40 Best Grilling Recipes – Easy Summer Cookout Menu Ideas12 min read
It’s official now: we’ve hit the season where all we want to do is cook and eat (and swim and cannonball) outside. And—nothing against burgers and steaks—but with so much summer still stretched out ahead, we could use a few more genius ways to work our grills.
On the grill, we can cook entire dinners, and anything from whole beasts (within reason) to quick skewered bits. Our grill will make stars of the parts of vegetables you’d normally throw out. And don’t forget, the charcoal sort will give us not just smoke and a hot grate, but coals to cook in down below. Here are 33 Genius grilling recipes to help you get friendly with fire.
1. Marcy Ragan’s Grilled Panzanella Caprese
What do you get when you mash up 1. garlicky grilled bruschetta, 2. creamy, herby, tomatoey caprese, and 3. crisp and crunchy panzanella? This absolute dynamo of a salad—grilled panzanella caprese. Marcy Ragan of Relish Your Chef one-ups these classics by combining them in a harmonious, if not a little untraditional, way. It’s one of the best ways we know to utilize those juicy, sweet, impossibly ripe summer tomatoes.
2. J. Kenji López-Alt’s Grilled Shrimp Scampi-ish With Garlic & Lemon
Leave it to Kenji to find an easy, almost no-effort way to make any shrimp dish better, like this grilled scampi: air-dry them really well in the fridge; dry-brine them in a mixture of salt, sugar, and a little bit of baking soda; then nestle them together closely on skewers to keep them very juicy as they cook. Then, stick them on the grill for just a few minutes, toss them in a buttery, garlicky, herby sauce, and feel like a genius.
3. Speedy Romeo’s Grilled Pizza With Marinated Tomatoes & Ricotta
More sweet summer tomatoes, this time marinated in an herby dressing and tossed on smoky, chewy grilled flatbread. To mellow out some of the sharpness and bitterness, there’s also a generous dollop of ricotta between the flatbread and marinated tomatoes, and a shower of flavor-packed herb-infused oil.
4. Kevin Gillespie’s Barbecue Chicken With Alabama White Barbecue Sauce
This Genius barbecue chicken solves all the problems we’ve ever had with barbecue chicken: it cooks through and stays juicy on the inside while charring and caramelizing perfectly on the outside. It’s continually basted in a creamy, punchy Alabama-style white barbecue sauce, adding tons of flavor as the chicken gets going on the grill. And if you make up some more of that barbecue sauce for serving, after the chicken’s grilled, you win.
5. April Bloomfield’s Grilled Vegetable Vinaigrette
A mixture of fennel, radicchio, and red onion—all so-flavorful in their own right—get even more remarkable once they’re tossed on the grill. After getting a good char, the veg is then then chopped up into bite-size bits and combined with fruity olive oil, sherry vinegar, and fresh herbs. Last step: the dressing gets spooned on everything, from a salad to a steak with crumbled blue cheese on top. No two bites will be the same, and that’s a good thing, in our book.
6. Ian Knauer’s Sticky Balsamic Ribs
These ribs defy all rib-cooking traditions—no low and slow, all “fast and reckless”—which lets you have better ribs, and quicker. First, they’re marinated, then roasted and essentially steamed in a ripping hot oven. They’re glazed a sharp, sour, sweet, sticky glaze before heading to the grill, where they park for a mere six minutes until caramelized and delicious. Glaze a bit more for the greatest effect.
7. Chris Schlesinger & John Willoughby’s Grilled Sausage & Cornbread Salad
In this make-ahead, low-maintenance, good-after-it’s-been-out-all-day-at-the-party salad, cornbread and grilled sausage links get tossed with ripe summer tomatoes, hefty cubes of avocados, and a chipotle–lime dressing. You’ll find yourself picking at the bowl all day, wondering how it somehow became even more delicious since you last snuck a bite. We understand.
8. Suzanne Goin’s Grilled Pork Burgers
Bold claim, but we stand by it: This is probably going to be one of the best burgers you’ve ever had. And it’s worth the relatively long ingredient list (Manchego cheese, chiles de arbol, chorizo, bacon, shallots, cumin, parsley to name just a few items) and the extra effort (homemade aioli and romesco, anyone?) for that fact alone. Trust us.
