15 Tips for Ultimate Summer Grilling

Summer time means grilling time! Grilling tends to be a pretty healthy cooking method — plus it lends itself to sitting outside and throwing BBQs! Summer doesn’t get any better. All grilling methods are not created equal, though. Here are fifteen of my best tips for how to grill!

ultimate guide on how to grill

15 Tips for Ultimate Summer Grilling

For all your BBQ needs.


1. Clean your grill. Even if you’re pretty sure your grill is clean from its last use, it never hurts to give it a little extra TLC before you start another cooking session, because grill grates that aren’t clean can cause sticking (and weird flavors). Scrub the hot grate with a wire brush, then brush it with your oil of choice — and grill away! 

2. Heat it up! Don’t turn your grill on and expect to start cooking right away, it needs plenty of time to preheat. The exact amount of time will differ from grill to grill, but for ideal cooking, it should be hot enough that you can’t hold your hand over it for more than two seconds, which usually takes between fifteen and twenty-five minutes. Use the preheat time to remove any meat from the fridge. You’ll get the best results when meat has time to come to room temperature. 

3. Start with salt. No matter what meat you’re grilling or how you’re preparing it, there’s a basic rule number-one when it comes to the BBQ: always season with salt first. A generous dusting of salt will help bring out the flavor of your meat and will keep it juicy while it’s heating. And don’t worry about the flavor — your finished product will only taste salty if you add too much after cooking.

Grilled Shrimp Salmon Scampi

4. Marinate or season your chicken. The word “marinade” might sound a little fancy, but making one doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need for the perfect flavor on your grilled chicken is a combo of oil (we like avocado oil), acid (lemon or lime juice or vinegar) and spices (dried or fresh) and salt and pepper.

5. Pat steak dry after marinating. You can use a simple marinade for your grilled steaks, as well, but you’ll want to be extra careful to pat red meat dry before putting it over the heat. Marinated, wet red meat won’t get that nice sear on it! 

6. Season burgers. Classic burgers are always a crowd-pleaser, but you can uplevel your patties by adding an extra dash of extra-virgin olive oil. I also love stuffing or seasoning our burgers with a mix of sea salt, garlic, and finely-diced onion. These little additions will keep the fat content of your burger moist and that much more yummy. 

7. Don’t flip steak too frequently. It may make you feel like the queen of the grill to flip that steak every few minutes, but this technique is not going to yield you the best results. Instead, flip your steak only once. Steaks that are one-inch thick should be cooked for three minutes per side on high heat for rare, four minutes on each side for medium rare, and five minutes on each side for medium. 

8. Add veggie! Too often, we forget how delicious grilled vegetables can be in the mix of burgers and steak and chicken and all of the other meats. But if you struggle to squeeze more veggies into your diet, putting some on the BBQ is a great solution! Almost any vegetable can be delicious on the grill with a coating of oil and spices. 

how to grill ribs

9. Sauce ribs at the right time. There are few things better than a bite of freshly-grilled and saucy ribs, and few things more off-putting than ribs that taste a little like burnt sugar. This flavor typically comes from sauce that’s put on too early in the cooking process (because — you guessed it! — the sugar can burn). Slap sauce on those ribs in the final thirty minutes on the grill to achieve perfection. 

10. Put salmon on a cedar plank. You can grab cedar planks from any local hardware store, but they’re good for way more than home repair. If you soak one in salted water for about two hours, it becomes the perfect surface for grilling salmon. Put the soaked plank directly on your grill, then set the fish on top. You’ll get a delicious smoky flavor. 

11. Keep things where they are. Once you’ve placed something on the grill, you don’t need to – and shouldn’t! — move it around too much. And don’t worry about sticking. If meat is stuck to the grates, it will typically unstick itself when it’s ready to be moved. 

12. Score your meat. Scoring meat basically means cutting thin slits in its surface before you cook it. As far as I’m concerned, this is a non-negotiable for grilling! When you include scoring as part of your meat prep routine, it helps the meat cook flat and pulls the juices from any delicious marinade you’ve prepared right into its center. More flavor! 

