50+ Healthy Cookout Recipes


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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!

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

Two open faced spinach and feta turkey burgers with burger toppings and buns around on the table.

Protein Options:

Serving bowl with black bean and corn salad. Spoon is in the bowl.


Plate of grilled sweet potato wedges on a plate, topped with fresh herbs. A creamy dipping sauce is to the side.


Hand dipping a tortilla chip into a bowl of guacamole.


Greek yogurt tart decorated with strawberries and blueberries. A striped dish towel, sliced strawberries, and blueberries surround the tart.


Glass of a skinny margarita with slices of lime and orange.


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!

More Recipe Collections

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
Chicken fajita filling on a sheet pan with a wooden spoon. Tortillas are resting on the bottom of the sheet pan.
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  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. It’s better if you can have a healthy cookout. Having a healthy diet is good for your body and health.

  5. 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.