Greek Yogurt: Your BBQ Secret Weapon

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Part of the pleasure of chowing down at a summer cookout comes from pairing salads, dips, and sauces with whatever’s hot off the grill, whether it’s the perfect burger or fresh grilled fish. But instead of choosing sides laden with high-fat mayo or sour cream, make Greek yogurt your summer barbecue secret weapon.

The protein-packed power food is a versatile cooking ingredient and a healthier way to add richness to sauces and sides. “You can cut calories and fat with substitution, since the texture is creamy. It will not change the consistency,” says Maria Pagano, RD, a personal training manager at Equinox. Try plain, nonfat Greek yogurt in place of these fats:

  • Sour Cream: Do a one to one swap. “Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for sour cream because of its tangy taste,” says Pagano. Try it on top of a baked potato.
  • Mayonnaise: Halve the amount of mayo you’d normally use by cutting it with Greek yogurt. “It is an easy transition for potato salad, coleslaw, and egg salad,” says Pagano. Each time you make a recipe, decrease the mayo and up the yogurt until you reach the perfect balance.
  • Cream: Lighten up creamy pasta dishes by opting for Greek yogurt over heavy cream.
  • Cream Cheese: Slash fat from a cheesecake recipe by cutting cream cheese with Greek yogurt.

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Ready to make Greek yogurt your ultimate undercover swap? Give these tasty recipes for Buffalo Potato Salad, Creamy Avocado Dip, and Dijon Salmon Cakes a shot. 



  • 1½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • ½ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ – 2 tsp hot sauce, depending on taste


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the cubed potato. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside, letting the potatoes cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, blue cheese, parsley, and hot sauce with a fork until combined. Add the potatoes and fold together until combined, mashing the potatoes slightly if you want a smoother potato salad. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Refrigerate until serving.

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  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and mashed
  • 1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
  • ½ tsp cumin, ground
  • Salt and hot pepper sauce to taste


In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until blended with a fork. Great to use as a dip, sandwich spread, or condiment for grilled meats and vegetables.



  • 4 oz boneless, skinless salmon, cubed
  • 2 tsp minced scallions
  • ¾ tsp lemon zest
  • 3 tbsp plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp white horseradish
  • 2 tbsp wheat germ
  • 2 tbsp celery, diced


  1. Using a fold, combine the salmon, scallion, lemon zest, yogurt, mustard, and horseradish in a bowl. Add wheat germ and celery and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well.
  2. Divide the salmon mixture into 2 round patties, each a half-inch thick and refrigerate until use. Spray a medium nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium heat. If grilling, brush patties with oil and heat the grill. Add the patties to the skillet or grill. Cook 3 minutes until lightly browned, and then flip and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through.

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