10 Keto-Friendly Barbecue Recipes to Make This Summer

Everyone loves a good barbecue, and now everyone can love it on keto, thanks to these easy, delicious, ultra-low-carb recipes.

Medically Reviewed
bbq recipes keto friendly
Throw some salmon on the grill for a heart-healthy, low-carb barbecue dish.Adobe Stock (2); iStock

Summer barbecue season is here, and that’s good news for fans of the ketogenic diet. Why? Because so many keto-friendly foods are also barbecue staples. Think: bunless burgers, grilled fish, and veggie-loaded sides. That means if you’re on the ketogenic diet or are just trying to eat low-carb, you don’t have to miss out on any of the barbecue fun.

“Most of the protein-rich meats and poultry served at barbecues will keep you compliant to the keto diet; but you do want to be cautious with marinades and sauces, as some have sugar and other carbohydrate-containing ingredients,” says Kristen Smith, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Atlanta.

You can enjoy side dishes, too, especially if you make some strategic swaps. Smith offers some examples: “Some traditional barbecue sides made with potatoes can be made with cauliflower instead, and you can make a salad or another side dish with dark, leafy green vegetables to stick with your keto plan.”

What Makes a Meal Keto-Friendly?

If you’re unsure what to put on your plate at a barbecue — or what recipe to choose for your next cookout — here’s what you need to know: Many people on the ketogenic diet try to stay between 20 and 50 grams (g) of net carbs for the day. What does the “net” in net carbs mean? In this case, you would take the carbohydrate tally for the meal and subtract the fiber and any sugar alcohols to get the net carb number, according to Atkins.com. The reason people use net carbs for calculations when on low-carb diets such as keto, per Atkins, is that these are the type of carbs that most significantly affect blood sugar levels. Authorities like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services don’t recognize net carbs as a macronutrient like total carbs, protein, and fat. Net carbs is a term associated with fad diets such as keto and Atkins.

While 50 g of net carbs may sound like a lot, many healthy foods actually contain a high number of carbs and thus aren’t allowed on keto. For example, one medium peach has about 12 g net carbs, while a medium ear of corn has 17 g net carbs, based on carb totals via the USDA.

The keto diet, in which you keep your net carbs low, your fat intake high, and your protein consumption moderate, may lower your insulin levels and prevent fat accumulation, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The mechanism behind keto is a metabolic state called ketosis. This happens when your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to produce energy to keep your central nervous system functioning, so your body switches its fuel source to the “ketone bodies” produced by your liver from stored fatty acids, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Who Is Keto a Good Option For?

The short answer is that keto is not for everyone. If you’re new to the diet, and especially if you’re managing an underlying condition or are on any medications, talk to your healthcare team before diving in. Research on keto benefits is underway, as experts observe that many people are trying the popular diet for weight loss, but keep your expectations in check if you’re one of them.

“For most individuals trying to lose weight, I am not a huge proponent of the ketogenic diet — many of my clients have tried it in the past and found it difficult to follow for the long-term,” Smith says.

Also, be aware that the keto diet can cause side effects including nutrient deficiencies, constipation, and fatigue, notes Harvard. Keto also has long-term health risks, such as an increased risk of gout and kidney stones. Some of the symptoms keto newbies experience are collectively referred to as “the keto flu.”

Suffice to say, keeping on track with keto can be challenging in more ways than one. Before you turn on the grill this summer, keep these nutritious and keto-friendly recipe ideas in mind.

