Digestive Health

Heartburn-friendly barbecue tips and tasty burger recipe

Man in his 30s outside grilling veggies on a barbecue grill.


Discover heartburn-friendly barbecue tips and leave your acid reflux symptoms on ice this summer with this mouthwatering grilled turkey burger recipe!  


By Laura Nahins, Registered Dietitian, Nuvance Health


Summertime fun wouldn’t be complete without a barbecue! There’s something special about gathering with friends and family for a cookout to share delicious foods straight off the grill. But if you suffer from heartburn, the grill may not be the only thing feeling the heat this summer. Don’t sweat it! Find out how to enjoy the tastes of summer while telling your heartburn to chill out!



Healthy barbecue selections for heartburn sufferers


Enjoying a heartburn-friendly barbecue requires making smart food choices. Choosing heartburn-friendly foods lets you savor the flavors without triggering discomfort. Here are some tips on how to create a tasty and reflux-friendly barbecue:


Lean protein: Lean meats, such as skinless chicken breasts, turkey burgers, fish fillets and salmon are great choices. These options are less likely to trigger heartburn compared to fatty meats. Fatty meats, such as pork ribs, take longer to digest in your stomach and create a greater window of opportunity for heartburn to strike.



Low-acid and non-spicy foods: Barbecue sauce is acidic and can worsen heartburn symptoms because they are tomato-based. Instead, try to use a style of barbecue sauce that is tomato-free or make your own. When choosing side dishes, try low-acid options such as grilled veggies, sweet potatoes or corn on the cob, seasoned with mild herbs, such as parsley, basil and dill, and a drizzle of olive oil.



Avoid common heartburn triggers: Ingredients such as onions, garlic, tomatoes, citrus fruits and carbonated drinks are notorious heartburn triggers. Avoid these to minimize acid reflux.


With these smart choices, you can prepare a heartburn-friendly barbecue that’s delicious and gentle on your digestive system. Eat in moderation, chew your food thoroughly and avoid lying down soon after eating. Walking after eating can help digest food and prevent heartburn and it’s a great way to spend more time outside with your family and friends.



Heartburn-friendly barbecue tips


Making smart choices can greatly enhance your barbecue experience while managing heartburn. Here are some tips:


Mindful eating: Overeating can trigger heartburn. Control your portion sizes, eat slowly and savor the flavors. Make half of your plate vegetables and choose small portions of starches and lean protein. Avoid sugary, high fat desserts and instead choose fruit such as watermelon or honeydew melon as an after barbecue sweet treat.



Choose water: Sugary drinks and alcohol can contribute to heartburn. When reaching inside the cooler, choose water, which helps neutralize stomach acid and keeps you hydrated. If you’re craving a fun summer-themed beverage, try putting sliced cucumbers, mint or watermelon and basil leaves in your water this will help you stay hydrated, plus, it tastes delicious!



Early meals: Eating a heavy meal close to bedtime can exacerbate heartburn, especially when lying down. Plan your barbecue or cookout earlier in the day to allow ample digestion time before bedtime.

By following these heartburn-friendly barbecue tips, you can enjoy the savory flavors of a barbecue without the discomfort of heartburn. Listen to your body, make informed choices and prioritize your well-being.


Still having heartburn trouble? Find a gastroenterologist near me.


Heartburn-friendly recipe: Grilled turkey burger with sliced apple avocado and cheddar 



  • 8 oz (about 226.8 g). ground turkey breast

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • Fresh course ground black pepper

  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 3/4-ounce slices reduced fat cheddar cheese

  • 2 whole wheat or gluten-free hamburger buns

  • 1 tbsp. non-fat mayonnaise

  • 2 romaine Lettuce leaves

  • 2 red delicious apples, cored and thinly sliced

  • 1 avocado, pitted and thinly sliced



  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (350–450°F)
  2. Combine the ground turkey, salt, pepper and olive oil until well blended. Divide into two balls and form into burger patties.

  3. When the grill is hot, place burgers on grill. 

  4. Grill the turkey burgers for 10 to 12 minutes over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, turning the burgers once halfway through cooking.  

  5. Add a slice of reduced fat cheddar cheese during the last minute of cooking while the burger is still on the grill.

  6. Serve each burger on a whole wheat hamburger bun with 1 tablespoon of non-fat mayonnaise.

  7. Top with lettuce, tomato, apple slices and avocado.




The bottom line: Keep your heartburn on ice while you enjoy the savory flavors of summer. After all, summer is all about fun, family and great food. Make sure heartburn doesn’t spoil the party by listening to your body, making informed decisions about eating and prioritizing your well-being. Here’s to a heartburn-free grilling season filled with delicious, enjoyable moments!