6 Heart-Healthy Grilling Recipes to Try Before the End of Summer

Keep your heart healthy and happy with these mouthwatering grill dishes.

Medically Reviewed
woman grilling healthy summer food

Grilling healthy foods doesn't have to be boring or flavorless.

One of the best parts of summer has to be grilling outside. While grills can be used all year round, they are especially popular when sweltering summer nights make the thought of turning on the oven or standing over a hot stove unappealing. It’s no wonder that more than 79 million Americans report grilling each year, according to 2010 data from the U.S. Census. Whether you use a gas grill or prefer briquettes, the smoky flavor that grilling imparts is one reason it’s so popular! While grilled dishes help keep kitchens cool each summer, they have the added benefit of being quick and relatively easy to prepare.

If burgers, hot dogs, and barbecue chicken come to mind when you think of grilling, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, these foods tend to be high in unhealthy saturated fats and sodium — both of which may be bad for your heart. Whether you have existing heart disease or are simply trying to keep your ticker in top shape, a heart-healthy diet can be a boon for anyone.

To support heart health, the American Heart Association recommends eating fewer calories to support a healthy weight while staying active more often (at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous movement each week). They also encourage eating a varied diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy proteins, and healthy fats and limiting processed foods that are high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and added sugars. With those guidelines in mind, here are six easy-to-prepare grilled meals that you can enjoy over the summer months!


Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

portabello and salad

Portobello mushrooms are surprisingly meaty in flavor and texture, which makes them the perfect meat stand-in for vegetarians and omnivores alike. Eating less meat has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. And the good news is that you can reap benefits from dialing back to even a moderate amount of meat. This dinner is quick and easy — a perfect fit for any weeknight. While the recipe serves 2, it can easily be doubled (or even tripled) to fit your needs.

Serves 2


  • 2 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 4 cups dark mixed greens
  • 1 lemon, juiced, divided


  1. Gently wash the mushroom caps with a damp cloth to remove any visible dirt. Carefully detach and discard the entire stem. Using a spoon, scoop out all the dark gills from the underside of each mushroom.
  2. Lay the mushrooms flat on a cutting board (gills side down). Gently score the top of each mushroom in a crosshatch pattern or 1-inch squares. Set aside.
  3. Lightly grease the grill and preheat it to medium-high heat.
  4. Meanwhile, place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tsp of olive oil to coat the skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Stir in the breadcrumbs, oregano, pepper, and Parmesan cheese and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Evenly divide the mixture between the two mushroom caps. Top each mushroom with 1 tbsp of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Place the stuffed mushrooms on the preheated grill and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.
  7. Serve with a side of mixed greens. Drizzle the greens with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Pour lemon juice on both the greens and mushrooms to taste.

Nutrition per serving: 241 calories, 12g total fat (3.4g saturated fat), 11g protein, 26g carbohydrates, 4.8g fiber, 5.5g sugar (0.5g added sugar), 356mg sodium


Grilled Italian Turkey Burgers

turkey burger healthy bun

Burgers are the quintessential grilled food! That being said, beef-based burgers (especially those plastered in cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise) are among the least heart-healthy foods out there. What makes all these foods bad for your ticker? Unhealthy saturated fat, which the American Heart Association recommends limiting as much as possible to keep “bad” LDL cholesterol in check and improve heart health.

Serves 4


  • 1 lb 93 percent lean ground turkey
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 whole-wheat or brioche buns
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup lettuce


  1. Lightly grease the grill grates. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, onion, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix until evenly combined. Form the mixture into 4 even patties.
  2. Once the grill is hot, place the patties onto the grates and cook until the burgers are browned and easily release from the grill, about 4 to 6 minutes. Flip the patties and cook until the burgers reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 4 to 6 minutes more.
  3. Serve the burgers on buns topped with tomatoes and lettuce.

Nutrition per serving: 365 calories, 13g total fat (3.3g saturated fat), 25g protein, 32g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 5.1g sugar (0.4g added sugar), 468mg sodium

Tip: Want to cut down on carbs? Burgers can be served atop a salad for an even more nutrient-rich meal!


Grilled Jalapeño Lime Chicken

grilled chicken jalepeno

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 for 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.

