These simple grilled chicken thighs with refined sugar-free maple chipotle barbecue sauce are summer grilling perfection. The sauce is brushed on at the very end of grilling just to caramelize it a bit, but it doesn’t burn. The sweet, tangy, tender, juicy and smoky results are smokin’ good! This healthy barbecue chicken is naturally gluten-free and paleo!

healthy Barbecue Chicken on a plate

Well hello, June. In my mind, when I hear June I think SUMMER!!! June is summer, right? I know the summer solstice isn’t for another three weeks, but in my little brain, June, July and August is summer. Please leave me a comment below and let me know if this is crazy talk.

healthy Barbecue Chicken with bbq sauce

So anyhoo, if you’re with me, let’s say hello, summer! Oh summer, how I missed you and I am so glad you’re here! I have been dreaming of you and all of my summering favorite activities like grilling, drinking rose and sitting in the sun with family and friends. Going for runs with my daughter and taking the dog for long walks. Gah! Pause button. Happy place!

Anyway, now that June is here, I am looking forward to spending time at the lake and relaxing in the sun. This will be my first summer not teaching fitness classes, so I am really excited to have a much more mellow weekend routine than years past.

healthy Barbecue Chicken on a plate

I have set myself some goals for things to accomplish this summer. Later in June and into July, I am actually planning to take some serious time off. It’ll be A FULL MONTH of no recipe testing or photography!! So that in and of itself is an accomplishment for this workaholic. It’s kind of scary, but I need it and it will be so good for me.

healthy barbecue chicken

Another goal is to take stand-up paddle boarding lessons. I got a touring board at the end of last summer, and took it out a bit. Since I am the kind of person that is all about good form, must be a BodyPump thing, I am kind of hung up about getting my stroke down before I set in bad habits.

Then by the end of the summer, I want to try paddling all the way across the lake (it’s a mile across and 400 feet deep!) That goal terrifies me (even more than taking time off) but I am going for it.

healthy barbecue chicken on a plate with bbq sauce

Also coming up in June, we are headed out west to embark on a two week family road trip. We’re starting in Denver, and doing a long meandering drive back to Vermont via the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and camping in the four corners. We’re even doing a two night a stop in Nashville on our way home to Vermont. I’ll be sharing on Instagram, so please follow along!

I kind of feel like this trip is going to need its own hashtag. What do you think? If you have any good ideas for a unique hashtag, leave me a comment below. Also please share any thoughts on non screen activities for my girls for the long hours in the car.

healthy barbecue chicken

After my vacation I’ll be headed back into the kitchen to begin work on some new recipes for the blog and for clients as well. I am sure the rest will get my creative juices flowing again.

Speaking of recipes and juices flowing lets talk about this healthy barbecue chicken recipe shall we? Like that transition? 😉

healthy barbecue chicken on a plate with a fork

What to Know About this Healthy Barbecue Chicken

This grilled barbecue chicken recipe is going to be big. To give you an example. When Stephanie and I shot this video a couple weeks ago, she asked me to send her the recipe even though it wasn’t on the blog yet because she couldn’t wait and was “craving it.” Yeah, it’s that good. It’s can’t-wait-good. (If that’s not a level of goodness, it should be.)

We’ve actually had this Healthy Barbecue Chicken with maple chipotle sauce a bunch already since the grill came out for the season, and I even tested it with boneless thighs since I knew the question would come up. I prefer it with the bone, so that’s what I recommend, but if you use boneless, the cook time will just be shorter.

When making this recipe, make sure you remove the skin from the chicken. You’ll save 50 calories just like that. So that’s a good reason, but it also causes flare-ups, and the exterior texture of the chicken will be too crusty and charred.

And one last note: the maple chipotle barbecue sauce goes on the chicken at the end of grilling. I did this after the chicken is cooked through and waited for a few spots to show charring. Just enough to caramelize the sugars in the maple syrup and give it that classic barbecued flavor, without making the chicken burnt and bitter.

And absolutely no good barbecue meal would be complete without dessert… so make sure and check out this yummy No Bake Apple Pie by Allergylicious. It’s gluten free and vegan!


Do you think of June as summer- even before the solstice?

Any ideas for a hashtag for our road trip?

Any suggestions for car activities for my girls?

More Easy Chicken Recipes:

Chicken and Brussels Sprouts Sheet Pan Dinner

One Pot Chicken and Rice with Spring Veggies

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Garlic Herb Grilled Chicken

These Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcakes are a make-ahead healthier twist on the classic recipe. The perfect summer vegetarian dessert showcasing the magical combination of strawberries and rhubarb! | Healthy Seasonal Recipes | Katie Webster

healthy barbecue chicken

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 16 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 34 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: American


These healthy barbecue chicken thighs with refined sugar-free maple chipotle barbecue sauce are summer grilling perfection. They’re gluten-free and paleo!



  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup, preferably dark
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, about 2 ¾ pounds* see ingredient note
  • oil for grill


  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Whisk maple syrup, tomato paste, cider vinegar, chili powder, chipotle and granulated garlic in a medium bowl.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the chicken. Soak a paper towel with oil and set near grill with tongs.
  4. Just before grilling, hold the oil soaked towel with tongs. Drag gently along grill grates, pulling toward you. Immediately add chicken to the oiled grill. Grill chicken, turning often, until the meat is cooked through to the bone and no-longer pink inside, 18 to 25 minutes.
  5. Brush barbecue sauce all over the tops side of the chicken, and turn over and allow the sauce to caramelize and char ever so slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. While it chars, brush barbecue sauce all over the other side of the chicken. Turn over again, to caramelize the second side. Remove from the grill to a serving platter or carving board and allow chicken to rest 4 to 6 minutes before serving.


*Ingredient note: If you prefer to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, the cooking time will be 10 to 14 minutes total.


  • Serving Size: 1 chicken thigh
  • Calories: 127
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Sodium: 417 mg
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 13 g
  • Cholesterol: 43 mg