Veggies, fruits, fish, meat… we’re throwing everything on the grill these days. Discover how simple it is to transform your favorite appetizers, entrées, and desserts into BBQ-worthy wonders just in time for summer.
To help you enjoy BBQ season in style, we’ve put together a list of the basic dos/don’ts, tips, hacks, and recipes both from our archive and from other home cooks we love to show you just how easy it is to grill (almost) everything — from tried-and-true burgers and chicken to the unexpected lettuce and sweet potatoes. Oh — and brownies, too.
Give your oven and stovetop a rest. It’s time to get outside, fire up the heat, and go all-grill EVERYTHING.
1. How to Grill Romaine Lettuce
The firm, thick ribs of romaine lettuce are hearty enough to stand up to some heat, so don’t be afraid to cut the individual heads in half, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and throw over medium heat until slightly charred but not wilted, about 5 minutes.
TIP: Place lettuce cut side-down for even grill marks.
HOW TO SERVE: Top with creamy avocado, corn, diced tomatoes, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. How to Grill Corn
METHOD 1: Naked on the grill
First things first, shuck the corn by removing the husks and stringy silk. Don’t go crazy trying to remove every last piece, though, because they’ll burn away on the grill anyway. Place directly over medium-high heat. Watch carefully and be sure to rotate occasionally. Cook until slightly charred with dark spots throughout, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with flavored butter and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.
METHOD #2: In foil
Although this cooking method won’t give you the same smoky char, it will keep the corn hot for a longer period of time — which is a lifesaver when feeding a crowd.
Once the corn is shucked and ready to go, run a dab of butter over the kernels and season with salt and pepper before wrapping it in foil. About 15 minutes over medium heat is enough time for it to fully cook.
METHOD #3: In the husk
Grilling corn in the husk is a genius way to save prep time AND get a nifty built-in handle. Simply place corn in the husk directly onto your hot grill. Cook, turning occasionally, until the exterior is completely black and kernels are fully cooked, about 15 minutes.
RECIPE: Grilled Corn With Sriracha Aioli from Minimalist Baker
READ MORE: 5 Ways to Dress Up Corn on the Cob
3. How to Grill Tomatoes With Mozzarella
Your crowd-favorite caprese salad gets a major upgrade with the help of a little heat. Fortunately, slices of creamy mozarella fit snugly between layers of juicy tomato, so no flipping, tinkering, or toying is necessary. Just let the grill work its magic and slowly melt the cheese.
TIP: Finely chop basil and parsley, add in some minced garlic, and whisk it all together with a splash of olive oil. Spoon the mixture over the top of the tomato/mozarella for added flavor and a pop of green color.
READ MORE: 3 Spins on the Classic Caprese Salad Recipe
4. How to Grill Eggplant
Grilled eggplant is crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. With a slightly sweet flavor, it makes for the perfect side dish and can be dressed up with whatever herbs or spices you love — pesto, tangy feta cheese, tahini, yogurt… the list goes on.
After cutting off and discarding the stem ends of the eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick slices. Brush with olive oil, season with flaky sea salt, and grill until golden brown grill marks start to form, 3-4 minutes per side.
TIP: The flesh discolors rapidly, so be sure to cut just before using.
DID YOU KNOW? Although eggplant is commonly thought of as a vegetable, it’s actually a fruit (specifically, a berry).
RECIPE: Grilled Eggplant and Spinach Salad from Salt & Lavender
5. How to Grill Salmon
Healthy fats for the win! Here’s how to grill this brain-boosting fish to perfection:
5 STEPS TO GRILLED SALMON SUCCESS:
1. Make sure your grill is properly and evenly heated to medium high, then brushed with oil. This will prevent your fillets from sticking while ensuring they cook thoroughly (and don’t catch on fire).
2. Prepare the salmon by brushing it with oil and seasoning with salt and pepper.
3. Grill the salmon skin side-down to maintain that safety layer between the skin’s flesh and the hot grill.
TIP: If your fillets don’t have skin on them, use a piece of foil, punch a few holes in it, drizzle on some olive oil, and place the salmon on top.
