7 Tips for a Healthier Barbecue

by Robert Gooch June 17 2021

Love a barbecue but need to keep an eye on your fat and calorie intake? Just follow these top 7 tips for barbecuing the healthy way with wild and free-range meat!

Barbecues are one of the greatest pleasures of summer. After the long cold winter, there’s nothing better than cooking outdoors in the garden with friends and family or the sound of birdsong for company.

The only problem is, if you aren’t careful about what you put on your barbecue, it’s all too easy to eat far more saturated fat than is healthy for your body and your heart. Whether you’re watching your weight, concerned about your blood pressure or just want to look after your body, eating high quantities of saturated fat is not a good idea. Take a few minutes now to plan how to enjoy healthier barbecues this summer – because, when the smell of sizzling meat hits your nose and the beers get opened, it’s all too easy to let good intentions fly out the window!

Tip # 1: Don’t get stuck in a rut!

For too many years, British barbecues have meant low quality sausages and burgers in white rolls with processed cheese and a big dollop of ketchup or mayo. If that’s been your go-to barbecue plan, it’s definitely time to rethink! A balanced plate of food includes a healthy high-quality source of protein, whole grains (like whole wheat bread, whole grain rice, quinoa or wholewheat pasta), and fruits or vegetables – whether you’re eating outside or in! One simple way to barbecue more healthily is to base your menu around salads. Much of the salad prep can be done under a parasol in the garden while you wait for the flames to settle down and the coals to turn white, ready to grill your meat.

Tip #2 Choose lean meats and cuts

Your choice of protein is one of the most important elements when planning a healthy barbecue. Game is naturally leaner than farmed meats as a direct result of the wild animal’s healthier life and diet so is the ideal choice when looking to cut your fat and cholesterol intake.

Wild venison loin or haunch steaks taste amazing barbecued, as do wild boar steaks, wood pigeon fillets and other game bird fillets. If you’d still like farmed meat and poultry to feature, opt for tasty free-range chicken or leaner cuts from outdoor-reared animals, such as pork tenderloins or lean grass-fed beef steaks.

Tip #3 Marinate

When barbecuing lean meats like game, we recommend marinating first. The low-fat content of the meat means moisture needs to be added to prevent it drying out, and the acids in marinades, like lemon juice or vinegar, help to break down muscle fibres and ensure the final result is juicy and tender.

Pop some BBQ marinated pheasant fillets in your basket or try our maple syrup BBQ marinade recipe. You can also find more recipes, including a yoghurt and cucumber marinade and a mustard glaze, by searching “marinade” in the search box in the top right corner.

Marinated venison kebabs

Tip #4 Get skewering

If, like us, you’re committed to eating only “better” meat, skewering slices or cubes onto skewers between vegetables like peppers, aubergines, onions, cherry tomatoes and courgettes is a great way to make meat and poultry go further.
Skewers can be prepped the day before your barbecue and left to marinate in the fridge overnight. Serve simply with wholegrain salads, new potatoes or flat breads to lay out a delicious but stress-free spread.

Tip #5 Spatchcock

Spatchcocked birds are another impressive barbecue centrepiece – and spatchcocking a game bird or chicken is much simpler than you might think. Find some heavy-duty scissors and follow the instructions in our grilled spatchcock grouse recipe then apply the same principal to prep a pheasant for our spatchcocked pheasant with salsa verde. Or, if you’d like the work done for you, add a spatchcocked Sutton Hoo chicken to your order, ready to cook this superb recipe for spatchcocked chicken with thyme and sumac.

A succulent spatchcocked chicken barbecues in around 30 minutes while a grouse or pheasant takes only around 10. Once you’ve got into the swing of it, you can take your scissors to other meats to prep them for the barbecue too, including rabbit and squirrel.

Spatchcock grouse

Tip #6 Simple sausage and burger swaps

When you really fancy a barbecued burger, choosing game over beef can help you reduce your fat intake. Our venison and wild boar burgers are tasty game options, while goat burgers are a delicious free-range option with less fat and cholesterol than other red meats. Or why not roll up your sleeves and make your own? We can’t get enough of these wild venison burgers or Lebanese lamb and chickpea burgers with pea houmous.

If hot dogs are your highlight, full-flavoured venison or wild boar sausages have less fat than most pork sausages, as do free-range chicken sausages.

Tip # 6 Try tacos

Flatbreads, pittas and tacos, like these mouthwatering wild venison tacos, are ideal ways to serve lean steaks or poultry or game fillets. Marinating is the key to adding flavour and succulence to the meat (see Tip #3 above). Then you or your guests can have fun filling tortillas with slices of barbecued meat and your choice of accompaniments.

Venison tacos

Tip #7 Go large

For a truly unforgettable barbecue that’s still low in fat, splash out on a butterflied haunch of wild venison. Make sure it has returned to room temperature before you add it to your barbecue, that you turn it regularly during cooking, and that you allow it to rest before serving.

If you follow Jamie Oliver’s guide to butterflying a leg of lamb you can also try our free-range lamb in this allspice & thyme crusted butterflied bbq leg of lamb recipe. Served with salad and new potatoes, it’s the perfect way to celebrate summer healthily!


Photo of barbecue by Dina on Unsplash  

Photo of venison tacos by Christine Siracusa on Unsplash