It's been a long winter, and the warmer seasons are unfolding; it's the perfect time to fire up the grill!
Ribs, chicken, and platters of perfectly grilled veggies await as cities reopen across the country. Fortunately, grilling season offers a plethora of food options to enjoy by anyone eating a ketogenic diet.
However, the sauce and condiments aisle can be a landmine for hidden sugars and other subpar ingredients. Thankfully, food purveyors are paying attention to the demands and needs of consumers, and there are now loads of high-quality, sugar-free rubs, sauces, condiments, and relishes available to spice up your summer meals.
So if you're longing for the smell of hickory and charcoal and crave the distinct flavor grilling adds to food, keep reading because we've got some keto-specific tips to share to help make this your best grilling season yet!
We always encourage eating your veggies, but we must admit that some are more suited to grilling than others. Here's a list of keto-friendly vegetables that hold up well to high levels of heat over an open flame:
- Summer Squash
- Bell Peppers
- Cremini Mushrooms
Adding grilled veggies to a meal is an excellent way to insert a complexity of flavor and texture into your dish. And there are some best practices to consider when grilling any vegetables to ensure ideal results.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when grilling to produce the best flame-roasted food ever:
- Oil the vegetables lightly: Your grill is smoking hot when ready, and putting veggies on the grill raw can cause sticking and tearing of your precious produce. Add a spritz of keto friendly oil to your vegetables before grilling to prevent this issue.
- Focus on timing and temperature: Whether searing, steaming, or roasting, both time and temperature play an essential role in achieving the best results.
Also, it's a good idea to cook similar vegetables, like zucchini and squash, together, so they achieve an equivalent level of doneness at around the same pace.
- Use a skewer or grill basket: Some foods are too small to place directly on the grill, but there's a way around that challenge. Use either a skewer to make some delectable kebabs or implement a grill basket to cook smaller food parcels.
- Experiment with cooking in packets: Keeping a close eye on your grilling veggies, keeping the little ones out of trouble, or making sure to catch crucial moments of your favorite show simultaneously, may make babysitting your meal feel like a drag. If you've ever felt the sting of dashed excitement due to burnt bell peppers on the grill, you may want to try cooking your veggies in convenient aluminum foil pouches for hands-free heating that's virtually fool-proof.
Try the following vegetables if you plan to bag steam them to pair them with your grilled delights:
- Radish (1.8g/100g raw/cooked)
- Rutabaga (5g/100g boiled, 6.3g/100g raw)
- Onion (6.1g/100g cooked, 6.8g/100g raw)
- Leek (6.6g/100g boiled, 12.3g/100g raw)
- Celery Root (7.7g/100g raw/boiled)
Keto Meals on the Grill
You may initially think of burgers and hot dogs when considering keto-friendly foods to slap on the grill, but those items are just a sliver of the options open to us when wielding our talents on the grill and eating a low-carb, high-fat diet.
We can't possibly cover all the grilling options; the recipes and variations are as broad as your imagination, but here are some mouth-watering keto grilling options to try as we ease into summer:
- Steak & Mushroom Kebabs: Simple yet satisfying, this simple skewer of protein and veggies is easy to marinate overnight and grill in minutes for a fresh and light keto meal.
- Keto Teriyaki Beef on a Stick
- Grilled Steak Pinwheels
- Grilled Steak Lettuce Wrap
- Grilled Cuban Flank Steak
- Top Sirloin Kebabs
- California Burger Wraps
- Grilled Chicken with Peanut Sauce
- Sriracha Ranch Chicken
- Taco Lime Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- Grilled Old Bay Chicken Wings
- Chicken Pesto Kebabs
- Lemon Basil Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Fajita Packets
- Rosemary-Lemon Grilled Chicken
- Easy Grilled Buffalo Wings
- Grilled Ranch Pork Chops
- Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Pork Chops
- Lemon Basil Grilled Pork Chops
- Barbecue Ribs
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- Italian Sausage Skewers
- Sausage and Veggie Grilled Pockets
- Grilled Pork and Poblano Peppers
- Lemon Grilled Salmon
- Jambalaya Kebabs
- Keto Shrimp Boil on a Stick with Garlic Butter Sauce
- Grilled Fish & Asparagus with Garlic Butter
- Lemon Butter Grilled Lobster Tails
- Lemon-Dill Salmon Packets (this is a quick and tasty keto meal you can easily make in a heat-safe pouch or aluminum foil packet).
