The days are long, and jorts are everywhere: It’s grilling season. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with classic cookout fare (in my opinion, even the plainest burgers and hotdogs are culinarily perfect), at some point this summer, you’re going to want to spice things up. Luckily, we’ve got 52 recipes—including salads, bread, snacks, mains, and even a dessert—that are sure to keep both you and your grill occupied until Labor Day.
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When grilled, romaine becomes tender and smoky while retaining the structural integrity necessary to hold a heavy dressing like Caesar. Better yet, since you’re already by the grill, you might as well top your salad with blackened shrimp or chicken.
Marinated in spicy mayo and then charred to a desired crisp, this recipe transforms broccoli rabe and summer squash into the ideal base for a grilled, panzanella-like dish. Serve this alongside your favorite piece of grilled fish for an easy, bright summer meal.
“Balance the inherent sweetness of summer’s tomatoes with piquant flavors of nuoc cham—lime, fish sauce, chili, and shallot—and a kiss from the grill. Because you want the tomatoes to soak up the marinade, it’s a good dish to prep before guests arrive,” writes former Food52 editor Ali Slagle.
Recipe developer Emily puts it best: “This caprese salad ditches the tomatoes, calls in grilled eggplant and peaches, and upgrades to burrata. It’s charred and juicy, savory and sweet, warm and cool, creamy and snappy. It’s a salad interesting and satisfying enough to call dinner one night, and then repeat the next.”
A combination of briny anchovy, spicy chili, and bright lemon imparts an irresistible, complex flavor to the grilled beans. Serve—and snack on—these beans like you would a plate of blistered shishitos.
“Adapted from a menu item at Bird Dog in Palo Alto, this dish combines creamy, lightly smoky grilled avocado with homemade ponzu and freshly grated wasabi,” writes our Test Kitchen.
This broccolini salad is quick to make (just 20 minutes), packed with flavor (shout-out that basil-walnut vinaigrette), and—most important for summer—technically flexible (you can make this in the oven if the grilling conditions are sub-optimal).
The sweet and sour notes of agrodolce combined with fresh mint give this eggplant dish a vibrant flavor perfectly suited for any outdoor cookout.
Grilled okra partners with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic-infused olive oil, and lemon to create a savory pasta salad that is both bright and acidic.
Boiled with lemon and garlic, charred on the grill, and then served with separate bowls of melted butter and mayo—these artichokes are an ideal companion for a backyard hang.
“Something truly magical happens when you grill chicories,” writes recipe developer Asha Loupy. “Their sharpness starts to mellow, giving way to a subtle sweetness and nutty flavor. Their outer leaves caramelize and char, taking on a delicate smokiness. Their cores retain a pleasing crunch and fresh, bitter bite. Chicories’ bold flavor pair well with equally vibrant, punchy dressings, like this one bolstered by spicy serrano chiles, a hearty dose of garlic, and aromatic fennel seeds.”
More grilled chicories, because they’re that good. Here, Paul Kahan—chef and owner of Chicago’s Avec and The Publican—combines sweet cherries, savory Parmesan, and peppery arugula to create a bold but balanced flavor.
Transform leftover grilled corn into a crunchy, spicy-sweet salsa that works great with tortilla chips or alongside your favorite grilled fish.
Deeply flavored by miso, sesame, and mirin, this 30-minute grilled eggplant is a last-minute side perfect for any cookout. It’s worth noting that leftovers can be repurposed into a delicious dip by blending them with tahini and olive oil.
“This dip is a summery spin on the classic onion dip flavor,” writes community member Megan. “This is a nice recipe to have in your back pocket when you need a quick appetizer for a backyard barbecue. Don’t be shy with the salt.”
Move over, toaster—it’s time to throw that slice on the grill. Smear on a heavy serving of thyme pesto, top with preserved lemon, and you’ve got yourself an ideal afternoon snack.
“This recipe is special because it explicitly instructs you to place a piece of grilled bread at the bottom of your bowl, and then to ladle the clams and broth over the top of the bread,” writes recipe developer Josh Cohen. “If you eat the clams first, you will be left with a piece of grilled bread turned soft after absorbing the broth.”
In an article praising this snack’s convenience and flavor, Managing Editor Erin Alexander said the following: “Easy enough to pull together for a super-quick snack yet impressive enough for a laidback get-together, this versatile recipe combines a handful of familiar flavors (and ingredients you likely already have lying around) in an inspired way.”
A member of the “five ingredients or less” club, this unassuming Italian toast becomes quite the looker when topped with burrata. Enjoy this on a warm afternoon with a glass of chilled red.
According to recipe developer and Food52 co-founder Merril Stubbs, this straightforward crostini is “quite simply, good enough to eat every night.”
Re: Repurposing leftover corn. Store-bought dough makes this ranch-topped pizza an ideal way to find value in what you’ve shucked but not yet eaten.
As long as you rely on the convenience of store-bought dough, this grilled pie from Brooklyn’s Speedy Romeo’s offers a low-maintenance technique for celebrating tomatoes at the height of their season.
