5 Tips for a Low-Cholesterol Barbecue

Summer cookouts can feature foods that are cholesterol bombs, from fatty ribs and juicy burgers to chips and dip. But your summer cookout doesn’t need to be a bust for your cholesterol. Just follow these top tips for a cholesterol-friendly and delicious meal.

Vegetables cooking on a barbecue
Lew Robertson / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

Build a Better Burger

There are two things that will make your burger better—portion size and meat type. A “proper” burger size is made from four ounces of raw meat, yet six to eight ounces is more often the size people (and restaurants) make. That really adds up in terms of saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories (a four-ounce patty, grilled, has about 200 calories and five grams of saturated fat).

The second thing to consider is the type of meat you use. Look for extra lean ground beef, or choose a different type of meat. Bison is a lower fat, lower cholesterol alternative to beef that has a satisfying, slightly sweet taste.

Go Meatless

The grill isn’t just for meat. If veggie burgers are your thing, you can find plenty of delicious cholesterol-friendly meat alternatives that are great for grilling. Or think beyond the burger and put a grilled portobello on a bun. Grill up veggie skewers, fish, fruit...even whole-wheat pizza.

Plan Ahead

You can enhance the flavor and texture of leaner cuts of meat by prepping them ahead of time. Herb rubs, low-sodium marinades and brines prepared and applied before grilling can take the place of high-fat spreads and sauces and add an extra flavor punch. Try a delicious onion and orange or roasted garlic marinade and you can skip the mayo.

Get Creative With Toppings

Spicy mustard, salsas, guacamole and relishes make for heart-healthy toppings. Grilled onions and mushrooms add flavor and juiciness to burgers. Load up on tomato slices and lettuce for extra veggies. Instead of full-fat cheese slices, try topping your burgers with reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles.

Go Whole-Grain

Buy whole-grain buns for a little extra fiber, an important cholesterol-lowering nutrient. Or, skip the bun entirely by using lettuce and make room in your belly for other carb dishes, such as potato salad.

Add Heart-Healthy Appetizers and Sides

Use appetizers and sides to bump up your (and your guests’) veggie intake. Veggies and dip are always a hit, especially when you take a dip out of low-fat plain Greek yogurt. Get creative with veggies on the grill, too. Plus a fresh salad is always a welcome addition to the barbecue table.

Don’t forget that food is only one part of a barbecue. Spending time with good friends helps relieve stress, which can also be helpful in preventing heart disease.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Beef, ground, 85% lean meat / 15% fat, raw.

  2. American Heart Association. Cooking to lower cholesterol.

By Ellen Slotkin, RD, LDN
Ellen Slotkin is a registered dietitian specializing in heart-healthy nutrition, weight management, and pregnancy nutrition.