A Nutritionist's Favorite Low-Carb BBQ Chicken Recipe

It's perfect if you have diabetes or try to avoid sugar.

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Want to enjoy the finger-licking goodness of BBQ chicken, but not a fan of all that sugar in your favorite bottle of BBQ sauce?

This sweet and zesty condiment makes almost any food better, but it’s also pretty sweet, and not in a good way. Some popular brands have more than 15 grams of sugar per serving! That means you may unknowingly consume way more sugar than you intended—and during a savory dinner, not even for dessert! (Here are more sneaky condiments to watch out for.)

If you’re treating insulin resistance or following a diabetic diet, the sugar in BBQ sauce is something you need to pay attention to, since it can cause an unexpected blood sugar spike you might not be prepared for.

In this episode of Diabetes Bites, nutritionist Fiorella DiCarlo, RD, whips up a diabetes-friendly BBQ chicken that uses a low-carb, homemade BBQ sauce that imitates the traditional grilling favorite with way less sugar. But actually, you won’t even need a grill: Fiorella makes this in a slow cooker, so you can enjoy this recipe all year round.

This low-sugar BBQ chicken recipe uses dark meat like drumsticks or thighs since these are juicier. Although the chicken breast is usually recommended because it’s lower in fat, dark meat has tons of protein along with iron and vitamin B12. For people managing diabetes, increasing protein intake is beneficial since it helps you stay full while you’re cutting back on carbs. (Here are more foods nutritionists recommend to treat diabetes.) That said, you can totally swap in chicken breast if that’s your jam. 

Then round out your plate with some seasonal grilled vegetables, and you’ve got a perfect diabetes-friendly dinner.

  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper jelly
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar substitute
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 8 -10 chicken thigh and/or drumsticks, skinned (2 to 2-1/2 pounds)
Using a 4-quart slow cooker, combine tomato sauce, jelly, lime or lemon juice, tapioca, brown sugar, cumin, and red pepper. Blend thoroughly. Sit the chicken pieces on top of the sauce mixture in slow cooker, flipping pieces a few times to coat. Cook on high heat for 3.5 hours, or low-heat for 7 hours. Serve alone, or with a side of veggies, a salad, or a slice of 100% whole wheat bread.

Nutrition Information

Recipe Serves: 4
Nutrition Information Based on a Single Serving
Calories 23911%
Fat 12gr18%
Cholesterol 98mg32%
Sodium 439mg19%
Carbohydrates 4gr3%
Fiber 1gr4%
Sugar 3gr6%
Protein 27gr52%

*Percent Daily Value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Dietary Needs

Diabetes Diet
Diabetes Diet
Dairy Free
Dairy Free
Gluten Free
Gluten Free
Lower Carbohydrate
Lower Sugar
Lower Sugar