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A Guide to Grilling Your Whole Meal

Starters, sides and even desserts can all be grilled over the same fire you light for your main course. It’s fun and delicious, with the added bonus that you can step outside and stay outside for a whole glorious summer evening.

Starters, sides and even desserts can all be grilled over the same fire you light for your main course. It’s fun and delicious, with the added bonus that you can step outside and stay outside for a whole glorious summer evening.

Here’s the low-down on enjoying a completely fire-kissed meal.

Grilled Sausages with Maple-Glazed Fruit
Grilled Caprese Salad
Grilled Bananas with Sweet Toppings

Prep Ahead

Timing is key when grilling an entire meal. Make a plan, and do as much food preparation as you can before you even warm up the grill. Keep perishable items like meats and seafood well chilled in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Make sure you have everything you need ready and at hand, including tools, utensils, serving platters, salt and pepper for seasoning, and a spray bottle filled with water to control flare-ups.

Fire Up the Grill 

If you’re grilling over coals, use a natural lighting method since chemical fluids or match-light briquettes create unpleasant fumes; a chimney starter is ideal, and natural charcoal will give you a hot, consistent flame that you can easily top off with additional pieces. And whether you use gas or charcoal, make sure your grates are scrupulously clean to prevent sticking.

Make Dual Zones

A two-zone cooking area that includes both direct and indirect heat will be the most versatile for grilling. On a gas grill, keep the flames high to medium-high on one side of the grill and low on the other side. For a charcoal grill, wait until your coals are very hot and lightly ashen, then carefully push them to one side.

Simple Is Good

Don’t overwhelm yourself with lots of labor-intensive recipes. Something as quick and easy as sliced ciabatta brushed with garlic oil makes a perfect appetizer. Any number of summer vegetables can be sliced and cooked in a heavy skillet over the hottest part of your coals. And plain sweet, ripe fruit like peaches or apricots can slowly cook for dessert as the both the evening and your flames begin to wane.

Grilled Tomato and Romaine Salad

Favorites for Every Course

Appetizers like Grilled Caprese Salad or Tandoori-Style Shrimp and Vegetable Kabobs can be assembled on skewers up to several hours ahead and cook up in just a few minutes, freeing up space to start other courses. Or try something as absolutely simple as Bruschetta.

Side dishes that can be served either hot or at room temperature will give you the most leeway in timing. Grilled Tomato and Romaine Salad and Mexican-Style Grilled Corn are summer classics that you can serve at any temperature.

For delicious, hassle-free main courses it’s hard to beat Grilled Barbecue Chicken, Grilled Pork Chops with Chimichurri or vegan Spicy Grilled Tempeh.

And for dessert, who could resist Lavender-Grilled Fruits over Ice Cream or the kid-friendly Grilled Bananas with Sweet Toppings.

Want to grill your brunch? Of course you do! Try Grilled Sausages with Maple-Glazed Fruit and toss a few frozen waffles on the grill too.

It’s summer—enjoy every day of it! What are your favorite items to grill? Is a grilled brunch in your future?

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