13. Use proper spacing for skewers. Preparing kebabs? Delicious! Did you know that there’s more to skewers than just spearing a few chunks of meat and veggies and hoping for the best? It’s all in the spacing. Meat actually stays juicier during cooking when it’s touching — but not packed too tightly against — whatever’s next to it. Don’t overstuff your skewers, but don’t leave too much space between ingredients, either. 

Grilled Corn 

14. Do corn on the cob right. Does anything taste more summery than corn on the cob, fresh off the grill? I don’t think so! To prepare corn for grilling open up the husks, while keeping them on the corn and remove the silk. Fold the husks back into place and soak the corn for 10 minutes in cold, salty water. Grill with the husks until the kernels are cooked and serve with a bit of grass-fed butter and a sprinkle of sea salt before putting it on the grill for fifteen to twenty minutes. 

15. Give it a rest. Your food is bound to look delicious coming off the grill (especially if you follow all of these tips), but it’s important to resist the urge to start eating it right away. Grilled meat is best served after five to ten minutes of rest. Pour yourself a cocktail or visit with guests while you wait! 

Easy Grilled Vegetables


This article was originally published in partnership with American Express in May 2015, but we’ve updated it and expanded on this topic in June 2019.

Memorial Day BBQ Hits

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and if you’re turning the grill on for some fun outside, these BBQ hits are a must-make!

Memorial Day BBQ Hits

I’m so excited to bring you my favorite BBQ must-have recipes!

Drinks:

Cantaloupe Ginger Cocktails: Such a refreshing, tasty, and lightened up cocktail recipe. The combination of melon, ginger, and fresh mint is absolutely delicious!

Frose: These Frosé slushies are the ultimate way to celebrate rosé season! Refreshing, minimal ingredients, and so easy to prepare… It’s a Summer cocktail WIN!

Lightened Up Pina Colada: The perfect simple and refreshing Summer drink! Simply toss all of the ingredients into a blender, buzz, and sip!  

Raspberry Gin Cocktail:  We’re making our own simple syrup (and I promise, it’s super simple to prepare), made with no refined sugars for a delicious and guilt-free cocktail.


Apps/Sides

Chicken Bacon Ranch Baked Hummus Dip: Chicken, bacon, and ranch flavor is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations, and if you haven’t tried baked hummus, you need to try it immediately!!  

Guacamole: Don’t forget an appetizer. Whip up some delicious homemade guacamole and pair it with plantain chips, homemade crackers, and tortilla chips!

Deviled Eggs: Eat them as a snack or make these easy Instant Pot deviled eggs!

Aji Salsa: 5-Minute Ají, also known as Colombian-Style Salsa, is our favorite salsa OF ALL TIME. I am a big salsa girl, so don’t take that statement lightly. 

Chipotle Slaw: Pair any dish with some veggie-packed chipotle slaw. A favorite of mine!

Crunchy Chicken Slaw: This slaw comes together in 15 minutes and is such a delicious combination of sweet and savory!

Mexican Street Corn Salad: A total hit every single time!

Beet Slaw: This slaw is tangy and sweet, with delicious farm fresh flavors from the beets, scallions, and fresh mint! It pairs perfectly with grilled chicken or salmon, or as an addition to any leafy green salad.

Melon Salad with Prosciutto: This salad is gluten-free and grain-free, and packed with fresh mint, sweet melon, ripe avocado, salty prosciutto, and the most wonderful light vinaigrette dressing.

Loaded Kimchi Fries: Perfectly crispy oven baked fries topped with caramelized kimchi (seriously amazing), cilantro, cheddar cheese, onion, and a special spicy sauce makes for the ultimate vegetarian side-dish or appetizer.

Grilled Peach, Avocado, and Crab Salad: If you haven’t tried grilled peaches with avocado, this is a must-try!

Tropical Cooked Shrimp Ceviche: Bringing you to the tropics with this light, refreshing, and delicious appetizer that everyone will love. Bonus: It makes a bunch!

Coconut Curry Ceviche: The prettiest appetizer for any BBQ spread! Spruce up your plating by serving it in a coconut, or just serve in a bowl!

Cold Asian Noodle Salad: A favorite Summer side dish!! 