- Ginger Tuna Kebabs
- Foiled Fish on the Grill
- Grilled Shrimp Kebabs with Bell Peppers
- Grilled Shrimp with Garlic and Cilantro Sauce
- Bacon-wrapped Scallop Skewers
- Chipotle Lime Grilled Shrimp
- Grilled Salmon and Lemon Kebabs
- Spicy Grilled Shrimp
- Grilled Halibut with Basil Vinaigrette
- Lebanese Lamb Kebabs
- Greek Marinated Pork Chops on the Grill
- Grilled Lamb Chops with Cauliflower Rice
- Greek Lamb Chops with Tzatziki
- Pecan-crusted Rack of Lamb
- Keto Lamb Chops with Pesto Sauce
- Lamb and Leek Burgers with Lemon Cream
- Greek Meatballs with Avocado Tzatziki Sauce
- Halloumi and Lamb Bake
- Greek Lamb Gyro Bowls with Tzatziki Sauce
- Tandoori Lamb Meatloaf
- Persian Spiced Lamb Shanks
- Keto Lamb Chops with Herb Butter
- Moorish Lamb Kebabs
- Grilled Romaine with Tomatoes and Basil
- Balsamic Garlic Grilled Mushroom Skewers
- Lemon-Garlic Grilled Mushrooms
- Zucchini and Cheese Roulades
- Grilled Cajun Green Beans
- Grilled Asparagus with Sriracha and Creamy Herbed Vinaigrette
- Grilled Zucchini with Tomato and Feta
- Spicy Grilled Eggplant
- Prosciutto and Manchego Grilled Salad
- Grilled Halloumi Cheese Skewers with Mushroom and Onion
- Grilled Cabbage Steaks with Bacon, Garlic & Lemon
- Keto Flatbread Pizza
- Grilled Fruit (peaches, pineapple, etc.)—limit quantities to manage macros.
- Grilled Nectarine & Cheese Crostini
Our main keto dishes can stand alone but are enhanced even more with the addition of some fantastic low-carb sides. Here are some excellent choices to pair with your favorite grilled selections:
- Keto Coleslaw
- Keto Cauliflower "Potato" Salad
- Grilled Eggplant Salad with Mozzarella
- Broccoli Salad with Fresh Dill
- Pulled Pork Stuffed Mushrooms
- Chicken Buffalo Dip with Low-carb Crudités (e.g., cucumber, zucchini, cauliflower, etc.)
- Simple Caprese Zucchini Summer “Pasta” Salad
- BBQ Bacon-wrapped Smokies
- Spicy Keto Cheese Crisps
- Parmesan Crisps with Avocado
- Crunchy Keto Rosemary Crackers
- Creamy Keto Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Chunky Keto Avocado and Salsa
- Easy Keto Egg Salad
- Keto Chicken Salad
- Avocado Deviled Eggs
- Crispy Keto Bacon-wrapped Asparagus
- Cucumber Caprese Salad
- Balsamic Roasted Turnips
- Broccoli Salad
- Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Reduction
- Keto 7-Layer Dip
- Cheesy Baked Asparagus
- Garlic Butter Mushrooms
- Creamy & Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Bake
- Cheesy Bacon Spinach Dip
- Classic Greek Salad
- “Chicken” Fried Cauliflower
- Smashed Buttery Brussels Sprouts
- Cheesy Baked Green Beans
- Bacon-Wrapped Zucchini Fries
- Bacon Onion Rings
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad With Feta, Capers, and Red Pepper
- Parmesan Roasted Zucchini Fries
- Cream Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers
- Crustless Spinach Keto Quiche
- Zucchini Lasagna Roll-ups
- Baked Cheese and Broccoli Patties
- Keto Crab Hushpuppies
- Bacon Cheddar Ranch Chicken Salad
- Baked Chicken Fajita Roll-ups
- Cheesy Scalloped Zucchini
- Avocado Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
- Low-carb Chile Rellenos Bake
- Barbecued Sweet Stuffed Peppers
Tips to Better Grilling
- Season meats well with a flavorful rub in advance.
- Start with a clean grill.
- Preheat your grill with the lid closed for at least 10-15 minutes (the ideal internal heat should be around 500 degrees F. Having an adequately heated grill will prevent food from sticking and allows for the stunning sear we seek.
- Don't mess with the food; the fewer flips, the better—one turn being preferable.
- Use gas grills to achieve the best char.
- Buy a meat thermometer to achieve the perfect doneness.
- Keep the lid closed as much as possible; doing so speeds cooking time and helps to retain juiciness in food, along with imparting a unique smoky flavor.
- Use a timer: It's easy to get distracted in the kitchen, especially if you're multitasking. Alleviate the unnecessary stress and use a timer to make sure foods are cooked to the intended length to achieve your desired level of doneness.
- Opt for fatty, marbled meats when applicable and available.
- Grass-fed and finished meats deliver in their taste and premium quality that's well worth the cost.
- Take precautions to stay safe: Always remain mindful around an open flame, handle tools properly, and dedicate utensils to types of foods exclusively (e.g., vegetables, meat, chicken, fish, et al.) to avoid cross-contamination.
