High angle view at group of smiling African American people clinking glasses over table with delicious food outdoors

How to Have a Kidney-Friendly Cookout

By: Kellsey Reed, RDN, LDN, PatientsLikeMe Contributor

With Summer just around the corner, it is officially cookout season! Cookouts and grilling often go hand in hand with burgers, hot dogs, and other high sodium/high protein foods. If you have CKD, this may be tough to navigate! Choosing lower sodium and lower protein options at your next cookout can help to keep your kidneys happy and healthy with CKD.

Burgers and Hot Dogs

Burgers and hot dogs are notorious for being high in protein and sodium. Oftentimes, burgers and hot dogs can also contain phosphate additives. These additives can contribute to high blood phosphorus levels in those with CKD, which can be harmful. It’s important to keep in mind that enjoying a burger or hot dog every once in a while should not significantly harm your kidney health. It more so matters what you do the majority of the time, not what you do sometimes. When looking for burgers and hot dogs, aim for:

  • Lower sodium options (less than 300-400mg of sodium per serving)
  • No phosphate additives in the ingredient list

 If you’d like to try a more kidney-friendly alternative, try a veggie or bean-based burger instead! Some options I like to recommend as a renal dietitian are:


Condiments can make your favorite cookout food even more delicious and satisfying! However, they can often be filled with sodium! A low-sodium diet is important when it comes to managing chronic kidney disease. When you are adding more than one condiment to your food, be mindful that sodium can add up quickly! When it comes to choosing condiments when you have CKD, try to aim for lower sodium options. Some options I like to recommend as a renal dietitian are:


Potato salad, coleslaw, fruit salad, grilled vegetables, potato chips, the side options at a cookout are endless! When it comes to choosing kidney-friendly sides at your next cookout, be sure to keep in mind that choosing lower-sodium sides can help you stick to a low-sodium diet. When buying your side options, try to look at the nutrition label and choose options that are 200 mg of sodium or less per serving. Or, try making your own side dishes at home! Here are some great lower-sodium options:


When enjoying yourself at a cookout, aim for water as your main source of hydration. Water is the best way to keep your kidneys hydrated. If you are looking for an alternative to water that is flavorful and fun, check out my last blog post about water options for CKD.

The Bottom Line

Enjoying a kidney-friendly cookout can be delicious and healthy when you have chronic kidney disease! It can be helpful to choose more plant-based, lower sodium options like veggie or bean-based burgers instead of hamburgers or hot dogs. It can also be helpful to choose lower-sodium condiments and side dishes to adhere to your low-sodium diet. Remember to stay hydrated with water to keep your kidneys happy and healthy!

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