There are very few foods that don’t benefit from time spent on the grill, fruit included. The high heat caramelizes its sugars and lends a slight char that transforms it into something truly special. And it’s a bit more versatile than grilled lettuce. Whether you’re looking for a sweet-savory main course complement or a summer-perfect dessert, grilled fruit fits the bill. Check out some tips on grilling different kinds, and ideas on how to enjoy the, er, fruits of your labor.
First, you’ll need a grill, whether charcoal or gas. If an actual grill is not an option, though, use your broiler instead for comparable results. If you do have a grill, some pieces of fruit are large enough to sit directly on the grate, while others will need to be skewered or cooked on a perforated grill pan (or a non-perforated model if you don’t want to lose any juices). You may prefer an open grill basket with higher sides, or even a walled pizza grill pan, which has the added benefit of a long handle so you don’t need to fumble with heatproof mitts. There’s also the low-tech option of cooking fruit on a piece of aluminum foil, or wrapped up in a foil packet. If you’re planning on brushing your fruit with any sort of glaze, it’s worth investing in a silicone brush too, but there’s really not much you need in the way of special tools.
Indirect heat is generally the way to go, although you can let flames briefly touch firmer fruits for a few moments. Even those hardier kinds of fruit cook quickly on the grill, so always keep a close eye on it. You’re usually looking at no more than 5 minutes, but since it depends on the heat of your grill as well as the particular fruit you have, use your judgment and pull it off whenever it looks good. You may want to brush your fruit with a tiny bit of oil, especially if you’re placing it directly on the grate, to keep it from sticking. Choose a neutral oil like grapeseed or canola, or add another layer of flavor with olive oil, nut oil, even toasted sesame oil. The natural sugars in the fruit, especially peak-season, super-ripe specimens, will caramelize on the grill and basically make their own syrup, so you don’t really need any additional seasonings, but feel free to brush a sweet or savory glaze on top, depending on how you’ll be serving your grilled fruit.
Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots—they’re all ideal candidates for the grill, but they do best when they’re slightly underripe; since they’re firmer that way, they’re less likely to totally collapse. If you simply cut them in half and remove the stones, you can lay them directly on the grate, but if you want slices or chunks, just use the aforementioned skewers or grill pans. Leave the skins on to help these softer fruits hold together, then remove it after cooking if you want. And don’t neglect cherries; they’re great on the grill too. Just remove the pits first—you can use a paperclip if you don’t have a cherry pitter! Any of these fruits work well with meat, or as a dessert with ice cream and simple pound cake.
Grilled peaches don’t have to be for dessert; try skewering them with sage leaves (which add their own fragrant herbal smoke when charred) and pair with chicken sausages, grilled pork, or whatever else sounds good. Get our Grilled Chicken Sausages with Peach-Sage Skewers recipe.
Seriously, don’t sleep on grilled cherries; you can use them in grilled cherry milkshakes, or skewer them with chunks of pork or steak and onion, maybe with a smoky-sweet barbecue sauce featuring coffee, chipotle, and/or dark chocolate…Or use them as a juicy, delicious, totally unexpected summer salad ingredient, as here. Get the recipe.
Sticky-sweet grilled nectarines (or any other large stone fruit) make perfect edible bowls for any sweet ingredients that appeal to you. Here, they’re filled with crunchy chopped pecans and a bit of brandy for a self-contained crumble, with lemon mascarpone dolloped on top. Get our Grilled Nectarine Crumble recipe.
Grilling lemon or lime wedges not only gives them a smoky, caramelized dimension, it makes them extra juicy and easy to squeeze over anything that would benefit from a little aromatic acidity. Serve them alongside virtually any grilled protein or vegetable for extra zest, or try tossing them with a little sugar before grilling, then muddle them into cocktails or use them to enhance fruit desserts.
Grilled oranges and grilled lemons lend a lot of extra summer flair to sangria, but don’t stop there; grill some apples and grapes to go into the boozy mix too. Get our Grilled Sangria recipe.
Sugared lime wedges get smoky-sweet on the grill, but still retain their inherent sourness, making them amazing in cocktails like this Brazilian Caipirinha—but try them in mojitos and mint juleps too. Get our Grilled Caipirinha recipe.
These fragile fruits can still be grilled, as long as you use indirect heat. Especially delicate berries like raspberries and blackberries are best cooked in foil packets, or in cast iron skillets as part of an outdoorsy take on a usually-baked dessert.
Larger strawberries have enough integrity to skewer and grill—here, they’re paired with a rich cream cheese glaze, but you could serve them with chocolate sauce or vanilla whipped cream instead, even add chunks of angel food cake to the skewers for a deconstructed strawberry shortcake. Alternatively, you can skip all the sweet stuff and pair them with something savory instead. Get the recipe.
Sliced or skewered, cantaloupes, honeydews, and watermelon are all great on the grill. Try brushing them with a little honey and lime juice, then sprinkle with mint just before serving for a simple, refreshingly light dessert. Or take them in a savory direction by pairing them with meat or salty ingredients.
Sweet melon wrapped in salty prosciutto is a classic appetizer, but give them both a turn on the grill and they taste entirely new. Get the recipe.
There are lots of reasons why you ought to be grilling watermelon, and this is a really good one. Sweet, tart, salty, juicy, and bright, this just might become your new summer fave. Get our Grilled Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad recipe.
Other Juicy Fruit
Pineapples, mangoes, and lots of other tropical fruits work wonderfully when grilled. Char them, then chop them up for smoky salsa, use them in fruity summer cocktails, pair them with grilled meat or fish, or brush them with cinnamon and sugar or rum and lime juice before grilling and serve them for dessert.
Grilled pineapple is pretty common, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Sweet, juicy, and smoky, it’s perfect paired with seafood, teriyaki-glazed meats, or shredded pork on sandwiches. Get the recipe.
While apples and bananas may not scream summer, they’re good grilled too. So are figs, rhubarb, and other less juicy fruits. Try grilling thick slices of apples with a little maple syrup brushed on and using them on grilled cheese sandwiches or burgers made from pork or chicken.
One of the best desserts I’ve ever had was grilled: peeled, ripe bananas halved lengthwise, brushed with a bit of butter and brown sugar (rum and/or cinnamon would’ve been good too), grilled until gooey with blackened bits, and served with a scoop of dark chocolate ice cream (okay, two scoops). Use the same template for all sorts of fruit and ice cream combos. Here, tender figs are brushed with honey and orange blossom water, then grilled and paired with chopped pistachios and vanilla ice cream. Get our Grilled Fig and Orange Blossom Sundaes recipe.
As you can see, grilling fruit of all kinds is easy and incredibly delicious, so start experimenting this summer—and get lots more grilling recipes, trips and tricks, and entertaining ideas here.