“Nothing beats outdoor cooking and fire-roasted foods,” says chef Brian Malarkey, who has created over a dozen booming restaurant concepts and is the founder of Chef’s Life. “Protein, vegetables, and fruit all have natural sugars that by roasting, bring these extraordinary flavors to life on your plate.”
To further prove the endless possibilities of grilling, we’ve rounded up a variety of easy, healthy, and delicious summer grill recipes. Before diving into the many, many grilled dinner ideas, though, let’s first go over what you’ll need to man the grill and season your foods to perfection.
Outdoor grilling tools
As convenient as it is to have a variety of summer grill recipes on hand for your next get-together, it’s even more helpful to have all the necessary grilling tools. After all, without a grill and the gadgets necessary to skewer, flip, and hold your food, you won’t get very far with your summer cookout.
With that in mind, you’ll want to start with a grill. If you’re operating on a budget, consider a classic charcoal grill, like the Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill ($139). If you have a bit more money to spend and are looking for a grill with added prep space, check out the Cuisinart CGG-7400 Propane Full Size Four-Burner Gas Grill ($345). If you’re able to splurge, the Traeger Grills Ironwood 885 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker with WIFI Smart Home Technology ($1,500) is said to be about as good as it gets.
Once you’ve selected your grill, it’s time to equip yourself with tools. While Malarkey says that every top-notch grill station needs tongs and cast iron, such as the Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle ($35), which can be used on both the stovetop and grill, it also helps to have skewers and grill baskets on hand.
To kick things off, add the Weber 3-Piece Stainless Steel Premium Tool Set ($65) to your cart. While you’re at it, throw a set of the Consevisen Silicone Basting Brushes ($9) in there to ensure you can marinate your fish, meats, and sides with ease. You might also want to snag a set of the Charcoal Companion Nonstick Kabob Grilling Baskets ($22), as they make grilling smaller items like cherry tomatoes, greens, and chopped veggies less of a hassle. If you’re planning to whip up hefty cuts of meat, equipping your kitchen with the Cangshan S Series German Steel Forged 7-Piece BBQ Knife Set ($150) will make preparing them a breeze.
And whatever you do, don’t forget Malarkey’s other top pick: “A cold beverage of choice for the chef,” he says. Above all, grilling is supposed to be fun, so sipping on something tasty—whether it’s the new Hendrick’s Flora Adora Gin or a can of gut-healthy POPPI Sparkling Prebiotic Soda ($27 for a 12-pack)—is a must.
Summer grill seasonings
Next, you’ll want to check your spice cabinet since many summer grilling recipes rely heavily on delicious seasonings. For starters, McCormick kitchen manager Hadar Cohen Aviram says that basic cooking spices will suffice. “The trifecta is definitely flaky salt, black pepper, and garlic powder—with onion powder, paprika, and cumin as close seconds,” she says. To make things easy on yourself, she suggests reaching for the McCormick Grill Mates Coarse Black Pepper and Flake Salt ($6), which incorporates those seasonings, plus celery seed and onion powder for added kick. If you’re grilling steak, she says you can’t go wrong with the McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning ($3)—though, she’s quick to note that it tastes delicious on burgers and veggies, too. Looking for a sweeter profile? “The McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon Seasoning ($7) [offers] a bite packed with flavor and more enhanced caramelized notes,” she says.
While these three seasonings can pump up any grilled dish, Aviram says that you can get even more specific. For those looking to whip up more chef-worthy grilled dinners, she says to choose your seasoning based on your main protein, plus the cut of it.
“For example, pork chops (or any cut ‘on the bone’) are full of flavor and only need a good rub to take them over the finish line (in which case I suggest using McCormick Grill Mates Coarse Black Pepper and Flake Salt seasoning), while lean pork loin needs a good flavor boost, so marinating it with Grill Mates Roasted Garlic and Herbs ($7) mixed with oil and white wine vinegar, and using a marinade to brush them while grilling [works exceptionally well],” she says.
Like pork, he says that good steak cuts can taste delicious with nothing more than a rub (like Montreal Steak Seasoning). Meanwhile, she says that poultry fares best with marinades, as they help keep it moist and flavorful. “A classic choice [is the] McCormick Grill Mates Garlic, Herb & Wine ($15 for 12 packs) or McCormick Grill Mates Mesquite Marinade ($12 for 12 packs) for a deeper smoky note,” she says.
If you’re in the market for even more delicious grill seasonings to elevate your BBQ food, be sure to check out the Traeger Rubs and Seasonings, of which the Fin & Feather Rub ($11) and Veggie Rub ($10) are particularly popular picks.
Last but not least, no matter how you prep your cookout foods, non-stick spray can prove especially beneficial, as it will keep the meats, fish, fruits, and veggies from sticking to the grates or griddle. “But remember to never spray directly on the fire,” Malarkey says. “Rather, spray it directly onto the steak, fish, or whatever else you are grilling.”
Summer grill recipes
Now that you know everything you’ll need to bring basic grilling ideas to life, it’s time to introduce you to the many ways you can embrace outdoor grilling this summer. Ahead, find 23 summer grill recipes that are so good you’ll want to make them all year long.
1. Apple cider brined pork chops
Add a hint of sweetness to your cookout with this apple cider brined pork chop recipe by McCormick.
