Our Best BBQ Main Dishes To Cook This Summer

Summer is cookout season

When the first days of summer hit, we can't wait to fire up the grill and have ourselves a cookout. There's no better way to cook a meal than outside over an open flame. Many people will just throw some store-bought hamburgers or hot dogs over the fire and call it a day, but the grill has much more potential than that. from baby back ribs to lobster, we've rounded up our favorite recipes for grilled main dishes.

One of our favorite things to cook on the grill is a rack of ribs. The question is whether or not to use sauce. We think both preparations are delicious. Our Memphis-style ribs are cooked with a flavorful dry rub containing cayenne, cumin, paprika, and other spices. Our Kansas City-style ribs, on the other hand, are basted and served with a sweet and spicy ketchup-based sauce.

Chicken, beef, and pork might dominate barbecues, but seafood belongs on the grill, too. Thick, hearty swordfish steaks hold up to open flame well, and a light mango salsa makes them super summery. Lobster is perfect for grilling—the shell protects the meat from the heat. Slather it with a cilantro-chile compound butter and let the butter melt into the shell, essentially poaching the lobster as it grills.

Don't let the vegetarians at your next cookout go hungry. We love grilling veggie burgers, like our black bean burger with cumin, paprika, coriander, and both poblano and chipotle chiles or quinoa burger with carrot, celery, arugula, and beans.

Find enough dishes to keep grilling all summer in our collection of bbq mains dishes.

Pineapple and Pork Teriyaki Skewers

Pineapple and Pork Teriyaki Skewers
Sweet grilled onion and pineapple stand up against rich marinated pork in these easy, Hawaiian-inspired skewers. Get the recipe for Pineapple and Pork Teriyaki Skewers »Matt Taylor-Gross

Grilled Lamb Chops and Squash with Herb Salad and Sunchokes

Grilled Lamb Chops and Squash with Herb Salad and Sunchokes
Blanching the squash pieces in this dish, adapted from a recipe by chef Dan Moss of Terroir Auburn in Clare Valley, Australia, helps to tenderize their skins and flesh so they're not undercooked when the outside is grilled to perfection. A creamy sunchoke purée and tart herb salad round out the grilled squash and lamb chops. Get the recipe for Grilled Lamb Chops and Squash with Herb Salad and Sunchokes »Matt Taylor-Gross

Grilled Flank Steak with Coca-Cola-Pickled Onions

Houston, Chris Shepherd, Grilling, Flank Steak
In Korea, lettuce is often used as a crisp wrapper for bulgogi (marinated beef). In this recipe, sweeter pickled onions take the place of spicy kimchi. Get the recipe for Grilled Flank Steak with Coca-Cola-Pickled Onions »Drew Anthony Smith

Lexington Pulled Pork

Lexington Pulled Pork
In Lexington, North Carolina, pork shoulder is chopped and served with a tart tomato-based sauce. Get the recipe for Lexington Pulled Pork »Todd Coleman

Char Siu Chicken

Char Siu Chicken
Char siu (meaning "fork roast") is typical in Chinese cuisine and normally gets its red hue from food coloring. In this rendition, beet powder, a natural alternative, lends the bright red color and adds a little sweetness. Get the recipe for Char Siu Chicken »Drew Anthony Smith

Mustard-Glazed Ham Ribs

Houston, Chris Shepherd, Grilling, Ribs
A three-day brining, smoking, and charring process adds incredible flavor to these ribs from chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston. The result tastes like grilled bacon. Get the recipe for Mustard-Glazed Ham Ribs »Drew Anthony Smith

The "Grill Everything but the Burger" Brisket Burger

The "Grill Everything but the Burger" Brisket Burger
The all-brisket patty for this burger—from San Francisco's Wes Rowe, a pop-up burger slinger—is grilled, but in a cast-iron pan over the flame. Get the recipe for The "Grill Everything but the Burger" Brisket Burger »Michael Turek

Potato Salad Hot Dog

Potato Salad Hot Dog
You've probably gone to a barbecue where you've eaten both potato salad and hot dogs—just not together. That changes now. Get the recipe for Potato Salad Hot Dog »Farideh Sadeghin

Maryland Crab Hot Dog

Maryland Crab Hot Dog
Buttery corn, fresh crab, and Old Bay-spiced potato chips are piled on top this Maryland-inspired hot dog. Get the recipe for Maryland Crab Hot Dog »Farideh Sadeghin

Pineapple Salsa Hot Dog

Pineapple Avocado Hot Dog
Top your hot dog with pineapple, avocado, and red cabbage for added crunch and sweetness. Get the recipe for Pineapple Salsa Hot Dog »Farideh Sadeghin

Grilled Lobster with Cilantro-Chile Butter

Grilled Lobster with Cilantro-Chile Butter
Grilled lobster is a popular dish in Boston, where shellfish from the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction is plentiful. Get the recipe for Grilled Lobster with Cilantro-Chile Butter »Penny De Los Santos

Alabama-Style Chicken Sandwiches with White Sauce

Alabama-Style Chicken Sandwiches with White Sauce
These hickory-smoked chicken sandwiches are served with a tangy, mayonnaise-based white sauce. Get the recipe for Alabama-Style Chicken Sandwiches with White Sauce »Todd Coleman

