50+ Healthy Cookout Recipes
Published May 25, 2021, Updated May 09, 2022
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The best tips for healthy eating at a cookout! Plus, over 50 healthy cookout recipes with everything from salads and grilled protein options to desserts and drinks!
Someone messaged me on Instagram recently and expressed concern about sticking with their healthy eating goals this summer — particularly wondering how to eat healthy at family cookouts and backyard BBQs so I sent over a few tips and also shared a bunch of my favorite healthy cookout recipes with her!
Since I know many of you will be celebrating holidays this summer and attending (or hosting) cookouts I thought I’d share the tips and recipes here as well. I hope they’re helpful!
Eat Healthy at a Cookout WITHOUT Feeling Deprived
Cookouts are always so fun and something I look forward to every year, but oftentimes the food served at these events isn’t the healthiest. If you’re on weight loss journey or trying to stick with healthy eating habits, here are some of my best tips for eating healthy at a BBQ or cookout… while still enjoying yourself!
- Bring a healthy dish to share. This is my number one tip! If you bring a dish you’ll know for sure that there’s at least one healthy option on the menu. Plus, it’s fun to introduce your friends and family to a new recipe. See below for tons of recipe ideas!
- Eat a balanced, satisfying meal. Load up your plate with a portion of lean protein, lots of veggies, whole grains and healthy fats. Skip or go light on the processed carbs like chips, crackers and bread as well as heavy side items like traditional potato and pasta salads. If there’s an item you’re really craving, go for it! It’s better to eat it and feel satisfied rather than leaving the cookout feeling deprived as this typically leads to binging later.
- Delay getting seconds. Fill your plate once, using the tip above as a guide and try to stick with one portion rather than going back for seconds right away. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to register your meal and feel full. If after 20 minutes you’re still hungry — go ahead and get more protein and veggies to fill you up.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water is always important, but it’s even more essential during the summer months when it’s hot and we’re sweating more. Bring a reusable water bottle with you so you remember to refill it and stay hydrated.
- Indulge, but not in everything. One strategy I find helpful is to choose between having alcohol or dessert. If you want to indulge in wine or a cocktail, forego dessert. If dessert is calling your name, skip the cocktail.
- Don’t hang by the food table. Eat your meal and enjoy it, but try not to hang around the food afterward. You’ll likely end up munching just because the food is there not because you’re actually hungry.
- Take the focus off the food. Rather than make food the focus of the party, have fun playing games and connecting with friends and family. Play lawn games (like croquet, volleyball, kickball, badminton, cornhole, etc.) or put on your bathing suit and splash around with the kids if it’s a pool party.
Healthy Cookout Recipes:
Need a healthy recipe to make for your next cookout or BBQ? I’ve got you covered with over 50 recipes!
- Apple Cider Vinegar Chicken
- Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers
- Cilantro Lime Chicken Burgers
- The Best Tempeh Veggie Burgers
- Black Bean Burgers
- Teriyaki Salmon Burgers
- Black Bean Sweet Potato Burgers
- Grilled BBQ Tempeh Skewers
- BBQ Jackfruit
- Easy Quinoa Salad
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
- Vegan Broccoli Raisin Salad
- Mayo-Free Potato Salad
- Healthy Pasta Salad
- Classic Broccoli Salad
- Easy Fruit Salad
- Low-Carb Cauliflower Potato Salad
- Avocado Salad
- Roasted Tomato Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Avocado Corn Salad
- Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
- Greek Chickpea Salad
- Grilled Sweet Potatoes
- Baked Sweet Potato Chips
- Baked Pita Chips
- Easy Baked Jicama Fries
- Roasted Broccoli
- Crunchy Asian Slaw
- Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries
- Roasted Summer Squash and Zucchini
- Mango Jicama Slaw
- Roasted Asparagus + 3 Topping Ideas
- Apple Cider Vinegar Coleslaw
- Quinoa Tabbouleh
- Healthy Guacamole with Peas
- Easy Black Bean Dip
- Healthy 7-Layer Dip
- Easy Pineapple Salsa
- Lima Bean Hummus
- Vegetarian Mezze Platter
- Almond Pesto Dip (or Sauce)
- Easy Shrimp Cocktail
- Beet Hummus
- Southwest Sweet Potato Black Bean Dip
- Chocolate Covered Banana Pops
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites
- Fudgy Black Bean Brownies
- Healthy Zucchini Muffins
- Vegan Graham Cracker Blondies
- Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies
- Almond Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips
- Greek Yogurt Berry Tart
- Creamy Avocado Lime Tart
- Frozen Yogurt Bark with Berries
- 3 Ingredient Icebox Cake
- Strawberry Coconut Milk Sorbet
- Chocolate Banana Ice Cream
- Mint Chip Avocado Ice Cream
- Chocolate Caramel Ice Cream Bars
- Skip the soda and opt for water (make it fancy by infusing it with fresh herbs and fruit), sparkling water (I love LaCroix), unsweetened iced tea or homemade low-sugar lemonade. This Lemon Chia Fresca is a refreshing lemonade-like drink with chia seeds that’s great for energy and boosting your metabolism.
- Make a skinny cocktail: Skinny Margarita, Skinny Paloma, Skinny Coconut Daiquiri, Skinny Piña Colada, Blackberry Cucumber Skinny Mojito.
Relax and Enjoy!
I hope these tips are helpful, but it’s also important to remember to relax and enjoy all of your summertime events without getting too wrapped up in following specific rules. If you eat healthy 80% of the time, you have wiggle room to indulge. Cookouts and parties should be about relaxing a little and having FUN!
My favorite tip is also your first one!! I love to bring a new dish to a cookout we attend 1. to know I have at least one health-ish dish I will like 2. share with others and expose them to new things. I love when they go over well and people rave about the recipe and want it for themselves!
Great tips! I’m really hoping to enjoy in moderation on Saturday!
Cookouts can be a challenge, but on the plus side it’s a great time of year for salads, veggies and fruits. So hopefully that helps a little bit in finding a balance. Good tips!
these are perfect tips for this weekend!thanks for sharing 🙂
My biggest tip is to eat ALLL the veggies and bring a coleslaw for the party made with yoghurt so everyone can eat it without feeling bogged down by mayo!
It’s better if you can have a healthy cookout. Having a healthy diet is good for your body and health.
Hope you had a great 4th with Alyssa!
Thanks lady – we had such a blast! Hope you had a lovely 4th as well.
It’s great that you mentioned that you should opt for water when you are eating at a cookout. This upcoming weekend, my friends and I are planning on meeting at a barbecue restaurant so that we can see how each others’ lives are going. I am trying to be careful with my diet right now, so I will definitely have to go with water with the meal.