21 Quick Grilling Recipes for Summer Weeknights
There’s certainly a time and a place for low-and-slow grilling—allowing huge slabs of meat to smoke and slowly turn fall-apart tender via indirect heat. After all, that’s how true pulled pork, Texas-style brisket, and other delicacies of American barbecue are made.
While indisputably delicious, these dishes require the kind of time that most of us have only on weekends. That doesn’t mean grilling is out of the question during the week, though—the intense heat levels a grill can achieve make it a practical method for quickly cooking steaks, chops, fish, and more.
With that in mind, we’ve collected 21 of our favorite fast grilling recipes—including skewers, seafood, and perfectly flame-kissed vegetables—all of which are done in 45 minutes or less. Check out our guide to grilling for even more recipes and helpful how-tos.
Grilled Snacks and Side Dishes
It’s not hard to see why these grilled cheese skewers are such a popular snack in Brazil—how do you argue with molten cheese on a stick? Plus, they’re so easy, they practically make themselves. The cheese of choice, queijo de coalho (available online if you’re not lucky enough to have a Brazilian market nearby), typically comes pre-skewered, so all you have to do is grill the skewers until the cheese is deeply golden brown on the outside and warmed through.
This recipe showcases our preferred way to grill crisp green vegetables so that they actually stay crisp even as they char. By placing the vegetables on a small wire rack directly over a chimney starter full of hot coals, you ensure they get hit hard with the intense heat they need to cook through quickly without turning limp. Stalks of broccolini, cooked until just tender and dressed in umami-rich XO sauce, are a perfect illustration of the process.
Save the snap in your sugar snaps by grilling them with the same hot-and-fast chimney-starter method used for the broccolini above. Once they’re well blistered, we pair these sweet snap peas with a creamy buttermilk-dill dressing for a nicely dippable backyard snack.
It’s really easy to burn asparagus on the grill, or overcook it until the stalks are floppy and flaccid. Using the chimney-starter method lightly chars the asparagus and helps the spears retain a slight bite. An herb-filled Green Goddess Dressing makes an excellent dipping partner.
Cabbage may seem like an underwhelming choice for a vegetable side, but when
prepared on the grill, it develops a nutty, sweet flavor and tons of crisply charred edges. Cutting the head into wedges, but leaving the root end intact, allows you to grill it without it falling apart. This version pairs the cabbage with a punchy Thai dressing of hot chilies, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and herbs; for alternatives, check out our Grilled Cabbage With Blue Cheese Dressing and Grilled Cabbage With Yogurt and Mint.
Grilling brings out the best in fresh summer corn: The powerful heat helps concentrate the kernels’ sweetness, and, if you use our recommended method of shucking before grilling, adds a pleasant char to the exterior. Basic grilled corn needs very little adornment, but if you want to get adventurous, try adding flavorings, like garlic and ginger soy butter, harissa and mint, or spicy chili mayo.
Perhaps the best way in the world to serve grilled corn, and certainly our personal favorite, is in the form of elotes, or Mexican street corn. Simply slather your lightly charred corn with a creamy mixture of mayo, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, and Cotija cheese. A squeeze of lime finishes it off, cutting through the richness of the cheese and mayonnaise.
Like cabbage and other brassicas, cauliflower benefits from an intense blast of heat to bring out its sweetness, and a grill is the perfect tool for the job. An earthy spice rub with just a bit of heat gives this cauliflower lots of flavor, while starting over direct heat and finishing over indirect leaves the thick wedges crisp on the outside and tender inside.
Grilled Main Dishes
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts often get a bad rap for turning out tough, overcooked, and low on flavor. But when time is tight, and as long as you’re willing to invest a little extra care and attention, they can be among the best cuts of meat to bring to the grill. We brine the meat quickly before cooking to maintain its juiciness and flavor, and dry the breasts thoroughly to achieve browning faster. Pounding the breasts to an even thickness also helps them cook more evenly.
When you’ve got mere minutes to get dinner on the table, these chicken cutlets are the answer. Because they’re so thin, they cook through in record time, and a marinade of garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, and olive oil doubles nicely as a finishing sauce. We grill them on the first side until they’re golden brown and almost cooked through before flipping and cooking for just 30 seconds on the second side.
