Think about why you love the taste of grilled food; it's that smoky flavor, those slightly charred edges and the tender insides that make you and your family say “yum”. Plus, it gives you a great reason to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. And after cooking at home more frequently lately, you may be looking for some new ideas for mealtime. So, the grill is the perfect solution!
You probably typically grill meats like chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and steaks, but there are so many other foods you can grill, including produce, canned items (like peaches and pineapple), sandwiches and more. That’s where our out-of-the-box grilling ideas come into play!
Keep reading to check out five fabulous ways to use your gas or charcoal grill to toast up some tasty meals using foods you wouldn’t think to grill.
Grilling Idea #1: Grilled Lettuce and Tomato Salad
Salad is crisp and refreshing, but this innovative grilling idea adds a different kind of crunch you and your family will love. An added bonus is that this dish comes together in about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high.
- Slice small to medium hearts of romaine lettuce in half lengthwise.
- Brush the lettuce hearts with olive oil and season all sides with salt and pepper.
- Place the hearts on the grill. Cook for two to three minutes per side until the lettuce is charred to your liking.
- Tear or cut the lettuce for plating, or serve the hearts whole like wedges. Drizzle each with your favorite dressing and sprinkle on toppings.
- The grill grates likely retained some of the romaine's oil. Keep the grill on medium-high heat.
- Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise.
- Drizzle olive oil over the cut tomatoes. Season them with garlic salt and black pepper.
- Put the tomatoes on the grill with their cut sides up and grill them about four minutes until they begin to sizzle.
- Turn the tomatoes over and grill them for about three more minutes.
- Serve with your grilled romaine.
Once you've mastered these basics, you might be feeling a little more ambitious. Try our Balsamic Grilled Vegetable Salad that includes squash, zucchini, red onions, and other veggies. However, you can easily make this recipe your own by grilling your favorite combination of vegetables or choosing ones that you already have on-hand.
Grilling Idea #2: Grilled Doughnuts
Yes, you read that correctly! After a lively barbecue dinner, serve grilled doughnuts, complete with a dipping sauce, for dessert. Bake your donuts from scratch or buy them fresh. Glaze 'em, grill 'em for a minute so the sugar caramelizes, and dip 'em in melted chocolate or warm raspberry jam. It's that easy and oh-so-heavenly for a summer-night treat.
- Make or buy a dozen plain or cinnamon sugar doughnuts.
- Whip up a glaze by mixing 2 cups of powdered sugar, a quarter- cup of water or milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla until smooth. Add a teaspoon more liquid if the glaze is too thick for dunking. Then dunk each doughnut into the glaze to coat it.
- Preheat your grill to medium heat.
- Lightly coat the glazed doughnuts with cooking spray.
- Grill each doughnut until it's lightly browned, about 30 seconds to a minute per side. Keep a constant watch so they don't burn.
Tip: Skip making your own glaze and buy glazed donuts instead!
For another grilled doughnut recipe that's perfect for brunch, breakfast or dessert, try our Strawberry Shortcake Grilled Donuts. Creamy, tangy, and sweet, this grilling idea is flavorful and oh-so-tasty! No fresh strawberries on-hand? Frozen will work fine too! Simply thaw and pat dry with a paper towel before incorporating them into the recipe.
Or if you want to try adding some smokey grilled fruit instead of the strawberries, canned pineapple or peaches are a delicious and affordable choice!
Grilling Idea #3: Grilled Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches are kid-friendly classics, but why limit your cooking to the stove? Take this sandwich name literally and grill your grilled cheeses — outdoors. A grilled grilled cheese sandwich has an amazingly crispy, crunchy, and buttery texture. For this grilling idea, you can make it basic with regular American cheese or upgrade it by using Gouda, white cheddar, or Swiss cheeses, and by adding things like cooked bacon strips, grilled onions and tomato.
The key to grilled grilled cheese is to use the right bread that holds up to the high heat and gets a crispy char. Consider chewy sourdough bakery bread, a sliced French bread baguette or a thick and chunky multigrain loaf. Just grill your grilled cheese as you would on the stovetop.
Grilling Idea #4: Grilled Skillet Cornbread
Cornbread isn't just for winter-weather meals. The fire-roasted flavor of grilled cornbread goes beautifully with all things BBQ. Grill it for the crunchiest edges and the moistest, softest inside. You can use your favorite packaged cornbread mix to create your batter or make your batter from scratch.
- Grease the bottom of a 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Place it on a preheated grill to warm up for about 10 minutes. If your skillet is larger, you may want to double the batter recipe so the cornbread stays nice and thick.
- Pour the prepared cornbread batter into the hot skillet and spread it evenly with a spatula.
- After about 5 minutes grilling uncovered, a crust should begin to form. Close the grill lid, but leave it open enough to vent.
- Grill the skillet for 20 minutes or until the cornbread is firm to the touch. A knife inserted into the center should come out clean.
- Optional: Melt butter and mix it with a bit of honey. Brush this mixture on top of the cornbread after it's done.
Grilling Idea #5: Grilled Mixed Nuts
For an unexpectedly brilliant pairing, grab a favorite cold brew and nosh on some savory grilled nuts (learn more about beer pairings here). Grilling mixed nuts brings out the smoky flavor that they're meant to have on a warm day. The key to grilling nuts is to avoid burning them by keeping the heat low and frequently stirring the pan.
- Use a disposable foil pan to grill nuts.
- Combine any or all of the following ingredients in a large bowl:
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce or 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Finely chopped fresh parsley
- Add 4 cups of mixed nuts to the bowl. Toss to coat them evenly with the seasoning mixture. Transfer the nuts to the disposable foil pan.
- Grill on very low heat for about 20 minutes or until the nuts are dry and feel crispy. Stir them every few minutes — nuts burn easily.
- Let the nuts completely cool before eating.
And there you have it - 5 out-of-the-box grilling ideas using foods you wouldn’t think to grill! Looking for more grilling ideas to get outside, enjoy some fresh air and cook up some delicious meals? Head on over to our recipe portal for even more grilling recipes. Then, visit your local Food Lion to pick up everything you need to make your next grilled dish.