15 Summer Grilling Menus You'll Eat All Season Long
Sun's out, (burger and hot dog) buns out! When it comes to summer grilling, few things are as iconic as that combo. But why settle on the more predictable standbys when you can fire up some more refined classics with elegantly paired, sensational sides made with seasonal produce from your local supermarket? Make the perfect matches with full meals that go together like sun, sea, sand, and wonderful summertime memories with this easy guide to lighting up your grillside menu.
Chicken Wing Dinner
This easy-peasy recipe dresses up a classic Caesar salad preparation with a few well-placed stripes, thanks to your trusty grill. A simple marinade infuses the chicken with flavor after just a few hours, and about half an hour on your coals seals it in. Let the chicken warm on low toward the end of the cooking process to start part two of dinner: the grilled Caesar salad. With the coals dying or the gas turned down, char your lettuce and toast up your baguette — if you've never tried your Romaine grilled, you're in for a treat! When user Molly made it, she declared it "the best part of our meal!"
Sausage Sandwich Menu
What's more summery than walking around with a juicy, dripping sandwich full of sausage, peppers, and onions in your hand? This recipe channels contributor carina's sense of North End Boston nostalgia, and as an added bonus, it "comes together really quickly," they write. Keep that Italian feeling going with Grilled Radicchio with Blue Cheese laced with balsamic vinegar, or make it a killer combo with another classic Italian sausage accompaniment: broccoli rabe. This Grilled Broccoli Rabe recipe takes only 10 minutes to cook, allowing you to sync up all your cooking to the minute.
Baby Back Ribs Menu
Making a mess is half the fun when you're eating outside, which is what makes ribs such a perfect dish for summer dinners. A long cook time gives you an hour and a half to putter around the kitchen making accompaniments while the ribs overtake your entire grill. For instance, why not make Barbeque Potato Salad your side? Set the potatoes to boil right before you put the marinated ribs on the grill; come back inside just in time to pull the potatoes out to chill. Then mix the seasonings together just as the ribs are ready. Another option, if you have the room, is to just go full-tilt into the flavor profile of the ribs and make delicious packets of Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Apples.
Pork Tenderloin Dinner
A quick sear in a pan seals in the flavors of a dry rub before you throw it on the grill, letting all the surrounding heat crust the glaze you'll be basting it with. Fabeverydayblog could find no flaws with this recipe: "Made exactly as written and turned out perfectly." However, as a dish that requires a bit of hovering toward the end, due to glazing steps, it's best to pair it with something you can make in advance or doesn't require any attention. For instance, the lovely Fresh Broccoli Salad, with its sweet touches of raisins, red onions, and sugar, is better after some chilling while Balsamic Grilled Baby Potatoes cook happily in their packets with no supervision. Their cooking time matches the time the pork needs on the grill for perfect synchronicity.
Grilled Chicken Dinner
Step up your grilled chicken game with this easy recipe that uses chipotle peppers, lime, and cilantro to zest up a basic chicken breast. And don't worry about having extra lime and cilantro — you can use it in the Lime Cilantro Rice, a perfect accompaniment that cooks in the time it takes for the chicken to marinate. You'll add in the fresh ingredients at the end, giving you plenty of hands-off time to pull together a colorful Black Bean and Corn Salad while you wait. Allrecipes cook SLJ6 calls it "the best cold bean salad recipe ever!!" and JodiA loved it enough to be glad for leftovers, which were "just as good the next day," especially since refrigeration "mellowed" the lime's brightness. Another perfect option for a "south of the border" summer meal? Elote Grilled Corn, which requires nothing but a bowl for the spread and a grill for your corn.
Shrimp and Scallop Kebobs
The only thing lighter and more refreshing than grilled shellfish in the summer is citrusy grilled shellfish in the summer! This quick-cooking recipe gets dinner from skewer to table in just minutes, which is perfect for those nights where you just want to get right to relaxing. The slight tanginess of the sauce lends itself well to low-maintenance accompaniments like steamed or instant rice; we recommend using black or wild for drama and nuttier flavors. Just as simple to let the seafood shine would be a side of Grilled Asparagus, which is just earthy enough to bring down the sweetness of the shrimp and scallops, but verdant enough to pep up the woody starch.
Quick Burger Dinner
Yes, we did say no burgers, but when the inside is stuffed with cheese, there's no one that will say this is "just" a burger. There's a little more art to it than tossing a patty on grates — Cooking Mama cautions that you must make a tight seal "to avoid a cheesy eruption as the cheese melts, creates steam, and tries to find its way out." Kac2research chimed in that freezing the burgers a bit before grilling "really helps maintain the moisture." Don't forget to toast your buns for this, and take liberties with toppings! The recipe creator likes mushrooms and onions, while WulFTrobe adds guacamole. Instead of fries, serve this with some Grilled Baked Potatoes as a version of summer fries and Sandy's Simple Spring Lettuce Salad, a perfect palate cleanser.
