This BBQ Chicken Recipe Is Proof That Insane Diets Can Be Delicious

Are you low on cash but still want to party like a baller? Well, we’re here to help. Welcome to $30 Dinner Party, Thrillist’s brand-new series created to help people just like you throw killer dinner parties for very little money. Join host Lee Kalpakis as she creates special recipes for you to wow your friends and family on the cheap with new episodes every Monday at 2pm ET on Thrillist’s YouTube channel.

If you don't follow a specific -- and restrictive -- diet yourself, chances are you have plenty of friends and family who do. People follow special eating plans for all sorts of great reasons, but some of these diets also come with an unfortunate side effect: the eating restrictions often present a challenge when it comes to socializing, let alone entertaining a group of friends. Thankfully, it turns out you can still throw a damn good dinner party on an insane diet -- with a little planning. 

In a new episode of Thrillist's brand-new series, $30 Dinner Party, host Lee Kalpakis heads to Ridgewood, Queens to meet up with guest, Brigette Muller, who follows a "kind of Paleo, kind of not" diet -- no added sugar, no wheat, no dairy, and no caffeine. Despite her restrictions, Bridgette wants to throw a delicious and decadent dinner party to prove to her herself and her friends that eating healthy still tastes good, too. That's where Lee comes in with her cooking expertise. Together, they devise a dinner party menu featuring juicy BBQ chicken, gluten-free cornbread, light collard greens with a kick, and a Paleo-style banana pudding for dessert.

Watch as Lee and Brigette plan the whole meal, hit up the grocery store for the ingredients, cook everything step-by-step, and serve up a spectacular dinner party meal to stellar reviews from her guests -- even the biggest of naysayers. And, yes, the whole thing cost less than 30 bucks -- a mere $28.41, to be exact. So, not only do Lee and Brigette prove you can still be a great dinner party host and eat delicious food with a super-restrictive diet, they also prove that you can accomplish it on a tiny budget. Cheers to that (and those banana pudding parfaits, of course)!

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Grocery list with prices

  • 4 chicken leg quarters -- $7.08
  • 1 can tomato paste -- $0.69
  • 1 jar honey -- $4.30
  • 6 bananas -- $2.50
  • 2 can coconut milk -- $3.38
  • 6 eggs -- $1.49
  • 1 large red onion -- $0.75
  • 1 bunch collard greens -- $2.46
  • 1 lemon -- $0.50
  • 1 small bag cornmeal -- $1.89
  • 1 small bunch scallions -- $0.99
  • 1 small box cocoa powder -- $2.38

Total Price: $28.41

Pantry stables

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oils
  • Vinegars
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne
  • Garlic powder
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Ketchup
  • Hot sauce
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Red pepper flakes

Paleo BBQ chicken

  • 4 leg and thigh chicken quarters
  • 3 scallions, sliced on a bias for garnish

For BBQ sauce:
  • 7 ounces can tomato paste
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter
For spice rub:
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  
  • In a small pot, combine tomato paste, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, honey, butter, and ½ cup of water. Whisk thoroughly cook for 15-20 minutes.  
  • Meanwhile, pat chicken dry with paper towel and apply dry rub to entire exterior of each piece. Grill chicken until charred, about 15 minutes.  Brush each piece with BBQ sauce and continue grilling until cooked all the way through--about another 20 minutes, brushing with more BBQ sauce as needed. Remove from grill to a platter and sprinkle with scallions.  

Collard greens

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large red onion (or 3 shallots), thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch, or 8 cups collard greens, finely chopped
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Heat olive oil in cast iron pan over medium heat.
  • Add onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add greens and cook until they are wilted, about 2 minutes.
  • Add vinegar, salt, and pepper and cook for about 5-6 minutes longer, or until greens are tender.
  • Add lemon juice and red pepper flakes, stir, and remove from pan.

Aunt Martha's Southern cornbread

  • 2 cups gluten free cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoon butter, melted
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat 9-inch cast-iron skillet or baking dish in the oven while it is preheating.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl, or measuring cup, whisk together milk, vinegar, egg, and 1 tablespoon butter.
  • Remove hot skillet from the oven. Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter into the skillet. Once oil is hot, pour the batter into the skillet and shake the skillet so that the batter covers the surface. Bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

Paleo Banana Pudding

  • 4 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 bananas, sliced for layering
  • In a blender, blend all ingredients together until combined and fluffy.
  • Pour mixture into a medium saucepan, cook -- whisking constantly -- until it begins to thicken, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour into a heatproof bowl and chill for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.
  • Once pudding is cooled, layer in 4 clear 8 ounce containers: bananas, pudding, bananas, pudding. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with a few slices of banana before serving.

Do you live in the NYC area and want to throw a killer dinner party but don’t think you can afford it? Well, let us help you out! We’re looking for our next guest to be featured in $30 Dinner Party. Our host will create special recipes for you to wow your friends and family at an ultimate dinner party. If you’re interested in being a featured guest on the show, email with your story!

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Tony Merevick is Senior News Editor at Thrillist and wishes he could grill. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.