3 Foil Packet Recipes That Make Healthy Grilling (& Cleanup!) a Cinch

Grilling may be one of the healthier ways to cook dinner, but it’s not the only way to prepare a meal over an open flame. Foil packet dinners are just as healthy—and super easy to make, whether you’re working with a campfire in the woods or a backyard grill.

“When you cook your food in a foil packet, you don’t need to add a lot of extra fat,” says Whitney Linsenmeyer, PhD, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and an instructor in the nutrition and dietetics department of Saint Louis University. “And it’s a way to grill super fresh ingredients instead of throwing on processed foods like hot dogs.”

The concept couldn’t be simpler: Toss a combination of meat, vegetables, and seasoning onto a piece of tin foil, top with another piece of foil, and pinch the edges to form a seal. Then cook the packet over a fire until it’s done. Water from the vegetables turns to steam, keeping the food inside nice and moist, and there’s no worrying about food getting too charred or falling through the grates.

Other than that, there are just a few rules to follow: Cut your meat into small enough pieces so that they cook relatively quickly (you don’t want your vegetables to turn to mush because you were waiting for a big piece of chicken to be done). You’ll also want to think about where to put the packet: If it’s just vegetables and you want to cook it pretty fast, put the packet right over the flame. If the packet contains meat that might take a little longer to cook, move it off to the side.

Now, onto the cooking! While the combinations are pretty limitless, these three ideas from Linsenmeyer will get you started:

Herb Chicken with Potatoes and Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

4 boneless chicken thighs
1 pound new potatoes
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning

INSTRUCTIONS

Divide the chicken, potatoes, and mushrooms among four foil packets. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning. Seal packets and cook on the grill or campfire for 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked to 165 degrees and juices run clear.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories 376
Protein 31 g
Total fat 19 g
Saturated fat 3.3 g
Carbs 21 g
Fiber  2.9 g
Total sugars  1.3 g
Added sugars  0 g
Sodium 272 mg

Salmon with Herbed Compound Butter

INGREDIENTS

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 4-ounce salmon fillets

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the compound butter ahead of time by mixing together the butter with herbs and seasonings and then store in the fridge. When it’s time to cook, divide the salmon among four foil packets. Top each with ½ tablespoon of the herb butter (you’ll have butter left over; store in the fridge for future use), firmly seal packets, and cook on the fire 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until the salmon flakes apart with a fork. Serve with Campfire Ratatouille (below), if you like.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories 287
Protein 23 g
Total fat 21 g
Saturated fat 7.1 g
Carbs 0 g
Fiber 0 g
Total sugars 0 g
Added sugars 0 g
Sodium 112 mg

Campfire Ratatouille

INGREDIENTS

1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 eggplant, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 Roma tomato, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning
½ cup freshly torn basil leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

Divide the zucchini, eggplant, shallot, and tomato among four foil packets. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning. Firmly seal packets and cook on grill or campfire for 5 to 7 minutes per side. When done, top with basil. Serve with Salmon with Herbed Compound Butter, if you like.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories 113
Protein 1.1 g
Total fat 10 g
Saturated fat 1.5 g
Carbs 5.2 g
Fiber 1.9 g
Total sugars 0 g
Added sugars 0 g
Sodium 38 mg

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