Forget hot dogs and cheeseburgers. Toss the tired processed meats and amp up this season's backyard barbecues with this solid round-up of our best grilling recipes.
We've got you covered from appetizers and mains — such as Zucchini Baba Ghanoush and Oaxacan tacos — to side dishes and even dessert (think Pan-Grilled Nectarine Sundaes).
But before we get to the good stuff, let's do a quick review on healthy grilling as we gear up for barbecue season.
Grilling Tips to Follow
- Skip the Char: One of the highlights of firing up the grill is getting those cherished grill marks. But we actually want to keep charring to a minimum, especially when it comes to animal proteins like beef, chicken and seafood. Charring meats can cause carcinogens to form, according to the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR).
- Cut the Fat: Cut any visible chunks of fat from the meat before tossing on the grill. This will cut down the amount of saturated fat and prevent high flames, which can lead to more carcinogens.
- Marinate the Meat: Let your fish, chicken or steak marinate for at least 30 minutes. This will help cut down on carcinogens from forming in your proteins, according to the AICR.
- Use a Meat Thermometer: Just like in the kitchen, you'll want to make sure all of your various meats reach their appropriate internal temp to ensure food safety. Poultry should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit, ground meat 160 degrees Fahrenheit and beef pork, and lamb 145 degrees Fahrenheit, per the USDA.
- Don't Use a Wire Brush to Clean Your Grill: In July 2018, the American Medical Association issued a warning against using wire brushes to clean your grill. Doing so poses a health risk: There are reports of the bristles becoming stuck in the food cooked on the grill and causing injury and in some cases, requiring surgery.
Your Go-To Summer Cookout Menu
Customize your own menu for your next cookout by picking from our list of healthy grilling recipes.
- Grilled Zucchini Baba Ghanoush: Skip the chips and dip for this low-calorie yet creamy and satisfying smoky dip.
- Grilled Oysters: Simple grilled oysters are delicious and next level for any barbecue but they're also a rich source of iron and zinc.
- Spiced Hummus Flatbread Pizza: Whole-grain flatbreads topped with hummus and veggies? Cooked on the grill, your guests won't even know how healthy this app is.
- Grape Bruschetta: This recipe is an easy yet elevated appetizer packed with the antioxidant resveratrol.
- Grilled Vegetable Burgers: Using portobello mushroom caps in place of buns makes this recipe low in carbs.
- Sweet-n-Spicy Chicken Tacos With Avocado Peach Pico de Gallo: The pumpkin seeds provide added crunch as well as magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese and phosphorus.
- Grilled Shrimp Kebab: This simple recipe features shrimp, which is low in calories but especially high in protein. A 3-ounce serving of shrimp has just 100 calories and 19 grams of protein.
- Grilled Farmers' Market Veggie Tacos With Guacamole: This calls for mushrooms, zucchini and summer squash but you can use any fiber and nutrient-dense vegetable that you find at your local market.
- Grilled Sweet-n-Spice Salmon With Rice: Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and a healthy protein to fire up on the grill.
- Oaxacan Barbecue Chicken and Poblano Soft Tacos: Try this healthy spin on barbecued chicken by adding fresh herbs, spices and peppers, which are all rich sources of antioxidants.
- Sizzling Steakhouse Salad: Balance your red meat intake by pairing it with a healthy green salad.
- Grilled Vegan Pesto Burgers: This superfood burger features fresh basil, garlic, almonds, EVOO, green tea, fresh vegetables, whole grains and alfalfa sprouts.
- Turmeric-Marinated Grilled Chicken Tenders: Marinate this healthier, adult version of chicken tenders beforehand to help prevent carcinogens from forming.
Are You Getting Enough Protein?
- Grilled Italian Eggplant Caprese Salad: Filled with tomatoes and eggplant, this salad provides a surprising amount of protein — 6 grams per serving — which comes from the fresh mozzarella.
- Warm Italian Pasta Salad With Charred Broccoli and Bell Pepper: We love broccoli off the grill but you can pair any vegetable you have on hand with whole-grain pasta to make this recipe.
- Grilled Veggie Quinoa Salad: The "grilled veggie" in the title is purposely ambiguous, which gives you the creative freedom to add any fiber-rich veggies (or fruit!) to the quinoa-based salad.
- Grilled Pound Cake With Saucy Strawberries: Top pound cake with a cup of saucy strawberries to reach your vitamin C needs for the day.
- Balsamic Grilled Grape Skewers With Goat Cheese: The perfect blend of sweet antioxidant-rich grapes with tart goat cheese and balsamic vinegar, this makes for a simple yet scrumptious dessert.
- Pan-Grilled Nectarine Sundae: Nectarines are rich in vitamin A and copper but you won't care as you're enjoying this delicious dessert.
- American Institute of Cancer Research: "Guide to Healthy Grilling"
- American Medical Association: "AMA Cautions About Health Risks from Wire-Bristle Grill Brushes"
- USDA: "Grilling and Food Safety"
- MyFoodData: "Cooked Wild Eastern Oysters"
- MyFoodData: "Roasted Squash And Pumpkin Seeds (Unsalted)"
- MyFoodData: "Cooked Shrimp"
- American Institute for Cancer Research: "Five Steps for Cancer-Safe Grilling"
- MyFoodData: "Strawberries"
- MyFoodData: "Nectarines"