1
bbq sauce in a small bowl
Adobe Stock

Low-Carb BBQ Sauce

With its tangy, smoky flavor, a good all-purpose barbeque sauce is essential to so many grilled foods. Commercially-prepared varieties can be heavy on sugar, according to the USDA, but making barbecue sauce from scratch is as simple as mixing up a few pantry staples. This keto-friendly version contains no added sugars.

contains  Soy, Wheat, Fin fish
3.0 out of 2 reviews

SERVES

16

CALORIES PER SERVING

61

PREP TIME

5 min

TOTAL TIME

5 min

Ingredients

1, 6-oz cans tomato paste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, preferably raw
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp less-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp chili powder

Directions

1

In a mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until completely smooth. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size2 tbsp

calories

61

total fat

3.4g

saturated fat

0.5g

protein

1g

carbohydrates

6g

fiber

1.6g

sugar

3.5g

added sugar

0.4g

sodium

145mg

TAGS:

Soy, Wheat, Fin fish, Diabetes-Friendly, Heart-Healthy, Mediterranean, Family-Friendly, Quick & Easy, Ketogenic Diet, Paleo Diet, Whole30 Diet
2
grilled vegetables on a skewer
iStock

Grilled Summer Veggies

Incorporating more low-carb veggies into your diet is a great way to get your fill of fiber while watching your carbohydrate intake, especially if you’re following a popular diet like keto. Grilling them adds lots of flavor in just a few minutes as the high heat caramelizes any natural sugars. Just keep in mind that even low-carb vegetables contain some carbohydrates, so keep an eye on portions to avoid overdoing it.

5.0 out of 1 reviews

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

130

PREP TIME

10 min

COOK TIME

7 min

TOTAL TIME

17 min

Ingredients

1 small zucchini, sliced into rounds
1 summer squash, sliced into rounds
1 cup crimini mushrooms, stems removed and caps cleaned
2 bell peppers, any color, cut into large squares
1 small red onion, cut into large chunks
4 wooden skewers, soaked in water
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper

Directions

1

Preheat grill to medium. Divide the vegetables evenly among four wooden skewers (soak the skewers in water before using to prevent them from burning).

2

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, salt, and pepper and brush the mixture evenly over all the skewers.

3

Grill until vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, about 7 to 9 minutes, turning the skewers about halfway through.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size1 skewer

calories

130

total fat

11g

saturated fat

1.5g

protein

2g

carbohydrates

8g

fiber

2.3g

sugar

4.8g

added sugar

0g

sodium

288mg

TAGS:

Mediterranean, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Anti-Inflammatory, Low-Carbohydrate, Quick & Easy, Side Dish, Ketogenic Diet, Paleo Diet, Whole30 Diet
3
tuna steaks
Brent Hofacker/Adobe Stock

Seared Tuna Steaks

Tuna steaks tend to hold up well on the grill, and are naturally rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats, according to the National Institutes of Health, which helps prevent them from drying out on the high heat. Serve with your favorite low-carb veggies for a healthy and keto-friendly meal! Tuna may contain a small amount of mercury, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists it as a good choice. Enjoy one serving, the size of your palm, once per week to be cautious.

contains  Fin fish
5.0 out of 1 reviews

SERVES

2

CALORIES PER SERVING

406

PREP TIME

5 min

COOK TIME

4 min

TOTAL TIME

24 min

Ingredients

2 tuna steaks (about 5 ounces each)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp black sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Directions

1

Preheat a grill to medium-high.

2

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.

3

Pat tuna steaks dry with a paper towel and place them in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the steaks, making sure they are evenly coated. Marinate for about 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour.

4

Remove tuna steaks from marinade and place directly on the grill (discard marinade). Grill for about 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare, or adjust the cooking time based on your desired level of doneness.

5

Transfer tuna steaks to a serving dish and let rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size1 tuna steak

calories

406

total fat

28g

saturated fat

4g

protein

25g

carbohydrates

3g

fiber

0.5g

sugar

0.7g

added sugar

0g

sodium

345mg

TAGS:

Fin fish, Diabetes-Friendly, Heart-Healthy, Mediterranean, Gluten-free, High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate, Anti-Inflammatory, Quick & Easy, Dinner, Ketogenic Diet, Paleo Diet, Whole30 Diet
4
bacon wrapped jalapeno
iStock

Keto Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Spicy, salty, and creamy, jalapeño poppers make for the perfect keto-friendly appetizer or snack, and come together quickly on the grill. Jalapeños contain vitamins A and C, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, and like other spicy peppers, contain capsaicin, a compound that has been associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

contains  Dairy
5.0 out of 1 reviews

SERVES

12

CALORIES PER SERVING

115

PREP TIME

10 min

COOK TIME

15 min

TOTAL TIME

25 min

Ingredients

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 lime, juiced
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
6 fresh jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed (if you prefer more spice, leave some or all of the seeds intact)
6 slices of bacon, cut in half

Directions

1

Preheat a grill to medium-high and line the grates with aluminum foil.

