You’ll never eat Caesar salad cold again.

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Sweet gorgonzola butter
Credit: Victor Protasio

Nothing signals summer like the first barbecue of the season, but you don't have to wait for the weather to warm up before heating the grill. With these chef picks, you'll be on summer mode all year long—and have the grill master skills to prove it. From chicken skewers to Caesar salad, here are the best grilled recipes to add to your repertoire.

Grilled Oysters with Bacon Vinaigrette
Credit: Christopher Testani

Oysters

"Growing up near the Gulf, oysters were always pretty prevalent in my memories, and with Gulf oysters, the sizes tend to vary. Take the larger ones, shuck them, and throw them on a hot grill. Top them with garlic-herb butter spiked with a little paprika and Worcestershire sauce, and make sure to have a pair of tongs handy to handle them once they are bubbling hot. Finish with toasted breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and a touch of hot sauce for an extra kick." — Kaz Edwards, concept chef at Uchi Restaurants

Meatballs

"A meatball—whether it's chicken, veal, pork, lamb, or whatever you choose as a base ingredient—is an amazing way to convey the flavors of your liking. The grilling process creates a wonderful crust and a juicy interior. At Le Rigmarole, we make a chicken meatball that combines dark and light meat, cartilage, panko, lemon zest, anchovies, garlic, and leeks—but nothing is stopping us from adding saffron, squid, or kimchi." — Robert Compagnon and Jessica Yang, chefs and co-owners of Michelin-starred Le Rigmarole in Paris

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

"These are always so fun and a definite crowd-pleaser. The grill gives the smoky bacon that charred, crispy touch you can't get in an oven. It also cooks them quickly from the outside, so they're cooked more evenly in the end. Stuff them with anything you can imagine; my go-tos are chèvre goat cheese, chorizo sausage, and ricotta. Since they are sweet and salty, add some acid or heat like vinegar reduction or harissa chili sauce."— Brad Kilgore, chef and restaurateur in Miami

Rib Eye

"Cajun-marinated rib eye is one of our guest-favorite steaks served in the summer, and it's been a staple steak dish at Smith & Wollensky for several years. It's easy to make at home for a BBQ, since the only prep is marinating the steak with Cajun seasoning, onions, and a little bit of oil for a lengthy amount of time (48 hours in advance). It's great when charbroiled or grilled. The rub and marinade create a really nice char and crust, with just a little bit of heat." Matthew King, national director of culinary development and corporate chef at Smith & Wollensky

Short Ribs

"Most may think of a huge T-bone or thick rib eye when thinking of outdoor grilling. As much as I do love these cuts, galbi (Korean-style short ribs) is the perfect outdoor grilling steak—and it's a Korean classic. This is probably one of the best cuts of beef for grilling, with sweet and charred burnt tips that melt in your mouth. It requires a bit of knife work, as well as some time to marinate, but once you get it right, you will be a star of the party."David Shim, executive chef of COTE Korean Steakhouse in NYC & Miami

Korean-Style Short Ribs
Credit: Abby Hocking

Radicchio

"For years, I marveled at those who could eat radicchio in a salad and not cringe from the bitterness. I was embarrassed to tell anyone that this was my food weakness. Then, one day, I threw it on the grill, and that's when my world changed and I became a radicchio fanatic. Cut the head of radicchio into quarters or eighths, depending on the size, as you want wedges that are held intact by the stem. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and then toss them on your grill. You want them to char well on all sides before removing. Finish with a splash of sherry vinegar and a drizzle of something slightly sweet, like a little bit of honey, or a thicker, sweeter balsamic vinegar." — Katie Button, chef of Cúrate, cookbook author, and co-founder of Katie Button Restaurants