- Rest meat before grilling as transferring it straight to a hot grill from a chilly refrigerator results in a tough end product. Allow steaks to rest for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
- Put your stamp on homemade burgers, literally! Pressing a thumb-sized print into raw burger patties prevents them from swelling in the center while cooking, producing an even and round patty that's perfect for toppings.
- Avoid the urge to grill at extremely high heat. The ideal result is cooking food lower and slower while still achieving a nice char on the meat.
- Slightly undercook fish on the grill. Most fish cooks quickly and tend to reach the perfect medium-well doneness while resting and plated to serve.
- Let the meat rest after grilling: We know it feels like torture to wait after removing your succulent tenderloin from the grill, but resist cutting right into it because it's well worth the wait. The juices remain in the meat and cause it to stay tender and succulent once sliced and eaten.
Don't over marinate meat: We know the general advice with marination is the longer, the better, but marinating meats for more than a couple of hours can change the texture and make it less conducive to grilling.
Infuse your meats in the marinade for about 30-60 minutes, and you're good to go!
Rubs, Spices, Condiments, and Sauces
Virtually all meat, fish, or poultry is free of carbohydrates, but our food preparation can change everything! Fortunately, we can incorporate loads of keto-friendly additions into our recipes to keep meals flavorful, exciting and creative without packing on the carbs.
Here are some of our favorite seasonings and enhancements we love to use when searing, grilling, and smoking:
- Simple Girl BBQ Seasoning
- FreshJax Keto Grilling Spice Set
- Deliciou Seasonings
- The Original Paleo AIP Seasoning (auto-immune friendly)
- Kosmo's Q Seasonings
- Flavor Republic
- Dan-O's Seasonings
- Spiceology (and the gorgeous packaging make these stunning jars a perfect graphic showpiece in any foodie's kitchen)
- Lane's BBQ Seasonings and Rubs
- Flavor God (e.g., Honey BBQ Rub)
- Pure Indian Foods - Madras Keto in a Hurry
- G Hughes Sugar-Free Assorted Marinades (e.g., lemon herb, teriyaki, orange ginger, etc.)
- Lillie's Q Ivory BBQ Sauce
- Nando's Lemon & Herb PERI-PERI Sauce
- Guy Gone Keto Thai Chili Sauce
- Primal Kitchen Keto Teriyaki Sauce
- Saucy Lips Sauce Line
- Hungry Squirrel Keto Teriyaki Sauce
- Kevin's Natural Foods - Keto and Paleo BBQ Sauce
- Rib Rack Sugar-Free Herb & Garlic Marinade
- Haven's Kitchen
- Keto Oh So Sweet Super BBQ Sauce
- Guy's Award Winning Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce
- Stevia Sweet BBQ Sauce
- Stubb's Legendary Barbecue Sauce
- Rufus Teague Saucin' & Rubbin' BBQ Sauce and Rub Kit
- TRUFF Hot Sauce with Ripe Chili Peppers and Black Truffle Oil
- Cholula Original Hot Sauce
- Kumana Avocado Hot Sauce
- Walkerswood Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Sauces
- Stubb's Hickory Smoke (liquid smoke)
- Frank's Red Hot Sauce
- Pure Food by Estée Low Sugar BBQ Sauce
- Stubb's Chicken & BBQ Rub
- Denny Mike's Gourmet Fish Seasoning
- Lawry's Casero Total Seasoning
- McCormick Grill Mates Steak Seasoning
- McCormick Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning
- Carl's Gourmet Prime Rib and Roast Seasoning and Meat Rub
- Bone Suckin' Seasoning & Rub (steak)
- Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning White Pepper Blend
- Caribbean Fusion - Gourmet Spiced Fish Fry Seasoning
- Lillie's of Charleston All-purpose Spice and Seasoning
- Bolner's Fiesta Extra Fancy Rib Rub
- Burnt Sacrifice Sweet Carolina Style BBQ Spice Dry Rub
- SuckleBusters Campfire Steak Seasoning
- Weber All Natural Savory Herbs w/Roasted Garlic Seasoning
- Spice Hunter, The Steak Chop Grill Broil Blend
- Dos Gauchos Steak Rub
- ColemanJ's Spicy Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
- Old Bay Seasoning (e.g., original, blackened, etc.)
- Runnin' Wild Steak Gourmet Seasoning
- The Fit Cook Spice and Seasoning Set
- Suchi's Keto Cajun Seasoning BBQ Rub
- Kinder's Woodfire Garlic Rub
- Casa M Spice Co. Cattle Drive (e.g., Good Shepherd Lamb Seasoning, Beef Seasoning, Chain Reaction, etc.)
