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Can you Eat BBQ on Keto Diet?

People all around the globe love keto diets simply because of their easy weight loss approach. It goes without saying that keto diets are here to stay.

However, considerable confusion revolves around this meal plan, as people are usually confused about which food options they can consume and which they should steer clear of. Many BBQ lovers might wonder if barbeque is keto-friendly and have the question “can you eat BBQ on keto?” stuck in their heads.

Can you eat BBQ on a Keto Diet

If you are one of them, congratulations! You are at the right place to get answers.

This article will answer all your questions about BBQ and keto and give you a promising response to “is BBQ keto friendly.”

Let's delve into this juicy deliciousness to get some long-awaited answers!

Basics to The Keto Diet

Keto is a specialized and medically proven weight loss diet that constitutes restricted or low carb intake and high-fat consumption. Decreased carbs propel the body to reach ketosis: a state where metabolism runs exceptionally fast while burning fat as a primary energy source.

Therefore, the body frantically burns fat for energy when it is low on carbohydrates, which results in weight loss. Typically, a ketogenic diet should contain about 75% fat consumption, 20% protein intake, and only 5% carb uptake.

Talking in terms of grams per day, a standard keto diet should contain:

  • 40-60 grams of protein
  • 20-50 grams of carbohydrates
  • Unlimited fat intake

Although that is the standard version of keto diets, there are other kinds of keto diets as well. These include:

  1. Very-low-carb ketogenic diet (VLCKD)
  2. Well formulated ketogenic diet (WFKD)
  3. MCT ketogenic diet
  4. Calorie-restricted ketogenic diet
  5. Cyclical ketogenic diet
  6. Targeted ketogenic diet
  7. High protein ketogenic diet

Let us take a brief look into these types:

1.     Very-low-carb ketogenic diet (VLCKD)

The very low-carb ketogenic diet refers to the standard keto diet as both are very restricted in carb intake: about 5%.

2.     Well Formulated Ketogenic Diet (WFKD)

Steve Phinney, one of the renowned ketogenic diet researchers, formulated the term ‘Well Formulated Ketogenic Diet. It follows a blueprint resembling the standard ketogenic diet, as both have comparable macronutrients of protein, fat, and carbohydrate consumption.

The WFKD and standard ketogenic diet (or VLCKD) are both the best options for attaining ketosis.

3.     MCT Ketogenic Diet

MCT ketogenic diet also has ground requirements similar to the standard keto diet. The difference lies in MCT's focus on medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) use for satisfying the diet's fat content.

However, there is a need for more studies that investigate the repercussions of this diet on blood sugar, weight loss, and gastrointestinal complications.

4.     Calorie-Restricted Ketogenic Diet

A calorie-restricted ketogenic diet resembles a standard keto diet to a great extent, except for one primary aspect. The fat and calorie intake in the standard keto diet is not restricted, which is not the case in the calorie-restricted ketogenic diet.

Research concludes that the state of ketosis does not change whether the calorie intake is specified or not. That is primarily because the state of ketosis and the effects of fat intake prevents the over-consumption of the food itself.

5.     Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

The cyclical ketogenic diet, also known as carb backloading, as the carb intake fluctuates with days. It includes a set number of high-carb intake days after a particular number of strict ketogenic days.

For instance, CKD may entail five ketogenic days with two high carb-consumption days.

This diet is typical amongst athletes as the higher carb intake days can help reload the glycogen dissolved from the muscles during workouts. 

6.     Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)

The Targeted Ketogenic Diet resembles the standard ketogenic diet in various aspects, except that it requires carbohydrate consumption only around workout times.

We can call it a compromise between a cyclic ketogenic diet and a typical one. TKD functions on the notion that carbohydrate intake before or after workout sessions allows efficient dissolution with the increased muscle demand for energy due to being active.

7.     High Protein Ketogenic Diet

The high protein ketogenic diet allows more protein consumption than a standard one and is thus an excellent option for people fond of or in need of it. The consumption ratio in this diet stands at:

  • 35% protein
  • 60% fat
  • 5% carbohydrates

Research shows that this ketogenic diet is highly effective for people with obesity.

Keto And BBQ: The Full Picture

Barbeque is not a limited demographic to conquer with all the different kinds of meats, sauces, and other aspects. This fact makes answering the question of “Can you eat bbq on keto” quite tricky, as one cannot lump all kinds into a keto-friendly or non-keto-friendly category.

