It seems that every summer Sunday we end up on a friend’s patio, drinking beers or rosé (#allday), and grilling the most finger-licking food (yeah, we said finger-licking). As much as we love going to town on the juiciest piece of chicken and scooping a mountain of potato salad onto our plates—chased with a slice of blueberry pie, duh—the food coma that follows just isn’t the dream. We decided to search for the best better-for-you versions of barbecue classics—and oh man, did we find them. Bring any of these nine BBQ recipes to your next backyard feast, and we guarantee you’ll be invited back.
Few pleasures in life compare to the first bite of a really good burger. Which is why we’re always on the lookout for ways to make these sandwiches a little more good for you (and your wallet too!) This part-meat, part-chopped mushroom burger not only tastes more flavorful than the classic, it’s also way cheaper than buying extra pounds of ground beef.
OK, you got us: This isn’t a “real” hot dog. But it is a super-tasty veggie version that’s packed with beets, potatoes, peas, and carrots. We know it has a lot of spices (and you can omit the ones you don’t have!), but if you’re able to pick up these Indian-inspired aromatics at the grocery store, your dog’s flavor will increase tenfold. If you’re really just looking for the classic, pick up a package at the store—but make sure they’re all-beef, turkey, or pork.
While barbecue sauce tastes incredible on chicken, we’ve found that we’re spending more time grabbing extra napkins (gotta protect those summer whites!) than eating. Plus, most bottled sauces are packed with sugar—no bueno. Which is why we’ll be massaging our chicken with a dry rub of chili powder, paprika, dry mustard, and just a hint of brown sugar and cayenne from now on.
A few words of advice: There’s more to pasta salad than the sweet mayonnaise and tiny diced-carrot versions of our youth. This grown-up variation trades in those tired flavors for fresh veggies, tangy feta cheese, and a bright lemon vinaigrette.
We love Grandma’s potato salad, but we can’t say we’re excited that it’s made with three cups of mayo. Pull back on the creaminess while embracing the classic flavor by mixing potatoes with Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard instead. While dried dill will taste just fine, fresh herbs are really the way to go with this recipe.
We’re all tempted to smear that ear of grilled corn with butter, but we’re open to an alternative. This recipe calls for just a few dollops of coconut oil (you could also use olive or avocado oil) to help the paprika and cilantro stick to those kernels. A squeeze of lime and it’s time to get munching. Who brought the floss?
A creamy side that tastes just as great layered on a burger as it does next to a pile of grilled chicken, coleslaw is a barbecue must-have. We’re especially into the idea of a creamy dressing that’s mostly Greek yogurt but has just a spoonful of mayonnaise to give a nod to the classic version.
Barbecue sauce. Salty bacon. Extra brown sugar. It’s no wonder baked beans taste so good at first, then leave you feeling sluggish hours later. So we offer up an alternative, slow-cooked with turkey bacon, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. Challenge: See if you taste the difference.
What’s a barbecue without dessert? (Answer: one we would not want to attend.) Get ready to dye your teeth the most pleasing shade of purple, because we don’t think there’s a way to daintily eat this blueberry pie. This better-for-you treat’s crust is all thanks to spelt flour and vegan butter, and the filling crams in as many blueberries as possible—with just a dash of coconut sugar and lemon juice to bring out the fruit’s natural sweetness.