As the warm breezes of summer roll in, thoughts of outdoor cooking and savory grilled delights come to mind. If you have a health goal, this time of year may have you wondering, “Is there a healthy way to BBQ?”

There's nothing quite like soaking up the sun with friends and family to the tune of fresh recipes straight off the grill. Luckily, planning a healthy BBQ doesn’t have to be a daunting task. A bit of mental and physical prep goes a long way. 

Today, we’re tackling a few practical tips for ensuring you make choices you’re proud of and some yummy recipes to bring to your next get-together.

people grilling together

Tips for Planning a Healthy BBQ

A little thinking ahead goes a long way when it comes to planning a healthy way to BBQ. Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Opt for lean protein options like chicken breasts, lean turkey, or fish to keep things light yet satisfying. Veggie burgers and other plant-based protein options are a good go-to if you're a vegan or vegetarian.
  2. Aim for a colorful array of fresh veggies and salads to complement your main meal. Limit sides like potato chips and creamy pasta salads.
  3. Do a lap before filling your plate. If you’re tracking your macros, you likely have a bit of room for higher carb and fat sources. Pick and choose what you want to prioritize; fill your plate with protein and veggies first, then add smaller portions of your special treats.
  4. Decide if you’d like to enjoy a dessert or a drink. Both are high in carbs and/or fats, so overdoing either (or both) add up quickly.
  5. Remember to hydrate! Getting at least 100oz of water per day is a good starting goal, and this amount increases when you add the sun, salt, and potential alcohol intake that comes with spring and summer BBQs. Keep your coolers packed with water over beer and soda. If you want something a bit more “exciting,” try herbal teas, infused water, seltzer, and low-sugar electrolyte beverages.
  6. Bring something to share. Bring at least one healthy option you can count on if you're not hosting.


Healthy BBQ Recipes

Now, let’s get to the good stuff! Here are a few recipes to try when you host or head to a BBQ.

1. Grilled Chicken Skewers


  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Wooden skewers soaked in water


  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Mix olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  3. Thread chicken, bell pepper, and onion onto the skewers. Brush the skewers with the olive oil mixture.
  4. Grill skewers for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until chicken is cooked through.
  5. Serve hot and enjoy!

Need a dipping sauce? This 3-step Low-Carb BBQ Sauce will be your new best friend!


2. Veggie Burgers


  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Whole wheat burger buns
  • Toppings of your choice (lettuce, tomato, avocado, etc.)


  1. In a large bowl, mash black beans with a fork until mostly smooth.
  2. Add cooked quinoa, breadcrumbs, diced bell pepper, corn, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper to the mashed beans. Mix until well combined.
  3. Divide the mixture into patties. Grill the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side until heated through and grill marks appear.
  4. Serve on whole wheat burger buns with your favorite toppings.


3. Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt Dip


  • GrapesPineapple chunks
  • Strawberries (halved)
  • Orange (peeled and separated)
  • Honeydew chunks
  • Apple chunks
  • Banana chunks
  • Any other of your favorite fruits!
  • Skewers
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBS Honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


  1. Thread fruit onto skewers and grill for 2-3 minutes per side until lightly charred. 
  2. Mix Greek yogurt with honey and vanilla extract for dipping.

Tip: Use this same recipe, but hold the grilling for a quick and fun picnic snack!


4. Grilled Veggie Platter


  • Bell peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • String beans
  • Broccoli
  • Any of your favorite veggies. The more color, the better!
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Favorite dipping sauce


  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Cut vegetables into large chunks or slices and put in a bowl. Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper until all vegetables are coated with olive oil.
  3. Grill vegetables on each side for 5-7 minutes until tender and slightly charred.
  4. Put dipping sauce in a small bowl on the center of a platter. Arrange grilled vegetables on the platter and serve as an appetizer. 

This also makes a great side dish or topping for rice and your favorite grilled meat.


5. Mason Jar Salads


  • Mayonnaise or your favorite salad dressing
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Bell Peppers
  • Chickpeas
  • Grilled chicken or diced ham
  • Hard-boiled eggs (diced)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Spinach or favorite lettuce


  1. Layer your ingredients in a mason jar, starting with the dressing at the bottom and ending with the leafy greens on top to keep them crisp.
  2. When you're ready to eat, shake the jar to distribute the dressing and enjoy!

Tip: Leave at least two inches at the top to allow plenty of mixing room while shaking! These are great to bring to BBQs for extra veggies or pack for an easy picnic snack.


6. Caprese Skewers


  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella balls
  • Basil leaves
  • Balsamic glaze or olive oil
  • Skewers


  1. Alternate cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, and basil leaves on skewers.
  2. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and olive oil, and voila! You’re done!


7. Sandwich Wraps


  • Tortillas (try our easy 4-ingredient tortilla recipe)
  • Favorite sandwich spread
  • Deli meat
  • Cheese slices
  • Spinach or favorite leafy green
  • Any other fillings you like!


  1. Lay out tortillas and apply the sandwich spread to taste. 
  2. Layer the deli meat flat on the tortilla with cheese slices on top of the meat. Add your leafy greens and other fillings.
  3. Roll up tightly and slice into pinwheels for easy serving.

Tip: Use toothpicks before cutting to hold the pinwheels together when serving.

Is There a Healthy Way to BBQ? More Recipes & Resources

For even more BBQ tips, check out our articles Healthy Summer BBQ Tips and Nutrition Tips for the Summer Season. For additional recipes, check out the WAG blog!

A BBQ doesn’t have to be stressful! Embracing simplicity and focusing on the essence of togetherness will help you create an atmosphere where everyone (including you) can unwind, connect, and indulge in the simple pleasures of good food and great company.

If you need help planning ahead for your spring and summer get-togethers or want a coach for additional accountability, check out WAG Nutrition Coaching membership options. Your 1-on-1 coach will give specific suggestions based on your preferences and party schedule!