10+ Summer Grill Recipes from the Pros

From classic chicken wings to vegetables to delicious desserts, these grill-centered recipes will keep your kitchen cool — and have your mouth watering.
by Hannah Kaufman 

Summer — time to head outside and get the grill going! This mix of classic and unconventional recipes will get you ready for toasty nights filled with smoky aromas and family-style dinners under the stars. Here are 10 recipes to grill outside this summer. P.S. For grill tips from an expert on everything from placing vegetables on the burner to using indoor grill options, head here.

Humble Pie’s Tandoori Lamb Chops

This recipe from our September 2020 feature on Warehouse district stalwart Humble Pie calls for tangy spices, tender lamb, and a fresh cucumber-tomato salad to make a delicious grilled dish for a night in with friends or family. 

1 rack of lamb, cut into chops
Salt and pepper
Tandoori powder
3/4 cup butter
4 garlic cloves, grated and divided use
1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 small red onion, Julienned
Small bunch of cilantro
Splash red wine vinegar
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons of olive oil

Directions Season the lamb chops with salt, pepper and tandoori powder. Grill over charcoal heat until 135 degrees in the center, about 7 minutes per side. Combine yogurt, mayonnaise and two cloves of grated garlic in a small bowl. Reserve. Brown the butter with the remaining grated garlic until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. For the salad: Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and cilantro. Season with salt, pepper, red wine vinegar and olive oil. To plate, spread the yogurt sauce on a plate, top with lamb, then drizzle with brown butter. Serve with the tomato and cucumber salad.

Chef Jeff Seizer’s Grilled Chicken and Corn

“I love to finish anything from the grill with a big squeeze of fresh lemon, EVOO and some thin-sliced radishes. The flavor of a bright herb marinade complements anything that comes from the grill,” says Royale Chef Jeff Seizer in the June 2020 issue

Chicken & Vegetable Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 parts
Vegetables such as corn, ramps, eggplant, yellow peppers or summer squash

Herb Marinade Ingredients:
1 cup each of basil, parsley and cilantro
Fresh herbs of your choice (in addition to the above, or as a substitution)
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground fennel
1 tablespoon Zaatar (optional)
1 tablespoon chili flakes (or less depending on desired spice level)
Juice of one lemon
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions Blend all ingredients except olive oil in a blender or food processor. Slowly add olive oil until combined. Marinate the chicken and vegetables (separately) overnight or for at least four hours. To grill the chicken and vegetables: The chicken can go right from the marinade to the grill. Season with salt once it’s on. Keep an eye on the chicken so it does not catch fire. Don’t be afraid to move it around. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. When the chicken is almost done, throw on your corn and other vegetables. Grill until nice and charred, about 10 minutes.

Thai Grilled Chicken Legs 

Grab a can of beer and head out to the backyard for this savory-sweet meal found in our July 2015 issue. Poached in coconut milk and beer, and grilled with brown sugar, this chicken will make you feel like dessert came early!

Tai Grilled Chicken Ingredients:
Serves 4
3 cans pilsner or Belgian ale (I recommend Raleigh Brewing Company’s Hell Yes Ma’am) *
One 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
8 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon salt
2 pounds chicken drumsticks
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ cup chopped cilantro stems
¼ cup mint leaves, for garnish
¼ cup sliced jalapeños, for garnish
* Take 2 tablespoons from one of the cans of beer and set aside.

Directions In a large stockpot, combine all but two tablespoons of the beer, coconut milk, four of the garlic cloves, salt, and two cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a simmer. Add the chicken and simmer slowly until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and let cool completely. In a food processor, add the brown sugar, white pepper, coriander, fish sauce, soy sauce, cilantro stems, remaining garlic cloves, and reserved two tablespoons of beer. Preheat a charcoal grill. Brush the marinade over the chicken pieces, then grill over direct heat until grill marks form, a few minutes per side. Serve with mint leaves and jalapeños.

Matt Register’s Smoked Turkey

Swap the classic grilled chicken for this smoked turkey recipe using BBQ master Matt Register’s recipe from his Thanksgiving table — that works all year ‘round. Here he combines he combines smoky paprika with sweet brown sugar for an extra tender meat and crisp outside.

