“Nothing beats outdoor cooking and fire-roasted foods,” says Chef Brian Malarkey, who has created more than a dozen thriving restaurants and is the founder of Chef’s Life. “Protein, vegetables, and fruit all contain natural sugars, which, through roasting, add life to your plate.”
To prove the endless possibilities of grilling, we’ve rounded up a variety of easy, healthy, and delicious summer barbecue recipes. Before we dive into our many grilled dinner ideas, let’s first go over what you’ll need to prep your grill and season your foods to perfection.
Outdoor grilling tools
As convenient as it is to have a variety of summer barbecue recipes on hand for your next get-together, it’s even more helpful to have all the necessary grilling tools. After all, without your grill and the tools to prep, flip, and carry your food, you won’t get very far with your summer cooking.
With that in mind, you’ll want to start with a grill. If you’re on a tight budget, consider a classic charcoal grill, like the Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill ($139). If you have a little more money to spend and are looking for a grill with extra prep space, check out the Cuisinart CGG-7400 Propane Full Size Four-Burner Gas Grill ($345). If you can afford to splurge, the Traeger Grills Ironwood 885 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker with WIFI Smart Home Technology ($1,500) is said to be about as good as it gets.
Once you’ve chosen your grill, it’s time to get yourself ready with the tools. While Malarkey says every top-notch grilling station needs tongs and cast iron, like the Lodge Cast Iron Grill/Grill ($35), which can be used on both the stovetop and grill, it also helps to have skewers and grill baskets on hand.
To get started, add the Weber Premium 3-Piece Stainless Steel Tool Set ($65) to your cart. While you’re at it, throw a set of Consevisen Silicone Baking Brushes ($9) in there to make sure you can easily marinate your fish, meat, and sides. You might also want to get a set of Charcoal Companion Nonstick Kabob Grill Baskets ($22), as they make grilling smaller items like cherry tomatoes, greens, and sliced greens less of a hassle. If you plan on slicing large pieces of meat, outfitting your kitchen with the Cangshan S Series German Steel Forged 7-Piece Barbecue Knife Set ($150) will make prep a breeze.
And whatever you do, don’t forget Malarkey’s other top pick: “Chef’s Choice cold brew,” he says. Above all, grilling is supposed to be fun, so sipping on something tasty—be it Hendrick’s new Flora Adora Gin or a can of POPPI Sparkling Prebiotic Soda ($27 for 12 cans)—is a must.
Summer BBQ seasoning
Next, you’ll want to check your spice cabinet because so many summer barbecue recipes rely heavily on flavorful spices. For starters, McCormick Kitchen Director Hadar Cohen Aviram says basic cooking spices will suffice. “The trifecta is definitely a stir-fry of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder—with onion powder, paprika, and cumin in close seconds,” she says. To make things easier on yourself, she suggests reaching for McCormick Grill Mates Coarse Black Pepper and Flake Salt ($6), which includes those spices, plus celery seed and onion powder for an extra kick. If you grill a steak, she says you can’t go wrong with McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning ($3)—though she soon noticed that it tastes delicious on burgers and veggies, too. Looking for the best profile? “The McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon Seasoning ($7)[offer]a fuller-flavored bite and more caramel-enhanced notes,” she says.
While these three spices can infuse any grilled dish, Aviram says you can be a little more specific. For those looking to whip up a more chef-friendly grilled dinner, she says to choose your seasoning based on your main protein, as well as cut it.
For example, pork chops (or any “on the bone” cuts) are full of flavor and just need a good rub to get over the finish line (in this case, I’d suggest using McCormick Grill Meats coarsely ground black pepper and flake salt seasoning), while pork chops need less The fat helps to enhance the good flavor, so marinate it with Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herbs ($7) mixed with oil and white wine vinegar, and use a marinade to brush it on while grilling (it works exceptionally well),” she says.
Like pork, he says a good cut of steak can be delicious without more than a rub (like Montreal Steak Seasoning). Meanwhile, she says poultry performs best with marinades, as they help keep it moist and flavorful. “The classic option[is]McCormick Grill Mates Garlic, Herb & Wine ($15 for 12-pack) or McCormick Grill Mates Mesquite Marinade ($12 for 12-pack) for a deeper smoky note,” she says.
If you’re in the market for more flavorful barbecue seasoning to elevate your grill food, be sure to check out Traeger Rubs and Seasonings, of which Fin & Feather Rub ($11) and Veggie Rub ($10) are particularly popular picks.
Last but not least, no matter how you prepare to cook, nonstick spray can be especially helpful, as it will keep meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables from sticking to the grills or griddle. “But remember not to spray directly onto a fire,” Malarky says. “Instead, sprinkle it directly on top of steak, fish, or whatever else you’re grilling.”
Summer grill recipes
Now that you know everything you need to bring basic grilling ideas to life, it’s time to introduce you to the many ways you can enjoy grilling outdoors this summer. Ahead, find 23 summer barbecue recipes so good you’ll want to make them all year long.
1. Cider-cured pork chops
Add a touch of sweetness to your cookout with McCormick’s Apple Cider Baked Pork Chop recipe.
Get the recipe: Apple Cider Cured Pork Chops
2. Artichokes and panzanella tomatoes
This artichoke and tomato panzanella recipe from Giada de Laurentiis will add a tangy touch to your backyard barbecue.