2

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir well.

3

Using a spoon, fill each jalapeño with cream cheese mixture. Press filling firmly into each pepper.

4

Wrap one piece of bacon around each stuffed jalapeño. Secure with toothpicks to hold it in place, if needed.

5

Arrange the bacon-wrapped jalapenos on the foil ensuring they are evenly spaced. Close the cover and grill for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the bacon turns crispy and golden brown.

6

Once cooked, carefully remove the toothpicks from each jalapeno and let them cool for a few minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size1 piece

calories

115

total fat

10.4g

saturated fat

4.7g

protein

4g

carbohydrates

2g

fiber

0.3g

sugar

0.9g

added sugar

0.1g

sodium

177mg

TAGS:

Dairy, Gluten-free, Low-Carbohydrate, Family-Friendly, Quick & Easy, Appetizer, Snack, Ketogenic Diet
5
dry rub ribs
Joshua Resnick/Adobe Stock

Grilled Keto BBQ Ribs

Ribs are a quintessential barbecue food and lend themselves to the keto diet well given their naturally high fat content. Ribs are also surprisingly simple to prepare. Mixing together just a few common spices makes a flavor-packed and sugar-free dry rub that is sure to be a hit!

5.0 out of 1 reviews

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

627

PREP TIME

10 min

COOK TIME

20 min

TOTAL TIME

30 min

Ingredients

1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to your spice preference)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 rack of pork ribs (about 2.5 lbs)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Directions

1

Preheat a grill to medium and set it up for indirect cooking (cooking on a top rack or heating one half of the grill and leaving the other half off).

2

In a small bowl, combine spices, salt, and pepper.

3

Pat ribs dry with a paper towel and generously drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Apply the dry rub to both sides of the ribs, pressing it into the meat to ensure it adheres well.

4

Place ribs on the grill bone-side down, away from direct heat. Close the grill lid and cook until the ribs reach an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees F, about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow ribs to cool slightly before cutting them into individual pieces. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil just before serving.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size¼ rack

calories

627

total fat

42g

saturated fat

11.9g

protein

60g

carbohydrates

4g

fiber

1.7g

sugar

0.5g

added sugar

0g

sodium

619mg

TAGS:

Gluten-free, High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate, Family-Friendly, Quick & Easy, Dinner, Ketogenic Diet, Paleo Diet, Whole30 Diet
6
grilled salmon arugula
Getty Images

Honey Lime Grilled Salmon

Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, per data from the USDA. According to the Cleveland Clinic, omega-3s are essential fats — meaning the human body needs them to survive but cannot produce them. As a result, we need to get them from our food. The Cleveland Clinic states that when you include more omega-3s in your diet, you'll decrease inflammation, lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and lower the risk of blood clots and artery-blocking plaques — all key to maintaining overall health!

contains  Soy, Wheat, Fin fish
5.0 out of 3 reviews

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

393

PREP TIME

5 min

COOK TIME

10 min

TOTAL TIME

15 min

Ingredients

3 limes, divided (2 juiced, 1 cut into wedges)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
24 oz salmon fillets

Directions

1

In a glass baking dish, whisk together lime juice, oil, honey, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper. Add salmon fillets and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30–60 minutes.

2

Lightly grease grill grate and preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place salmon on grill flesh-side down. Grill for 5–6 minutes, then carefully flip and cook for an additional 2–5 minutes (depending on thickness and desired doneness). Serve with lime wedge garnish.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size6 oz

calories

393

total fat

25g

saturated fat

5.5g

protein

35g

carbohydrates

5g

fiber

0.1g

sugar

4.5g

added sugar

4.4g

sodium

245mg

Tips

To make this salmon keto-friendly, simply omit the honey!