Tropical Chicken Dinner
Teriyaki marinade on grilled chicken is tried and true, so why not give it a little twist by going Hawaiian with it? This sweet, soy-based recipe has over 1,000 five-star ratings to vouch for it, and Pam Bessmer even said this chicken "got rave reviews from the Polynesian dancers" she hired for her husband's birthday luau. Plain rice will do just fine as an accompaniment, but you can bring the Pacific Rim a bit closer with Island-Style Fried Rice, which you can throw together as the chicken grills. Try making it with fresh pineapple and reserve the rest for dessert — Grilled Pineapple Slices with cinnamon and coconut milk are a dream.
Shrimp Scampi Menu
Shrimp cooks fast, so you're going to want sides that do the same. These Buttery Garlic Green Beans do just that, and its dominant flavors provide a great complement to the garlic and butter that makes Grilled Shrimp Scampi so wonderful. The half-hour marinade is what provides an additional depth of flavor aside from the grilled smokiness, a welcome enhancement to a classic. Many in the Allrecipes community choose to pair this with pasta — you may want to do the same, or maybe mix it up with this Summertime Tomato Salad or Sliced Tomatoes with Fresh Herb Dressing.
Skirt Steak Menu
Recipe creator Chef John says, "Two great drinks equal one fantastic marinade for skirt steak," and over a hundred home cooks are inclined to agree. The acid in both tenderizes the meat and accentuates the earthiness of it, and the sugar creates more caramelization once on the grill. This Grilled Potato Salad keeps you in the comfort food flavor zone while this incredibly simple Grilled Zucchini recipe reminds you that despite your home steakhouse menu, it's still summer. Prepare this while you cook the steak; the potato salad and meat are better prepped the day before.
The fish that eats like a steak, swordfish stuffed with spinach and feta cheese is a filling and meaty showstopper. Several cooks recommend mixing the spinach into the cheese; still others love the stuffing so much they make extra for the top. No matter how you choose to stuff it, with a dish as in tune with the flavors of its origin, it's best paired with a side like Greek Pasta Salad, which continues the Mediterranean theme. Like all pasta salads, it's at its best when served cold and a few hours old, allowing the flavors to really blend and seep into the individual ingredients. Community cook Kenreanne Fookes Davis likes it with a pinch of dill, also typical of the region.
Chicken Skewers Menu
Bacon and ranch are one of the most brilliant combinations of flavors. Rich enough to feel indulgent but tart enough to stay fresh, it's a warm-weather favorite that lends itself well to a dozen bases. Start with these chicken skewers as your main, then keep the flavor profile going with Kristen's Bacon Ranch Potato Salad. Give the whole thing a healthier spin by making your own Greek Yogurt Ranch Salad Dressing to use on both the chicken and potatoes (subbing this for the mix), and topping a simple green salad with it to round out your table.
Grilled Pork Chop Menu
Peaches and pork are already a stellar pair, but add a kick of pepper, and their combined flavors are unstoppable. With bold flavors like the ones in this recipe, it's best to let it shine and allow the side dish to be a supporting actor. Grilled Cauliflower, lightly sweetened with brown sugar to level up to the peach salsa, steps into that role well without stepping on any toes. You don't want your veggies to compete — you want to continue that taste of summer stone fruit, which is why the ice cream-topped Chef Jimmie Jones's Drunken Peaches creates the perfect full circle for this meal.
Herby Grilled Chicken Menu
This immensely easy-to-prep, unfussy dish packs a surprising amount of flavors into just a handful of basic ingredients. It looks elegant, and is easily dressed up by great sides, like Skewered Grilled Potatoes, whose rosemary accents tie right back to the main course. Try Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas with Mushrooms to tie it all together, another simple preparation with few ingredients, for a complete summer meal that tastes and feels like much more work than you actually did on this lazy summer day.
Grilled Tuna Menu
The main course is usually the star, but for this meal, a simply prepared grilled tuna steak is just the (meal) ticket to step to the side to let the side shine. When Watermelon Almond Feta and Mint Salad—that improbable blend of sweet, salty, melty, crunchy, watery, and fresh — is on the table, it always deserves to be the star. "Refreshing" is the word used most to describe it, as attested by several community cooks, who found it particularly perfect on a hot day. It's a hard act to follow, but the neutrality of the tuna steak, served with something like Sugar Snap Peas with Mint that bring you back to that herb, helps to keep the menu tied together.