Chefs’ Tips for Healthy Grilling

Joey Campanaro, Michael Ferraro, and others share their favorite grilling recipes and healthy living tips

Simply Grilled Wild Sea Bass

Tees, shorts, dresses, and flip flops being pulled out of the closet can only mean one thing: grilling season is here. While it’s easy to throw some hot dogs and burgers on the barbecue and call it dinner, there are plenty of healthy grilling options available that still taste delicious.

Grilling is an ideal way to eat healthy because it allows you to impart delicious and filling flavors without the need for added fat. It's a surefire way to add boldness to food without using unhealthy methods like frying. The heat of a grill will pull out and enhance those natural flavors of whatever you are cooking, and if you add a low-calorie marinade or rub, then you won’t even miss the fat.

There is a lot of talk about the link between grilling and cancer because of carcinogens that are created when meat is put in direct contact with intense heat or a flame. However, some suggest avoiding charring meats if you are concerned about the risks, but there is also more that you can do. "While exposure to some level of carcinogens while grilling meat is likely unavoidable, recent research does suggest spice- and herb-based marinades may help lower that exposure," says nutritionist Jason Machowsky. "The effects are linked to some of the compounds found within spices that are transferred to meat before grilling."

So try using herbs like basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, and oregano when grilling. Not only are you adding flavor, but also you are reducing the bad stuff. Win-win! Making sure to trim off excess fat from your meat is another way to stay healthier. 

Another fabulous facet of grilling is the versatility. It's not just meats that end up on those grates. You can grill vegetables, fruits... and even flatbreads and cakes. (But maybe hold off on too much of the latter.)

To provide you with the best advice possible this barbecue season, we turned to six renowned chefs and asked for their healthy eating tips and favorite grill recipes for simple and delicious meals. 


Grilled Soft Shell Crabs with Asparagus Salad

Everything we put into our bodies affects our health. By choosing what to eat based on what is available seasonally and locally, you can be guaranteed that you are making a healthy choice.

— Chef Joey Campanaro, owner of Little Owl and Market Table


Grilled Salmon with Ratatouille and Black Olive Tapenade

 There's no better way to cook food simply and healthily than on the grill. You don't need heavy sauces or oils; just season with authority! Adding just salt and pepper to whatever it is you're grilling can make even the simplest dish taste flavorful and delicious.

— Chef Marc Murphy, judge on Chopped, owner of Landmarc and Ditch Plains

Charred Chile-Rubbed Beef Skewers with Thai Basil Dipping Sauce

To be even healthier, you can use chicken instead of beef. The beef is grilled medium rare and the flavors will make you a star at your next party or family meal!

— Chef Anthony Ricco, Executive Chef, Spice Market


Simply Grilled Wild Striped Bass

I eat a wide variety of healthy food about six times a day. For main meals, I usually turn to fish simply grilled with olive oil and herbs and then a mixture of fresh vegetables and a small portion of starchy vegetables.


— Chef Michael Ferraro, Executive Chef, Delicatessen