9. Ignacio Mattos’ Grilled Favas
Tender young favas were practically made for the grill—they char and caramelize and get outrageously sweet and smoky. And as if they aren’t good enough as-is, Ignacio Mattos has you toss the grilled favas in an herby, lemony, anchovy-y vinaigrette, with heaps of crispy bread crumbs on top.
10. Mark Bittman’s Minimalist Buffalo Wings
Mark Bittman, who’s taught the world how to cook just about everything, teaches us how to do more by doing less: simply salt and grill chicken wings until crispy, coat them in a classic butter–vinegar glaze, then grill them some more once they’ve been glazed. As ever, blue cheese and celery are a good idea.
11. lisina’s Grilled Corn With Basil Butter
A summer barbecue isn’t really complete unless there’s grilled corn at the party. This Genius rendition, by community member lisina, cleverly plays up corn’s sweetness by slathering it with a basil compound butter and a lot of flaky salt after it’s charred to perfection.
12. Steven Raichlen’s Salt-Crusted Beef Tenderloin Grilled in Cloth (Lomo al Trapo)
This traditionally Colombian method of cooking beef tenderloin, “normally a pretty boring piece of meat,” according to cookbook author Steven Raichlen, involves two impactful methods: salt-crusting the meat before wrapping it in cheesecloth, then grilling the heck out of it in direct heat. What results is a tender, juicy, perfectly seasoned piece of rare meat.
13. Julia Turshen’s Grilled Bread With Goat Cheese & Green Olives
While grilling bread requires marginally more effort than simply toasting it (although we’re talking about 30 seconds, here, once the grill is hot), the effect is significant: a smoky, earthy char envelopes each slice, readying it for all manner of zingy toppings. Here, goat cheese, briny Castelvetrano olives, walnuts, and bright parsley are smeared and scattered on thick-cut country bread, an easy appetizer that looks way elegant. This is a great recipe for when you’re just starting to fire up the grill at your gathering and want to give your guests something to munch on.
14. Amanda Hesser’s Sugar Steak With Bourbon
Sugar steak is just what it sounds like: a steak that’s hung out for a while in a sugar-based dry rub before being grilled. It gets an upgrade in this recipe with some warming, vanilla-y bourbon and red pepper flakes, and requires just three minutes of grilling on each side to get to a juicy medium rare. Make sure the grill is screaming hot.
15. Anna Klinger’s Grilled Swiss Chard Stems With Anchovy Vinaigrette
Swiss chard stems are as mineraly and slightly sweet as their leaves (a good thing!), but are a bit stodgier and more fibrous and tougher to eat (ah, darn). But Chef Anna Klinger, faced with mountains of leftover stems, has a solution—blanch them in salty water, grill them to glory, and douse them in a savory anchovy vinaigrette.
16. Paula Disbrowe’s Cauliflower Steaks With Green Harissa
Grill master, cookbook author, and bonafide Texan, Paula Disbrowe, took a cue from Venice Beach hotspot, Gjusta, with this grilled green harissa—then pours it all over thickly cut, beautifully charred cauliflower steaks. As Paula says, the harissa in particuar is “bound to be your new favorite condiment: Leftovers are delicious on sandwiches, with soft-cooked or crispy eggs, and as a marinade for chicken or shrimp.”
17. Merrill Stubbs’ Fish Tacos on the Grill
Our co-founder, Merill Stubbs, has learned a number of recipes from her very Genius friend, Guillermo, but these simple fish tacos are the ones she comes back to time and again. Firm white fish fillets are briefly grilled to add a whiff of smoke, then nestled into grilled flour tortillas and topped with anything you please: citrusy cabbage slaw, avocados, pickled onions, tomatillo salsa, you name it.
18. Jamie Oliver’s Smoked Beets
Sweet beets take a walk on the dark side in this smoky, earthy preparation by Jamie Oliver. The best part is, you don’t even need a smoker—just a charcoal grill and a large-ish piece of foil. After getting charred and delicious with rosemary and beet greens, the beets land in a light and bright herb salad with a couple dollops of creamy cottage cheese.
19. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Burrata With Grilled Grapes & Basil
More creamy cheese, this time rich and buttery burrata. It’s the perfect companion to jammy grilled grapes (yes!), lots of sweet fresh basil, and toasted fennel seeds. All it needs is a loaf of crusty bread (consider grilling that, too) with a swipe of garlic while the bread’s still hot.
20. Nicholas Day’s Grilled Peach & Apricot Salad
The ripest summer peaches and apricots are halved, pitted, and planted face-down on the grill to become their sweetest, caramelliest selves. They’re then combined with crunchy dinosaur kale, funky goat cheese, and—in a truly genius move—salty, meaty proscuitto.
21. Beth Kirby | local milk’s Grilled Okra With Sriracha Lime Salt
This super-flavorful take on a Southern favorite (fried okra!) employs a smartypants trick to bring it to the next level: a smoky, citrusy Sriracha salt topping. As recipe author Beth Kirby says, these skewers are “sure to convert even the most skeptical okra doubter.” And we agree. They’re crispy, charred perfection.
22. Dale Talde’s Grilled Scallops With XO-Pineapple Fried Rice
With a bit of cooked brown rice, this dish comes together in about 15 minutes, thanks to really high heat (thanks, grill!) and big-flavored condiments (XO sauce and fish sauce, we love you). Pro tip: With a sturdy cast-iron skillet, you can even stir fry the rice and long beans on top of the grill.
23. Colby Garrelts’ Grilled Pork Loin With Green Bean Salad
James Beard Award-winning chef, Golby Garrelts, extols the virtues of the grill: “You get flavors from grilling that you don’t get from roasting. Smokiness, first and foremost. Direct cooking gives a distinct char, and that char adds a lot of taste. Grilling is just really convenient—it’s outside, there’s less mess, and it’s simple.” All these reasons and more are why he puts lean, flexible pork loin on the grill to imbue it with all kinds of deep flavor. A crunchy green bean salad is an ideal foil, adding some freshness to the plate.
24. Josh Cohen’s Grilled Chicken Thighs With Lemongrass Glaze
A gingery, lemongrassy marinade does double duty as a sweet and sticky glaze on grilled bone-in chicken thighs. Even on a roaring-hot grill, the meat remains juicy and chock-full of flavor, in part because of this very marinade. The resulting chicken goes great with white rice, deboned and stuffed in a sandwich, or atop sturdy greens and bold herbs in a salad. You can’t go wrong, any way you slice it.
25. Gena Hamshaw’s Black Bean & Corn Burgers
The most popular burger on Food52 is this black bean and corn veggie burger! Yep, you heard that right. That’s because this black bean and corn number is so packed with flavor, texture, and as it cooks, stays tender on the inside without getting dry or falling apart. A real winner, in our book (especially with a smear of creamy avocado on both sides of the bun).
26. Beth Kirby | local milk’s Grilled Figs With Homemade Lavender Crème Fraîche
Grilled dessert! Yes, you can and should. Sticky-sweet figs become even richer and jammier with a little wood smoke, making them the ultimate partner for something cool and creamy. To fill that role, recipe author Beth Kirby also teaches us how to make a slightly sweet lavender crème fraîche, which takes two days to culture. But if you’re in need of your charred, figgy dessert sooner than that (we totally understand), consider serving them with honey or lavender ice cream.
27. Mark Bittman’s Grilled Banana With Chocolate & Crushed Peanut Brittle
Charred bananas make for pretty genius desserts in general (hello, bananas foster). But the ultimate banana dessert might be this one, where the fruit goes on the grill in its peel, and the peel becomes a totally mess-free cooking vessel. Mark Bittman suggests topping the grilled banana with crushed peanut brittle and melted dark chocolate, but really, sky’s the limit: flaked coconut, granola, toffee, cocoa nibs, tahini, the list goes on…
28. Bryant Terry’s Asparagus With Lemon Pepper Marinade
Proteins usually get all the attention when it comes to marinating before grilling, but Bryant Terry’s vegan asparagus recipe puts the bright, acidic magic up front. Blending in silken tofu adds a creaminess that takes the mix from marinade to sauce with little effort.