Get the recipe: Apple Cider Brined Pork Chops
2. Artichoke and tomato panzanella
This artichoke and tomato panzanella recipe by Giada de Laurentiis will add a refreshing twist to your backyard BBQ.
Get the recipe: Artichoke and Tomato Panzanella
3. Fajita chicken and avocado ranch salad wraps
Spice up your summer lunch hour with this fajita chicken and avocado ranch salad wrap recipe by Tieghan Gerard (aka Half Baked Harvest).
Get the recipe: Fajita Chicken and Avocado Ranch Salad Wraps
4. All American burger
You can never go wrong with a classic burger on the grill. For an extra-flavorful burger, try using McCormick’s all-American burger recipe.
Get the recipe: All American Burger
5. Grilled caprese pesto chicken skewers
We love a protein and veggie kabob—and this grilled caprese pesto chicken skewer recipe just so happens to have all the flavors of one of the most refreshing Italian appetizers.
Get the recipe: Grilled Caprese Pesto Chicken Skewers
6. Grilled sausage and peppers with garlic aioli
Looking for something more exciting than a hot dog? This grilled sausage and peppers with garlic aioli recipe by Pinch of Yum will make your mouth water.
Get the recipe: Grilled Sausage and Peppers with Garlic Aioli
7. Grilled honey mustard chicken tenders
Who says grilled chicken tenders have to be boring? This grilled honey mustard chicken tenders recipe by Damn Delicious will have you reaching for seconds.
Get the recipe: Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken Tenders
8. Grilled peaches with cinnamon sugar butter
Protein isn’t the only thing you can grill to perfection. This grilled peaches with cinnamon sugar butter recipe by Bobby Flay will make you a fruit-grilling fiend.
Get the recipe: Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Sugar Butter
9. Grilled Italian bruschetta chicken
Tomatoes, herbs, white wine, and mozzarella make this grilled Italian bruschetta chicken recipe by McCormick an instant crowd pleaser.
Get the recipe: Grilled Italian Bruschetta Chicken
10. Mexican grilled corn
There are many grilled corn recipes but few are as classic as Mexican grilled corn. This recipe by Tyler Florence uses mayo, sour cream, cilantro, parmesan, and red chili powder to kick up the flavor.
Get the recipe: Mexican grilled corn
11. Mexican street corn dip
Love Mexican grilled corn but hoping to eat it as an appetizer? Gerard has a delicious Mexican street corn dip that showcases the spicy veggie alongside chili butter and cotija cheese. While it’s meant to be served with tortilla chips, it’s equally as fab eaten on its own.
Get the recipe: Mexican street corn dip
12. Mesquite chickpea burger with grilled corn topping
Veggie burgers taste best on the grill. Rather than reaching for any old frozen version, consider making your own with this mesquite chickpea burger with grilled corn topping recipe by McCormick.
Get the recipe: Mesquite Chickpea Burger with Grilled Corn Topping
13. Sticky ribs
This sticky ribs recipe by Molly Yeh is a fan favorite for its sweet profile with a touch of zing. Just make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand.
Get the recipe: Sticky Ribs
14. Grilled potato fans
Forget about tossing a potato in the oven this summer. This grilled potato fans recipe by Taste of Home is beloved for its buttery profile seasoned with garlic, chives, and red pepper flakes, topped off with grated parm. (Side note: Did you know that you can clean a grill with a potato?)
Get the recipe: Grilled Potato Fans
15. Grilled garlic artichokes
Looking for a veggie to grill for your cookout? This grilled garlic artichokes recipe is well received. (Another veggie you can grill? Lettuce!)
Get the recipe: Grilled Garlic Artichokes
16. Fajitas in a grill basket
Love the taste of fajitas but don’t have a cast iron griddle for your grill? You can whip up fajitas in a grill basket.
Get the recipe: Fajitas in a Grill Basket
17. Beer can chicken
Moist on the inside and crispy on the outside, it’s no wonder McCormick’s beer can chicken recipe earns such high praise.
Get the recipe: Beer Can Chicken
18. Crispy BBQ salmon tacos
Prefer seafood? These crispy BBQ salmon tacos by Gerard are a top pick.
Get the recipe: Crispy BBQ Salmon Tacos
19. Honey garlic Asian chicken kabobs
Love Asian flavors but want to use your grill? Damn Delicious has a tasty honey garlic Asian chicken kabobs recipe that’s easy to prep.
Get the recipe: Honey Garlic Asian Chicken Kabobs
20. Spicy grilled shrimp
Considering over 1,000 people love this spicy grilled shrimp recipe, it can’t hurt to add it to your BBQ menu.
Get the recipe: Spicy Grilled Shrimp
21. Grilled Hawaiian barbecue chicken in foil
The grilled Hawaiian barbecue chicken in foil is a flavorful foil packet recipe ripe with salty and sweet notes alike.
Get the recipe: Grilled Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken in Foil
22. Balsamic grilled zucchini
Balsamic is a summer staple, as is zucchini—so it’s no wonder this balsamic grilled zucchini recipe is such a hit.
23. Grilled sea bass
Here we have another seafood option that hundreds of folks deem to be downright delicious. Seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, lemon pepper, and sea salt, we can see the appeal.
Get the recipe: Grilled Sea Bass
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