The Best Summer Chicken Recipes

The Best Summer Chicken RecipesBy Matthew Thompson, Associate Food Editor for EatingWell Magazine

While chicken is a delicious mainstay of many people's cooking year-round, it's always had a special place in my summer food line-up. Juicy, grilled chicken breasts, pulled chicken sandwiches, fried chicken drumsticks, whole beer-barbecued chicken--summer chicken recipes are some of my all-time favorites.

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Here are some of EatingWell's best healthy summer chicken recipes--whichever you pick, you can be confident that you're cooking a meal packed with summer's best flavors!

Sesame Chicken Cucumber Noodle Salad
This sesame chicken and noodle salad from chef Ming Tsai couldn't be simpler to make. It's a refreshing dish to serve on a hot summer's night or bring it to your warm-weather potluck: just toss the salad with the dressing when you're ready to serve.

Chopped Greek Salad with Chicken
Chicken turns this Greek-inspired salad into a substantial main course. Feel free to substitute other chopped fresh vegetables, such as broccoli or bell peppers, for the tomatoes or cucumber. Use leftover chicken, store-roasted chicken or quickly poach a couple boneless, skinless chicken breasts while you prepare the rest of the salad. Serve with pita bread and hummus.

Oven-Fried Chicken
Great news--crunchy, flavorful fried chicken can be healthy. We marinate skinless chicken in buttermilk to keep it juicy. A light coating of flour, sesame seeds and spices, misted with olive oil, forms an appealing crust during baking. And with only 7 grams of fat per serving rather than the 20 in typical fried chicken--that is good news.

Barbecued Raspberry-Hoisin Chicken
Hoisin sauce along with pureed tart raspberries makes a wonderful Chinese-inspired marinade and dipping sauce for grilled chicken. Plan ahead: The chicken thighs benefit from marinating for at least 2 hours before grilling.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken
Barbecue pulled chicken is one of my favorite summer chicken recipes. It's made in a slow-cooker so it's super-easy, it tastes great and can yield you zingy, healthy sandwiches all week long.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken
Makes: 8 servings
Active time: 25 minutes | Total: 5 1/2 hours
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

This BBQ pulled chicken recipe is a fanciful reinterpretation of pulled pork that slow-cooks chicken in lots of tangy tomato sauce. Have sliced jalapenos, sliced red onions and some sour cream on hand to top this barbecue pulled chicken, which makes a hearty main course. You can turn it into an unbelievable sandwich or serve it on mashed potatoes or even whole-grain spaghetti. Serve with shredded napa cabbage tossed with low-fat mayonnaise, cider vinegar, celery seed and honey to taste.

1 8-ounce can reduced-sodium tomato sauce
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Stir tomato sauce, chiles, vinegar, honey, paprika, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ground chipotle and salt in a 6-quart slow cooker until smooth. Add chicken, onion and garlic; stir to combine.
2. Put the lid on and cook on low until the chicken can be pulled apart, about 5 hours.
3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the sauce, stir well and serve.

Per serving: 249 calories; 11 g fat (3 g sat, 4 g mono); 93 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 4 g added sugars; 26 g protein; 1 g fiber; 304 mg sodium; 430 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Zinc (18% daily value), Vitamin A (16% dv).

What's your favorite summer chicken recipe?

By Matthew Thompson

Matthew Thompson

Matthew Thompson is the associate food editor for EatingWell Magazine.

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