Serves 4


  • 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 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh jalapeños, divided (1 seeded and minced, 1 sliced into rounds)
  • 1¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts


  1. In a large zip-top bag or deep baking dish, place the olive oil, lime zest and juice, cumin, black pepper, salt, garlic, and minced jalapeños. Stir to evenly combine the ingredients.
  2. Add the chicken breasts and toss them gently in the marinade. Place marinated chicken in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours, tossing occasionally to coat the chicken.
  3. Lightly grease the grill grates. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Place the chicken on the grill and cook until it starts to brown, about 6 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook until the internal temperature registers as 165 degrees F, about 6 minutes more.

Nutrition per serving: 220 calories, 9g total fat (0.9g saturated fat), 33g protein, 2g carbohydrates, 0.5g fiber, 0.5g sugar (0g added sugar), 166mg sodium


Honey Lime Grilled Salmon

grilled salmon arugula

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 more omega-3s in your diet can decrease inflammation in the body, lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and lower the risk of blood clots and artery-blocking plaques — all key to maintaining overall health!

Serves 4


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


  1. In a glass baking dish, whisk together lime juice, oil, honey, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper. Add the salmon fillets and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes.
  2. Lightly grease the grill grate and preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Place the salmon on the grill flesh-side down. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes, then carefully flip and cook for an additional 2 to 5 minutes (depending on thickness and desired doneness). Serve with a lime wedge garnish.

Nutrition per serving: 393 calories, 25g total fat (5.5g saturated fat), 35g protein, 5g carbohydrates, 0.1g fiber, 4.5g sugar (4.4g added sugar), 245mg sodium

Tip: 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.


Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri

cauliflower steaks sauce

Cauliflower may be the last thing that comes to mind when you think of steak, but not for long! These scrumptious cauliflower steaks with chimichurri sauce will have the whole family asking for more and your heart will thank you, too. That’s because cauliflower offers significant heart health benefits compared with a traditional steak. According to the USDA, a 3.5 oz serving of cauliflower contains just 25 calories and has only 0.1 g saturated fat while boasting 2 g fiber, 48 mg vitamin C (more than half the recommended daily amount), and 57 microgram (mcg) folate (making it a good source). Folate is a nutrient essential for cell reproduction and protein metabolism and can help prevent birth defects when consumed in ample amounts by pregnant women. While the same serving of tenderloin steak has 324 calories, 9.7 g saturated fat, only 8 mcg of folate, and no fiber or vitamin C, per the USDA.

Serves 4



  • 2 large heads cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Chimichurri Sauce

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 sprinkle crushed red pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp kosher salt


  1. Preheat grill to about 350 degrees F. Remove all the outer leaves from the cauliflower. Cut off bottom stem end of each cauliflower head, stand them upright and cut the sides off. Cut each head into 2 thick “steaks,” reserving the sides for another use or grill alongside the larger pieces.
  2. Brush each side of each steak with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on the preheated grill and cook until the bottom begins to brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Flip each “steak” and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes more.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooking, combine all the chimichurri ingredients in a small bowl. Stir to evenly combine. Serve the cauliflower “steaks” with a dollop of chimichurri and quinoa or brown rice for a complete meal.

Nutrition per serving: 259 calories, 18g total fat (2.9g saturated fat), 8g protein, 22g carbohydrates, 8.6g fiber, 8.1g sugar (0g added sugar), 304mg sodium


Vegan Slaw Dogs

vegan hot dog kimchi cabbage

Hot dogs are a year-round favorite, but even more so during grilling season. Vegan hot dogs are just as delicious as traditional ones, especially when paired with this simple, crunchy homemade slaw and fresh herbs. Plus, people who ate less meat had a lower risk of heart disease in a study in the August 2019 Journal of the American Heart Association. Swapping regular hot dogs for the meat-free version is a quick and easy way to cut back on meat in your diet and reap similar heart health benefits even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan. Serve with a side salad or grilled veggies to round out the meal.

Serves 4


  • 4 vegan hot dogs
  • 4 vegan hot dog buns (preferably whole-grain)
  • 1½ cups prepared coleslaw vegetable mix
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, leaves torn from stems


  1. Preheat the grill to about 375 degrees F. Cook the hot dogs, turning once, until grill marks appear all around, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  2. In a bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss lightly to coat all the ingredients.
  3. To assemble, place the grilled hot dogs into the buns. Top each with coleslaw and cilantro.

Nutrition per serving: 227 calories, 6g total fat (0.5g saturated fat), 13g protein, 31g carbohydrates, 4.4g fiber, 4.6g sugar (4g added sugar), 732mg sodium