Healthy Summer BBQ Tips and Recipes

Grilled pineapple with cinnamon

Summer barbecues are a beloved tradition, but they don’t have to be a time for unhealthy eating. With a focus on lean proteins, vegetables and flavorful marinades, you can host a nutritious and delicious barbecue that everyone will enjoy. Here are some tips and recipes to help you create a healthy summer BBQ feast.

Grilling Tips for a Healthy BBQ

Choose Lean Proteins

  • Chicken Breast: Skinless chicken breasts are a great source of lean protein. Marinate them for added flavor and tenderness.
  • Fish: Grilled fish like salmon, tilapia or trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and cook quickly on the grill.
  • Turkey Burgers: Swap out traditional beef burgers for turkey burgers. Choose ground turkey breast to keep it lean.
  • Plant-Based Options: Grilled tofu, tempeh or veggie burgers can be a tasty and nutritious alternative for vegetarians and vegans.

Embrace Vegetables

Grilled vegetables are not only healthy but also delicious. They add color, flavor and nutrients to your BBQ spread.

  • Veggie Skewers: Thread bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms and red onions onto skewers. Brush with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and your favorite herbs.
  • Corn on the Cob: Grill corn with the husks on for a smoky flavor. Serve with a sprinkle of chili powder and a squeeze of lime juice.
  • Portobello Mushrooms: Marinate portobello mushroom caps in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and garlic, then grill until tender. They make a great meat substitute for burgers.

Use Flavorful Marinades

Marinades can enhance the flavor of your grilled foods without adding extra calories or unhealthy ingredients.

  • Citrus-Herb Marinade: Combine lemon juice, orange juice, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme. This marinade works well with chicken and fish.
  • Balsamic Glaze: Mix balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and a pinch of black pepper. Use it to marinate vegetables or brush on during grilling.
  • Spicy Soy Marinade: Blend soy sauce, lime juice, sriracha and ginger for a spicy kick. It’s perfect for tofu and shrimp.

Healthy Grilling Recipes

Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken

This recipe features tender chicken breasts marinated in a zesty lemon herb mixture.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Place the chicken breasts in a resealable bag and pour the marinade over them. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2-4 hours.
  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill for 6-7 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.

Grilled Veggie Skewers

These colorful veggie skewers are a perfect side dish or main course for a vegetarian BBQ.


  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Thread the vegetables onto skewers, alternating types for a colorful presentation.
  • Preheat the grill to medium heat. Grill the skewers for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and slightly charred.

Grilled Pineapple with Cinnamon

For a sweet and healthy dessert, try grilled pineapple with a touch of cinnamon.


  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into rings
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  • In a small bowl, mix the honey and cinnamon.
  • Brush the pineapple rings with the honey-cinnamon mixture.
  • Grill the pineapple for 2-3 minutes per side, until grill marks appear and the pineapple is heated through.

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