Summer is one of the best times of year to spend time outside. Before fall brings sweater weather and a chill in the air, you want to make sure you soak up as much sun as you can and partake in all the great activities summer has to offer. Cookouts, pool parties, last-minute day trips on a long weekend… And at every summer party and park picnic, there’s one crucial component without which no gathering is complete: the food. Yes, you’ll want to hit up a quality seafood shack and enjoy some cold drinks and views at a great beach bar, but you’ll also likely be doing some cooking at home. And some of summer’s greatest dishes are made on the grill.
Summer is your chance to get as much use out of your grill as possible. Host barbecues. Grill backyard burgers or salmon for the family on weeknights. Whether you’re a steak-loving carnivore or live for brightly colored produce, you can make something delicious and satisfying over your grill’s open flame. Here are 42 dishes you’ll really want to have made before summer is over.
Bright citrus flavors combine perfectly with basil in this refreshingly light summer salad. With grilled shrimp, pine nuts and a mix of summer produce, you can serve this either as a complete meal or as a side dish for outdoor parties.
This isn’t your average pasta salad. While pasta salads of any kind are one of the best side dishes at any barbecue, this one keeps things interesting with grilled florets of cauliflower and light lemon dressing.
Side salads are rarely the star of any barbecue, but this one might just steal the spotlight. It’s filled with delicious ingredients such as avocado and feta cheese, with almonds to add a delightful crunch and some extra healthy fats. Guests will be coming back for seconds!
If you grew up in the ‘70s, you probably remember being served shrimp cocktail at dinner parties and gatherings. It’s still popular in restaurants, but this appetizer is great enough to make a comeback at the dinner table. Serve up this combo of grilled shrimp and cocktail sauce while entertaining or just relaxing outside.
Grilled chicken should never taste boring, and this recipe is far from it. Not only are these chicken wings marinated in a rich sauce, they’re also coated with a sweet and spicy Sriracha glaze for an extra kick.
Chicken fajitas are a simple, healthy dinner that comes together in under 30 minutes. They’re packed with protein and vegetables, and since they’re loaded with a blend of Mexican-inspired spices, they’re the opposite of boring. Top yours with salsa, sour cream and guacamole for even more fun.
Take a break from grilled burgers and dogs with these light and fresh fish tacos. Tacos are sure to be a hit with any crowd. All that’s missing are sides of guac and salsa!
If you’re looking for a sweet summer dessert, grilled peaches are easy to make and a healthy choice. Grilling the fruit makes it taste even sweeter, and topping your peaches with mint mascarpone makes these taste like you put in more effort than you actually did.
With all the meat-heavy dishes at an outdoor cookout, it’s nice to have some savory and satisfying side dishes and salads. This one won’t disappoint. Covered in cheese and charred, this eggplant dish hardly feels like a vegetable while you eat it.
If you don’t look forward to eating grilled salmon, you’re cooking it wrong. This recipe is so simple, anyone can follow it. Once you’re done, you’ll have a delicious and healthy dinner. Salmon has many health benefits — it’s good for your brain and your heart, and it’s filled with the healthy fats your body needs.
Add an Asian-inspired dish to your summer cookout menu with these simple but tasty shrimp skewers. Coated in miso butter and spices, they’re flavorful and sure to be a hit.
This skirt steak is prepared with cumin, garlic and lime before being grilled, upping the flavor of an already-flavorful cut of meat. Chimichurri is an herb-filled and versatile sauce that adds just a little something extra to this grilled steak dinner.
Sweet potatoes get a deep caramelized crust on the grill, especially with the added sugar of a maple-kicked marinade. The combination of sweet and savory is a winner.
Looking for a tastier way to prepare vegetables? Summer is the perfect time to take out the grill and make kebabs. These vegetables are served with the perfect marinade and dressing to kick up the flavor of your favorite summer produce.
Pizza is one of those foods you probably didn’t know you could grill, but should really start. The flame chars the crust of this pizza-inspired focaccia dish, and it cooks up quickly. Serve this as an appetizer and play around with different toppings.
Stray from your usual burger recipes with these juicy lamb burgers. Whipped feta and grilled tomatoes bring out the Mediterranean flavors in this recipe, and, along with freshly cut herbs, they help to balance out the unctuous burger patty.
Pork and sauerkraut is a dish traditionally made on New Year’s, but why not enjoy it year-round? It’s warm enough to grill the pork chops in summer instead of cooking them in the oven or over the stove, and using a marinade made with sauerkraut juice adds a tangy, unique flavor that’s hard to beat.
