Raise your hand if your least favorite part of cooking is the cleanup. (Slowly raises hand, not ashamed.) Whether you’ve got a dishwasher or not, nobody likes staring down a sink full of dirty pots and pans. That’s why foil packet recipes — which require no kitchenwares — are the ideal way to dominate your next dinner.
And since foil packets act as de facto steam cookers, each meal is pretty darn healthy, too. Simply pop your packet on the grill (our summer cooking method of choice, naturally) or in the oven, and enjoy your flavor-packed first bite. Best of all: Cleanup can be as simple as tossing the used aluminum in the recycling bin.
9 Foil Packet Recipes for Summer Cookouts
1. Baked Fish with Bok Choy and Brown Rice
Talk about a guilt-free meal: Halibut is a killer source of low-fat protein — and here, the flaky fish bakes on a bed of potassium-packed bok choy. Even with a dollop of herbed butter on top, this meal adds up to only 402 calories. We’ll take it. Photo and recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by Daily Burn
2. Campfire Chicken Packets with Zucchini, Corn and Cherry Tomatoes
Who says camping can’t be a culinary experience? Forgo franks and beans for this delicious mix of chicken, sausage and garlic-seasoned veggies when you’re absorbing the great outdoors. Pop the packets on the coals of a campfire, then sit back and relax. (And no worries: You can cook this recipe in the oven, too.) Photo and recipe: Serena / Domesticate Me
3. Garlic Parmesan Broccoli and Potatoes in Foil
Some meals just aren’t complete without a side dish — and this one will satisfy your cravings for both carbs and greens. Pro tip: Look for the smallest red potatoes you can find so they’ll cook at the same rate as your broccoli. Whatever you do, don’t forget the tangy sprinkle of Parmesan on top before serving. Photo and recipe: Chungah / Damn Delicious
4. Oven Ribs
Promise to cook these babies at your next summer BBQ, and we guarantee all your friends will RSVP yes — even if you’re making them indoors. After all, you can’t go wrong with this dry rub featuring dark brown sugar, paprika, onion powder and chipotle. Even better, they’ll cook for four hours — leaving you free to whip up the cocktails and a few hors d’oeuvres. Photo and recipe: Deb / Smitten Kitchen
5. Grilled Brussels Sprouts
If you drool over crispy oven-baked Brussels sprouts (as you really should, they’re chock-full of health benefits), we have a feeling you’ll like this method just as much. Eliminate the pan and grill ‘em on a simple sheet of foil, instead. Coat with with olive oil and balsamic vinegar first to up the savory taste — and the crunch factor. Photo and recipe: Lee / Fit Foodie Finds
6. Summer Grilled Coconut-Lime White Fish Packets
Bring a taste of island living to your own backyard with these coconut, lime and cilantro-infused fish packets. While the recipe calls for fresh ears of corn, frozen will taste just as good if you’re strapped for time (or resources!). Photo and recipe: Jen / The Scrumptious Pumpkin
7. Grilled Pesto Potatoes
Summer herb gardens are in full bloom, which means its time to smother your freshly made basil-packed pesto over, well, everything. Within 15 minutes of firing up the grill, you’ll be enjoying a serving of potatoes that might just blow away those garlic fries you drooled over at that baseball game. Photo and recipe: Maria and Josh / Two Peas & Their Pod
8. Tilapia Peach Packets
Nothing screams “summer” more than ripe, juicy peaches. The secret to this sweet dish: Marinating your fish for a whopping 12 to 14 hours. Sounds long, but it will be worth it. Not feeling tilapia? You can make this meal with thinly sliced chicken breasts, too. Photo and recipe: Jessica / How Sweet Eats
9. Foil Packet Soy Lime Salmon with Green Beans
Why order Chinese food when you can pull together these simple fish packets in less than 30 minutes? With each delicious, Asian-inspired bite, you’ll get a dose of heart-healthy omega-3s and plenty of fibrous, filling green beans. Just try your best to wait until the steam disperses before tearing open your packet. Photo and recipe: Shawnda / The Brewer and the Baker
Originally published July 2015. Updated July 2016.