Chicken is as American as apple pie. It’s tasty, versatile, economical, and easy-to-prepare. But chicken can often be battered and fried, coated in a sweet glaze, or swimming in a sugary sauce. This is bad news if you have diabetes and want to limit your intake of carbs and sugar.

Chicken can be a great option for people with diabetes. All cuts of chicken are high in protein and many are low in fat. When prepared in a healthy way, chicken can be a great ingredient in a healthy diabetic eating plan. 

Tips for preparation

Try these tips for preparing chicken so it’s less likely to raise your blood sugar.

Remove the skin from chicken before cooking it. Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts whenever possible. They’re lower in fat than other chicken parts. In most recipes, chicken breasts may be substituted for other chicken parts.

If you’re cooking chicken on the stove, use cooking spray, low-sodium broth, or olive oil instead of butter.

Shredded chicken is perfect for making healthy chicken sandwiches, chicken tacos, and chicken salads. Some recipes call for shredding just-cooked chicken with two forks. Instead, let your stand mixer or hand mixer set on the low setting do the work for you in seconds.

Tips for cooking

Poached chicken breasts are great for making warm or cold chicken salads and chicken casseroles. To poach chicken, add boneless, skinless chicken breasts to a saucepan and cover them with water or low-sodium broth and desired seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low; cover pan, and simmer chicken until its internal temperature is 165 degrees, this takes about 15 minutes.

Cooking chicken in the oven helps keep it moist. To make baked chicken, rub raw chicken lightly with olive oil and season it with your favorite spices.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and bake the chicken until its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (about 30 minutes depending on the size of the chicken pieces).

Avoid crock pot chicken recipes that use canned soups, high-sodium sauces and broths, full-fat cheeses, and prepared sauces made with added sugar. Opt for recipes that use vegetables, spices, brown rice, legumes, Greek yogurt, fruits, and low-sodium broths. 

Now give these tips a try with one of these seven recipes!

1. Asian Lemon Chicken

If you’re a fan of Chinese take-out, this chicken stir-fry recipe was made for you. It uses fresh lemons, spices, fresh mushrooms, and bell peppers. When you make this recipe, you’ll bring the flavors of authentic Asian chicken to your table.

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2. Baked Chicken with Onions and Leeks

Onions and leeks are from the same family, but they taste different. Leeks are sweeter and milder than onions. In this recipe, chicken is glazed in Dijon mustard and roasted with a fusion of leeks, onions, garlic, and shallots.

According to a 2015 animal study, onions lower high blood sugar levels when given with the diabetes drug metformin.

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3. Oven-Fried Parmesan Chicken Drumsticks

Think you can’t bite into a fried chicken leg if you have diabetes? Think again! The chicken drumsticks in this recipe are coated in a savory Parmesan cheese and breadcrumb crust. They’re oven-baked instead of fried. Chicken drumsticks are higher in fat than chicken breasts, so be sure to balance your meal with low-fat sides. Drumsticks are still a great source of protein and much cheaper to buy.

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4. Apple and Thyme Chicken

This recipe brings to mind apple-picking in early fall, but it’s tasty any time of year. Tart green apples and thyme are the perfect complements for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Since the fiber in apples is a good carb that doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, you can rest assured you’re eating a healthy meal.

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5. Perfect Roast Chicken

A great roast chicken is a staple in many recipe arsenals. It’s the perfect meal option for an elegant dinner party or a casual family dinner.

For this recipe, apples, onions, garlic, and spices are stuffed into the cavity of a whole chicken. The chicken then gets an olive oil rub-down and is roasted to moist perfection. Make sure to peel off the skin before eating the meat. Use the leftovers to create a healthy chicken salad made with Greek yogurt and celery.

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6. Marinated Grilled Chicken with Zucchini

If you’ve got raw chicken in the fridge, a bumper crop of zucchini, and a grill, then you’ve got the makings of a healthy dinner. After being marinated in a blend of clementine orange juice, olive oil, and garlic, the chicken tenderloins in this recipe are grilled alongside zucchini rounds.

Zucchini is a non-starchy vegetable so it’s low in carbs. This recipe is easy to prepare, but make sure you allow time for the chicken to marinate—the longer the better!

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7. Crock Pot Mexican Chicken Soup

This recipe only has four ingredients, making it perfect for busy families. It’s a breeze to prepare in the crock pot before you head out in the morning and is ready when you return at the end of the day. Salsa and pepper-jack cheese add a spicy kick to savory chicken thighs.

The American Diabetes Association considers tomatoes, the main ingredient in salsa, a diabetes superfood. Tomatoes are low in carbs and high in vitamin C, vitamin E., and iron. For extra zest, use hot salsa instead of mild.

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Keep reading: The 9 best places to find diabetes recipes »