10 Ways to Eat Healthy at the BBQ Shack

Traditional pulled pork is often dressed with nothing more than a bit of spicy cider vinegar, used to accentuate the meat's flavor, not mask it. Unfortunately, when restaurants interpret this dish for a national audience, they use the same cheap trick unleashed on barbecued beef and racks of ribs: a bucket of sickeningly sweet sauce made from a slurry of sugar, corn syrup, and other insulin-spiking ingredients. The result: a single sandwich with as many calories as three Big Macs! (Try the 25 best  gourmet sandwiches for guys.)

Burnt Ends

The crispy end pieces of brisket. Because the fat from the meat has been fully rendered, they make a much better option than normal brisket, which sports a thick "fat cap."


Delicious though they may be, they're the worst option on the menu, with a perilously high fat-to-meat ratio. Split a half slab for the table and make them baby back, which are leaner than spare ribs.

Rotisserie Chicken

Sans skin, this is the best entr?e on the menu. A 6-ounce serving has about 50 grams of protein, plus a load of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body regulate appetite. (Learn 8 ways to tame a raging appetite.)

Brunswick Stew

Depending on which part of the South you order it in, this hearty tomato-based stew may be loaded with chicken, rabbit, or pork, plus a slew of vegetables, like corn, lima beans, and okra. An excellent option with any of those ingredients.

Sauce Selector

Kansas City: thick, tomato-based sauce with lots of brown sugar. Use sparingly.
Memphis: A well-balanced sauce made with both tomato and vinegar.
North Carolina: Vinegar-based sauce with a kick of spice from cayenne pepper. Go nuts.
South Carolina: Also tangy, but made from mustard; a little sweeter than its northern cousin.
Texas: Spicy tomato-based sauce blended with peppers and cumin. (Check out the best and worst sandwich condiments.)

Baked Beans

The one-two combo of brown sugar and molasses used in these beans is more than balanced by a heavy load of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Even with bacon blended in, this is still a better option than biscuits or french fries.

Hush Puppies

Deep-fried corn bread, often served with a side of whipped butter for dipping. Do you really need to know anything else?


Meringue pies will generally edge out the other pie choices when it comes to calories. That's because the egg whites and sugar that go into the meringue are whipped with air, so while it feels like a full piece of pie, you're actually eating less. (Try these 12 easy ways to estimate serving size.)


Inquire about the coleslaw before you order. If it's mayonnaise-based, it's probably a nutritional dud with hundreds of calories in each scoop. If it's vinegar-based, give it the green light.

Collard Greens

Collards are of the same plant family as broccoli and brussels sprouts, which puts them among the healthiest sides you can order. This side carries a day's worth of vitamin A, 2 days' worth of vitamin K, and a heavy load of sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting antioxidant.

Discuss This Article