29. EmilyC’s Grilled Bread Salad With Broccoli Rabe & Summer Squash
This smoky panzanella by columnist EmilyC combines one of the most prolific produce bounties of the summer with broccoli rabe for a substantial, delicious vegetarian side or light lunch that leaves all the work to the grill. If you’ve never had marinated grilled broccoli rabe before, you’re in for a real treat.
30. Erin McDowell’s Grilled Flatbread
Flatbread has to be cooked at a high heat to cook through without burning, and that’s where the genius of this grilled recipe comes in. Rather than rely on a pizza stone in a hot oven that’s bound to crank up your kitchen’s temperature, heat your grill til it’s smoking-hot and watch your dough become smoky, crisp, chewy flatbread in less than 10 minutes. Serve as a side, or load up with your favorite spreads or toppings.
31. Merrill Stubbs’ Grilled Tomatillo & Pineapple Salsa
A smoky note adds depth and complexity to simple salsas, whether they’re fruit or vegetable based (or in this case, both). Grill tangy tomatillos until charred and softened, then blend with chipotle peppers and a genius secret ingredient—sweetened dried pineapple—to balance the heat and acid for a perfect accompaniment to chips, tacos al pastor, or grilled meats.
32. Ali Slagle’s Grilled Marinated Tomatoes
We wait all year and accept no substitutions for the fresh sweetness of ripe summer tomatoes. Balance those naturally developed sugars with the genius-level piquence of lime, fish sauce, chili, and shallot for an appetizer or side dish for summery protein that needs nothing more than the quick hit of high heat and smoke from a grill.
33. Gena Hamshaw’s Simple Grilled Seitan
Give seitan a genius marinating, skewering, and grilling treatment, and reap the rewards of crisp, tender, smoky vegan kebabs perfect for serving alongside couscous or vegetable-laden grain salads. The combination of ginger, soy, and lime adds balanced acidity and zip that take this beloved plant protein to barbecue heaven.
34. Grilled Peaches
The grill needn’t just be reserved for ears of corn, chicken thighs, burgers, and garlic bread. Finish your summer cookout with a dessert that’s equal parts sweet and smoky—grilled peaches! Pro tip: The riper your peaches are, the less time they’ll need to cook, so keep a close eye on them.
35. Just-So-Good Grilled Portobellos
Are you really, truly able to make grilled portobellos—an already delicious vegetarian meal—even better? Recipe developer Emma Laperruque took it upon herself to find out, and of course she was right. The secret? Brush both sides of the shrooms with a combination of olive oil, nutritional yeast, caper brine, and salt.
36. Simple Summer Pork Chops with Balsamic-Pepper Plum Reduction and Fresh Thyme
This is a time-to-pack-up-your-summer-house recipe. This is a take-your-kids-to-Staples-for-school-supplies recipe. This is a don’t-cry-because-it’s-over-smile-because-it-happened recipe. All of which is to say that this pork chop recipe is for the end of summer when plums are peaking.
37. Back-Pocket Marinade for Grilled Chicken
Technically, this isn’t a grilling recipe, but it’s an essential recipe for grilled chicken. It’s a spicy mayo that doubles as a dipping sauce, and yes, we give you permission to double dip.
38. Grilled Summer Salad With Tonnato Verde
Tonnato sauce is nothing without good-quality canned tuna, briny capers, anchovies, and (surprise!) tofu. A few ounces of soft tofu makes the sauce extra creamy—and who doesn’t love that?
39. Grilled Strawberries Romanoff
An ice cream sundae party is a must for summer gatherings–sure, you should serve hot fudge, sprinkles, and a cherry on top. But you should also definitely serve a bowl of grilled strawberries.
40. Grilled Broccolini Salad With Basil-Walnut Vinaigrette
This warm and crunchy salad is exactly what we want to eat alongside burgers and hot dogs. No grill? No problem! Go ahead and roast the broccolini in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until charred at the edges.
Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it Kristen’s way (and tell her what’s so smart about it) at [email protected].