Healthy Tips from Grill Master: Steven Raichlen

How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques

Steven Raichlen, who changed the grilling world forever with his Barbecue Bible, gives us an excellent book for the backyard griller. This “How To” book delivers great instruction and information on virtually every grilling task. If you’re just starting out with grilling, this is a perfect book for you. Even if you’ve been grilling for years, you’ll learn a lot here. Steven Raichlen’s book is more about the techniques for grilling than offering a variety of  recipes.


Grilled Chicken Thighs

1. Go with thighs, which have deeper, richer chicken flavor than breast meat. They can withstand the dry heat of the grill and stay moist.

2. Dark meat is fattier than white, so to cut your sat fat intake, take the skin off. But, leave the bone in.

3. Coat the chicken with a bold spice rub to amp up flavor.

4. Grill the chicken over indirect heat. Putting the meat over the cooler side of the grill cooks it slowly, gently, and evenly and ensures the glaze won’t scorch.

5. Finish it for five minutes over direct heat to add delicious light charring and caramelize the glaze.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

6. Go with a variety of produce for color and texture contrasts: corn, bell peppers, and green onions.

7. Add avocado to the mix: People don’t think to grill avocado, but it adds fantastic smoky depth to the buttery fruit.

8. Crank up the grill heat to high for optimum charring—it’s the browned and blackened bits that really make the salad shine.

9. Watch carefully, since each item has its own ideal doneness—the green onions need to brown and wilt slightly; the peppers should fully blacken so they can be easily peeled; and the corn has to be turned often so it browns evenly. The avocado gets just a minute or two or it will become bitter if cooked too long.

10. Bring the chopped salad together with some cooked beans, a touch of earthy herbs, and fresh lemon juice to brighten flavors.

Grilled Steak

11. Score the beef lightly to help the marinade penetrate quickly and keep the steak flat while it cooks. For marinade idea see post:

12. Keep it juicy and tender by letting it rest for several minutes after cooking, then slicing thinly against the grain: Flank steak turns tough if sliced with the grain or into thick pieces.

13. Add salt just before grilling, after the steak comes out of the marinade. (If you add salt to a wet marinade, you will lose some of it with the discarded liquid.)

14. Add smoked paprika to the spice rub. The steak doesn’t spend long on the grill, so paprika boosts its open-fire flavor.

15. Buy flank steak: It’s lean—with almost 30% less saturated fat.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

16. Choose a lean pork cut. Not all parts of the hog are fat bombs. Go with grill-friendly tenderloin: It’s a leaner cut than pork loin chops, saving you as much as 3g sat fat per serving.

17. But tenderloin is extremely mild-tasting, so pair it with big, strong flavors: salty sauces, peppery ginger, tangy vinegar, and fiery chiles.

18. Slice meat into thin medallions before marinating it. This increases the surface area for the marinade to coat and helps the flavorings fully permeate the pork.

19. Thread the meat onto skewers so it’s easier to handle on the grill. Then, cook over very high heat; it’s how you get those delicious crispy, blackened bits on the edges of the meat.

20. Pack the pork up in lettuce wraps loaded with fresh, crisp veggies, fragrant herbs, and toasted nuts. It’s the perfect setup for a casual, serve-yourself kind of gathering.

Grilled Salmon

21. Since the skin won’t be in direct contact with the grill to get nice and crisp, go with skinless fillets.

22. The smoky fish can stand up to the spicy sweetness of a tropical fruit salsa. Prepare it before cooking the fish so the flavors have time to meld.

23. Grill on cedar planks: Rich wood smoke infuses the salmon.

24. Put the lid on the grill so the fish bathes in cedar smoke, the main “seasoning.”

25. Choose salmon: Packed with flavor and heart-healthy fats, it can handle the grill. Flaky fish like cod, sole, and tilapia tend to fall to pieces.

Grilled Burgers

26. Start with ground buffalo. It has fewer calories and as much as half the sat fat of 90% lean beef, but boasts big, meaty flavor.

27. Add some Parmigiano-Reggiano to the patties—it kicks up the savory taste and seasons the burgers from the inside.

28. Stir in a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. A little heart-healthy fat added to the patties helps keep the extra-lean burgers moist.

