These side dishes might just outshine the burgers.
The sun is illuminating the backyard, a light breeze carries the scent of charcoal from the grill, and cans of soda and ale sweat under the hot sunshine. Grilling and summer go together like ketchup and mustard, and nothing seems to celebrate the start of summer more than the first time you fire up the grill.
Grill-outs can certainly be a time to treat yourself to party foods: burgers, potato chips, soda, and hot dogs. Still, including a more nutritious side dish has its benefits. A healthy side dish may improve digestion, reduce bloating, help you feel more satisfied thanks to the extra fiber, or even just offer a refreshing break from the saltier foods on the picnic table.
But don’t make the mistake of just offering a boring salad with a few limp cucumber slices: These healthy side dish ideas are perfect for grill-outs, and they’ll impress on flavor, too.
1. Grilled sweet potato fries
Homemade fries on the grill? Sweet. Grilled sweet potato fries are an obvious fit for a cookout, and they also offer tons of vitamin A, fiber, and potassium. They’re also lower in starch than white potatoes, so they can help balance out your meal (especially if you have guests who are monitoring their carb count).
2. Broccoli slaw
If your family loves the standard creamy coleslaw, try this more colorful variation. It’s a fun way to add broccoli to the cookout table without intimidating picky eaters.
3. Lemon dill potato salad
Potato salad is a classic side dish for grill-outs. This recipe tosses the potatoes in a bright lemon-dill vinaigrette that feels oh-so-right for hot summer days. Not only is it refreshing, but the vinaigrette is also a healthier swap for mayo.
4. Berry basil quinoa salad
Quinoa salad has become a pretty popular potluck dish, but this fruit-and-herb variation will be a unique spin that will have everyone talking. Bonus: quinoa is a powerhouse of protein and fiber (and it’s a great option if you’ve got vegetarian guests).
5. Corn, tomato, and avocado salad
It has “salad” in the name, but you won’t find any lettuce leaves. This side dish combines creamy, heart-healthy avocado with a punch of flavor from cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. You can eat it as a side, or even treat it like a condiment for your burgers and hot dogs.
6. Grilled garlic scapes
If you like garlic, you’ll love garlic scapes. These are the curly shoots from the tops of the garlic bulb. They have a light, pleasant garlic flavor, but they have a texture like asparagus. You can use them in a number of ways, but grilling them will take them from good to oh my goodness. (Plus, they’re low in calories and high in fiber.)
Want more tips for healthy grilling?
- Avocado, raw. Washington, DC: FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2020. (Accessed on May 27, 2020)
- Build a healthier salad. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on May 27, 2020)
- Non-starchy vegetables. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association. (Accessed on May 27, 2020)
- Quinoa, cooked. Washington, DC: FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2020. (Accessed on May 27, 2020)
- Sweet potato fries, from fresh, baked. Washington, DC: FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2020. (Accessed on May 27, 2020)