Peaches

"My favorite part about summer is all of the delicious produce, specifically juicy stone fruit like peaches. While it's great on its own, grilled fruit makes a delicious, simple, and refreshing dessert and is the perfect end to any summer BBQ. Grilling the glazed fruit allows the sugars to caramelize, creating a crunchy, flavor-packed crust. Top it off with whipped cream and sweet-and-salty peanuts for the perfect textural contrast." — Stephanie Izard, Iron Chef, author, and executive chef and owner of five Chicago restaurants, including Girl & the Goat  

Whole Chicken

"This is a perfect summer dish that feeds a small party, and pairs well with any side. For the juiciest grilled chicken, first brine the bird and then give it a good herb and spice rub. Grilling over indirect heat will result in a juicy, evenly-cooked chicken." — Michael Beltran, chef of Ariete, Navé, and Chug's Diner in Miami

Caesar Salad 

"One of my favorite things to grill is romaine and use that as a Caesar salad base. It elevates the dish by giving it a smoky, almost indulgent flavor profile, which makes it feel incredibly satisfying. Lightly brush romaine hearts cut in half with oil and grill cut-side down for 1 to 3 minutes, until the leaves are slightly charred. Top with all your favorite Caesar salad accoutrements, olive oil, lemon, and lots of black pepper." — Danny Grant, chef and partner at What If Syndicate 

Any-Season Caesar salad
Credit: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Chicken Skewers

"Everybody should know how to cook kebabs, but the technique for skewering them is just as important. Our favorite is the Lebanese classic shish taouk, marinated chicken cooked on a skewer. The common technique is to skewer relatively large chunks of meat, but we found that slicing the meat a little thinner and threading it back and forth across the skewer is the way to go. Slicing the meat against the grain before you skewer makes the chicken more tender, and results in more surface area being exposed to the marinade, so it penetrates deeper and gives a lot more flavor." Michael Costa, concept chef at José Andrés's Zaytinya in Washington, D.C.

Swordfish

"Swordfish can be prepared in a number of ways, but in my opinion, previously marinated and wrapped in grape leaves and grilled on burning coal remains the most charismatic and tempting. The grape leaves in this dish are an ideal pocket in which to steam the delicious swordfish to perfection on the grill without it drying out too much." Nino La Spina, chef de cuisine at Florie's at Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach

Octopus

"One of the classic ways you'll find octopus in Mexico is octopus al ajillo (sautéed octopus in garlic), but I like to grill instead of making it in the griddle because it enriches the flavor. I love it as an appetizer on skewers, and it's great served with a mezcal cocktail, since the smoky flavor pairs really well." — Diego Moles, chef de cuisine at Acre Baja in Mexico

Pulpo a la Gallega (Grilled Octopus with Potatoes)
Credit: Christopher Testani

Feta Cheese

"Every time I invite friends for a BBQ, we have meat or fish, but the dish we enjoy most before the food is ready is grilled feta cheese. Take some nonstick baking paper and place it inside aluminum foil to create a double envelope. Put a thick slice of feta inside, along with cherry tomatoes cut in half, two thin slices of onion, sweet red pepper, olive oil, fresh thyme, and a basil leaf. Close it tight and grill it from the veggies side of the grill for 10 minutes. Don't forget to grill your bread, too." — Marios Salmatanis, owner and chef of Thalassamou in Paros, Greece

Onions

"Grilled onions are a staple in taco culture, adding a depth of flavor and texture to any taco, no matter the filling. This can translate to so many applications, as simply as accompanying a grilled piece of protein, or more creatively as a base to a salad dressing."Jesus "Chuy" Cervantes, chef de cuisine at Damian in Los Angeles

Burgers

"Fourth of July might be the Super Bowl for those who love to grill—and burgers are synonymous with that day. You can never go wrong with burgers as a dish to throw on the grill, but they can easily be messed up and become overcooked and dry. You can go with a classic patty and bun, or add on some more items like bacon, American cheese (melt on top of the patty at the end), and onions or peppers—if you are feeling frisky—which can be charred on the grill as well."— Akshay Bhardwaj, executive chef of Junoon in NYC