- Rufus Teague Premium BBQ Meat Rub
- Trinity Provisions Perfect Steak Seasoning
- Jack Stack Barbecue Dry Rub
- Traeger Grills Prime Rib Rub with Rosemary and Garlic
- The Salt Lick BBQ Original Dry Rub
- Paleo Powder Original
- Caboose Spice & Company
- Kosmo's Q Wing Dust (e.g., garlic & parmesan, salt & vinegar, lime, honey BBQ, et al.)
- Denny Mike's Premium Chicken Rub
- Meat Mitch Naked Seas'ning
- JADA Spices
- Bosari Savory Seasoned Salt Blend
- Caribbean Fusion Spice it Rite All Purpose Seasoning
- 2 Gringos Chupacabra Original Fine Meat Rub
Summer is the perfect time for grilling and making everything ‘barbecue’, and there are some handy tools available to make your summer cooking experience the best yet. Here are some helpful grilling items to keep on your radar:
- Grill Grips: Gather and place or retrieve food from the grill safely with these handy tong-style clips.
- Indoor Electric Smokeless Grill
- Fire-lighting Tool: Easily ignite your coals or logs at an arm's-length for safety.
- Smoker Box: Wood, smoke, and other elements add unique flavors to food when grilling. Use a smoke box to contain your chips to create a wide variety of smoke-infused recipes.
- Steam-based Grill Brush: Cleaning the grill is often the part we enjoy least, especially if we let the food set; it's virtually impossible to remove altogether. However, the use of a powerful cleaning tool like a steam-powered grill brush can do the trick to keep your grill sparkling without the fuss.
- Grilling Basket: Making foods like quesadillas on the grill is a cinch with a handy grilling basket to keep all your ingredients in place.
- Heat-resistant Gloves: Handling grilling tools and hot food can lead to accidents if not careful. Why even take the risk when we have heat-resistant gloves? These gloves are a super-handy tool that you'll use regularly and love.
- Bacon Rack: Perfectly-crisped bacon is the perfect complement to any grilled burger and ensures that each slice cooks to perfection.
- Himalayan Salt Block: Cooking on a salt block infuses a unique and rich flavor into your food, taking tastes to another level.
- S'mores Maker: A crackling fire is perfect for making s'mores if you have a bonfire, but this s'mores maker tool is a fantastic option if you want to make these tasty treats on the grill.
- Food Screen Covers: You may avoid pesky bugs if you're going to eat your food right away, but you certainly welcome flies and other undesirable guests if you leave food out for any length of time. These clever covers do the trick to keep your grilling fare free of pests and picture-perfect on display at family gatherings.
- Wireless Meat Thermometer: Monitor your meat's doneness from wherever you are at the moment; it's another measure to ensure perfectly seared and cooked recipes.
- Lighter Cubes: Uncomfortable with torch-style grill lighters? Consider trying lighter cubes for an alternative option.
- Anova Precision Cooker: Feel like going the extra mile to achieve a tender serving of grilled fare? Great! Consider a tool to sou vide your meat before grilling for a super-succulent and juicy result.
Plus, in addition to making spectacular creations on the grill, there are lots of savory sides worth incorporating into your meal plan during warmer months. Here are some of our favorite low-carb side dishes that pair perfectly with your favorite grilled foods:
- Faux (Cauliflower) Potato Salad
- Keto Coleslaw
- Keto Mac & Cheese (use low-carb noodles like those made by The Low Carb Bread Company for a perfect keto-friendly swap)
- Huge Salad: Eating with micronutrients in mind makes a huge salad an ideal meal option to increase the nutritional load of your meal. Pile loads of dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and other low-GI veggies into a bowl and top with a delicious dressing dripping in healthy fat for a satisfying low-carb option.
- Keto Savory Pie with Zucchini: A tender steak can stand alone as a satisfying dish, but it takes on another welcomed tone when paired with a savory side like our tasty and straightforward keto zucchini pie.
- Creamy Keto Pumpkin Soup: A warm or chilled soup adds a unique touch to a fantastic meal; try our creamy pumpkin recipe or our decadent keto broccoli cheese soup for some satiating selections.
There are so many keto-friendly approaches to preparing food, and grilling is ideal for the warmer months. Luckily, we have many recipes to choose from and share during summer that naturally lend toward the lower side of the glycemic spectrum.
It's a world filled with mouth-watering options for those opting to avoid carbs and sugar! You might find you love your favorite keto-friendly rubs, sauces, and condiments more than their sugar-laden counterparts.
There's no need to sacrifice your wellness goals because you want to enjoy the barbecues, picnics, and other fêtes of the season. Bring dishes with you that you know are sugar-free, and do your best to navigate the tantalizing options sure to tempt this season.
With all the alternatives available without sugar, our summer menu possibilities are pretty expansive; our meals never have to get boring.
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