Plant-based burgers have gotten fancier, but what ever happened to just eating vegetables? The grilled eggplant is thick and satisfying enough that you won’t even miss the meat, and halloumi with pesto adds substance to this healthy meal.
Sweet corn is one of the end of summer’s most beloved seasonal vegetables, and you want to take advantage of it while you can. Corn is simple to prepare on the grill, and with just a little spice, butter, lime and salt, you have a savory, classic dish that goes with almost any grilled entree.
Peach cobbler is one of the greatest classic American desserts, and with good reason. Summer peaches are sweet and perfect for baking. But did you know you could make this fruit-filled dessert on the grill? Grilling the peaches before cooking them into your final product makes this treat even sweeter.
If you like regular croutons, you’ll love these croutons made of cornbread. Stale chunks of cornbread are grilled until toasty and golden before they’re thrown into a light, healthy panzanella. Fresh herbs elevate this salad even further — just make sure you wash them first before adding them in.
Turn up the heat on your grill game by making some jerk chicken — an authentic Jamaican dish covered with a spicy, savory marinade. You could make it in your oven, but it’s great on the grill. You can adjust the spiciness of the marinade to your liking, but if you like spicy food, you’ll probably prefer your jerk chicken with a kick.
Salmon and avocado pair well together and they both provide healthy fats that are great for your brain — and they’re both great for your heart, too. This recipe is so easy you won’t mind making it for yourself at home, and the blend of spices turns this healthy seafood into a real treat to eat.
There are tons of great ways to cook potatoes, but adding blue cheese is always a good call. Steak and potatoes makes a hearty meal that doesn't take forever to cook, and this marinade is rich with flavor from fresh sprigs of rosemary and a unique blend of spices.
The best way to make good use of summer peaches is probably a classic Southern peach pie, but this appetizer comes in at a close second. Wrap peaches in bacon and grill them to a crisp for a fun party appetizer your guests won’t expect.
Grilling a whole fish may sound intimidating, but it’s much simpler than you think. This recipe for branzino involves stuffing the fish with lemon for a low-effort way to add a lot of flavor. And it takes less than 20 minutes to make!
Make the most of summer's fantastic produce with this side dish. Seasoning with balsamic vinegar adds a distinct flavor profile and the array of vegetables used in this will result in a colorful, beautiful-looking plate.
To spatchcock (or butterfly) a chicken is to remove the bird’s backbone to allow it to lie flat on the grill and cook evenly. It may sound complicated, but this technique isn't as complicated as you may think. And of course, the perfect thing to balance out a juicy, tender steak is a light, crunchy slaw. This chicken pairs wonderfully with a beet slaw, but you can always pair it with one of our 15 best coleslaw recipes.
Making grilled chicken that isn’t boring may sound like a lofty challenge, but this citrus-y recipe makes it easy. Dinner will be on the table in a flash, and you can bet it’ll be both healthy and tasty.
All you need is a little zest from lemons, olive oil and salt to make these delicious and healthy shrimp skewers. Grill both shrimp and vegetables at the same time for a simple, healthy dish that takes almost zero effort.
Pomegranate seeds and pistachios blend perfectly with flaky white fish in this chef-made recipe. Though it may sound complex, it’s actually quite simple to make and will fool your guests into thinking you spent hours cooking dinner.
These make a fun spin on pigs in a blanket and an appetizer that people of all ages will want to devour. Cheese and hot dogs are wrapped in flaky crescent dough before they’re grilled to melty, crispy perfection.
You probably never thought to grill spaghetti, but this recipe will have you wondering why not. After cooking grilled kebabs and a pot of fresh pasta (which is easier to mess up than you might think), the pasta is mixed with an olive oil blend and grilled over the hot flame.
The fillings for these tacos are healthy and take just minutes to prepare. Get all the flavor of grilled corn and vegetables and stuff them into a taco with spicy salsa and cotija cheese. What’s not to like?
Adding coffee to the rub of this steak gives it a rich, chocolatey flavor. Switch up your usual grilling methods with this new technique.
Grilled steak is great eaten on its own with some barbecue sides, but this recipe stuffs it into a hearty sandwich. This cut of steak is super flavorful but still lean, making it a great option to partner with avocado and other ingredients in this Mexican dish.
Fresh basil, oregano and mozzarella bring Italian-inspired flavors to the table in this healthy side dish. Grilling the vegetables before tossing them into the salad gives them a unique smoky, charred flavor. It’s the perfect thing to serve with burgers — here’s how to make next-level burgers at home.
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