Healthy Snacks and Dips to Bring to a BBQ


Whether you’re tailgating, picnicking or hosting a barbecue, it’s easy to overlook some of the essentials — sides and appetizers — in favor of the main event dishes like steak, burgers and good old hot dogs. Our roundup of recipes features a solid showing of dips, sides and apps that most definitely qualify as healthy party snacks. Here’s a look at some great-tasting options.

Apps Perfect for Grillin’

While the grill is often reserved for the biggest and meatiest dishes on the menu, there are lots of creative ways to use the outdoor oven to whip up some quick apps — whether you’re hosting or planning to take a dish to someone else’s get-together. Check out our suggestions for tasty skewers, grilled produce and more.

Plate of grilled summer fruits apples and peaches

Grilled Summer Fruits

We don’t know about you, but we just can’t get enough fruit during the spring and summer months. While we’ll always delight in fruits blended into smoothies or served raw in colorful salads, we like grilling our fruit with a little sweet-meets-acid glaze just as much. Yes, you can add the fruits directly to the grill — and enjoy the lightly caramelized char that happens as a result.


  • • 2 large nectarines, pits removed and cut into slices
  • • 1/2 a small watermelon, rinds removed and cut into strips
  • • 3 bananas, cut lengthwise, then into smaller pieces
  • • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • • 4 tablespoons honey


In a small ceramic Ovenex mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and cayenne pepper, then set aside.

Arrange fruit on a baking sheet or large dish and coat with the balsamic mixture.

Fire up the grill and add the fruit. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until fruit has been cooked through completely.

Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy.

Sausage-and-Pepper Grill Pouch

This could very well qualify as a meal when paired with a soft, pillowy hoagie roll or over rice or pasta, but it’s also a nice way to tantalize those taste buds when paired with some fruit, chips and dip. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for sausage and peppers — we’ve opted to use chicken sausages, but feel free to use pork, veggie, wild boar or whatever else you’ve got a hankering for.


  • • 8 chicken sausages
  • • 10 ounces cut pineapple
  • • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • • 3 green bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • • Salt and pepper
  • • 2 red onions, sliced


Preheat the grill to high. Meanwhile, grab four Xtrema 16 Oz. serving bowls.

Load each pack with two sausages and divide the fruits and veggies among them.

Drizzle with olive oil, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the bowls with the ceramic lids and place on the grill.

Grill for about 10-15 minutes or until sausage is cooked through with a nice char, and veggies are tender.

Marinated steak skewers on the grill for summer barbeque

Marinated Steak Skewers

Think of this as a deconstructed taco or sandwich of sorts — succulent meat meets the perfect blend of summer fruits and veggies. Serve with salsa and guac, or eat on its own. These steak skewers are one of our favorite appetizers for a BBQ, adding a little bite of meat as a teaser before the main event. Enjoy!


  • • 1 habanero pepper, finely diced
  • • 1 lime, juiced
  • • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • • 1 pound of sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • • 1 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • • 1 bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • • 1 avocado, sliced


In a medium-sized Ovenex ceramic mixing bowl, add the habanero, minced garlic, olive oil, Tabasco, chili powder, lime juice and cumin. Whisk ingredients together and add a dash of salt.

Divide the marinade into two equal parts and set half of the mix aside.

Add steak to the other portion of the marinade and toss until fully coated.

In a separate bowl, add the tomatoes, onion, avocado and bell pepper. Pour the remaining marinade over the vegetable mixture, then preheat the grill to high.

Meanwhile, skewer steak and veggies and grill for 7-10 minutes depending on how done you prefer your steak.

Serve with additional hot sauce, salsa or guacamole.

Summer Salads and Sides

A green salad can be a little dull, and with few exceptions, likely won’t make a big splash at the next cookout you’ve signed on to bring a dish to. We’ve gathered some of our favorite healthy sides, guaranteed to both impress and ensure there’s always something that won’t compromise your waistline on the table. Let’s dive in.

Chickpea-Lentil Salad

A nutritious, fiber-full salad that’s super easy to whip up at the last minute, this legume-based salad will be a welcome beacon of inclusiveness for the vegans and vegetarians in the crowd, as well as those hoping to grab something to counteract all that grilled meat.


  • • 2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • • 2 cups cooked red lentils
  • • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • • 1 red onion, diced
  • • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • • 2 cups arugula


In a small Ovenex ceramic mixing bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, olive oil and garlic paste.

Set aside.

In a larger bowl, add red onion, bell pepper, chickpeas and lentils.

Pour the dressing over the salad mixture, then place in the fridge for at least four hours so the flavors meld together.

When you’re ready to serve the salad, add the arugula and fresh cilantro and toss together.

Hot ‘n’ Spicy Baked Beans

A cookout staple and a simple recipe — bacon, molasses and maple work together to provide a terrific blend of flavors that take us way back to our earliest barbecue recipes. Top with cheddar cheese, if you’re so inclined, or leave as-is. Bring these beans to your next potluck, and delight will surely ensue.


  • • 2 16-ounce cans of beans (ideally, navy or kidney beans, but it’s really up to you)
  • • 1/3 cup molasses
  • • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • • 1/2 pound smoked bacon, cut into small bits
  • • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • • 1/2 onion, diced
  • • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • • 1 bay leaf


In a large Xtrema 12” short handled skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add bacon and onion, and cook until bacon is done and onions are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add beans to a large pot and cover with about 2 inches of water.

