Tips for Healthy Grilling

Food cooking on a charcoal grill.

Grilling can be a healthy way to enjoy food. But when meat, poultry, or fish are grilled at high temperatures, chemicals known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are produced. Research shows that these may pose a cancer risk.

But there’s no need to put away the grill! Follow these easy tips to help minimize risk.

Safe Grilling Tips

  • Burn off any residue on the grill grates both before and after grilling by scrubbing it away with a stiff-bristled grill brush.
  • Choose lean meat cuts and trim excess fat. Cook large cuts slowly and at a lower temperature.
  • Use marinades. They can decrease HCA formation by more than 90 percent. Some of the ingredients in marinades even act as protective antioxidants.

How to Tell When Grilled Foods are Ready

Before removing food from the grill, measure its temperature by inserting a food thermometer into the thickest part. Make sure the thermometer’s not touching any bone, fat, or gristle.

FDA Safe Temperature Minimums

Here is a listing of minimum safe temperatures, as determined by the FDA.

FDA Minimum Safe Temperatures
Food Temperature
Chicken breasts and whole poultry 165°F
Ground meat 160°F
Fish 145°F
Beef steaks and roasts 145°F
Lamb steaks, ribs, or leg 145°F
Pork 145°F
Click to See Our Sources

The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen Grilling Cookbook ($29.95, Hearst Books, 2013) 


Lisa Fabian

Contributing Editor

Lisa Fabian is an award-winning freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience in the publishing industry. She's enjoyed covering topics as diverse as arts and crafts, boating, food, and health and wellness.