Although it is complicated to make a sound judgment without considering all the minute aspects, there are a few easy ways to determine if a certain type of bbq is okay for your keto diet or not.

As a general rule of thumb, barbeque is keto-friendly if it does not contain added sugar and is low on carbs. A general misconception about the ill effects of BBQ on keto diets drives most people away from it. In reality, you can enjoy this meaty delight if only you keep the daily protein and carb limit of a typical keto diet (or whichever you are following) in check.

keto friendly bbq

Some keto-friendly options in BBQ are grilled meats such as bacon, steaks, brisket, and pulled pork. Don't shy away from choosing a meat slice with adequate marbling, and remember: the more the fat, the better environment for your ketosis!

However, you need to keep an eye out for meats, such as bacon, covered in a sugar or a sugary sauce. Such options can kill your ketosis immediately!

You can also enjoy some yummy side dishes with your low-carb BBQ, such as caeser salads, stir-fried vegetables, and cheese sticks.

Yes, you heard it right! You can have cheese sticks on a keto diet! In fact, have as much cheese as your heart desires! Cheese does not disrupt ketosis.

Is BBQ Sauce Keto Friendly?

Barbeque is simply not complete without BBQ sauce. But sadly, not every BBQ sauce is good for a keto diet. Most of them are rich in sugar, carbs, and preservatives and easily kick your body out of ketosis.

But all hope is not lost: some keto diets contain tomatoes and dates as sugar alternatives to give the sauce a rich, authentic, and tangy taste. You can read the ingredient list on the sauce's label to ensure it does not contain carbs or sugar.

Eating organic whenever possible is also a highly suitable keto option.

Keto Friendly BBQ Sauces

All sugar-free BBQ sauces are safe to consume on a keto diet. These sauces usually contain sucralose, a keto-friendly alternative to sugar.

But if your highly keto-conscious lifestyle prevents you from consuming artificial sugar, you can opt for BBQ sauces with the following contents:


Stevia is a keto-friendly sweetener obtained from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant species. It is highly suitable for ketosis if used in limited amounts.

Dijon Mustard

Derived from wine vinegar and mustard seeds, Dijon mustard offers a natural and fresh flavor to barbeque sauce while maintaining ketosis.

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar can add some sweet notes to your BBQ sauce and help satisfy your carb cravings without affecting ketosis.

Chipotle Powder

A common blend of herbs and grounded chilies, chipotle powder allows a distinguished aroma to barbeque sauces, eliminating the need for sugar addiction.

Keto-Friendly BBQ Sauce Recipe

bbq keto friendly

Making a keto-friendly BBQ sauce at home is the best option for keto-dieters as it allows complete control over the ingredients and taste. Don't worry; making a keto BBQ sauce is not a complicated and long process, and the following guide will take you along this customized process:

Tomato Paste (Homemade)Half cup
Chipotle PowderOne tablespoon
Apple cider vinegar/Balsamic vinegar Four tablespoons
Garlic and onion powderHalf tablespoon
Black pepper powder Two tablespoons
Clove powderA pinch to taste
Stevia-based sweetener or Yacon syrup or any other sugar substitute of your choice As per requirement
Liquid smokeOne teaspoon
Sesame Oil Four tablespoons


  1. Pour some sesame oil into a saucepan and add tomato paste after heating it. Stir for two minutes, and then add the balsamic vinegar.
  2. Mix the contents thoroughly and add chipotle powder, garlic and onion powder, black pepper, and salt.
  3. Keep stirring and cook all ingredients for about five to eight minutes.
  4. Add liquid smoke and sugar substitute sweetener into the mixture and turn the stove off. Your sauce is ready!
  5. Allow the sauce to cool and make sure you use an airtight container, preferably glass, to store it in. Make sure to use it within two weeks.

Are All BBQ Meats Keto Friendly?

As we talked about before, BBQ is a wide arena with various kinds of meats and sauces. It is not restricted to pork only: there are chicken, beef, and even fish options.

So are all the different BBQ options keto-friendly? Let's check them out.

keto friendly bbq options

Can You Eat Pork BBQ On Keto?

Yes, pork barbeque is keto-friendly and eatable on a typical ketogenic diet. You can eat all kinds of fatty meats, including ribs, pork belly, lamb ribs, turkey, and chicken with skin.

In fact, barbequed pork belly is a typical food option for keto-dieters as it is rich in proteins while being low in carbs.

You can make pork barbeque however you want, as long as you make sure you use low-carb and keto-friendly barbeque sauces and don't add sugar.