Smoked Turkey Ingredients
½ cup cooking oil 
Turkey breasts (4 to 8 pounds)
1 tablespoon garlic powder 
2 teaspoons seasoned salt 
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt 
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup packed brown sugar 

Prepare a smoker to run at 250 degrees. Pour the cooking oil over the turkey and use your hands to rub the oil all over its surface until it is completely coated. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, seasoned salt, paprika, salt, pepper, basil and brown sugar until well combined. Pour the mixture over the oiled turkey. Smoke the turkey until it reaches 160 degrees, about one hour per pound. Remove the turkey from the smoker and place it on a baking sheet. Lightly tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before slicing.

Fanny Slater’s Coconut Chili Wings 

One of Fanny Slater’s acclaimed crowd-pleasers, this December 2017 recipe for Coconut Chili Wings balances the fiery hot flavor of the wings with a fresh, citrusy beer to cool you down. 

Coconut Chill Wing Ingredients:
Red curry coconut, fresh chili, and lime grilled chicken wings
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon lemongrass, minced or grated
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 Thai red hot chilies, deseeded and cut into slivers
2 tablespoons red curry paste
One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Zest and juice of 1 lime
12 whole chicken wings, split into wings and drumettes (24 pieces total)
Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

Directions In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilies, and red curry paste and cook until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, honey, fish sauce, and lime zest and juice, and whisk to combine. Simmer the sauce for 3 to 5 minutes, and then season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Divide the sauce into two batches and cool to room temperature. Generously season the wings with salt and pepper and then toss them in half of the sauce. Marinate in the fridge for at least several hours, or overnight. Preheat the oven to 325. Remove the wings from the marinade and arrange them in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until almost cooked through and lightly browned, about 25 to 30 minutes. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat and slowly reheat the second half of the coconut sauce. Continuously basting with the warmed-up sauce, grill the wings until they have generous char marks, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. Arrange the wings on a platter and garnish with the lime wedges, cilantro, and remaining red chili slivers. Serves 10 – 12 as an appetizer

Fanny Slater’s Melted Brie, Date, and Nutella S’mores

Chicken, steak, sausage… and nutella s’mores? Break up the monotony of meat-centered meals with a light and delicious dessert by Fanny Slater, found in December 2017. This treat is perfect for sitting around the firepit on summer nights.

Briei, Date, and Nutella S’more Ingredients:
Melted Brie, date, and Nutella s’mores
24 graham cracker squares
1 cup hazelnut spread
12 thin slices of brie cheese
½ cup pitted medjool dates, sliced thinly long-way
1 cup orange marmalade

Directions Preheat a grill to medium heat (or your oven to 350 degrees). Lay out half of the graham cracker squares. Top each one with a smear of hazelnut spread, a slice of brie, and a few date slices. Spread the other graham cracker with orange marmalade and then place it jam-side down on the s’more. Wrap each s’more individually in a foil package and then place them on the grill (or in the oven). Cook until the brie is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 10 – 12

Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken 

Lemon and rosemary are a classic pairing in both the home and the kitchen, and this recipe is a reminder that the simple combo of herbs, citrus, a good cut of meat and the flame of the grill are a perfect duo. With the help of this May 2014 recipe that is “simple, flavorful and feeds the masses!”

Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken Ingredients:
8 boneless chicken breasts
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
⅔ cup lemon juice
4 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves
Kosher salt
Ground pepper
2 lemons, halved
Fresh rosemary sprigs

Directions Season chicken with salt and pepper. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and rosemary.  Place chicken in a plastic bag and combine with marinade. Seal bag and refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Grill over low heat until cooked through.  Remove and cover with aluminum foil. Grill lemon halves briefly until slightly charred. Slice each breast in half and serve on a platter with grilled lemon halves and rosemary sprigs.

Fanny Slater’s Garlicky Grilled Shrimp 

Calling all seafood lovers! This July 2017 recipe, featuring jumbo shrimp garnished with garlic and dipped in a light oregano and lemon pesto butter sauce, will satisfy all your shrimp-related needs.

Garlicky Shrimp Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of your knife but still intact
24 raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on
Wooden skewers soaked in water
Coarse salt and black pepper
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Oregano and lemon pesto butter (recipe follows)

Garlicky Shrimp Directions In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat and add the smashed garlic. Cook until garlic is golden brown on both sides, then remove each clove with a slotted spoon. Cool the oil to room temperature and divide into two portions. Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Butterfly the shrimp by making a slit in them lengthwise. Thread the shrimp onto skewers and then brush them using the first bowl of garlic oil and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Grill the shrimp until opaque, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Using the second bowl of garlic oil, brush the cooked shrimp again and then arrange the skewers onto a platter. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve ramekins of the Oregano and Lemon Pesto Butter alongside for dipping. Serves 4.