A grill mat or cedar plank can also be used when grilling salmon or other fish to make it easier to flip in one piece.

To make this salmon keto-friendly, simply omit the honey!

TAGS:

Soy, Wheat, Fin fish, Anti-Inflammatory, Diabetes-Friendly, Dinner, Low-Carbohydrate, High-Protein, Mediterranean
7
Healthy Greek Tzatziki kebabs
Anastasia Nurullina/iStock

Greek Lemon Chicken Kebabs With Tzatziki

Mix tzatziki sauce with your grilled chicken to add moisture and flavor. Tzatziki is made with a base of Greek yogurt, which adds an extra dose of protein and calcium to your meal. Calcium is essential for bone health, and yogurt is a top dietary source of calcium, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Add a tomato, cucumber, and red onion salad, for a complete meal.

contains  Dairy
4.0 out of 210 reviews

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

294

PREP TIME

15 min

COOK TIME

10 min

TOTAL TIME

55 min

Ingredients

1 lb chicken tenderloins, cut into 1" pieces
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 fresh lemon, juiced, divided
3 cloves garlic (2 minced and 1 grated)
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
½ cup grated cucumber

Directions

1

To a large zip-close bag, add chicken, 3 tbsp olive oil, all but 1 tbsp of lemon juice, minced garlic, cumin, turmeric, ½ tsp kosher salt, and pepper. Close bag and mix with your hands until chicken is evenly coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

2

In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp lemon juice, grated garlic, the remaining ¼ tsp kosher salt, yogurt, and dill. Stir to combine.

3

Place cucumber in a clean kitchen towel or several paper towels and squeeze tightly to remove any excess moisture. Gently stir it into yogurt mixture. Set tzatziki sauce aside until serving.

4

Generously oil the grill and preheat it to medium.

5

Evenly divide chicken pieces among 4 skewers. Grill until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 10–15 minutes, turning halfway through. Serve with tzatziki sauce.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

calories

294

total fat

16g

saturated fat

2.6g

protein

32g

carbohydrates

5g

fiber

0.3g

sugar

2.7g

added sugar

0g

sodium

307mg

Tips

To make these kebabs keto-friendly, use whole-fat yogurt and drizzle the kebabs with extra-virgin olive oil before serving.

To make these kebabs keto-friendly, use whole-fat yogurt and drizzle the kebabs with extra-virgin olive oil before serving.

TAGS:

Dairy, Diabetes-Friendly, Gluten-free, Heart-Healthy, Mediterranean, Low-Carbohydrate, High-Protein, Dinner
8
Healthy grilled Shrimp kebabs
Getty Images

Garlic Lime Shrimp Kebabs

Lots of people are afraid to try seafood on the grill, but kebabs are the ideal way, because you won’t risk anything slipping down between the grates. Shrimp is an excellent source of lean protein, according to the USDA, and delivers the all-important omega-3s that most Americans don’t get enough of. Plus, it cooks quickly, so it’s a great fast meal when you’re in a hurry.

contains  Shellfish
5.0 out of 2 reviews

SERVES

6

CALORIES PER SERVING

137

PREP TIME

5 min

COOK TIME

5 min

TOTAL TIME

10 min

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 fresh limes, juiced
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground paprika
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1½ lb raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

Directions

1

In a plastic bag, combine garlic, lime juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.

2

Divide shrimp evenly among 6 skewers. Add shrimp skewers to the plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

3

Lightly oil grill and preheat to medium.

4

Grill shrimp, with grill covered, and cook until opaque, about 2 minutes per side.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size1 skewer

calories

137

total fat

7g

saturated fat

0.9g

protein

16g

carbohydrates

2g

fiber

0.2g

sugar

0.3g

added sugar

0g

sodium

591mg

Tips

To make these shrimp keto-friendly, serve them atop a sliced avocado.

