Looking for dessert but boycotting the oven? Grilling dessert is a great way to celebrate the summer, pairing fruit with ice cream or cake for a perfectly sweet treat. Keep the grates hot throughout the meal to prepare dessert when you’re ready for it—and whatever you choose to make, chances are it’ll be even better served piping hot with melty ice cream! Read on for tips on how to pick the best fruit for grilling, how to prepare your grill, and recipes to experiment with.
Pick and Prepare Fruit
Fruits that work best on the grill tend to be heartier varieties with firm surfaces and higher sugar content for good char and caramelization (a.k.a. where the flavor is!). Fruits with a high water content (such as watermelon) don’t grill as easily, taking more time to develop a good char while becoming mushy in the process. Instead, opt for fruit like sliced and cored pineapple, halved stone fruit (peaches, plums, etc.), pitted cherries, or citrus.
Try to pick fruit that is ripe, but still firm. Soft, bruised fruit will grill just fine, but may stick to the grill more easily. Coat the flesh more heavily with nonstick cooking spray.
Related Reading: How to Grill Fruit for Sweet & Savory Summer Recipes
To pair with your fruit, certain types of cake also do well on the grill; try angel food cake and grilled pound cake. They’ll get lightly toasted and a little smoky, and pair wonderfully with fruit, whipped cream, and ice cream (or all of the above).
Prepare the Grill
Fruit naturally has a lot of sugar, so the grates of your grill must be extremely clean and well-oiled to prevent pieces from sticking to the grill. Use a grill brush to gently paint a layer of oil onto the grates. If you don’t have a grill brush, dip a paper towel in oil and use a pair of long tongs to apply to the grill.
M Kitchen World Silicone Basting Brush, 2 for $6.99
Use this heat-resistant brush to oil your grates.
The heat of your grill should be at a relatively medium heat; extreme flame will burn the fruit faster than it can cook through. Adjust the heat to the thickness of your fruit—thinner slices of pineapple will require faster, more direct cooking whereas thicker peaches will need lower heat to soften all the way through.
Grilled Dessert Recipes
Ready to fire things up? Here are seven sweet ways to end your next cookout while the grill is still hot.
The classic combination of peaches-n-cream is complemented by the intense, caramelized flavors of grilled peaches. Creamy ice cream will melt beautifully on the hot peaches, creating a delicious (and gluten-free!) summertime treat. Substitute peaches for other stone fruit as the season progresses; plums, apricots, pluots, and nectarines work just as well (and work on the grill with mascarpone and a brown sugar crumble if you’re not near a freezer). Check out this recipe for Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream.
The marshmallow isn’t the only component in this decadent s’more that benefits from the kiss of a flame! Grilled bananas are sandwiched between melty chocolate, toasty marshmallows, and two crispy graham crackers for this take on a classic campfire favorite. Check out this Grilled Banana S’mores recipe.
Stuffed Puffs Chocolate Filled Marshmallows, $3.98 at Walmart
These chocolate-filled marshmallows cut out the middle man—but we're not against adding even more chocolate to them.
Related Reading: Set Up a Mix-and-Match S’mores Bar at Your Next BBQ
Forget the oven—this Triple Berry Crumble takes in all of the smoky flavors of the grill and cooks alongside the rest of your dinner! A cast iron skillet is perfect for cooking outside, holding lots of heat to cook the crumble all of the way through. Check out this Triple Berry Crumble recipe.
Along the same lines, our coconut-apple crisp gets cooked on the grill, but in a disposable aluminum pan, so it’s great for those who don’t have cast iron (or just don’t want to lug it along to a friend’s BBQ or on a camping trip). With cinnamon, cloves, coconut, and ginger, apples take a summery tropical twist, and the grill makes for intense caramelization (aka more flavor). Get our Grilled Coconut-Apple Crisp recipe.
Cherries have a rich, dark sweetness that only gets better with smoke and heat. Pair these decadently grilled cherries with sweet, delicate cream and sip with a straw—a beautiful way to end summer fruit season! Also consider substituting grapes for cherries in their off-season. (And have eco-friendly reusable straws on hand for sipping.) Check out this Grilled Cherry Milkshake recipe.
Grilling slices of sweet pineapple kickstarts the rich caramelization of the sugars in this upside-down cake. Plus, charred and smoky flavors pair beautifully with super sweet fruits like pineapple. A hint of chili flake in the topping is cooled down with a fragrant, lime-spiced pound cake base. Check out this Grilled Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe.
Grilling pound cake slices toasts the cake in a delightfully crispy way. The flavor combinations are simply magic—cooling whipped cream, tart citrus, and toasty cake are perfect way to end a late summer cookout. For an added grill element: Place a halved orange, flesh side down, on the grill and char until dark marks appear. Allow to cool slightly and squeeze the juice into the whipped cream for more citrus flavor. Check out this Grilled Pound Cake recipe.
For something truly different, try this trick: sandwich bittersweet chocolate between slices of crusty bread, brush it with butter, and grill it, pressing and sprinkling the outside with cinnamon-sugar so it caramelizes near the end. Serve it with ice cream, of course! Get our Grilled Chocolate Sandwich recipe.
Related Video: What to Grill Before Summer Ends
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