  • Dry herbs and spices: Using herbs, spices, salt, and pepper has minimal impact on carbs.
  • Oil-based marinades: Marinating chicken in olive oil, vinegar, mustard, etc. adds little to no carbs.
  • Sweet marinades: Marinades with sugar, honey, maple syrup, or fruit juice will add 3-15 grams of carbs per serving.

To keep grilled chicken low carb, stick to herb rubs, savory wet marinades, and limiting sweet sauces.

What About Chicken Wings and Legs?

Chicken wings and legs are slightly higher in fat than chicken breast, but still contain minimal carbs:

  • Chicken wings, about 2-4 grams of carbs per 3 wings
  • Chicken legs, 0 grams of carbs per leg

The carb count remains low even for breaded and fried chicken wings or legs. The coating adds 5-10 grams of carbs at most.

Tips to Make Grilled Chicken Keto-Friendly

Here are some tips for keeping grilled chicken low-carb and keto-friendly:

  • Use seasoning – Sprinkle on herbs, spices, salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.
  • Make oil-based marinades – Try mixing olive oil, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, etc.
  • Avoid sweet marinades – Skip sugar, honey, jelly, soda, juice, etc.
  • Skip the breading – Don’t bread or fry the chicken to keep carbs down.
  • Watch sauces – Ask for sauces and glazes on the side or avoid them.

With just a few tweaks, grilled chicken can be a delicious low-carb protein option for keto and low-carb diets. Focus on cooking methods and seasoning that don’t add unnecessary carbs.


Grilled chicken is naturally low in carbohydrates, containing 0 grams in a 3.5 ounce serving. The carbs can increase slightly depending on the cut of chicken, cooking method, marinade, and any sauces or batter used. However, plain grilled chicken breast is one of the most low-carb protein options. By avoiding breading and limiting sugar-based sauces and marinades, grilled chicken can be incorporated into a low-carb or keto diet. Monitor portions and accompaniments to control carbs and calories for your health goals.

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