To make these shrimp keto-friendly, serve them atop a sliced avocado.

TAGS:

Shellfish, Gluten-free, Diabetes-Friendly, Dinner, Heart-Healthy, Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, Quick & Easy, Paleo Diet, Whole30 Diet
9
asparagus salmon salad
Nadine Greeff/Stocksy

Asparagus Salad With Grilled Salmon

This salad is a great way to use up leftovers, and the mustard vinaigrette works with pretty much any lean protein or combination of spring veggies. You get a double shot of satiating protein from the egg and salmon, and the fish also adds a dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fats to your plate, according to the American Heart Association. Salmon from a can or pouch will work just as well as fresh and delivers similar nutritional benefits without any of the fuss.

contains  Eggs, Fin fish
5.0 out of 1 reviews

SERVES

2

CALORIES PER SERVING

331

PREP TIME

15 min

TOTAL TIME

15 min

Ingredients

4 cups mixed greens
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed, sliced in half, steamed
¼ cup fresh peas, steamed
6 oz salmon, grilled
1 soft- or hard-boiled egg
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 tsp grainy mustard
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1

Divide salad greens between two serving plates. Top each with half the asparagus, peas, salmon, egg, and chives.

2

In a small bowl or covered jar, vigorously mix all vinaigrette ingredients. Drizzle over salad just before serving.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

calories

331

total fat

20g

saturated fat

3.5g

protein

25g

carbohydrates

12g

fiber

4g

sugar

6.6g

added sugar

2.9g

sodium

303mg

Tips

To make this salad keto-friendly, leave out the honey and add drizzle each salad with an additional 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, and replace the peas with extra leafy greens.

To make this salad keto-friendly, leave out the honey and add drizzle each salad with an additional 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, and replace the peas with extra leafy greens.

TAGS:

Eggs, Fin fish, Anti-Inflammatory, Diabetes-Friendly, Heart-Healthy, Mediterranean, Lunch, Quick & Easy
10
grilled chicken jalepeno
Cameron Whitman/Stocksy

Grilled Jalapeño Lime Chicken

Cooking outside on the grill is a great way to enjoy a homemade meal on a hot summer’s night. And who doesn’t love grilled chicken? Unfortunately, store-bought marinades can often have loads of sodium. Take teriyaki sauce, for example, which contains a whopping 260 milligrams (mg) sodium per tablespoon, according to the USDA! Sodium can add up quickly, leading to higher blood pressure in the long term — a serious concern for those at risk of heart disease, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. But this marinade is made with fresh ingredients and gets the majority of its flavor from the herbs, garlic, and jalapeños rather than salt.

5.0 out of 5 reviews

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

220

PREP TIME

5 min

COOK TIME

12 min

TOTAL TIME

47 min

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, zested and juiced
1½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 fresh jalapeños, divided (1 seeded and minced, 1 sliced into rounds)
1¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Directions

1

In a large zip-top bag or deep baking dish, place olive oil, lime zest and juice, cumin, black pepper, salt, garlic, and minced jalapeños. Stir to evenly combine ingredients.

2

Add chicken breasts and toss gently in marinade. Place marinated chicken in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours, tossing occasionally to coat chicken.

3

Lightly grease grill grates. Preheat grill to medium high. Place chicken on grill and cook until it starts to brown, about 6 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until the internal temperature registers as 165 degrees F, about 6 minutes more.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

calories

220

total fat

9g

saturated fat

0.9g

protein

33g

carbohydrates

2g

fiber

0.5g

sugar

0.5g

added sugar

0g

sodium

166mg

Tips

To make this chicken keto-friendly, serve it with a guacamole dipping sauce.

To make this chicken keto-friendly, serve it with a guacamole dipping sauce.

TAGS:

Diabetes-Friendly, Dinner, Heart-Healthy, Gluten-free, Low-Carbohydrate, High-Protein, Paleo Diet, Whole30 Diet