This summer, bring bread-making outdoors with this simple grilled flatbread recipe from Resident and baking expert Erin McDowell. Serve with hummus—or use the flatbread in place of store-bought dough for any of the grilled pizzas mentioned above.
A classic sandwich made markedly better with the simple addition of homemade mustard. Also, don’t you want to eat the sandwich from this scene in Goodfellas?
If I’m doing a meatless cookout, I’m using portobellos instead of meat substitutes every time. Juicy, rich, and perfectly sized for a burger bun, this recipe is a solid ‘shroom burger entry point.
If you want to tackle hot dogs made entirely from scratch, this recipe from Romelo Bruno is what you’ve been looking for.
Interested in making Chicago-style hot dogs at home? This recipe from beloved community member Pierino gives you a detailed blueprint on all things Windy City Weiner.
28. Banh Burgers
There’s no shortage of texture or flavor when pickled vegetables, cilantro, jalapeño, and spicy mayo surround a pork patty seasoned with fish sauce, garlic, and onion.
It’s easy to fall into a routine of preparing salmon filets the same way every time. Don’t do this: Instead, transform a single, one-pound filet into three patties, then smother them in avocado aioli.
“These lamb burgers were a great change of pace for us and were so easy to make,” writes community member Sophie. “The yogurt-cucumber sauce was also so easy and really made the dish.”
Imagine chicken Caesar wraps, but lighter, more finger food-friendly, and without the hassle of properly wrapping anything. Also, this recipe proves that Caesar is as perfect a marinade as it is a dressing.
Marinated overnight with lemon and za’atar, quickly grilled, then tossed in even more za’atar, these wings carry an exciting blend of heat, acid, and smoke in every bite. Also, the fava bean feta dip might become your new preferred wing condiment.
When grilled over cedar, fish takes on a gentle layer of smoke that only heightens its natural flavor. Serve this with the grilled broccoli rabe and bread salad mentioned above.
Marinated in a semi-spicy peanut sauce, grilled until tender, and then topped with fresh herbs, this tofu has enough flavor to star in any barbecue, vegetarian or not.
Former Food52 editor and current New York Times columnist Eric Kim explains his close relationship with these well-seasoned ribs: “This is my father’s specialty—and the single thing he knows how to cook in the world. Growing up in the South, we were surrounded by American families who fed us sweet and saucy baby back ribs, but in our own home, my dad liked his ribs super simple: salt, pepper, grilled.”
From Food52 contributor Jun comes a Japanese-inspired, salt-grilled (aka shioyaki) recipe that proves that—when cooked right—the collar is the best cut of salmon. Serve with rice and a bright, acidic side—like the marinated tomatoes above.
Lacquered in a lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chile, and fish sauce glaze and then finished with lime and cilantro, these chicken thighs strike the right balance of heat, salt, acidity, and brightness. Serve these to your friend who thinks grilled chicken is boring.
The combination of spicy, grilled shrimp and a sweet, homemade peach salsa doesn’t need to be explained—you already know this works.
In a comment section filled with compliments, here are some of my favorites: “Holy MOLY was this good!” says Cliff. “By far the best BBQ chicken recipe we’ve ever made,” writes Twinjadojo. “My husband is still raving about this dish, and he’s not the overly-emotional sort,” says Flourgirl.
A cherry tomato vinaigrette—composed of roasted tomatoes and shallots, sherry vinegar, Dijon, and garlic—adds sweetness, acidity, and heat to the often convenient, always delicious flank steak.
Pairing tender, juicy chicken kebabs with tangy, Alabama-style “white” barbecue sauce makes a classic (albeit plain) barbecue staple much more interesting.
Swap out your boring salmon recipe for this cumin-forward skewer situation. Serve with those grilled favas from earlier.
Fact: Lamb skewers seasoned with anchovies, capers, lemon, mint, and sun-dried tomatoes will never not be delicious.
For another way to enjoy oysters at home: The grill concentrates the bivalve’s natural flavor while lime and Sriracha offer a welcomed kick.
Recipe developer Alexis deBoschnek says it best: “No dish screams summer quite like grilled chicken. That said, it can take time to master the grill, and chicken cooked over those ripping-hot grates runs the risk of drying out. Enter this herby green sauce, made with yogurt and loaded with a bevy of tender herbs and alliums. This recipe acts as a twofer—the sauce is used to marinate the meat, and you save some for serving, too.”
This bright, fruit-forward tenderloin is an easy way to incorporate some of summer’s greatest produce (plums and peaches) into your next cookout.
“Grilling whole fish may seem like a big fuss, but this simply grilled red snapper—which you can also make in a cast-iron pan on the stovetop—proves that it doesn’t have to be,” writes recipe developer Max Rappaport.
At its core, this is a sauce recipe. You’ll combine peppercorns, shallots, whiskey, cream, and white miso to provide a unique twist on a classic steak condiment.
Lemon, capers, butter, grilled swordfish—these are things that will always belong together.
The coffee marinade tenderizes and flavors your steak, helping it develop a subtly sweet, spicy taste while producing that perfect, easy-to-eat consistency that all good fajitas need.
If you’ve got bananas, butter, maple syrup, a candy bar, and a hot grill, you might as well throw together this simple, crowd-pleasing dessert.