Memphis-Style Dry Ribs

Memphis-Style Dry Ribs
Charles Vergos, the late proprietor of the beloved Memphis restaurant Rendezvous, invented this style of ribs served "dry," with no sauce. Get the recipe for Memphis-Style Dry Ribs »Todd Coleman

Ultimate Grilled Cheeseburger

Ultimate Grilled Cheeseburger
This burger, inspired by one created in Modernist Cuisine co-author Nathan Myhrvold's culinary lab, is topped with a tangy cream and vermouth sauce. Adding egg yolks to freshly ground meat makes for a supremely rich burger. Get the recipe for Ultimate Grilled Cheeseburger »Todd Coleman

Grapefruit & Habanero Skirt Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa

Grapefruit & Habanero Skirt Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa
Sweet papaya and tart ruby red grapefruit juice tame the heat of the Scotch bonnet pepper in the marinade for the steak, while the vegetables for the accompanying jalapeño-laced salsa get charred on the fire along with the meat. Get the recipe for Grapefruit & Habanero Skirt Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa »Todd Coleman

Adobo Chicken Under a Brick

Adobo Chicken Under a Brick
Maricel Presilla's zesty Cuban-inspired marinade infuses this chicken with flavor, and grilling it flat on a plancha makes the skin deliciously crispy. Get the recipe for Adobo Chicken Under a Brick »Todd Coleman

Garlic and Red-Miso Porterhouse

Garlic and Red-Miso Porterhouse
A marinade of red miso, ginger, and garlic gives this steak a crisp, flavorful crust and a juicy interior. Get the recipe for Garlic and Red-Miso Porterhouse »Todd Coleman

Grilled Swordfish with Mango Salsa

Grilled Swordfish with Mango Salsa
A bright salsa made from ripe mangoes, cilantro, red onion, and lime is the perfect foil for thick swordfish steaks. Get the recipe for Grilled Swordfish with Mango Salsa »Farideh Sadeghin

Grilled Snapper with Habanero and Scallions

Grilled Snapper with Habanero and Scallions
Chile heat brings out the sweetness of whole red snapper in this Jamaican recipe. Get the recipe for Grilled Snapper with Habanero and Scallions »Helen Rosner

Char-Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Grilling, Smoked Ribs
Grilling then smoking these ribs gives them an intense crust and soulful flavor. Get the recipe for Char-Smoked Baby Back Ribs »Michael Turek

Portobello Burgers with Blue Cheese and Sauteed Red Onions

Portobello Burgers with Blue Cheese and Sauteed Red Onions
A far cry from the standard grilled-mushroom-cap-as-burger, these ultra-savory portobello patties get a further umami boost from garlic and steak sauce—a perfect match for a flavorful topping of melted blue cheese and tangy caramelized red onions. Get the recipe for Portobello Burgers with Blue Cheese and Sauteed Red Onions »Helen Rosner

Cocoa-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs

Cocoa-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs
It's a lucky rack of ribs that meets this rub: Warm spices like cinnamon, allspice, and ginger get a depth charge from cocoa powder and bit of heat from fiery mustard powder. Get the recipe for Cocoa-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs »Yossy Arefi

Grilled Bone-In Rib Eye

Grilled Bone-In Rib Eye
Chef José Andrés likes to season his steak after it cooks, claiming that this helps to accentuate the flavor of meat, and particularly this slow-grilled, smoky rib eye. Get the recipe for Grilled Bone-In Rib Eye »Matt Taylor-Gross

Black Bean Burger with Salsa Fresca and Avocado Crema

Black Bean Burger with Salsa Fresca and Avocado Crema
Cumin, paprika, coriander, and both poblano and chipotle chiles lend their robust flavor to this earthy black bean burger. Dredged in cornmeal, it's a hearty base for a bright salsa fresca and smooth avocado crema. Get the recipe for Black Bean Burger with Salsa Fresca and Avocado Crema »Helen Rosner

Quinoa Veggie Burger with Roasted Red Pepper Relish

Quinoa Veggie Burger with Roasted Red Pepper Relish
Our take on a classic meatless burger calls on a slew of vegetables for flavor, color, and texture: carrot, celery, arugula, beans, and—the ingredient that really makes it—quinoa, the high-protein South American grain that has a nutty flavor and toothsome bite. This veggie burger is infinitely versatile when it comes to toppings, but we particularly like it with a cumin-accented relish of roasted red peppers. Get the recipe for Quinoa Veggie Burger with Roasted Red Pepper Relish »Helen Rosner

Grilled Rib Eye with Sweet-Hot Pepper Sauce

Grilled Rib Eye with Sweet-Hot Pepper Sauce
Chef Craig Koketsu brings extra luxury to a dry-aged rib eye by basting it in rendered beef fat. A chunky chile and herb sauce makes a piquant side dish. Get the recipe for Grilled Rib Eye with Sweet-Hot Pepper Sauce »Todd Coleman

Kansas City-Style Spareribs with Barbecue Sauce

Kansas City-Style Spareribs with Barbecue Sauce
At Smokestack in Kansas City, spareribs, a particularly flavorful cut, are served with a sweet and spicy sauce. Get the recipe for Kansas City-Style Spareribs with Barbecue Sauce »Todd Coleman

Grilled Beef Ribs with Charred Vegetables

Grilled Beef Ribs with Charred Vegetables
These beef ribs are hearty enough for the hungriest diner. Get the recipe for Grilled Beef Ribs with Charred Vegetables »Marcus Nilsson