The Sweet & Spicy Chili Sauce steals the show on this one. It's the perfect simple sauce for chicken, healthy and full of flavor.
You guys, it's finally getting warmer out which, in the Schaaf household, means grilling season!
Okay, honestly we love grilling all year but we definitely break out the grill a little more often in the spring and summer months. If for no other reason, we have to avoid heating up the house! That Texas sun is no joke.
I also love getting the whole family outside, letting the kiddos play in the evening sunshine while Brook and I man the grill. It just feels right.
It's too easy to fall back on burgers and sausages though, when the grill can really be used for so much more! I think people get intimidated by grilling chicken because it is a little less forgiving. Obviously you have to fully cook chicken, but it does get tough and chewy if overcooked. Make sure to check out my tips below if you're not comfortable grilling chicken!
While grilled chicken is delicious, the real star of this one is absolutely the sweet & spicy chili sauce. It has just the right amount of kick to it and the sweetness from the honey makes it totally addictive. This is definitely one you'll want to double up on. Put it on your weekend eggs, eat it over roasted potatoes, or use it to spice up just about any grilled or roasted veggie. Roasted broccoli, baked sweet potatoes, or roasted Brussels sprouts – these would all be SO good with this sauce.
Grilled Chicken w/ Sweet & Spicy Chili Sauce
For the chicken:
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4-6 oz each)
For the sauce:
- 1 long, red chili pepper
- 1 1/2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar*
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tsp low sodium tamari*
For the chicken:
- Preheat grill or oven to 400 F.
- Drizzle ~1 tsp olive oil over chicken breasts and season w/ S&P.
- Grill chicken for 5 to 8 min per side OR bake for 20-25 min. Internal temp should be 165 F (cook time depends on size of breasts).
- Allow chicken to rest for ~10mins, stir Sweet & Spicy Chili Sauce (below) and spoon over chicken.
For the sauce:
- If using dry red chili pepper rehydrate by pouring boiling water over it in a shallow bowl.
- Cut 1 chili pepper in half and remove seeds to desired heat (¼ of seeds is plenty).
- Rough chop 1 chili and 1½ garlic cloves.
- To a food processor or blender add the following: 1 chopped chili pepper, 1½ chopped garlic cloves, ¼ tsp ginger, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ cup water.
- Blend on high until mostly smooth. Transfer mixture to a small pot and add ¼ cup rice vinegar, ¼ cup honey and 1 tsp tamari.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces, ~15-20 mins.
What is the nutrition like in this healthy grilled chicken recipe?
This healthy grilled chicken recipe is of course high in protein, but it also has quite a bit else going for it health-wise. Here are some of the nutritional benefits:
- Chicken: In addition to being packed with protein, chicken is a good source of iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins.
- Chili Peppers: Chili peppers are very high in vitamin C and are also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium and copper. Of course since you won't generally consume large quantities of chili peppers, their contribution to your overall nutrition is limited.
- Garlic: Garlic has been used in homeopathic remedies for thousands of years and is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and some types of cancer.
- Ginger: Ginger helps with nausea and indigestion and also provides antibacterial and antioxidant benefits.
- Rice Vinegar: All types of vinegar, including rice vinegar, may help control blood sugar, lower cholesterol and help with weight loss. Vinegar also contains antioxidants. However, due to its acidity, consuming too much vinegar can damage your teeth.
- Honey: Honey has antibacterial and antioxidant properties, which are strongest in darker honey. Buy raw local honey when possible as filtering the honey can diminish its nutrients.
- Tamari: Tamari imparts all of the wonderful umami flavor of soy sauce, without the gluten. While most soy sauce in the US is made with wheat, tamari is generally wheat and gluten free, though you should of course look for the gluten free label to be sure if you have an intolerance!
How else can I use this sweet & spicy chili sauce?
This sweet and spicy chili sauce is so versatile! It's great on meat, vegetables, rice, you name it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Chicken, beef or pork kebabs
- Chicken wings
- Stir Fry
- Chicken tacos
- Collard or lettuce wraps
- Roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes
- Roasted broccoli or cauliflower
- Roasted Brussels sprouts
- Kale chips
Definitely make a double batch! If you like sweet and spicy, you'll want to put this on everything. It's also great for adding a little extra flavor to the adults' meals after you serve something to the kids.
How do I grill chicken without making it tough?
I know that grilling chicken can be intimidating. Burgers and steak seem to be a little more forgiving. With chicken, it's a tricky balance between cooking it all the way through and not overcooking it.
The best thing you can do is invest in a quality meat thermometer. It really is the only way to tell if chicken is perfectly cooked. Sure, you can cut it open to check the color but that lets all of those juices escape, making the meat dry. You want the internal temperature to reach 165 F. Check frequently to avoid overcooking!
If you want more tips on how to perfectly grill chicken, this article from The Kitchn has some good ones!
You can also of course simply roast the chicken instead if you prefer!
Is grilled chicken with sweet and spicy chili sauce meal prep friendly?
Yes! Make the sauce ahead of time. Store in the fridge until the day you're ready to serve. Let the sauce come to room temperature. Then all you have to do is grill the chicken and top with the sauce! I love grilling veggies, like the asparagus and corn pictured above, right alongside the chicken. This makes everything come together so quickly!
If you decide to grill the chicken ahead of time too, store it separately from the sauce and top when you're ready to serve.
Is this Sweet & Spicy Chili sauce Paleo friendly?
Yes! The only thing you need to do to make this recipe Paleo is to swap out the tamari. Tamari is made from soy and thus is not Paleo-friendly. Simply use coconut aminos instead. They have a similar umami flavor, but are made from the sap of the coconut tree and are totally Paleo approved.
What are some other simple sauces for chicken?
Chicken is such an easy, versatile protein but, let's face it, it can get a bit boring.
If you're sick of the same old chicken, try adding a healthy, flavorful sauce! These simple sauces for chicken come together quickly, add a ton of flavor and are so much healthier than anything you'd buy ready-made.
- Chimichurri Sauce: This bright garlicky sauce is packed with herbs, lending a fresh flavor to anything you top with it.
- Dairy Free Pesto: I use cilantro here, but you can of course substitute basil if you prefer. Or try a mix! You really don't need any cheese to make a great pesto. The garlic and herbs have plenty of flavor and the nuts and olive oil add richness to the sauce.
- Paleo BBQ Sauce: While I called for ribs in my original recipe, this homemade healthy bbq sauce is just as good on chicken!
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