Heat stovetop to medium heat and add cayenne pepper, cloves, diced habanero, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and tomato paste.

Add onions and bacon and let simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick.

Transfer to a large Ovenex serving dish and eat when ready.

Golden Beet Coleslaw with Lemon-Ginger Dressing

A light and earthy take on a barbecue staple. Use this mayo-free veggie slaw as a complement to the perfect pulled pork sandwich, as a tasty taco topper, or on its own — either way, you’ve got a delicious and healthy treat on your hands.


  • • 4 golden beets, peeled and shredded
  • • 3 carrots, shredded
  • • 1 head of red cabbage, shredded
  • • 1 onion, diced

For the Dressing

  • • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • • 4 tablespoons grated ginger
  • • Salt and pepper


In a large Ovenex ceramic bowl, mix beets, carrots, cabbage and onion until thoroughly blended.

In a separate, smaller Ovenex ceramic bowl, combine olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and ginger.

Whisk together until the salt has dissolved into the mixture.

Pour the dressing over the vegetable blend and toss gently.

Serve or store in the fridge for a few hours.

Dish of tomato watermelon salad for sweet and savory taste during summer barbeque

Tomato-Watermelon Salad

Nothing says summer like this delicious salad featuring the true flavors of the season: cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelon. Fresh mint and feta cheese round out this refreshing blend, offering some unexpected savory notes to the mix.


  • • 1 large seedless cucumber, chopped
  • • 1 package of red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • • 1 package of yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • • 6 ounces feta cheese
  • • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • • Salt and pepper, to taste


In a small Ovenex ceramic mixing bowl, combine salt, pepper, vinegar and oil, whisking until the salt has dissolved. Stir in the mint, and add some extra salt and pepper if taste needs to be adjusted.

In a large bowl, combine the melon, cucumbers, tomatoes and feta cheese.

Pour dressing over the whole mixture and toss until everything is evenly coated in the dressing.

Serve immediately or refrigerate.


When in doubt, it’s always a great idea to bring a dip to the party. But, so often we fall into the old salsa trap or try spicing things up with — you guessed it, prepackaged hummus. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with either of these options, we challenge you to step outside the box (or bowl, rather) and try something a bit more unexpected. Here are some ideas to shake up that BBQ.

Bright pink colored roasted beet and carrot dip with bread crisps for easy eating at summer bbq

Roasted Beet and Carrot Dip

Beets offer that great contrast of being both refreshing and earthy. Take advantage of this unique root by playing to its strengths — adding some pine nuts and a little splash of citrus for more nuance. Serve along with pita chips or a nice crudité plate with celery, cucumber, carrots and more.


  • • 2 large beet roots, cut and peeled (golden or red, it’s up to you)
  • • 2 carrots, cut
  • • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • • 1 cup pine nuts
  • • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • • Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add beets, carrots and garlic to an Ovenex ceramic baking pan and drizzle with half the olive oil.

Add salt and pepper, to taste and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

Add the nuts and roast for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and place contents into a blender or standing mixer, adding the almond butter, remaining olive oil and lemon juice to the vegetables.

Blend until smooth and serve.

Curried Lentil Dip

A vegan dip with a hint of spiced and curried flavor, this healthy dip is similar to hummus in consistency, so it also works really well with pita bread, crackers, chips or veggies — or all of the above.


  • • 8 ounces of cooked lentils
  • • 2 cloves of garlic
  • • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • • Salt and pepper, to taste


In a large Xtrema ceramic saucepan, add garlic and onion with a small amount of the olive oil and cook over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until the onions start to look translucent.

Add tomatoes and cook for another two minutes.

Add cooked lentils to the pan, and stir in the spices — cumin, paprika and chili powder. Heat all the way through and remove from heat.

Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a food processor or blender and add the remaining olive oil, as well as the lemon juice.

Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Blend on high until mixture becomes smooth and creamy, then transfer to a serving bowl.

This dip can be served hot or cold — and can be stored in the fridge until it’s time to eat.

Better-for-You Bean Dip

It’s not a barbecue without the perfect bean dip. Rather than an option filled to the brim with queso and sour cream, here’s a slightly healthier take on your favorite dipping beans filled with veggies and a little nutritional yeast for some added benefits.


  • • 2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • • 1 cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • • 1/2 a white onion, diced
  • • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • • 1 12-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • • 1 8-ounce can of green chiles
  • • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • • 1 teaspoon paprike


Be sure to rinse the beans thoroughly before getting started.

Add beans, yeast, tomatoes, onion, garlic, chiles, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper to a standing mixer or blender.

Pulse the mixture until it becomes smooth in consistency.

Transfer to a Ovenex ceramic serving bowl and serve when ready.

Hungry Yet? Let’s Hit the Grill

Now that we’ve got sides taken care of, let’s move onto the mains. Whether you’re hosting a barbecue or want to make Tuesday night just a little bit tastier, it’s a good idea to have a signature steak recipe in your back pocket. At Ceramcor, our non-scratch cookware is perfect for bringing out the flavors in the meat, no matter the cut. Check out our guide to making the perfect steak — sure to serve as the perfect complement to all the dips, apps and salads outlined above.

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Amy Taylor

Amy Taylor

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