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Our Best-Ever BBQ Chicken Makeover

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

We've made healthy barbecue chicken many times over, but this time, we made the ultimate recipe. Pulling out all of our secret flavor tricks and tips, we've created a juicy and succulent chicken breast that's wonderfully flavorful. The smoky sauce will have you firing up the grill year-round.

The secret to our best, juiciest chicken ever? It's in the skin. Grilling the meat with the skin on, then removing after cooking, actually leaves you with a succulent chicken breast that is more tender, tastier, and has less fat than a skinless, boneless breast.

How so? The skin creates a barrier during cooking, not only locking in natural juices but also collecting and trapping the internal fat. Classic recipes for BBQ chicken are either drowned in an "award-winning" (but salt- and sugar-loaded) sauce to help make up for dry chicken, or they're succulently juicy but coated in crispy, fatty skin.

In our ultimate BBQ makeover, we remove the skin just before the chicken finishes grilling (saving 128 calories and 2.7g sat fat per breast), then baste with a spicy-sweet sauce. The best part? You'll save 183 calories, 3g sat fat, 26g sugar, and 854mg sodium over the traditional recipe, without losing any of the flavor.

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Keys to Success

View Recipe: Ultimate BBQ Chicken

1. Loosen (but do not remove) the skin, and rub spice mixture under skin and directly onto the meat. If you season the skin, you'll take all the flavor with it when you discard it.

2. Place chicken, skin side down, over direct heat. Yes, the skin will begin to char and blacken. That's OK—it acts as a barrier between the fire and meat. You'll be removing it in the next step.

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

3. Carefully remove charred skin with tongs. The skin has locked the natural juices inside the meat of the chicken, protecting it from the direct fire. It's OK to remove it now (along with extra fat and calories).

4. Baste meat directly with prepared sauce. Now that the skin has been removed, we want to season and lock even more flavor into the meat with the sweet-spicy sauce.

How to Make Barbecue Sauce