Watermelon Ahi Tuna Salad: The combination of juicy watermelon, marinated zesty ahi tuna, and fresh cucumber in this Watermelon Ahi Tuna Salad makes for the perfect light and refreshing summer salad or meal starter! 

Braised Artichokes: We top them with extra fresh lemon and my Garlicky Pecan Bread Crumbs. You are in for a nutritious side dish/appetizer/or even a snack.  

Blender Salsa: The thing I love about a really really good blender is that it does all of the work for you. It’s easy as put everything in and BLEND.  


Mains

Carne Asada: This Slow Cooker Carne Asada is the perfect set it and forget it meal. On top of a salad, nachos, in lettuce cups for healthier tacos — the options are endless!

Beef Barbacoa: This Beef Barbacoa (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot) is so flavorful and slow cooked to perfection made either in the slow cooker or the Instant Pot pressure cooker! It is a great recipe for leftovers, too! 

Honey Mustard Wings: This Honey Mustard Chicken Wings recipe can be made in the Instant Pot or baked in the oven, and they are a crowd please. A perfect game day or dinner wings recipe that everybody will love.

Grilled Salmon and Shrimp Scampi: A perfect main dish that’s served over pasta so it’s nice and hearty! 

Grilled Caesar Salad with Blackened Shrimp: The perfect meal to impress with this Summer. Smoky and flavorful shrimp, perfectly grilled romaine lettuce, and fresh tomatoes drizzled with my go-to dairy-free caesar salad dressing. I cannot wait to make this again and again! The blackened shrimp is amazing on absolutely everything! 

Chili Garlic and Lime Chicken Satay Skewers: These chicken skewers are packed with flavor and are so simple to prepare. Serve them as an appetizer when you have guests and watch them fly off the plate!

Sriracha Lime Chicken Chopped Salad: One of my most popular recipes! The combination of lime, perfectly seasoned chicken, sriracha, and grilled pineapple is so so delicious!

Moroccan Chicken Burger: A perfect change from your traditional beef burger with SO MUCH FLAVOR!

Bruschetta Chicken: A perfect dinner option. Grill up some marinated chicken and top it with tasty bruschetta for the BBQ win!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork: The perfect combination of sweet and smokey!

Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad: This dish requires very little cooking and is so simple to throw together! PLUS it is so flavorful! Add your favorite Summer greens into the pesto, toss with gluten-free pasta, tomatoes, and delicious Italian spices and BOOM: Summer side perfection.

Baked Buffalo Wings: A healthier version of such a flavorful dish for weekend BBQs!

Dry-Rub Grilled Wings: These wings are flavor-packed and grilled to perfection. Plus, they are easy breezy! Perfect for anyone on grill duty this weekend.

Tomato Jalapeño Salmon Burgers: These burgers have just the right amount of flavor. They are bursting with scallions, jalapeños, and fresh garlic- and go fantastic with some homemade guacamole and fixins’, if you ask me!

BBQ Chicken Pizza: Get creative with this BBQ Chicken Pizza and toss the crust on the grill!


Desserts

Edible Cookie Dough Dip: Think all of the delicious and creamy flavors of regular cookie dough, but without flour or the eggs… snack time, or dessert time, WIN!

Cherry Lemonade Popsicles: Cool off with Summer popsicles (a little vodka would be delicious in these, too)!

Honey Lime Fruit Salad with Cinnamon Sugar Chips: Let’s kick up the standard fruit salad and bring this healthy dessert that’s a little more fun to the party.

Honey Grilled Bananas with Chocolate Mocha Sauce: Fruit on the grill is the best. Especially drizzled with this chocolate mocha sauce.

Strawberry Shortcake: I’ve combined the perfect biscuit with dairy-free whipped cream, fresh strawberries, and easy strawberry sauce for the ultimate classic summer dessert!

Paleo Cherry Pie Bar: Add cherries to your spread, with these delicious bars!

Berry Cobbler: The BEST, festive one-pan cobbler!

Festive 4th of July Cake: It’s nut-free too!!


Don’t forget my grilling guide to help you through the BBQ!

Grilling 101

Happy BBQing!

Lexi