5 Unthinkable Healthy BBQ Meals

As good as BBQ is, it oftentimes gets frowned up for being unhealthy. Some might think it’s a luxury that should be enjoyed in moderation, but barbecue lovers might disagree. Barbecue sauce runs in their blood.


The good news is many healthy barbecue options exist that people can still enjoy without the calories.

Healthy BBQ Recipes:


Before getting into the healthy meals, main points to consider when choosing a particular healthy dish is pinpointing what makes a barbecue dish highly caloric and eliminating or changing it.

  • BBQ Sauce:  Some sauces are unhealthier than others, such as mayonnaise-, tomato- and molasses-based sauces. Mustard- and vinegar-based are ideally less caloric. Pay attention to the nutritional facts when purchasing.

  • Meats:  Leaner meats and fish are the healthier barbecue options. When choosing your main course, pay attention to fat percentage and leanness of the meat and fish item.

  • Cooking Method:  Cooking usually entails adding extra oils and fats. Certain methods, such as grilling, baking and frying with very little olive oil, are fine.


Turkey BBQ:


Lean Barbecue Turkey Sandwich



1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 large (about 2 cups) thinly sliced onion

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup water

4 cups (about 1 pound) leftover chopped cooked turkey breast

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 (1 1/2-ounce) Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns, split and warmed



Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and salt, cook until soft, stirring occasionally (about 8 minutes). Add vinegar, BBQ sauce and ½ cup of water and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add turkey and stir for 3-5 minutes.

Place turkey on buns, add additional sauce if necessary and enjoy.

Recommended Sides:

  • Sweet potato fries

  • Vinegar based coleslaw


BBQ Chicken:


Grilled Barbecue Chicken



5 teaspoons sweet paprika

4 teaspoons brown sugar

3 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or melted unsalted butter

1 teaspoon barbecue smoke seasoning

1 cup barbecue sauce



Place the paprika, sugar, salt, black pepper and garlic into a bowl and mix. Sprinkle and rub the mix over chicken on both sides. Place the chicken in a baking dish, cover in foil and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.


Combine the oil and seasoning into a bowl and stir. Fire up the grill and arrange the chicken diagonally. Grill for 4-6 minutes per side and baste many times after the first two minutes of grilling. You can check the internal meat temperature with a meat thermometer, which should be about 160 degrees. Serve with BBQ sauce if desired.


Recommended Sides:

  • Shish kabobs

  • Lemon rice


BBQ Salmon:

Barbecue Roasted Salmon



1/4 cup pineapple juice

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cooking spray



Combine the pineapple juice, lemon juice and salmon fillets in a plastic bag and let marinate in the fridge for an hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the salmon from the bag. Mix the sugar, chili powder, lemon rind, cumin, salt and cinnamon into a separate bowl and mix. Rub onto the salmon. Spray a baking pan down with cooking spray and bake for 12 min.


Recommended Sides:

  • Steamed asparagus

  • Baked Sweet Potatoes

BBQ Pork

BBQ port tenderloin / Family Focus Blog
BBQ Pork Tenderloin via AllRecipes.com

Barbecue Pork Tenderloin



1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

2 pork tenderloins

1 cup of BBQ sauce



Mix the garlic, salt and pepper and season the tenderloins. Cook over indirect heat for 30 minutes, brush with BBQ sauce and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove, slice and serve.


Recommended Sides:

  • Grilled Corn

  • Spinach Salad


BBQ Tofu:


Grilled Barbecue Tofu



1/4 cup(s) lemon juice

1 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil

3 clove(s) garlic, minced

2 teaspoon(s) dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon(s) salt, or to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

14 ounce(s) extra-firm tofu



Preheat the grill. Whisk the lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drain tofu and pat dry. Cut the block in ½ inch thick slices and place in a dish. Add marinade, while saving some for basting, turn tofu, cover and refrigerate for 30 mintues-8 hours.


Oil the grill rack with an oil soaked paper towel. Drain tofu, grill over medium-high and baste every now and then with extra marinade until light brown.


Recommended Sides


Recipes courtesy of health.com (1-3), allrecipes.com (4) and delish.com (5).


About the author

Sam Ott writes for Lutz’s BBQ in Columbia and Jefferson City, MO.


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