Can You Eat Chicken BBQ On Keto?

Poultry is the staple food on a keto diet as it contains next to zero carbs, several crucial minerals, and abundant Vitamin B. It is also protein-rich, making it a vital keto food option to preserve muscle mass with a low carb intake. 

The good news is both dark and white chicken meat do not disturb ketosis. But if you are highly keto-conscious, the best chicken part to barbeque is unequivocally the chicken breast.

Chicken thighs are also a good option and have more flavor and better texture than chicken breast.

Again, make sure you use a keto-friendly sauce when making chicken BBQ and opt for low-carb side dishes.

Can You Eat Beef BBQ On Keto?

Almost all unprocessed, plain, and animal proteins, such as beef, are suitable for a keto diet. Beef is low in carbs and rich in beneficial compounds, minerals, and protein, which makes it a good keto-option.

Various kinds of meat, such as flank steak, ribs, brisket, chuck, ground beef, shank, and round are keto-friendly. Additionally, you can also use beef broth, including bone broth, to cook or marinate your bbq beef.

A good source of lean protein, beef is delicious and healthy when paired with a keto-friendly, low-carb barbeque sauce and side dishes.

Keto Friendly BBQ Recipes


  1. Brown Sugar Substitute
  2. Sea salt
  3. Smoked paprika
  4. Garlic powder
  5. Cayenne pepper
  6. Keto-friendly, low-carb bbq sauce
  7. Black pepper
  8. Chicken

Recipe Instructions

  1. Take a small bowl and put garlic powder, salt, smoked paprika, brown sugar substitute, cayenne pepper, and black pepper in it. Mix everything thoroughly.
  2. Take your chicken and rub the spice mixture on it evenly. It is advisable to leave the chicken marinating for about a day if you can. Otherwise, two to three hours of marination time works as well.
  3. Next comes the cooking! Bake or grill your chicken until it turns golden or until the instant read thermometers show a 155 to 165-degree reading.
  4. If you choose to grill your chicken, make sure to brush it with low-carb, keto-friendly BBQ sauce in the last four to five minutes of cooking. Similarly, baste every five to ten minutes if you are baking the chicken.
  5. Ta-da! Your BBQ chicken is done. Serve hot with a low-carb side dish.

Keep reading to find out which side dishes you can choose on a keto diet!

Keto Friendly BBQ Side Dishes

BBQ remains incomplete without side dishes; thus, a few yummy and low-carb side dishes that work great with keto BBQ recipes are mentioned ahead. You can conveniently make them at home in minimum time!

BBQ sides

Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower

It is common to serve cheesy and creamy mashed potatoes as a side in BBQ dishes, but that is not suitable for a keto diet.

No need to be sad, as you can make an equally yummy substitute that won't disturb your ketosis: cheesy mashed cauliflower! Cheese is a suitable keto option for fat intake, and cauliflower is one of the lowest carb-containing vegetables.

All you need to do to make this delight is boil some cauliflower, mash it evenly, and add cheese to it. Throw in some black pepper and salt, and you are good to go!

Stir-Fried Green Beans

Green beans are an excellent side dish for bacon and steak barbeque when stir-fried. Not only are they low in carbs but they are also rich in essential nutrients, which makes them yummy yet healthy.

Zucchini Chips or Fries

A BBQ steak is incomplete without some crispy French fries, and we agree. But let's not mop around because you can make equally delicious zucchini chips or fries that won't mess with your ketosis.

You can make them by cutting your zucchini into any shape you like, adding some pepper and salt to them, and frying them just like French fries.

Keto Coleslaw

Coleslaw goes well with steaks, burgers, and barbeque, and you can easily make a keto-friendly version of this versatile side dish at home. To make this dish, you need to take a cabbage (green and purple) and shred it along with some carrots in a bowl. Next, add apple cider vinegar, salt, sesame oil, and pepper to a small bowl and mix everything together.

Dress the shredded vegetables with this mixture. Although coleslaw usually has sweetened dressing, it is advisable to skip this step to make it keto-friendly. If you wish to make it sweet, you can add any keto-friendly, low-carb artificial sweetener or Stevia.

Creamy avocado sauce

Avocado goes with everything, even any keto BBQ recipe. You can take one large avocado to make this creamy avocado sauce that will keep you licking your fingers.

