During this grilling season, rubs and marinades are powerhouses that transform meats into flavor-packed meals. They tenderize and increase moisture content, add nutrients, and may decrease the formation of carcinogenic by-products. With high-heat cooking like grilling, it is important to use the right oils in your marinades so they don’t break down while cooking. Grilling and eating outdoors is one of summer’s greatest joys – keep it healthy by choosing the right oils, using rubs and marinades to your advantage and grilling smart.

Great Oils for Grilling

Rich in antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, expeller-pressed extra virgin olive oil is the best oil for most of your cooking needs. But when subjected to the higher heat used for most grilling, olive oil and other oils with low smoke points begin to break down and change chemical structure, producing unhealthy by-products. When grilling at high heat, use oil that has a higher smoke point as well as a favorable omega-6:omega-3 ratio – organic expeller-pressed or cold-pressed canola oil is a good choice. Grapeseed oil is another oil that tolerates the high heat of grilling. It is high in vitamin E and antioxidants, but is lower in omega-3 fatty acids.


A rub is a mixture of spices that is applied to meat before it is grilled. Rubs are excellent for healthy grilling, since they don’t use oil, which can break down when exposed to high heat. Rubs also stick better to meat than liquid marinades and offer potent, undiluted flavor. Experiment with the huge variety of spice rubs available today and load on the added health benefits of herbs and spices. Try one of Chef Marshall’s favorite rubs, Fhima Five-Spice Blend. It’s great for chicken, burgers and veggies.


Marinades do more than add flavor and moisture and tenderize meat; some evidence suggests they may reduce the formation of carcinogens that are a natural by-product of grilling. Marinades that are high-acid, with citrus or vinegar, and low in oil are the smartest choice for grilling. Our Citrus-Grilled Pork combines lemon, lime and orange juice in a flavorful marinade that adds zest to pork without the use of oils that may degrade with the high heat of the grill.

Tips for Smart Grilling

The grill gives your food that irresistible smoky, char-grilled flavor. Unfortunately, high heat grilling also breaks down less stable oils and produces carcinogenic chemicals, like heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Use the following tips to enjoy the taste of grilled food while minimizing these unhealthy byproducts.

Grill over lower heat. Use indirect heat – turn one burner to high and the other to low, then position your meat over the low burner and cover the grill. Or move the charcoal to one side, rather than spreading it evenly below the grate.

Precook your meat to shorten cooking time over the grill – this works particularly well with chicken, which typically requires more time on the grill to cook through.

Use rubs rather than oil-containing marinades, which break down under high heat.

If using oil on a high heat grill, choose one with a high smoke point, like organic expeller-pressed canola oil or grapeseed oil. When cooking with low heat for a short time, use expeller-pressed extra virgin olive oil.

Take full advantage of the joy of grilling this summer while minimizing the negative side-effects of cooking over high heat. Use oils with a high smoke point, reduce your heat or cook over indirect heat, and reduce your cooking time for healthier grilling. Experiment with the endless possibilities of healthy marinades and rubs that elevate grilled foods to whole new levels of flavor while supporting your health.