Five ingredient recipes have an immediately obvious allure that transcends summer, but in the season of outdoor living, the faster you get food ready, the sooner you can start relaxing on your patio. Since it’s also the season of grilling everything, we rounded up our best easy BBQ recipes with five ingredients or fewer, for effortless, on-point eats all summer—which is almost over, if you count Labor Day as the end point.
We’ll admit to fudging a few things—namely, we’re not always counting cooking oil, salt, pepper, water, or other such common ingredients in the total number. If you’re a stickler, we’re sorry, but not really, because these are all extremely simple and delicious even if there are technically more like six or seven ingredients.
We are focusing exclusively on recipes that are made entirely or at least partially on the grill. But we’re not covering things as obvious (yet still satisfying!) as pairing chicken with store-bought BBQ sauce, since frankly, you can figure that out on your own.
Below, you’ll find grilled mains, sides, drinks, and desserts, all with five core ingredients or fewer, that you can come back to again and again until it gets too cold to grill—and make from memory in no time because they’re just that easy.
Easy BBQ Recipes with 5 Ingredients or Less
Sadly, our version of elote is one ingredient over the limit, but adding just two new elements to your cobs—salty soy sauce and sweet mirin—makes them taste brand new. It’s also healthier than slathering them with butter (which means you can eat more dessert). Get our Grilled Corn with Soy Sauce and Mirin recipe.
Shrimp skewers are ideal summer eating any way you dress them up: with pineapple, perhaps, or with sweet chili sauce and lime. But for a surf-and-turf treat, thread the shellfish on the skewers alternating with sausage and add a lemon wedge on top for a shrimp boil on a stick. Squeeze the smoky lemon juice over everything before you dig in. Get our Grilled Shrimp Boil Skewers recipe.
Stainless Steel Sliding Skewers, 4 for $29.99 from Williams Sonoma (normally $44.95)
For those who always forget to soak the wooden ones in advance.
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Fresh sage leaves and ripe peaches skewered and grilled alongside chicken sausages look deceptively simple, but wait ’til you taste them all together; don’t skip the drizzle of cider vinegar over the sweet and smoky stone fruit just before serving. Get our Grilled Chicken Sausage and Peach-Sage Skewers recipe.
Even if you haven’t hooked your own trout by a pristine lake, this method of preparing the whole fish will transport you to a serene campsite in your mind, at least. The bacon helps baste the fish, and the herbs and lemon infuse it with even more flavor. And while it’s best over an open fire, it works well over charcoal too. Get our Campfire Trout with Herbs and Bacon recipe.
Nexgrill Flexible Grill Basket, $15.97 from Home Depot
Great for grilling seafood and other delicate items, or anything you want to flip all at once.
If you let the olive oil, salt, and pepper slide, this basic-but-not-boring chicken comes in under the 5-ingredient limit. Then again, the chimichurri sauce we like to serve it with surpasses that amount alone—still, it’s so easy to make, we don’t think you’ll mind. Butterflying a whole chicken as in our our Argentine Grilled Chicken recipe is a method well worth learning, but you can also use the same flavors on chicken skewers or chicken thighs if you prefer.
Bourbon, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce combine for a quick but complex steak marinade. Grill extra so you have leftovers to slice up for steak sandwiches the next day. Get our Bourbon Marinated Flank Steak recipe.
Related Reading: This Is the Best Cut of Steak to Grill
Spiral-cutting hot dogs is a brilliant move, even if you only anoint them with mustard and ketchup—but add bacon and melty cheddar cheese for an over-the-top dog that’ll give any burger a run for its money. Get our Spiral Cut Bacon Dog recipe.
Give your plain old chicken skewers a zesty Mediterranean flair by adding grainy mustard, fresh orange (zest and juice, but we’re counting this as a single ingredient), fennel, and black olives to the mix. Serve over rice, couscous, or in flatbread for a fabulously easy meal. Get our French Chicken Kebab recipe.
Related Reading: 11 Super Skewers for Summer BBQs
If you skip the sauce, these grilled sweet potato wedges are well under the limit; a cumin and cayenne oil makes them flavorful enough even without anything to dip them in, but you can play around with other seasonings as you like. You can prep the potatoes up to a couple days ahead of time too. Get our Grilled Sweet Potatoes recipe.
Related Reading: 15 Things You Haven’t Been Grilling but Totally Should
This is another one where you’ll have to skip the sauce to meet the 5-ingredient limit—luckily, these vegetarian halloumi, eggplant, mushroom, and pepper skewers taste great with store-bought pesto slathered on instead. Get our Grilled Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs recipe.
When they’re in season, shishito peppers are perfect for throwing on the grill. With a mere sprinkle of coarse salt and a slick of oil, they’re perfect, but if you have togarashi seasoning on hand, hit them with some of that too—or whatever other spice blend sounds good. Get our Grilled Shishito Peppers recipe. (Grilled Padron Peppers are equally simple and equally good.)
Use a raw, store-bought ball of pizza dough, a good store-bought tomato sauce, and your favorite mozzarella and you have an easy three-ingredient dinner that beats delivery every time. Add whatever else you like; sausage and peppers are always good. Fresh basil too, if you have an herb garden. Get our Grilled Pizza recipe.
Weber Gourmet BBQ System Pizza Stone, $44.99 from Amazon
A pizza stone conducts the grill's heat and makes it easier to maneuver the dough.
Related Reading: Grill Pizza Like a Pro with These Tips and Tools
Making a burger patty out of breakfast sausage is a great shortcut to tons of flavor; brushing an apple slice with maple syrup before you grill it takes it to the next level; and melty cheddar tops it off beautifully. The toasted English muffin makes it five ingredients on the dot. Get our Apple and Cheddar Breakfast Sausage Burger recipe.
Related Reading: 11 Burger Recipes That Don’t Have a Cow
You should definitely also be grilling dessert, and grilled fruit is a no-brainer for the final course. Here, grilled figs are brushed with honey and orange blossom water, then spooned over vanilla ice cream with salted pistachios for a piquant crunch. Get our Grilled Fig Sundae recipe.
Grilled pound cake is another great sweet option, particularly when paired with ice cream and/or fruit—or a fruity sorbet for something in between. Buy the pound cake ready-made and pair it with our Raspberry Sorbet recipe or our Pineapple Rum Sorbet recipe and you’ll still come in under five ingredients total (except for some ice, but we’ll look the other way on that one). Get our Grilled Pound Cake with Sorbet recipe. Naturally, store-bought ice cream is more than acceptable here too.
Grilled banana desserts are summer’s answer to banana bread (i.e., the best way to use up ripe bananas when you can’t stand another smoothie). These easy campfire treats work just as well on a backyard grill, and are sort of like fruity s’mores. Graham crackers optional. Get our Banana Boats recipe.
Related Reading: The World’s Most Refreshing Summer Drinks
Could there be any more summery sip than a grilled pineapple daiquiri? The caramelized fruit adds complexity to this refreshing drink, yet it’s still supremely easy to pull off (even after you’ve had one or two already). Get our Grilled Pineapple Daiquiri recipe.