The weather is hot and so is our grill! From quick evening dinners to small family gatherings, summer grilling is in full swing in our home. In this post we will share our top tips + ideas to make grilling easy, fun, and delicious. Plus, we'll share our fave easy grilling recipes.
Summer Time = Grilling Time
My husband and I LOVE to grill and cook outdoors. Whether we are at home, on a road trip, on vacation, or camping, grilling is one of those activities that we enjoy doing together.
Although you can certainly enjoy grilling 365 days a year (in most places), summer grilling recipes are my favorite. When you combine the warm weather with fresh, seasonal produce, magic happens. (And enjoying a few chilled adult beverages with family and friends doesn't hurt, either.)
Do you enjoy grilling? Never tried it? Below are some of our personal tips and ideas on how to make summer grilling easier and more enjoyable.
Summer Grilling Tips + Ideas:
- Start with a clean, well-oiled grill.
- Have all of your ingredients prepped and ready before you fire up your grill.
- New grill? Read the manufacturer's instructions.
- Allow the grill to preheat with the lid on before cooking. (This will vary based on type of grill / cooking temperature.)
- If your grill doesn't have a built in thermometer, hold your hand several inches over the grates. You can get a rough idea of grill temp based on how long you can hold your hand over the heat. 1 second = 550 degrees Fahrenheit, 2 seconds = 450 degrees, 4 seconds = 375, etc.
- Keep a spray water bottle around to keep flare ups to a minimum.
- Keep the menu simple.
- Making kabobs on wooden skewers? Soak the skewers in water for an hour or so before assembling to help prevent burning.
Grilling Meat, Poultry + More
- Trim excess fat from beef, pork and poultry. Leave some on.
- Let beef rest and reach room temperature.
- Don't move the food around too much. As the food cooks, it will release from the grill.
- Resist the temptation to press down on the meat.
- Use a digital grill thermometer to check for doneness. Remove meat 5 minutes before it reaches temp. It will continue to cook as it rests.
- When done cooking, cover loosely with foil and let rest for several minutes.
- Keep the lid closed as much as possible while cooking. This encourages searing and helps promote even cooking.
- Try to flip your food only once.
- Perfect grill marks aren't necessary, but pretty easy to accomplish with a little practice. See below for a quick reference.
Grilled Veggies and Sides
- While the grill is hot, use it to cook fast side dishes.
- For smaller veggies, use a grill pan, cast iron skillet, or create foil packets.
- For larger vegetables, simply brush with oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt, pepper or basic seasonings for a fast, healthy side dish.
- Love baked beans? Stir together your favorite baked bean recipe and heat them through on the grill while you are cooking your main dish.
- Corn on the cob = perfection when grilled.
Here is a list of vegetables that are best for grilling:
- Potatoes + sweet potatoes
- Tomatoes + tomatillos
- Squash, eggplant + zucchini
- You can even grill romaine lettuce, green beans, brussel sprouts, avocado and more.
Grilled Fruit, Anyone?
- Many fruits are DELISH warmed + charred on the grill.
- Try grilled fruit as a garnish and mix in for your favorite summer cocktails.
- Ever had a grilled peach? It is such a delish topping for a bowl of cold, vanilla ice cream.
- Grilled fruit is a simple but impressive addition to any salad.
- My all time favorite fruit to grill? Fresh pineapple. It is delish made into a fruit salsa, served with pork chops, sprinkled with brown sugar for dessert...yum!
- Skewer assorted fruit onto bamboo sticks and grill for a sweet after dinner dessert that is also healthy.
- Make sure your grill is clean and well-oiled to prevent sticking. A brushing of a lightly flavored oil or butter on the fruit also helps.
Want to grill fruit? Here are some to try:
- Peaches + nectarines
- Plums - firm ones
- Oranges, lemons + limes - any citrus fruit, really
- Cherries - use a grill basket
Sauces, Marinades, Seasonings + Spices for Grilling
- Don't be afraid to try new sauces, marinades,and spices.
- Try making your own sauces and marinades using spice cabinet staples.
- A good rule of thumb to making your own marinade is to use one third oil, one third sour or acid, and one third sweetness. Add more spices, garlic, to taste.
- Fish and shrimp take very little time to marinade. Chicken and pork take a little longer, from 1 hour to several hours. Red meat needs several hours to overnight to really soak up all of the marinade.
- Wait until the end of grilling to baste and glaze. If you add sauces (especially sweet ones) too soon, the sauce will burn and char which can result in a bitter taste.
- Intimidated by spices? Salt + pepper go a long way to create deliciuos grilled foods.
More Summer Grilling Tips
- Invest in good (basic) grilling utensils.
- Take the cast iron skillet straight to the grill for sides and smaller items. Let it preheat.
- Buy a digital meat thermometer. They cost less than a bag of charcoal.
- Wood chips = yummy smoky flavor.
- Try new methodss of grilling (gas, charcoal, pellet, etc.) until you decide which you like best.
- Your phone makes a great timer. Use it.
- If what you are cooking takes longer than 20 minutes to cook, use indirect heat. Anything that cooks in less than 20 minutes can be grilled over direct heat.
- When in doubt, wrap it in bacon before grilling.
- Toast burger buns right on the grill over indirect heat.