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You’ve probably never grilled these foods … but you should

Looking for things to grill? If you've never grilled a banana, you're missing out big time

Person grilling
Vincent Keiman / Unsplash

Now that the weather is warmer, it’s officially grilling season. And while that, of course, means ribs and burgers, your grill skills and creativity shouldn’t stop there. When it comes to things to grill, the sky is the limit. As far as we’re concerned; when the temperature rises above 75, there isn’t a single meal that should be prepared inside the house. And yes, that includes a few grill ideas you’ve probably never thought to place on those grill grates.

So, without further ado, these are some of our favorite grilling ideas and a few not-so-traditional grilled ingredients to consider for your next cookout.

Salad

Salad
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When salad comes to mind, usually bright, clean, crisp flavors are the stars of the show. But if you’ve ever grilled romaine lettuce, for example, you know that salad greens can be much more sultry and exciting. By halving and grilling lettuces such as romaine or endive, you can bring out their deep, earthy flavors, complemented with a bit of smoke. A good grilled salad can be the perfect complement to just about any main dish that comes off the grill — a good steak especially comes to mind here. Serving a quality grilled salad is easy — just add lemon and enjoy!

Fruit tart

Apple tart
Diliara Garifullina / Unsplash

There’s something that is pretty magical about the summertime sweetness of fresh fruits combined with the nostalgically wonderful flavor of campfire smokiness. Grilled fruit tarts are one of the perfect backyard barbecue desserts. And they come with the benefit of being fairly easy to prepare and cook as well. All you have to do is assemble your tart the way you would if you planned to bake it in an oven. When it comes time to bake, place the tart on a foil-lined grill grate, close the lid, and grill over medium, indirect heat for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on your ingredients.

Angel food cake

Strawberry short cake ingredients
Shari's Berries / Flickr

Arguably one of the most quintessential summertime treats, strawberry shortcake is absolutely exquisite when assembled on a piece of grilled angel food cake. Cut your angel food into slices, then place directly on the grill grates. The sugars in the cake will caramelize quickly, so only grill for about 1 minute per side. The beauty of this dessert is that it’s incredibly easy, there’s almost no preparation in advance. You can buy a store-bought angel food cake and slice it up when you’re ready to go. Let people top the cake themselves and you have an almost instant dessert.

Grilled lemonade cocktail

Glasses of lemonade in mason jars
Kaizen Nguyễn / Unsplash

You may already be grilling lemons for a hint of smoke in your citrus. And while this is a delicious thing to do, grilled lemons can do so much more than flavor food. Use grilled lemon juice in any of your favorite beverages for an added depth of flavor. And while you can just serve a non-alcoholic lemonade, there’s no reason not to elevate this treat into a unique, smoky cocktail that your guests will be talking about long after the party is over. Our favorite combination is bourbon, grilled lemon juice, simple syrup, and a dash of bitters. You’re welcome.

Salsa

Salsa ingredients
Jamie Coupaud / Unsplash

Salsa is one of the easiest things to make in the world — simply toss the ingredients in a food processor, and bam — instant, spicy perfection. But if you take a few extra minutes to char the same ingredients on the grill first, your salsa will have a whole new depth of smoky flavor you’d never even considered before. For an extra kick, try charring some corn tortillas on the grill as well, you’ll never want to buy the bagged ones again after trying this combination! Just make sure to oil the grill before charring the tortillas, you don’t want them to stick.

Grilled watermelon pizza

Grilled watermelon with a balsamic drizzle.
A Healthier Michigan / Flickr

Grilled watermelon isn’t anything new, but people have started to get a little bit more creative with their grilled watermelon toppings. While it might not be a true pizza, it’s pretty close, and who says pizza has to be limited to dough, red sauce, and cheese? We certainly don’t. You should take advantage of fresh watermelon while it is in season and treat yourself to one of the most unusual (and delicious) “pizzas” that you will ever have. Our favorite version includes caramelized onions, bleu cheese, pecans, and basil.

Sandwiches

Grilled sandwich
Asnim Ansari / Unsplash

There’s no need for an expensive panini press to get a deliciously crisp, toasted sandwich. Place your sandwich (making sure to butter the outsides) on a grill set to medium, cover, and cook until the bread is toasted and your ingredients are melty and beautiful. Depending on your sandwich, this should take between 3 and 6 minutes. Don’t forget to be creative with this one. There are few sandwiches that aren’t improved by a quick trip to the grill. Ever tried grilled PB&J? Spoiler alert: They’re amazing.

Breakfast

Breakfast on the grill
joshuavanhierden / Unsplash

If you’ve ever been camping, you know that there’s truly nothing better in the world than waking up to the smell of breakfast being cooked over a grill or campfire. And after days of hiking and exploring in the wilderness, nothing tastes as good, either. And while this is a pleasure that’s usually reserved for camping, it certainly doesn’t need to be. Nothing is more fun than a summertime weekend breakfast from the backyard grill. Just make sure your pans are compatible with a grill and whip up anything from pancakes to omelets.

Clams

Clams on a grill
Falabella / Pixabay

After you’ve had clams prepared on the grill, you’ll never make them any other way. The smoky flavor of the grill seeps into these little beauties and flavors them in a way no other cooking method can compare. Place your clams directly on the grates, close the lid and cook on medium-high until the clams open, about 8 to 10 minutes. Finish with your favorite butter and white wine sauce, and you’ll have a new favorite summertime meal.

Lobster

Grilled lobster
Roland Tanglao

Why stop at clams? If you’re going for the seafood gill experience, you might as well go for the big kahuna, lobster. Grilled lobster is fairly easy to cook, but you need to prep the lobsters before putting them on the grill. First, you need to split the lobsters in half, starting from the head (this kills them instantly) and make sure the lobster meat is nice and clean. Then, drizzle the lobster halves with oil and grill them over high heat, shell side down. They should be ready in about 5 to 7 minutes, and yes, they would go great with clams.

Banana split

A bunch of bananas
Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash

Something pretty magical happens when a banana is cooked. Because of their high sugar content, bananas caramelize gorgeously, making for an almost molasses-y flavor. So when you add the deliciously smoky kiss from a grill, bananas become almost other-worldly in their exquisite flavor. Pair that with ice cream and you’ll never look at a banana the same way again.

To grill a banana, cut it in half lengthwise, leaving the peel intact so that the peel remains on half the banana and then the other half is exposed fruit. With the grill on medium heat, set the bananas, cut side down, on the grates, basting with melted butter. Cook, flesh side down, until grill marks form, then flip and cook, peel side down, for another 4 to 6 minutes.

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Lindsay Parrill
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