Lemon and Pesto Butter Ingredients
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 small cloves garlic
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons honey
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted over low heat

Lemon Pesto Directions In a dry small skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, until lightly golden and very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Immediately remove from the pan and transfer to a bowl to stop the cooking process. In a food processor, pulse the pumpkin seeds, garlic, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper until the seeds are broken down. Add the parmesan, oregano, basil, honey, and lemon zest and juice and pulse until thoroughly combined. With the motor running, stream in the olive oil a little bit at a time until the pesto is velvety. Place the pesto in a deep bowl and slowly whisk in the melted butter until thoroughly combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Makes about 2 cups.

Chef Sean Fowler’s Grilled Little Gems with Roasted Garlic, Anchovies, and Parmesan

Meat and hearty vegetables are often the go-to when grilling comes to mind. However here, Mandolin Chef Sean Fowler show us that greens take well to the grill to. This tangy salad would go great along side a piece of grilled fish or eggplant.

Grilled Salad Ingredients
4 cloves of roasted garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium heads of Little Gem (or baby romaine) lettuce , cut into halves
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
12 white anchovies

Using a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon in a small bowl, smash together the garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil until you have a smooth paste. Fire up your grill and get the coals ripping hot with very little flame. Rub the teaspoon of olive oil on the halved heads of lettuce and season them liberally with salt and black pepper. Grill for about 1 minute with the flat sides of the lettuce down and the grill uncovered. Remove the lettuces from the grill. Cover the flat sides with the garlic paste. Sprinkle them with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Return the lettuce to the grill with the toppings facing up. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted. Remove the lettuce from the grill and place it on plates. Garnish each half with 3 anchovies and serve.

Andrea Reusing’s Charcoal-Grilled Asparagus 

This recipe, found in the May 2018 issue of sister publication O.Henry, gives a run-down of asparagus-cooking methods of all kinds, but emphasizes the smoky sweetness that only the grill can provide. “When you put just-picked asparagus on a hot grill, they are so juicy they actually jump as they start to cook,” says Andrea Reusing, chef-owner of Lantern in Chapel Hill, and 21c at The Durham hotel in downtown Durham. 

8 to 10 asparagus per person
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill. Count on 8 to 10 asparagus per person as a side dish or as the focal point of a salad. Keeping all the tips pointing the same direction, toss the asparagus with olive oil, a generous amount of salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. When the flame has died down, the coals are completely covered with ash, and the grill is very hot, grill the asparagus (in batches if necessary). Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side until fragrant, lightly marked, and vibrant green on the outside, and juicy and tender on the inside. Grilled asparagus is delicious as is or with a garlicky mayonnaise.

Ricky Moore’s Whole Broiled Red Porgy

“Keep it simple,” said Ricky Moore about cooking seafood, in his Fish Fare feature in our August 2020 issue. “Fresh fish doesn’t need much to elevate the flavor of the sea that’s already there.” This recipe, which incorporates lemon, garlic, and herbs, is a perfect example of that. While his original recipe uses the broiler, this technique works well for the grill to, less heating up your kitchen this time of year!

1 two-pound whole fish, like Red Porgy, scaled and gutted
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large bulb of garlic, halved
1 lemon, halved
Handful of fresh herbs (such as rosemary and thyme)
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
4 to 5 sticks of celery
Sea salt, freshly-cracked black pepper and garlic powder

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a 2-inch baking pan, add 4 to 5 sticks of celery, some thick sliced onion, halved garlic and halved lemon. Pour in some stock, making sure that the vegetables are not completely submerged. Once you’re ready to cook, give your fish one final good rinse, then pat dry with paper towels. Use a sharp knife to lightly score the top of the fish in diagonal lines, about 1 inch apart. Brush the fish generously on both sides and the inner cavity with oil. Slice half of the lemon into slices, and stuff those, plus the garlic and herbs, into the cavity of the fish. Make sure that the garlic is completely tucked in and not exposed. Season the outside of the fish generously with sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Switch oven to broiler. Place the fish on top of the vegetables and broil on high for 18-20 minutes, or until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees and flakes easily with a fork. (Cooking time will vary depending on the size/variety of your fish.) Remove from the oven, and finish with fresh olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice. Serve warm, and enjoy!