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

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 »

Grilled Lamb Chops and Squash with Herb Salad and Sunchokes

Grilled Lamb Chops and Squash with Herb Salad and Sunchokes

Grilled Flank Steak with Coca-Cola-Pickled Onions

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 »

Lexington Pulled Pork

Lexington Pulled Pork

Char Siu Chicken

Char Siu Chicken
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.

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.

Potato Salad Hot Dog

Potato Salad 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 »

Pineapple Salsa Hot Dog

Pineapple Avocado Hot Dog
Grilled lobster is a popular dish in Boston, where shellfish from the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction is plentiful.

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 »

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.

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 the Ultimate Grilled Cheeseburger »

Grapefruit & Habanero Skirt Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa

Grapefruit & Habanero Skirt Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa

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 »

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 »
A bright salsa made from ripe mangoes, cilantro, red onion, and lime is the perfect foil for thick swordfish steaks.

Grilled Snapper with Habanero and Scallions

Chile heat brings out the sweetness of whole red snapper in this Jamaican recipe.

Char-Smoked Baby Back Ribs

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

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 »
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 »
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 »

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.

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 »
At Smokestack in Kansas City, spareribs, a particularly flavorful cut, are served with a sweet and spicy sauce.

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 »