FOOD

Grilling Ideas: Your Backyard BBQ Menu Made Easy

June 25th, 2020

Summer’s here, and that means it’s time to toss your favorite meats and veggies on the grill. To inspire your next cookout, we’ve rounded up our best recipes from the blog, plus grilling tips to keep you safe and get the most out of your ingredients.

16 Best Grilling Tips

Before we get to the ultimate BBQ menu, let’s get those FAQs answered.

Grilling safety tips

You might not think of outdoor grilling as a health hazard, but 7,000 Americans are injured each year using backyard barbecue grills—most often from using products incorrectly. No matter which kind of grill you’re working with, follow these guidelines for the best experience possible.

  • Go the distance. Be sure to keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house—the farther away, the better, in fact. The right placement will help keep a fire from flaring up into the structure above it, like a carport or wooden overhang.
  • Clean up. Grease buildup adds more fuel to the fire, so get in the habit of cleaning your grill regularly after each use.
  • Embrace minimalism. Don’t place any backyard decor such as pillows, umbrellas, or baskets around the grill. These touches might look pretty, but they’re a fire hazard, and anything made of artificial fibers (like pillows or cushions) burns faster.
  • Stay at your station. Never leave a grill unattended. It’s as simple as that.
  • Make some room. An overloaded grill not only makes getting that perfect char more difficult, but fatty meats placed too close together can drip too much fat onto the flames at once. Give all your ingredients plenty of breathing room.

Charcoal grilling tips

  • Venting: Before lighting the grill, open the vents. Once charcoals are placed inside, you can adjust the vents to control the cooking temperature. For example, smaller vents mean a cooler cooking temperature, while wider vents mean hotter flames.
  • High-heat cooking: Steaks, burgers, onions, and corn are great high-heat ingredients. On a charcoal grill, plan about five to 10 minutes for the coals to get hot enough. When cooking over high heat, create two zones. On one side, stack more coals for high-temp grilling, and keep less charcoal on the other side for lower-temp foods such as chicken breasts, sausages, eggplants, and more.
  • Clean up: As we mentioned, regularly cleaning your grill is an important step. While the grill is still hot, use a stiff wire grill brush to clean the grates, which helps remove food particles from the surface and preps your grill for next time.

Tips for gas grilling

  • Open up: Never turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed—always open it up first. If closed, gas will build up inside the grill, which can cause explosions once you finally open it.
  • Look for leaks: To find out if your gas grill is leaking, mix together one part liquid dish soap with one part water, then rub it on the hoses and connections. Turn on the gas (with the grill lid open), then see if the soap forms large bubbles. Bubbles indicate the hoses have tiny holes, or the connections may not be tight enough.

Burger grilling tips

If grilling the perfect burger is on your summer to-do list, here are some tips to make it happen.

  • Juicy burger secrets: Fat is the key ingredient that makes burgers juicy. Ground chuck (from the shoulder) is higher in fat than other cuts, so seek it out at the grocery store.
  • Ship shape: Thickness matters in the final product. Aim for a patty that’s one-inch thick—anything thinner may cause the burger to overcook before a crust develops, and thicker burgers will have a hard time cooking through before charring on the outside.
  • Flip (or flop): Resist the temptation to flip your burgers more than once.

How to grill tri tip

Tri tip is a triangular piece of beef cut from the sirloin. Here’s how to make it:

  • Season simply: You can throw this cut on the grill with little more than salt and pepper, just be sure to monitor the internal temperature for doneness (let the steak rest off heat for 10 minutes once it reaches 130°F).
  • Temperature tips: Start with room temperature steak to help the beef cook evenly.
  • Focus on fat: Grill the tri tip fat-side down for five minutes before flipping. The second side tends to take a bit longer to cook, about eight minutes.

Best Grilling Recipes

This recipe round up has a little bit of everything: chicken, shrimp, steak, and even vegan pizza.

Low-Sugar Chicken Satay

One of the best grilled chicken recipes for summer is a Thai-inspired dish that’s easy to prep in advance. Chicken breasts are marinated in red curry paste and coconut milk, then skewered for faster cooking.

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Just add guacamole and it’s definitely a party. Using organic fajita seasoning makes this grilled chicken breast recipe extra flavorful. Pro tip: Slice limes in half and grill them for a smoky squeeze of juice.

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Grilled Shrimp Louie Salad

We’re modernizing a salad from the 1900s by livening up grilled shrimp with paprika and special sauce. Serve on a bed of greens with hard-boiled eggs, sliced avocado, and juicy tomatoes for light grilled supper.

Grilled Fruit and Seafood Kebabs

If you’ve never experimented with fruit on the grill, this summer is the perfect time to start. Charred kebabs pair shrimp with pineapple and tuna with peaches. Don’t forget the citrusy, garlic-infused marinade!

Grilled Burger Recipe

Everyone needs a reliable grilled hamburger recipe. Our seasoning calls for garlic powder, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard, and gets dinner on the table in 30 minutes.

Grilled Vegan Pizza

When you think of grilled food, vegan recipes don’t often come to mind, but it’s time that changed. A simple pizza dough is topped with EVOO, tapenade, and fresh veggies for a light summertime dish.

Grilled vegan pizza

Grilled Salmon Recipe With Vegetable Kabobs

The secret ingredient to our grilled salmon recipe is a cedar plank. The wood adds a subtle smoky flavor to every bite, and a citrus-inspired marinade adds brightness.

Salmon kebab

Ribeye Steak Recipe

Homemade cherry steak sauce makes this ribeye steak recipe extra memorable. Make the sauce in advance and warm it up right before dinner to save a few steps!


Best Grilled Side Dishes

Wondering what side dishes go well with grilled salmon? How about side dishes for grilled chicken or pork chops? These seasonal sides will enhance anything you put on the grill.

Grilled Romaine Salad

Grilled salad? Oh, yes. Romaine is a sturdier green that can handle some heat, and you’ll love how the outer leaves soften and char as they grill. A creamy avocado-lime dressing really brings out the flavor.

Grilled romaine salad

Zucchini and Lemon Pasta Salad

Try this grilled zucchini recipe that’s a stellar side for chicken thighs, fish, or pork. You can either make it ahead by sautéing the squash indoors, or throw your zucchini on the grill while you’re cooking everything else.

zucchini pasta

Bruschetta on Grilled Baguette

Although this recipe uses canned tomatoes to make things all-season friendly, swap in fresh chopped tomatoes when they’re in season. Throw a baguette on the grill and you’re good to go with a simple appetizer or side dish.

Grilled Corn Side Dish Recipe

Creamy and salty grilled corn is practically a summer rite of passage. We slather our cobs with an avocado-oil based mayo, then add tart feta cheese and lots of lime and cilantro. This would be a star side dish for grilled shrimp, chicken, or skirt steak.

Mexican street corn

Pine Nut Chimichurri

Take any grilled food up a notch by serving chimichurri alongside. This Argentinian dipping sauce (made with plenty of fresh herbs and garlic) is a classic accompaniment for steak, but it’s dynamite on mixed vegetables or chicken, too.

Steak with chimichurri sauce

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Nicole GulottaNicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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