As the above chicken cutlet recipe shows us, it’s entirely possible to make flavorful chicken without an hours-long marinade. For these quick chicken and cherry tomato kebabs, we first marinate the chicken briefly in a mixture of garlic, lemon juice, maple syrup, and olive oil. Grilling the tomatoes and chicken on separate skewers allows you to cook each one as long as it needs and no more, so the little tomatoes don’t end up shriveled beyond recognition by the time the chicken is tender and charred.
This is a skewer for those who prefer their meat simple and unadorned, without any marinades or sauces to get in the way of the rich lamb flavor. Though mutton is traditional, we swap in more accessible lamb shoulder and thread chunks of lamb fat on the skewers along with the meat for extra flavor. Using our new-and-improved skewer-grilling setup allows you to minimize the distance between the coals and the skewers, for a faster cooking time resulting in charred and juicy meat.
This is a burger for when you want to get fancy: Though it comes together in just 30 minutes, and the patties themselves are fairly basic, an impressive array of toppings makes them fit for a special occasion. The juicy patties, formed from freshly ground beef chuck, are topped with lightly seared romaine lettuce, garlic confit, and a generous slab of garlic-parsley compound butter, which melts alluringly into both the meat and the bun.
In this Chilean sandwich, the familiar pairing of grilled beef on a bun gets finished with juicy sliced tomatoes and a much less familiar ingredient—cooked green beans. It might sound like an unlikely combination, but somehow it works. You’ll want to cook the beans until they’re well softened, so that they integrate fully into the sandwich.
Blackened-fish sandwiches are a classic Florida dish for good reason. We coat fillets of sturdy white fish, such as grouper or mahi-mahi, in a paprika-based spice rub, then grill them until they’re dark and crisp, yet still juicy and flavorful within. Once cooked, the fillets are stacked on tender rolls with lettuce, tomato, and a creamy condiment, like mayo, tartar sauce, or rémoulade. It’s a simple and easy-to-make sandwich that tastes like pure summer.
Halibut is a flaky, meaty white fish that becomes near-glorious when simply grilled with salt and pepper, using the method we recommend for all grilled fish fillets. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels, brush them with oil, and season them liberally before adding them to the grill. Once the fish is cooked, it needs no more gussying up than a squeeze of lemon before it’s ready to eat.
Though they’re small fish, sardines pack a ton of flavor. Once they’re grilled, they don’t need much more than a squeeze of lemon juice, but a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic before they’re cooked helps reinforce that flavor. A little smoked Spanish paprika in the marinade accentuates the smokiness the fish draw from the live fire. Check out our guide to buying, cleaning, and filleting fresh sardines if you’ve never cooked with them before.
Few dishes taste more like the Mediterranean coast than simple grilled squid sprinkled with olive oil and lemon juice. Carefully drying the cleaned squid bodies before they’re grilled ensures they turn out well browned, while placing them over intense direct heat helps them sear quickly before they overcook and become rubbery.
The classic combination of fennel-scented Italian sausage and sweet and tangy peppers doesn’t need much improvement, but a multistep cooking process avoids some of the common pitfalls of grilling sausages, including the dreaded blowout. We cook the sausages in a pan placed directly over the grill, along with the sautéed peppers and onions, then finish them on the hot side of the grill to give them color and char.
This recipe follows the same method used for the Italian sausages above, but with a completely different set of flavors. For juicy, snappy grilled brats, start by cooking them in a bath of sauerkraut, beer, and mustard in a disposable aluminum pan placed right on top of the grill grate. After the sausages have slowly simmered in the liquid and absorbed its flavor, finish them over scorching direct heat to get them nicely browned.
Grilling a whole beef tenderloin might sound like a long project better suited to the weekend, but this supremely impressive main dish actually comes together in just 45 minutes. First, we encrust the tenderloin in salt, which seasons the meat deeply and insulates it against the heat. A damp kitchen towel wrapped around the tenderloin then helps the salt adhere, forming a crust, before the whole package is thrown directly into the hot coals. The towel simply burns away during the cook, leaving nothing but perfectly rare or medium-rare meat.
Halloumi is a salty and squeaky semi-soft cheese from Cyprus that takes well to grilling, since it’s firm enough to hold its shape over very high heat. Here, we thread the cubed cheese onto skewers along with onions, zucchini, and tomatoes. Before cooking, the vegetables get tossed with a simple Greek-inspired marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and herbs, for extra flavor.
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