4. Cook undisturbed 10-15 minutes for a 1-inch fillet.
5. The fish will continue cooking for a few minutes after you take it off the grill, so let it rest.
DID YOU KNOW? When you overcook salmon, the white albumin (a totally harmless protein) comes out and can make the fish taste dry.
6. How to Grill Bell Peppers
Sweet bell peppers get even sweeter when grilled over medium heat. Just cut in half, remove the seeds, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and use tongs to carefully place each pepper cut side-down on the grill. Cook about 5 minutes, then flip and cook until soft, another 3-4 minutes.
TIP: If you’re not flipping the peppers, the lid to your grill should be closed since opening it releases heat and causes uneven cooking.
RECIPE: Grilled Summer Salad with Corn, Peppers, and Chili-Lime Dressing from Cookie and Kate
7. How to Grill Sweet Potatoes
Just when you thought sweet potatoes couldn’t get any better, they got the grill makeover. The result? Crunchy and charred on the outside, extra sweet and creamy on the inside. We love cutting them on a diagonal into 1/4-inch wedges, but feel free to slice into circular rounds if you’d like. Coat with olive oil, season with salt, and lay the slices down onto the hot grates. Cover and cook until tender and grill marks start to appear, 5-8 minutes per side (depending on how thick your wedges or slices are).
RECIPE: Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro Vinaigrette from Cookin Canuck
8. How to Grill Asparagus
Grilling asparagus couldn’t be simpler. All you need to do is snap off the ends, heat up your grill to medium high, lightly coat the veggies with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill 5-8 minutes.
TIP: Be sure to place the spears across the grates so they don’t fall through.
RECIPE: Lemon Parmesan Grilled Asparagus from Spend With Pennies
9. How to Grill Steak
The star of the show, the pièce de résistance, the crème de la crème of the grilling world… steak. Do it right, and you’ve got yourself a meal to remember.
5 STEPS TO GRILLED STEAK SUCCESS:
1. Give your steak some time to come to room temperature by taking it out of the fridge about an hour before you cook it.
2. Don’t be afraid to season generously with salt. Doing so creates a dry brine to ensure the meat stays juicy while cooking. The rule of thumb? 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt per pound of meat.
3. Set up a two-zone grill so there’s a super duper hot side to sear the meat and a not-so-hot side to finish the cooking.
TIP: If fat from the meat drips down into the hot coals and a flare up occurs, don’t panic! Just use tongs to gently (emphasis on the gently otherwise you’ll shake out more fat) slide it to an area without any flames.
4. Use a meat thermometer to check if your steak is done — and remember, it will continue cooking once removed from heat.
- Rare: 120-125ºF
- Medium-Rare: 130ºF
- Medium: 140ºF
- Medium-Well: 150ºF
- Well: 165ºF
5. Give it time to rest before slicing for the juiciest, most tender result.
(Although the recipe calls for a quick sear, a grill would work perfectly.)
10. How to Grill Burgers
Burgers aren’t too far behind steak on the list of summer grilling classics. Here’s how to get it right every single time:
5 STEPS TO GRILLED BURGER SUCCESS:
1. Don’t mess around with your ground meat. The less you manhandle it in the beginning, the more tender it’ll be.
TIP: Press down slightly in the middle to create a small indentation. This way, the center will stay flat while cooking and successfully support the Jenga stack of toppings you load on.
2. Salt dissolves the proteins in meat and draws out the moisture, so only salt your beef once the patties are formed (and ideally within minutes of them hitting the heat).
3. Remember — the less manipulation, the more tender they’ll be. One flip will suffice.
4. Whatever you do, don’t press down on the patties or you’ll release those precious juices.
5. Let the patties rest just like you do with steak.
RECIPES: (Because since when has one burger recipe ever been enough?)
