When you live in a tiny city apartment like mine where your outdoor real estate is limited to a fire escape and the area by the communal trash bins, firing up the grill isn’t really an option. Not that you learn to live without the pleasures of home-cooked barbecue. In fact, you find yourself getting real chummy with friends and colleagues who have the luxury of a picket fence and a backyard cooking setup, desperately hoping that they’ll invite you to their next patio get together.
But when the craving strikes hard, a lack of charcoal doesn’t have to mean missing out on summer’s greatest food hits. With a grill pan, a slow cooker, or a trusty ol’ broiler, you can learn to improvise. For all my fellow indoor grill-masters, here are fifteen ways to enjoy your burgers, barbecue, and more.
1. Black Jack Burger
When grilling indoors, you’re not going to get that coveted smoky flavor without setting off the fire alarm. So compensate by adding some amped up accompaniments. This juicy burger gets its kicks from a olive and anchovy tapenade that packs a wallop. Get our Black Jack Burger recipe.
2. Mediterranean Lamb Burger
Gamy, cumin-laced lamb and spicy harissa offer plenty to savor here, proving that sometimes the secret is really in the seasonings. Get our Mediterranean Lamb Burger recipe.
3. Black-Eyed Pea Vegan Burgers
A veggie burger with personality? Yes, indeed. Black-eyed peas and mushrooms make for high marks in the flavor and texture departments with these meatless patties. Get our Black-Eyed Pea Vegan Burgers recipe.
4. Easy Thai Grilled Chicken Breasts
Bathed in a salty-sweet marinade, these flavorful Thai-style chicken breasts develop a nice char right in the pan—no flames necessary. Get our Easy Thai Grilled Chicken Breasts recipe.
5. Tuscan Grilled Pork Chops
It might just be me, but somehow garden fresh greens and a perfect sear say “al fresco” better than the taste of lighter fluid. Supported by a lavish pile of herbs and spinach, these pork chops truly taste of summer. Get our Tuscan Grilled Pork Chops recipe.
6. Grilled Blackened Catfish with Creole Mustard Butter
One of the advantages of keeping your grilling indoors is the significantly reduced chance of sacrificing your food to the embers, which is all too often the case with fish. By making this blackened fish in the pan, you get to savor all of its spice-coated glory. Get our Grilled Blackened Catfish with Creole Mustard Butter recipe.
7. Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Not to put down the pitmasters who spend hours or, in some cases, days perfecting their masterpieces, but I’m just fine here letting my pork shoulder do its thing on my countertop, getting all tender in my slow cooker. Get our Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe.
8. Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Brisket
I know plenty of bubbes who cook their brisket indoors, so no need to get worked up about doing the same. With a slow cooker, the meat gets to soak in those barbecue sauce flavors the whole way through. Get our Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Brisket recipe.
9. Vinegar and Spice Oven-Baked Ribs
Ribs cooked low and slow in the oven have an unbeatable juiciness and tenderness. Our tart and spicy marinade ensures that they have a delectable sauciness, too. Get our Vinegar and Spice Oven-Baked Ribs recipe.
10. Slow Cooker Bourbon Ribs
Sure, the smell of hardwood smoke is alluring. But frankly, I’d opt for this recipe’s aromas of bacon, bourbon, and coffee wafting from my kitchen any day. Get our Slow Cooker Bourbon Ribs recipe.
11. Pineapple-Glazed Shrimp Skewers
When cooked over high heat in a grill pan, skewers develop all the char and sear that you’d get from the grates. Here, shrimp gets a boost from a salty sweet glaze, while the sugars in pineapple caramelize and crisp. Get our Pineapple-Glazed Shrimp Skewers recipe.
12. Honey-Mustard Chicken Skewers
Even if you do have a grill, these honey mustard chicken skewers are the sort of simple and crowd-pleasing fare that you’ll want to keep in your back pocket for indoors, outdoors, and anytime. Get our Honey-Mustard Chicken Skewers recipe.
13. Corn with Spicy Tomato Salt
OK, I’ll admit that corn on the cob from the steamer isn’t quite as tasty as that turned over a grill. But when you dress it up in an addictive seasoning like the sun-dried tomato salt featured here, how those kernels got cooked hardly matters at all. Get our Corn with Spicy Tomato Salt recipe.
14. Grilled Portobello and Radicchio Salad
Cooked until brown and charred and drizzled in a thick syrup of reduced balsamic, these veggies are a bold alternative to your run-of-the-mill summer salads. Get our Grilled Portobello and Radicchio Salad recipe.
15. Grilled Asparagus Bruschetta
Call it finger food with an edge: these asparagus-loaded bites wear their (grill pan) grate marks with pride. Get our Grilled Asparagus Bruschetta recipe.
Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.