While a backyard cookout is one of the most popular ways to celebrate the 4th of July, the options available aren’t always in line with a healthy diet. But at Nutrisystem, we’re all about helping you to still enjoy food—and festivities—to the fullest. We believe that when people don’t feel deprived, they are able to achieve the most success.
That’s why we’ve rounded up 18 healthy 4th of July cookout ideas. Any of these recipes would make a delicious and festive addition to your July 4th cookout.
This Grilled Balsamic Chicken recipe is a great way to add some serious flavor to plain, old grilled chicken. The trick is to give your chicken some time to soak in the delicious marinade which combines olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian dressing, garlic and black pepper. While we love this marinade on chicken, it works great on steak or shrimp, too.
The reasons for grilling salmon on a cedar plank are two-fold: It acts as a barrier between the heat source and the fish, preventing it from falling apart. It also imparts that delicious, smoky flavor from the cedar. While salmon is sometimes intimidating to prepare, this recipe will show you just how simple it really is to do. It’s a great way to get those valuable omega-3 fats and a boost of protein power.
Skewers are fun, festive and delicious, making them a great choice for a 4th of July cookout. This particular Honey Glazed Chicken Skewer recipe will help you to whip up a yummy glaze made from honey, chili powder, garlic, oil, low sodium soy sauce and lime juice. It’s got a little bit of everything—sweet, savory and just a tad spicy, too. You can add veggies of your choice to the skewers to amplify the health-factor. We personally love zucchini, bell peppers and onions, but the choice is yours.
Foil packets are one of our favorite 4th of July cookout ideas for a few reasons. They contain some of the mess, help to lock in flavor, and allow you to create “diet-friendly” portions. This Grilled Foil Packet Cheeseburger and Veggies recipe will guide you in making lean beef cheeseburgers with lots of healthy veggies on the side. With onions, potatoes and zucchini cooked right along with your burger patty, you’ll infuse some delicious flavors into your meat and also get a big dose of antioxidants and fiber.
Seafood options like shrimp and scallops make a nice lean protein combo that is delicious on the grill. In this Grilled Shrimp and Scallop Skewers recipe, the seafood duo are combined with a medley of fresh produce like zucchini, bell peppers and red onions. They are delightfully colorful and will make an appetizing addition to your 4th of July cookout.
Salmon and spinach make up the base of these burger patties, while some feta cheese adds creamy deliciousness. It’s a fun way to get your omega-3s and some leafy greens. If you like condiments on your burger, we recommend trying some tzatziki, relish or mayonnaise for added flavor. Or, you can even top this Grilled Feta Salmon Burger with a slice of avocado.
Bright and colorful cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and onions come together in this fresh salad featuring a honey lemon dressing. This refreshing Tomato, Cucumber and Mint Mediterranean Salad recipe is sure to become a staple at all of your upcoming summer get-togethers! And that’s something you can feel good about. A serving is a mere 34 calories and packed with veggie power.
Everyone loves a good pasta salad at a cookout! By using whole wheat orzo, this Greek Orzo Summer Salad recipe boosts the health factor without sacrificing flavor. It has fresh diced cucumbers, red onions, bell peppers and delicious feta cheese. The homemade Greek dressing is a combination of lemon juice and olive oil. It’s simple, fresh and tasty.
This Melon Prosciutto Skewers appetizer combines some unlikely choices—fresh melon cubes (watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew) with prosciutto, cucumber and a balsamic glaze. It’s one of those combos you just have to try for yourself to believe. The flavors just work together, making this fabulous finger food a new favorite on your cookout menu.
What’s a cookout without a good potato salad? We know that potato salad is a cookout staple, so we’ve found a guilt-free way that you can still enjoy it. While full-fat mayonnaise is the typical downfall in a traditional spud salad, our version uses healthy Greek yogurt (with some delicious additions) in its place. The result is a creamy, appetizing Red Potato Salad that remains weight loss-friendly.
We know that salads are a go-to choice on a healthy diet. However, traditional lettuce salads can get kind of boring after a while. Why not switch things up with this Grilled Asparagus Caesar Salad recipe? It’s got all the flavor you love in a Caesar salad but uses nutrient-packed, superfood asparagus as its base. It’s such a fun addition to your cookout that your guests will be begging for the recipe.
If you’re looking to choose more plant-based options at the cookout, this Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushroom recipe will provide a meat-like meal that is nutritious and delicious. Simply season your mushrooms with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then grill and stuff with a delicious filling of chopped tomatoes, spinach, garlic and seasonings. It’s a dish filled with veggie power and incredibly tasty, too.
Don’t forget that the grill can also be an excellent way to prepare some unique desserts. Grilling fruit helps to caramelize its sugars and adds some unique flavor factor. In this Grilled Peach Melba recipe, halved peaches are cooked on the grill and then topped with a raspberry melba sauce and a mascarpone cheese mixture. It’s a beautiful, restaurant-quality dessert that is sure to impress.
This simple, two-step Watermelon Fruit Pizza is a trendy snack recipe that will make a healthy and gorgeous centerpiece at your dessert table. A yogurt mixture including honey, cream cheese and vanilla extract is whipped up and spread atop slices of watermelon. Top it all off with berries, kiwi and cacao nibs for added flavor and appeal. You could also just stick with blue and red fruits as the topping for a festive and patriotic plate.
This Patriotic Cheesecake is the perfect 4th of July cookout idea! With three cups of red and blue berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc., depending upon your preferences), and a cheesecake filling made from cream cheese and whipped topping, it has all the patriotic colors. Plus, it’s diet-friendly and delicious.
Nothing quite hits like a fresh and fruity popsicle on a hot day. While typical popsicles are mere sugar water, our Strawberry Pineapple Popsicles are just as delicious while also being made entirely from fresh fruit! One popsicle is just 32 calories and a nice boost of antioxidants and fiber.
Icebox cakes became popular in the 1920s. They are a dessert that doesn’t require the oven for baking. This particular no-bake Smore’s Icebox Cake is especially summer-friendly with its smores theme. It features layers of creamy, yogurt-based marshmallow filling with crunchy graham crackers, light cool whip and mini chocolate chips. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Remember how we said that the grill is for desserts, too? Well, here’s another great grilled dessert to try. This Grilled Foil Packet Apple Crisp involves grilling sliced apples in aluminum foil with cinnamon and nutmeg, then topping with an oat, butter and brown sugar mixture. You’ll be amazed by how much the finished product tastes like apple pie—but is just 155 calories per serving.
Looking for more 4th of July cookout ideas? Check out these 8 healthy dessert recipes perfect for July 4th! >