Healthy Twists On Your Favorite BBQ Foods

Sunrise Senior Living  |  May 18, 2016

A backyard BBQ is one the best ways to enjoy warm weather and an evening with friends and family. Unfortunately some of the most quintessential foods found at a cook out aren't always the healthiest options. Happily, a few small twists to familiar recipes can yield positive changes.

By switching up a few classic BBQ dishes, you can make sure you and your guests can enjoy your next cook out guilt-free. Cutting out things like cheese or avoiding having too many adult beverages is a good place to start, but here are a few ideas for healthy dishes to try on the grill:

Grilled Chicken
Full of flavor, this dish from All Recipes is sure to be a hit at your next backyard get-together. A unique set of spices and sauces will wow your guests without loading up on calories or too much sodium. 


  • 6 skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. prepared coarse-ground mustard
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 lemon


Combine the cider vinegar, mustard, minced garlic, brown sugar and salt and pepper in a bowl. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon and lime and whisk in the olive oil. Place chicken in the mixture and let sit overnight to marinate.

When you're ready to get going, set your grill to high heat. Lightly oil the grate and place chicken on the grill. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes on each side. Drizzle a spoonful of marinade with about one minute to go to caramelize the flavors.

Tangy BBQ Sliders
By replacing red meat with lean turkey breast, this recipe from is already one of the healthiest options for your BBQ. At the same time, it is sure to delight any hungry visitors. 


  • 1 lb of chopped of loosely chopped turkey breast (either raw or pre-cooked)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 6 kaiser rolls or hamburger buns
  • Dill pickle slices (optional)


Set the grill to medium heat and using a saucepan or skillet, melt butter. Add the onion and salt. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions are soft and fragrant. Add vinegar, barbecue sauce and water. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add turkey and stir until thoroughly cooked. Add pepper to finish. Toast buns for 1 minute each and top with turkey. Serve with pickles or additional sauce if desired.

Grilled Watermelon
For ambitious cooks, swapping out a traditional cut of beef for some fresh watermelon is a way to stay healthy and also have the most interesting dish around. This recipe from Serious Eats infuses the delicious, unmistakable smoking flavors that everyone loves about barbecues and infuses it with the refreshing taste of watermelon. 


  • 1 medium watermelon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 limes
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup mint

Start by finely chopping the mint and cutting the watermelon into slices that are about 1" thick.  In a bowl, whisk together the honey, cayenne pepper and salt. Juice the limes and add to the mixture.

Clean the grill well and set to medium heat. Brush each side of the watermelon with the honey and lime mixture. Place each piece on the grill and cook for about 1 minute on each side, or until grill marks form. 

Remove from heat and garnish with chopped mint.

Korean-style Burgers
A fun and healthy twist on traditional hamburgers, this dish from My Recipes is an exciting addition to any cook out.


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • 6 red lettuce leaves
  • 6 Tbsp. thinly sliced radishes


Combine sirloin with spices, garlic, onions and ginger in a bowl. Gently knead mixture and create 6 loose patties. Avoid overworking the meat, as this can lead to burgers that are too chewy. 

Coat grill rack with cooking spray and place burgers over medium-high heat. Grill for 6 minutes on each side. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Grill buns for 1 minute each. 

Place patties on bun and top with lettuce, radishes or other veggies.

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