 Peel the avocado and add it to a blender along with some salt and pepper, two garlic cloves, sour cream, and lime juice. Blend everything together, and ta-da! Your creamy avocado sauce is ready!

Roasted Vegetables

Vegetables make the best side dish on a keto diet. Grab your favorite low-carb vegetables, such as asparagus and broccoli, and grill or roast them according to your liking!

Is Korean BBQ Keto Friendly?

Korean BBQ lovers find it exceptionally hard to stick to a keto diet, as most Korean recipes contain either noodles or rice. However, you do not have to throw away your taste for Korean BBQ away altogether on a keto diet.

Some Korean BBQ options, such as seafood and plain meats, are keto-friendly if they are not made with infusions and sauces. For instance, on a keto diet, you can eat short ribs, sirloin steak, Korean BBQ pork belly and neck, and BBQ rib eye.

Korean BBQ Keto

However, dishes like galbi, bulgogi, and jangeogui are not suitable for a keto diet as they are made of meat marinated in ssamjang sauce or soy sauce, both of which are high in carbs and sugar.

In fact, most Korean BBQ sauces contain a high quantity of sugar and carbs and thus can instantly kick your ketosis out of function. It is advisable to choose a dish that does not contain the said sauces or read the ingredient label thoroughly when buying one.

Keto-Friendly Korean BBQ Side Dishes

Although Korean BBQ pairs well with rice and noodles, make sure you do not order them as they are full of carbs and are highly injurious to your beloved ketosis.

Instead, opt for poultry-based side dishes such as kimchi (make sure it is without sugar), Korean rolled omelet strips, seaweed, Hobak Bokkeum, and Kale Namul.

You can also choose sauces and dips that contain vinegar, sesame oil, and salt. Sesame oil helps provide adequate fat content for a keto diet.

If you are unsure, it is imperative to swallow your fear and ask the host or captain about the ingredients in a sauce or side dish. Remember: your ketosis comes first! If your hosts are unsure as well, it is better to avoid eating them.

How To Stick To A Keto BBQ Meal When Eating In A Restaurant

Restaurant BBQs are always the best but also the hardest to maintain your ketosis in. That is mainly because they usually have some ingredients or sauces that can disturb your ketosis.

But don't fret; let's look at some smart tips and tricks that can help you stick to your keto diet even when eating barbeque in a restaurant.

Order Plain or Simple BBQ Meat

It is wise to order plain or simple barbeque meat when ordering in a restaurant. Plain grilled steak or chicken are suitable as they contain no sugary sauces. Steer clear of these sauces: they can kick you out of your ketosis!

If you want to order a BBQ burger, don't eat the bun but rather enjoy the crispy patty or chicken with the lettuce.

Be Side-Dish-Smart

People usually focus on the entrée when eating in a barbeque restaurant and unconsciously disregard the side dishes. This activity can kill your ketosis, as all side dishes with potatoes and corn are a big no on a keto diet.

In addition, noodles, wheat, and rice are rich in carbs and not allowed on a keto diet. BBQ steaks typically come with creamy mashed potatoes, so order accordingly.

Ditch the Dips, Sauces, and Desserts

Keto diets do not allow sugar. This is because the primary function of a keto diet is to allow your body to burn fat as an energy source, and eating sugar provides an alternate energy source to the body.

Eating dips, sauces, and desserts with sugar (even minute quantities) can end your ketosis as the body will start using that sugar as a primary energy source.

If you dearly want a dip or sauce, make sure you opt for low-carb, keto-friendly sweeteners such as agave syrup, honey, and maple syrup. Even in this case, desserts are a no-go.

Investigate The “Secret” Ingredients

Some barbeque places use “secret” ingredients to make or marinate their chicken and claim these ingredients to be the reason behind their amazing taste. That is well and good, but not when you are on a keto diet.

Such secret ingredients can throw you off ketosis if they are high in carbs. You can always ask the restaurant if their secret ingredients are keto-friendly or not. If they do not wish to disclose that information, it is better to skip that restaurant altogether.

Wrapping Up

Who said keto diets are supposed to be bland and full of greens? They can be cheesy and meaty!

Now that you know the merry answer to “Can you eat bbq on keto?”, it is time to let yourself loose and have a big, yummy, and keto-friendly barbeque meal!

Have other keto-related queries? You can count on us.

Click on one of the links below to learn more about keto friendly foods:

Is Tajin Keto Friendly?

Is Tofu Keto Friendly?

Are Black Olives Keto Friendly?


Founder of The Art Of Keto.

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