- Crispy Cheddar Frico Cheeseburger with Caramelized Onion Jam and Roasted Broccoli
- Monterey Jack Burger with Red Onion Marmalade and Crispy Zucchini Fries
- Chimichurri Burger with Avocado, Monterey Jack, and Cabbage Slaw
- Juicy Lucy Burger with Tomato-Onion Jam and Baby Gem Lettuce
11. How to Grill Bacon
Yes, it’s possible to grill bacon. And yes, it’s just as delicious as it sounds. The secret is to strategically place the slices away from direct/high heat to prevent the fat from flaming. Low and slow, people. Low and slow. Cook 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally as the bacon shrinks and crisps up.
TIP: Be sure to place the pieces down across the grates so they don’t fall through.
TIP: For less mess and a decreased risk of igniting a bacon inferno, cook on a sheet of aluminium foil.
RECIPE: Bacon Cobb Lettuce Wraps from Perry’s Plate
12. How to Grill Chicken
Kiss bland, burnt, undercooked, overcooked, or dry chicken goodbye.
5 STEPS TO GRILLED CHICKEN SUCCESS:
1. Pick the cut of meat that works best for you. In a time crunch? Whole birds or bone-in breasts aren’t your best bet. Instead, opt for boneless, skinless breasts and give ’em a good pound to flatten before grilling.
2. Season liberally with salt and pepper to add flavor and ensure the meat remains moist during cooking.
3. You know how steak requires high heat to get a good sear? Well, this is not the case with chicken. The last thing you want is a burnt outside and pink inside, which is why a lower grill temperature is ideal.
4. Cover the grill while the chicken is cooking to create an oven-like experience and prevent precious heat from escaping.
TIP: Do not brush the chicken with barbecue sauce until it’s almost finished cooking. Otherwise, the sugars in the sauce will cause it to burn.
5. Use a meat thermometer to make sure your chicken has reached a safe internal temperature of 165ºF.
TIP: Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat to get the most accurate reading, and make sure it’s not touching the bone.
13. How to Grill Peaches
Stone fruits like peaches and nectarines are in peak season come summer, and with a little heat from the grill they transform into a perfectly sweet end to your meal.
All you have to do is halve and pit the fruit, brush both sides with butter, and place on the grill cut side-down over medium-low heat. Cover and cook until charred and softened, about 5 minutes per side.
TIP: For a softer a slightly less charred result, wrap peach halves in heavy-duty foil before grilling.
HOW TO SERVE: Add a dollop of Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Then, drizzle over honey with berries or sprinkle over cinnamon sugar.
TIP: If you’re looking for ways to incorporate stone fruits into the main event rather than just the dessert, we highly recommend this Peach and Nectarine Orzo Salad with Feta, Cucumber, and Mint.
14. How to Grill Pineapple
If you think pineapple is good plain, prepare to be blown away by the grilled version. Not only does the heat amp up the sweetness of this tropical fruit, but it also creates gorgeous grill marks (#HelloFreshPics, anyone?).
All you need to do is brush the slices with melted butter before grilling 3-4 minutes per side.
HOW TO SERVE: Add a dollop of Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream and drizzle with honey or maple syrup.
TIP: For a sweet and savory spin on dinner, add pineapple chunks to fish and veggie skewers like we did with these Chipotle Shrimp Skewers with Charred Pineapple and Red Peppers.
15. How to Grill Brownies
Your favorite chocolaty dessert is getting the grill treatment this summer. The key is to use an aluminum baking tray or cast-iron skillet, fire up the grill to about 325 – 350ºF, and grill (or basically bake since a covered grill traps in all the heat like an oven) 25-30 minutes.
TIP: Check the brownies every 5(ish) minutes to make sure they’re not burning. No one likes a charred dessert.
RECIPE: Quick and Easy Brownies from Life, Love and Sugar
For a healthier spin on the indulgent dessert, check out Rebecca, RD’s easy, better-for-you brownies.
Congrats on making it this far! You’re officially a grill master, equipped and ready to show off your new party tricks all summer long.