It’s a simple equation: Warm weather equals grilling. No need for long division. The spring sun appears and thoughts turn to honing your skills, cleaning off the grate, and lighting up the gas or charcoal. But it’s easy to get in a grilling rut, flipping burgers and chicken breasts in steady rotation. So it’s time to complicate the equation a bit—not advanced calculus necessarily, just some new variables. This is an assortment of food for the kids, the carnivores (hello, keto BBQ guests), the vegetarians—a little bit of something for everyone.
Chicken may be a popular grilling item, but that doesn’t mean it’s foolproof. Grilled chicken can cook unevenly or turn out dry. Use the right heat for the right cut (medium is always a good bet), and marinate when necessary (e.g., with boneless, skinless chicken there’s almost no fat to protect the meat while it cooks). Here are some of our favorite recipes for various cuts of our favorite bird.
Boneless, Skinless Chicken
By marinating the meat and then cooking it over consistent medium heat, you ensure a moist chicken.
» Buttermilk Chicken with Peach-Tomato Salsa
Removing the backbone allows for more even cooking and increases the cooking surface area, so the overall time on the grill is nearly halved.
» Oregano-Marinated Grilled Chicken with Charred Lemons
Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken
Everyone loves barbecued chicken, but you’ll find differing opinions on white versus dark meat. By cutting up the whole chicken and cooking it over even medium heat, you get flavorful pieces to satisfy everyone.
» Basic Barbecued Chicken
The best way to ensure even cooking is to cut everything into evenly sized pieces. Both dark and white meat get tasty results.
» Honey-Mustard Chicken Skewers
With their high ratio of fat to meat, sausages are perfect for grilling. Here we pair them up with seasonal fruit and herbs.
» Grilled Chicken Sausages with Peach-Sage Skewers
Related Reading: How to Prevent Salmonella & Foodborne Illness From Wrecking Your BBQ
Hubert Keller is a burger maximalist. While his Black Jack Burger stops short of absurdity (it’s not stuffed with short ribs, for example), it’s still an impressive hunk of juicy meat that will halt the most dedicated of carnivores in his tracks.
» Black Jack Burger
Healthy but far from tasteless, bison is a great alternative to beef. Ground bison doesn’t need to cook as long as beef, and it has a richer flavor; experiment with toppings to make it your own.
» Bison Bacon Cheeseburger
Lamb is often relegated to special occasions, with racks, legs, and chops being the most common cuts. Ground lamb brings down the fuss factor in this burger loaded with Middle Eastern flavors.
» Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers
They don’t have to be bone-dry or a mouthful of mush—nor must they be bland and tasteless. Learn how to make the best vegan burger, and then cook it on the grill (just not in the meat juices, please).
» The CHOW Veggie Burger
If you’re a classicist, opt for the top sirloin or rib-eye cuts. For some adventure and slightly lighter, leaner fare (that’s also lighter on the wallet), opt for flank or skirt steaks.
A great value, top sirloin is a favorite of steak lovers no matter how it’s cooked. In this salad it can stand up to the vinaigrette without overwhelming everything.
» Steak Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette
Well-marbled and flavorful—dare we say manly? You pay a price for all that manliness, though, so do it right with bold flavors that won’t overshadow the meat itself.
» Basic Grilled Rib-Eye
» Grilled Rib-Eyes with Chile-Lime-Tequila Butter
With more fat and bone than a rib-eye, this cut is perfect for a weeknight fix.
» Rib Steaks with Spice Rub and Green Bean Salad
Affordable, ubiquitous, and forgiving—what more do you want from a cut of meat? A variety of marinades work well with flank steak, and you can eat it on its own, in a burrito, in a filling sandwich, or in a salad for a lighter take.
» Flank Steak Salad with Arugula
» Carne Asada
» Bourbon-Marinated Flank Steak
Most famous as the cut used for fajitas, skirt steak is tender and flavorful. We’ll let this Mediterranean-inspired preparation do all the talking.
» Grilled Skirt Steak with Caramelized Butter and Cumin
From classics like corn on the cob to more intriguing applications, recipes for veggie sides, salads, sandwiches, and mains all deserve their own space on the grill.
Stuffed peppers are the perfect edible vehicle for various flavors. Try Greek, Mexican, or whatever else fulfills your needs.
» Stuffed Poblanos with Black Beans and Cheese
» Stuffed Bell Peppers with Feta and Herbs
Wilted lettuce is what you get when you let it sit in the fridge for a week. That sort of wilting is not the goal here: Romaine hearts soften and char up perfectly when grilled for a few minutes. It’s the summertime take on the warm salad. See more on How to Grill Romaine and Other Lettuce.
» Grilled Greek Salad
Need we state the obvious? Don’t line up the asparagus with the grate; lay it across the grate. After a few minutes, the stalks will be charred, tender, and bursting with flavor—the perfect combo for this toasty sandwich.
» Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Egg Salad and Bacon
Hearty mushrooms like portobellos and creminis get smoky and juicy when caressed by the flames of the grill. Try them on their own, as the topping for a burger, or in a sweet-sour salad like this one.
» Grilled Portobello and Radicchio Salad
We like grilling it in the husk so it stays moist yet benefits from the smokiness of the grill. You can slather on some butter and call it a day, or dress it up Latin-style (it’s called elote). See more on How to Grill Corn on the Cob.
» Basic Grilled Sweet Corn
» Grilled Corn with Cayenne, Lime, and Cotija
Something about grilling makes beans—be they green, romano, or cranberry—take on a meaty, full flavor. You can lightly grill them until tender or char them to amp up the smokiness.
» Fire-Charred Green Beans with Cajun Dipping Sauce
Seafood is intimidating to cook even before you consider the open flame and unmediated heat factors of a grill. Throw caution to the wind: The trout and shrimp are a cinch, and once you’ve mastered those, challenge yourself with the fillet. See more about How to Grill Lobster Tail, Shrimp, Oysters, Crab Legs, and More Seafood and Shellfish.
We think you’ll find pretty much any trout, small salmon, or small bass quite agreeable when grilled whole. Switch up the seasonings to suit your taste, from lemongrass and cilantro to shallots and basil.
» Campfire Trout with Herbs and Bacon
The hardest of the seafood cuts to prepare on the grill. Everything (the grill, the spatula, and the fish) needs to be well oiled, and pay attention: The fish goes from undercooked to overdone quickly.
» Halibut with Orange-Parsley Butter and Succotash
Skewering them helps keep things orderly while cooking. If shrimp aren’t your thing, try this with scallops or a cubed fatty fish like halibut or salmon.
» Pineapple-Glazed Shrimp Skewers
You needn’t leave your perch at the grill, even for dessert—and don’t stop at s’mores. From fruit to cake, there are lots of sweet options to heat up while the grill cools down.
Lots of fruit disintegrates or turns mushy on the grill, but stone fruit, pineapple, figs, and grapes do especially well. See our complete Guide to Grilling Fruit for more sweet ideas (and some savory).
» Baklava Sundae with Grilled Peaches
Any substantial cake, from pound cake or angel food cake to shortcake, can be grilled. But steer away from fine-crumbed cakes (like standard birthday cake), which fall apart. See more about How to Grill Dessert.
» Grilled Lime Pound Cake with Raspberry-Kirsch Sorbet
Even chocolate can be grilled, we say. Try this grilled chocolate sandwich with spiced sugar; you can change the type of bread and the spices to your liking.
» Grilled Chocolate Sandwich