Get the recipe: Artichoke and Tomato Panzanella
3. For the chicken fajitas and avocado ranch salad
Spice up your summer lunch hour with this Fajita Chicken and Avocado Ranch Salad recipe from Tegan Gerrard (aka Half Baked Harvest).
Get the recipe: Fajita Chicken and Avocado Ranch Wrap Salad
4. An All American Burger
You can never go wrong with a classic burger on the grill. For a seriously flavorful burger, try using McCormick’s All-American Burger Recipe.
Get the recipe: All American Burger
5. Pesto grilled chicken caprese skewers
We love protein and veggie kabobs—and this pesto caprese grilled chicken skewer recipe just happens to pack all the flavors of Italy’s most refreshing appetizer.
Get the recipe: Grilled Pesto Caprese Chicken Skewers
6. Grilled sausage and peppers with garlic aioli
Looking for something more exciting than a hot dog? This Sausage and Roasted Peppers with Garlic Aioli recipe from Rusht Yum makes your mouth water.
Get the recipe: Grilled Sausage and Peppers with Garlic Aioli
7. Tender grilled chicken with honey mustard
Who says grilled chicken tenders have to be boring? This grilled honey mustard chicken recipe from Damn Delicious will have you reaching for seconds.
Get the recipe: Grilled Honey-Mustard Chicken Tenderizers
8. Grilled Peaches With Cinnamon Butter And Sugar
Protein isn’t the only thing you can grill perfectly. This Grilled Peach with Cinnamon Butter and Sugar recipe from Bobby Flay will have you hooked on fruit grilling.
Get the recipe: Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Sugar Butter
9. Grilled Italian Bruschetta Chicken
Tomatoes, herbs, white wine, and mozzarella make McCormick’s Grilled Italian Bruschetta Chicken recipe an instant crowd pleaser.
Get the recipe: Italian Grilled Chicken Bruschetta
10. Grilled Mexican corn
There are many grilled corn recipes out there but few are as classic as grilled Mexican corn. This recipe from Tyler Florence uses mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, Parmesan, and red chili powder for flavor.
Get the recipe: Grilled Mexican Corn
11. Mexican street corn
Love grilled Mexican corn but are hoping for an appetizer? Gerard’s makes a delicious Mexican corn dip that showcases spicy greens alongside chili butter and cotija cheese. While it’s meant to be served with tortilla chips, it’s just as great eaten on its own.
Get the recipe: Mexican Street Corn Dip
12. Mesquite chickpea burger topped with grilled corn
Veggie burgers taste best on the grill. Instead of reaching for any old frozen version, consider making your own with this mesquite chickpea burger with McCormick’s topping on grilled corn recipe.
Get the recipe: Mesquite Hummus Burger with Grilled Corn Dressing
13. Sticky Ribs
This sticky short ribs recipe from Molly Yeh is a fan favorite for its good looks with a touch of zing. Just make sure you have plenty of tissues on hand.
Get the recipe: Sticky Ribs
14. Baked Potato Fans
Forget about tossing a potato in the oven this summer. This roasted sweet potato recipe from Taste of Home is beloved for its buttery filet seasoned with garlic, chives, and red pepper flakes topped with grated parm sauce. (Side note: Did you know you can clean a grill with potatoes?)
Get the recipe: Roasted Potato Fans
15. Artichokes with roasted garlic
Looking for vegetables to grill while you cook outside? This roasted garlic artichoke recipe is well received. (Another vegetable you can grill? Lettuce!)
Get the recipe: Roasted Garlic Artichokes
16. Fajitas in a grill basket
Love the taste of fajitas but don’t have a cast iron griddle for your grill? You can prepare fajitas in a grill basket.
Get the recipe: Fajitas in a Grill Basket
17. A can of chicken beer
Moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside, it’s no wonder McCormick’s beer chicken recipe can earn such praise.
Get the recipe: Beer Can Chicken
18. Crispy BBQ Salmon Tacos
Prefer seafood? Gerrard’s Crispy Salmon Tacos are a top pick.
Get the recipe: Crispy BBQ Salmon Tacos
19. Honey Garlic Asian Chicken Kebobs
Do you love Asian flavors but want to use your grill? Damn Delicious has this delicious Asian Honey Garlic Chicken Kebab Recipe that is very easy to make.
Get the recipe: Asian Chicken Kebabs with Honey and Garlic
20. Spicy Grilled Shrimp
Considering that over 1,000 people love this spicy grilled shrimp recipe, it wouldn’t hurt to add it to your grill menu.
Get the recipe: Spicy Grilled Shrimp
21. Hawaiian Grilled Foil Chicken
The foil-roasted Hawaiian BBQ Chicken is a delicious, crunchy aluminum foil package with both salty and sweet notes.
Get the recipe: Grilled Hawaiian BBQ Chicken in Foil
22. Grilled balsamic zucchini
Balsamic is a summertime staple, as is zucchini—so it’s no wonder this Grilled Balsamic Zucchini recipe is such a hit.
Get the recipe: Grilled Balsamic Zucchini
23. Grilled sea bass
Here we have another seafood option that hundreds of people find absolutely delicious. Seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, lime pepper, and sea salt, we could see the appeal.
Get the recipe: Grilled Sea Bass