29. Make a kickin’ condiment: Slow-roast tomatoes to intensify their sweetness. (see post:  Add a little tangy balsamic vinegar and peppery basil, then puree the mixture into a ketchup.

30. Grill the burgers over high heat to no more than medium so they don’t dry out. Toast the buns on the grill to add a little crisp texture and some lightly charred flavor.

Here Are Some Of My Favorite ” Good For You” Burger Recipes For Your Next BBQ:

Grilled Grass Fed Beef Burgers

Grass Fed Beef cooks as much as 30% faster and needs a lower temperature than grain fed beef. There is less fat on grass fed beef and it melts at a lower temperature than the grain fed beef.


  • 1 1/4 pounds ground grass fed beef
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons fresh finely chopped sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil


Mix the garlic and spices into the meat. Form beef into 4 patties. Make a slight indentation in the center of each burger to avoid burger bulge – the tendency for the burger to get too big in the middle.

Rub burgers with 2 teaspoons oil.

Cook on medium low heat on a gas or charcoal grill, covered, turning once, about 6 minutes total for medium-rare or to desired temperature.

Serve burgers on whole wheat buns with cheese, tomato slices, lettuce, red onion slices, and any other condiments you wish (mustard, ketchup, mayo).

Mushroom-Rice Burgers with Cheddar Cheese

Serves 4

The following recipe combines mushrooms, oats and brown rice into a patty that looks like a hamburger and has a rich, earthy flavor. It’s also a great way to use up leftover brown rice. Note that vegetarian burgers are more fragile than meat burgers. Cook them on a well-oiled vegetable grill grate (see picture in this post) and turn as gently as possible with a wide spatula.

For the burgers:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, wiped clean with dampened paper towels and finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 4 ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs

For Serving:

  • 1 large fresh, ripe tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Pickle slices
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
  • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns
  • Ketchup and/or mayonnaise and/or mustard

Vegetable Grill Grate


1. Prepare the burger mixture.
Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft but not brown, about 4 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes.

2. Stir in the brown rice and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the oats, cheese, bread crumbs and egg. Add salt and pepper.  Cover the mixture and refrigerate until firm, 3 to 4 hours.

3. Line a baking sheet or large plate with plastic wrap. Wet your hands slightly and form the vegetable mixture into 4 patties. Place the patties on the prepared baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

4. Preheat grill to high.

5. When ready to cook, place a vegetable grill grate on the hot grill and preheat it for 5 minutes. Oil the vegetable grate and place the patties on it. Grill, turning carefully with a spatula, until nicely browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Aas the burgers cook, toast the buns over the flames as well.

Serve as you would any burger, with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and condiments.

Turkey and Vegetable Burgers

The vegetables in this turkey burger mixture not only contribute lots of vitamins and nutrients, but they also help to moisten burgers that can otherwise be quite dry. Make sure to buy lean ground turkey breast.


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 large garlic clove, green shoot removed, minced
  • 2/3 cup finely grated carrot (1 large carrot)
  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey breast, preferably organic, from humanely raised turkeys
  • 2 tablespoons prepared barbecue sauce or see recipe for Quick BBQ Sauce below
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Canola oil for the skillet
  • Whole grain hamburger buns and condiments of your choice


1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the diced red pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the grated carrot and cook, stirring, for another minute or two, until the carrots have softened slightly and the mixture is fragrant. Remove from the heat and cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce and ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper Add the sautéed vegetables and mix together well. Shape into 6 patties, about 3/4-inch thick and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

3. Heat a nonstick griddle over medium-high heat and brush with a small amount of canola oil, or prepare a medium-hot BBQ grill and cook the patties for 4 minutes on each side. Serve on whole grain buns, with the condiments of your choice and additional BBQ sauce.

Yield: 6 burgers.

Advance preparation: You can make this turkey burger mix, shape into patties and freeze for 2 or 3 months. Thaw as needed. The mix will keep for a day in the refrigerator, but check the use-by date on the turkey package.

Quick BBQ Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried yellow mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
  • Hot sauce, if you like it spicy

Purée all sauce ingredients in a food processor until very smooth.