8 healthy marinades and rubs for a delicious BBQ

Summer is the perfect time to roll out the BBQ, but it doesn’t need to be an unhealthy meal. Instead, try adding our eight heart-healthy marinades and rubs to your meat, fish or veg.

These barbecue-friendly marinades and rubs have been designed to be lower in salt and sugar than typical marinades. Choose lean cuts of meat to keep the saturated fat content down, or go for fish or vegetarian options such as tofu. If you're stuck on what to cook, explore our interactive to find out the best barbecue meats.

To use the marinades and rubs, just mix up the ingredients and brush or rub over your uncooked food. Leave in the fridge for between two hours and two days, depending on how strong a flavour you'd like. Then fire up the barbecue!

1. Spiced onion and garlic rub

Spicy onion and garlic rub

  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp onion granules (without added salt)
  • 2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 small dried bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Get the full recipe for our spiced onion and garlic rub, which is delicious on barbecued meat or veg kebabs. Serve alongside our bulgur wheat salad with broccoli.

2. Herby lemon marinade

Chicken marinated with fresh herbs and served with a vegetable kebab

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 

This is great with chicken, and goes well with our chargrilled vegetable salad. Try it with a little roasted pepper mayo on the side.

3. Ginger orange marinade

Orange juice for the orange and ginger marinade 

  • Juice of 1 small orange
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

This works well with salmon or tuna steak cooked on the BBQ. Make it a meal with our easy egg fried rice.

4. Sweet and smoky rub

Sweet and smoky barbecue rub

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Finely grated zest and 2 tbsp juice of 1 small orange
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • 1 tsp light soft brown sugar
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove

Get the full recipe for our sweet and smoky rub. You could use it on chicken or turkey pieces or kebabs, or to add an extra kick to our herbed turkey burgers. Serve alongside our jewelled couscous salad or herb tabbouleh with courgettes.

5. Italian basil marinade

Italian herb marinade

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 finely diced spring onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

This marinade works particularly well with barbecued pork, chicken or mackerel. Serve it with our three-bean pasta, a perfect picnic or barbecue dish.

6. Hot and herby rub

Hot and herby barbecue rub

  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Few leaves of fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • Pinch cayenne pepper or chilli flakes
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Get the full recipe for our hot and herby rub. Try using to ring the changes on our oven-baked or barbecued chicken or seared salmon and vegetable kebabs (instead of the marinades described in the recipe), and serve with rice salad with shallot dressing.

7. Tandoori yoghurt marinade

Tandoori marinade

  • 300ml low-fat Greek yogurt
  • large piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin

This is particularly delicious with chicken or tofu, served with our mint yoghurt dip and our tomato and onion salad.

8. Peppery rub for steak

Steak with a healthy peppercorn marinade

  • 1 tablespoon black or pink peppercorns
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Sprig of thyme or rosemary to garnish

Combine all of the ingredients in a small food processor or pestle and mortar so that the peppercorns are broken up. Try using the marinade for steak or large flat mushrooms - cook them on the BBQ then serve with the potato wedges from our healthy fish and chips recipe and barbecued courgettes and peppers with lemon and mint.

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