For many people, summer cooking is synonymous with firing up the grill. And while you probably are used to reaching for a favorite burger or toward a pile of vegetables to toss on the grill grates, you may not have thought to reach for the fruits you'd planned to have alongside.
But you should! Grilling fruit brings out the natural sweetness, and many of them make natural flavor pairs with other popular weekend barbecue dishes. Here, we break down some of the best fruits to give the grilled treatment, but first a few pieces of advice.
Pick fruit that's just shy of ripe.
While peak ripeness is the perfect time to eat fruit fresh and raw, it may be past prime for putting it on the grill. The heat of the grill will soften the fruit some, so already soft fruits will be more likely to fall apart.
Use larger pieces.
For obvious reasons, smaller pieces of fruit won't work as well for grilling individual pieces. That being said, grilled fruit kabobs are always an option if you've got smaller pieces of fruit available; just make sure the fruits are ones that will need about the same amount of time to cook.
Plan to use fat.
The delicate flesh of the fruits may be more likely to stick to grates than proteins, so it's always a good idea to add some fat to the grill before laying down the fruit. Any neutral oil with a high smoking point should work, like avocado oil—simply brush it lightly onto the side of the fruit that will be on the grill.
Give it time.
One of the best parts of grilling fruit? How pretty it looks. To effectively get those gorgeous grill marks, you'll need to put it on the grill and let it stay there until you're ready to flip it so it has time to develop the marks. If you move it around, the lines will be messy and you increase the risk of the fruit tearing as it pulls away from the grate.
The best fruits to grill.
When it comes to what fruits you should be grilling, it's really up to you—but there are some that hold up to this type of cooking better or that really shine when they're charred. During the summer months, it's sometimes easier to find farmers markets or seasonal produce like stone fruits and melons—both of which are grill-able options.
While debates rage over whether or not this particular fruit belongs on pizza, we say it definitely belongs on the grill. Once you cook it, it makes a great topping on black bean burgers, or you can chop it up to add to homemade salsa to reap it's gut health benefits.
2. Peaches, apricots, plums, and nectarines
When planning a barbecue, you may not think to grill dessert, but we implore you to think again. Grilled peaches (or really any stone fruit) are a perfect summer dessert, especially when paired with vanilla bean ice cream.
Though not a stone fruit, pears can take a similar treatment. Slice them in half and remove the center seeds with a spoon before putting them flesh-side down on the grill and serving for dessert with a drizzle of honey or ice cream.
Watermelon is more versatile than it gets credit for. Grill it with the rind intact to keep the pieces together, and serve it as a part of a salad (with feta and bitter greens) for a unique take on the summer icon.
Both cantaloupe and honeydew can be served grilled; like watermelon it's easier to do so with the rind intact, but since these melons are denser, you can get away without it. Try drizzling them with lime juice and honey or adding them to a cheese board.
First of all: Yes, avocados are technically a fruit. They're also good for way more than guacamole and toast. Cut them into halves, or even quarters if they're firm enough, and then place them on a hot grill. A bit of lemon and some spices on top make them a perfect addition to a summer salad.
Yes, tomatoes are also technically classified as a veggie. Thick slices of tomatoes can be laid on the grilled to add a fire-roasted flavor to them that brings out their natural sweetness. Another popular way to grill tomatoes is whole and stuffed with cheese, grains, and vegetables.
Naturally sweet, figs take on a jammy texture that makes them a natural fit for desserts but also can make them a good foil for a salty salad. Flavors like balsamic or tart cheeses like mascarpone pair well with their cooked consistency.
9. Lemons, oranges, grapefruit
The applications for grilled citrus are pretty vast. The smoky flavor that comes with grilling takes to citrus well, and the heat makes them even juicer. You can grill whole halves or slices and serve them alongside seafood, veggies, or even use the juice in cocktails. Add a bit of sugar to them before you place them on the grill for a bit of caramelization to play off the natural tartness.
When it comes to grilling bananas, it's particularly important to pay attention to their texture: Bananas that are softer may be best grilled whole in their skins still, while firmer ones can be sliced in half (lengthwise) and places on the grate. If grilling whole, you can make a slice down the middle to fill with toppings like nut butters or chocolate for dessert.
Grilling mango, like so many of the other fruits on the list, will bring out the fruit's natural sweetness. In any form, mango pairs well with slightly spicy or acidic flavors, so you can plan those to go with grilled mango. One idea? Slice the fruit in half and score it before grilling, and then toss it with chili, salt, and lime juice.
Once you decide to try grilling fruit, you may catch yourself doing it more often than you ever expected. For the fruits that aren't suited to the grill this summer, you can try making them into your own healthy jams and preserves.