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8 Summer Grilling Ideas & Tips

Summer is full of outdoor cookouts and grilled food, so satisfy taste buds and guests with these summer grilling tips, recipes, and ideas!

8 Summer Grilling Ideas & Tips


Summer is full of warm days conducive for outdoor cookouts and summer activities to enjoy with friends and family.

But this does not always mean a menu filled with overly processed meats and mayo-based sides. In fact, grilling out can be both nutritious AND delicious with a few tweaks.

So this summer, satisfy those waistlines, taste buds, and guests with these quick grill ideas, tips, and recipes!

Summer BBQ Ideas and Tips

From charcoal grilling tips to flavorful recipes, find out how to prepare the best BBQ this summer.

1. Keep a Clean Workspace and Grill

A clean workspace offers less room for making silly mistakes, including the risk of foodborne illnesses and cross-contamination. Cleaning recommendations can also vary between a gas and charcoal grill. Nonetheless, it is important to clean a grill properly.

If using charcoal, clean it after each use to prevent charcoal buildup and the risk of a fire. While gas grilling does not require the same demands as using charcoal, still maintain its upkeep.

For each, scrubbing while still hot and with a sturdy metal brush is the easiest way to clean the grill. However, it is important to let it cool off some to prevent from serious burns while cleaning.

Keeping a clean grill ultimately results in a fresh BBQ taste each time you use it.

2. Prepare the Meat and Grill

Before placing the meat on the grill, allow it to rest on the counter for about 30 minutes. Offering this time results even cooking and a more desirable product.

Light the coals and fire up the grill 15 to 20 minutes before placing the meat as well. This ensures a desirable sear on the exterior and moist interior, while preventing against sticking.

Also reduce the risk of sticking by rubbing a well-oiled paper towel using tongs directly over the rack using tongs. Do this prior to placing the meat on the grill.

3. Do Not Touch the Meat

Like allowing cold meat to rest on the counter, continue to abide by the "hands-off" approach. And the fewer times you flip, the better the outcome.

If the meat is stuck to the grill, let it cook more - it will unstick itself when ready to flip. Do not "squish down" any meat, either, as doing so can squeeze out the flavor and moisture.

4. Buy a Meat Thermometer

Cooking the meat to its designated internal temperature lessens the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Buying a meat thermometer can gauge the temperature of the meat. Place the thermometer in the center or the thickest part of the cut for the most accurate reading.

But as an additional note, food continues to cook after it leaves the grill, going up about five degrees. Undercooking slightly and planning accordingly helps lessen the risk of a tough and chewy piece of meat. 

5. Rest the Meat for Max Results

Though the aroma of the grilled meat may be tempting, the "hands-off" approach continues!

Allow the meat to sit undisturbed and unsliced for about 10 minutes after cooking.

And as a general rule, the bigger the piece of meat, the longer the rest time. Resting the meat is an important key to juicy results.

6. Flavor with Marinades or Dry Rubs

Marinades are usually a mix of liquid ingredients, fruit or vegetable juices, wine, water or oil, combined with seasonings and herbs. But ditch the store-bought products loaded with salt, sugar, and fat and create a healthy marinade.

Allow the meat to soak in the marinade for five hours or overnight. Keep in mind pork, fish, and chicken need no more than two hours to steep before the flavors are locked inside.

Dry rubs are likewise helpful in flavoring meats without extra calories, sugar, and fat. They are prepared with ingredients likely already stocked in the pantry, including dried herbs and spices.

7. Don't Forget the Produce

Although grilled meats are commonly the main star at BBQs, do not forget the produce!

Grill vegetables for the best flavor by first ensuring they are firm and ripe. Cut them into large pieces and place them onto skewers. Then, lightly with a vegetable oil spray and season with herbs, soy sauce, wine or flavored vinegar.

Grilled eggplant, bell peppers, red onions, cabbage, tomatoes, summer squash, russet and sweet potatoes are all delicious, grill-friendly options.

And like veggies, fruits such as apples, apricots, peaches, and pears grill up to a delectable end product. Spray the fruit with vegetable oil, sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon or ginger, and grill them until they are slightly brown.

8. Keep the Menu Simple (and Healthy)

Remember, one of the greatest luxuries of grilling season is the ease of preparation.

Especially if serving and entertaining, keep the menu selections simple. This grants you more time to spend with loved ones rather than slaving in the kitchen or over the hot grill!

Also keep a healthier, yet satisfying menu with these easy grilling recipes and swaps:

• Hot dogs for herb beef sirloin skewers or chicken kabobs

• Baby back ribs for skirt steak

• Mayo-based coleslaw for Greek yogurt coleslaw

• Potato salad for glorious grilled potatoes

• Store-bought barbecue sauce for a homemade BBQ sauce made healthier

Ultimately, try to stick with leaner cuts of meat and simple ingredients. The grill will help bring out the natural flavors while health goals can remain intact.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on July 29, 2013. Updated on July 15, 2019.

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