As Labor Day approaches, people are gearing up for the last big blowout of the summer—and if you’re cutting carbs, you can definitely still be included. Here are some of the best keto BBQ recipes and tips to ensure you have a blast.
The ketogenic diet shows no signs of waning in popularity, but it can be hard to stick to keto guidelines around holidays—particularly holidays where a lot of food is sure to be present—and we’re not just talking Thanksgiving (aka, prime time for mashed potatoes).
The keto diet prioritizes low-carbohydrate intake and permits a higher intake of fats, the goal being to trick your body into metabolizing fat—because if you’re not eating carbs there are none there for your body to break down—to use as energy instead of storing it.
Because fats (read: meats) are still allowed, navigating the food situation on a grilling-heavy holiday like the 4th of July or Labor Day isn’t as difficult as you may think. There are just a few hidden pitfalls to be aware of.
Things you can eat for a keto BBQ:
Plain grilled proteins like chicken and steak are also fine, as long as they’re not slathered in sugary sauce (bring your own keto BBQ sauce if you want to be sure you have a compliant condiment option).
For sides, make sure you’re incorporating lots of leafy greens. You can also indulge in fats—so bacon and cheese are still on the table. Ditto avocado. Just make sure you’re using low-carb veggies to scoop up guac (like cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, and cucumber slices).
You can even have beer if you focus on low-carb beer options. That said, if you want to drink, sticking to liquor—in moderation—will be your best bet.
Foods to avoid:
Of course you know to lose the buns, but make sure you also avoid corn, potatoes, carrots, wheat (i.e., no conventional pasta salad), and rice as much as you can.
You may think that all fruits are still an option, but make sure you stick to berries and avoid apples and bananas (probably pretty easy in summer, when red and blue berries are in such high supply).
Keto BBQ Recipes
Still concerned about having a satisfying keto cookout? Don’t worry—we’ve rounded up some low-carb BBQ recipes that will be as delicious as they are festive.
Creamy potato salad is a BBQ must, but potatoes are a no-go on keto. Solution: swap in cauliflower for a low-carb potato salad replacement that tastes just as good as the classic! Get the Low Carb Cauliflower Potato Salad recipe.
Another required cookout and picnic dish—coleslaw—can easily be made keto-friendly, but often has quite a lot of sugar hidden in the ingredients. As long as you stick to a recipe without it, you’re golden. That includes mayo-based options, but this one has a lighter vinaigrette-style dressing and a spicy kick to cut through all the meat and cheese you’ll be eating. Get our Keto-Friendly Spicy Lime and Jalapeño Coleslaw.
Another way to lighten things up: this refreshing, sweet-savory watermelon salad with salty feta and cooling mint, and a hint of smoke from the grill. Add cucumbers, olives, and red onions for more flavor and texture. But swap out the fresh orange juice in the dressing for a keto-friendly vinegar like apple cider vinegar instead (beware balsamic). Get our Grilled Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad recipe.
This would be the perfect side dish (that’s also main course-appropriate) to bring to your friend’s Labor Day party. It’s so delicious, they’ll have no idea that you brought it in hopes of sticking to your diet! Get the Keto Bacon Cheeseburger Salad recipe.
Grab some low-carb crackers or sliced cucumbers or radishes to dunk in this delicious cheddar jalapeño sausage dip (or be extra and bring homemade keto cheese crackers along for the ride). Get the Keto Cheddar Jalapeño Sausage Dip recipe.
Everyone loves a jalapeño popper—especially when bacon is involved. Throw them on the grill for a few minutes to reheat and add a little extra smoky flavor. Get the Keto Bacon Jalapeño Poppers recipe.
Not only is this recipe complete with delicious buffalo sauce, it has blue cheese crumbles both in the meatballs and in the dip. It’s seriously impossible to eat just one. Get the Keto Buffalo Chicken Sausage Balls recipe.
Dessert does not have to be off the table at a keto celebration. This strawberry rhubarb crumble looks gorgeous and tastes delicious; almond flour and coconut flour make it low-carb and gluten-free. And strawberries are perfectly within the realm of allowed keto eats—so enjoy as much as you want! Get the Keto Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble recipe.
These brownies are indulgent and delicious. They are also sugar-free and made with coconut flour, but if you don’t tell your friends that, they’ll never know. Get the Keto Fudge Brownies recipe.
These cookie cups are red, white and YUM! The berries add a festive, sweet touch to the sugar-free cookies, and there’s a rich cheesecake-inspired filling in between those layers—and they’re good enough to eat any time between the 4th of July and Labor Day. Get the Keto Cookie Cups recipe.
Header image courtesy of Huw Jones / Photolibrary / Getty Images Plus