Break from your usual repertoire and discover the full potential of the grill.

By Julia Heffelfinger
Updated May 24, 2017
Eva Kolenko

Come summer, cooking is all about the grill. Man, if I could, I’d prepare every meal on the grill! With a little bit of creativity, this incredibly simple and versatile piece of equipment can cook everything from salads to cakes. Break from your usual repertoire and discover the full potential of fire. Here, 5 things you should be throwing on your grill this summer.

1. Bring on the booze!
Grilling the fruits and vegetables for your cocktails – be it a pitcher of sangria or a Bloody Mary – is an easy way to add an unexpected layer of savory smokiness to your drinks. Before soaking your fruit in wine, adding your cucumber or celery garnish or finishing your gin & tonic with a squeeze of lime, give your produce a quick char. Be sure to do this on a very hot and clean grill (no one wants last night’s BBQ chicken in their drink), cooking the fruit and vegetables until they are lightly charred but still maintain their shape. We plan on making this Grilled Strawberry-Rhubarb Sangria with sparkling wine all summer long.

2. More Cheese, Please.
We’re not talking about cooking your grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas on the grill (although, we do love to make those too), but rather picking the perfect piece of cheese and throwing that sucker right on the grates. As you can imagine, this technique requires a very clean and well-oiled grill, but with the right piece of cheese you can be making instant fondue all summer long.

Try this technique with a thick slab of young provolone tossed in a little flour or a whole wheel of soft-ripened cheese like Brie or Camembert. Grill over moderately high heat, flipping once, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes (max!). Transfer the cheese to a platter and serve immediately with a spicy chimichurri or grilled fruit and a generous portion of grilled bread. (If you’re nervous about daring this trick on your outdoor grill, try grilling cheese inside on a cast-iron grill pan.)

3. Dessert just got REAL.
The grill is a great tool for bringing day-old stale breads back to life. Our latest obsession is taking leftover doughnuts, splitting them in half, smearing with a little butter and grilling until warm and toasty. This also works beautifully with leftover pound cake, banana bread, croissants and even cinnamon rolls. Top the grilled bread with fruit and ice cream, like this version with blueberry-Chambord sauce.

4. Smoke some herbs.
Throwing whole bunches of herbs on the grill – such as rosemary, oregano, thyme – adds char and texture. Grill for a few minutes, turning occasionally, and then remove the leaves from the stems, chop and sprinkle over grilled potatoes, whisk into a vinaigrette, or mix with grilled fruit for a sweet-and-savory relish. Bonus: The herbs will also flavor the smoke coming off of your grill, thus flavoring any meat or vegetables cooking alongside it.

5. We can pickle that!
Throwing pickled fruits and vegetables on the grill is an easy way to add tang and complexity to any dish. Grill pickles for a burger topping, chop and mix into potato salad or use as a garnish for a Bloody Mary. This technique is also great if you have whole leaves of kimchi.