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48 grilling recipes for your backyard barbecues

Nothing beats a smoky sear in the summertime.
/ Source: TODAY

On the first day we get a hot day here on the East Coast, you can find me outside — tongs in one hand, a glass of some cold beverage in the other. Grilling is my summer ritual. I am entranced by the open flame and the wonder it breathes into my dinner menus from May to August.

For those who live in seasonal climates, the unparalleled flavors of grilled, smoky meat, seafood and vegetables are a signature of summer months. The way food shines with new light, cast from the fiery vessel on which it sears, is a thing to be cherished. To me, grilling feels like the most natural, primal way of cooking: being out in the fresh air, feeling the direct heat on my skin as the produce and protein come to their ideal serving temperatures. Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Father's Day, July Fourth, Labor Day — all the summer holidays — deserve an ample spread of grilled goodies.

I don't feel the need to justify my adoration for grills and smokers, just to help fellow grillers indulge in the many recipes that will help make grilling season an unforgettable one. Whether you're looking for some new recipes, need marinade inspiration for the classics or want to try some dishes you've never grilled before (hello, oysters and pasta salad), this roundup has a simple purpose: to heat up your relationship to your grill.

Grilled meats

This is the classic Korean barbecue recipe. Most restaurants serve it bone-in. They take the 3-bone piece and slice it "flanken"-style and you end up with a thin, 1/2-inch slice.

This grilled chicken recipe from Martha Stewart is simple to prepare, cook and serve. The herbaceous and full-flavored dressing really brightens up the dish.

Grill up these perfect pork chops with just four easy-to-find ingredients for a sweet and savory dish that will be the star of your cookout.

This simple and incredibly flavorful recipe for homemade chicken gyros comes together in less than 30 minutes. The beauty of Kevin Curry's take on this iconic Greek dish is that it draws on ingredients that, when combined, create the most juicy, bright and refreshing notes.

Bludso's Barbecue Brisket

"This is where I got my start — watching my granny be up all night cooking brisket when I was a little boy," said pitmaster Kevin Bludso. "You'd see this big tough piece of meat, then you'd go to sleep and the next day everybody was talking about how good it was. Brisket was her favorite meat, and I felt like I got to be a part of it."

Don't let the long list of ingredients fool you: This burger is easy to put together. The multiple layers of flavors in the meaty burger start by making homemade barbecue seasoning and a tangy sauce made from a burger lover's favorites, then gets topped with cheese and zesty pickles. It's a comfort meal tailor-made for summertime and grilling season.

According to Bobby Flay, you can create a delicious, multi-purpose barbecue sauce with ingredients you most likely already have on hand.

Tired of the same old burger? Stuff it with your favorite cheese and smoky bacon for an over-the-top inside-out bacon cheeseburger.

The bright, zippy flavors in chimichurri taste the best when balanced by the natural smokiness that comes from grilling proteins over a flame. So when looking for healthy spring and summer recipes, look no further.

Peruvian-style adobo sauce is such a heavenly marinade for grilled meats. This recipe features the unexpected sweetness of rice vinegar along with West African palm sugar with its rich, caramel flavor.

This grilling technique will get some smoke on a whole chicken and cook it way faster than a smoker. The custom poultry rub adds big, bold barbecue flavor to the bird.

Chicken Chorizo Burgers

The chorizo in this burger adds so much flavor and helps keep the chicken moist when grilling.

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

Kwame Onwuachi

"Jerk chicken is spicy by nature. What was once a method of preparing food surreptitiously by Jamaican Maroons has become Jamaica's greatest contribution to the culinary canon: a tapestry of flavors, aromatics and spices," says Kwame Onwuachi. To cool it down, serve it with his coconutty Braised Cabbage and Carrots.

"My husband Ryan taught me this technique with the foil and I'll never make ribs any other way!" says Katie Lee Beigel. "It's so easy and foolproof."

Hot Honey Baby Back Ribs

This recipe is the perfect sweet heat, sticky baby back rib for anytime of year — but it tastes especially sweet at the start of summer.

Grilled Za'atar Chicken with Garlic Yogurt and Cilantro

This spicy, herby chicken is full of bright, zesty flavors and is very easy to make. The yogurt tenderizes the chicken as it marinates, making the meat very tender. It goes with everything — but is especially nice with pita or other flatbread bread and a big cucumber-tomato salad.

Natalie Morales' Easy Grilled Chimichurri Soy Steak

This prep-ahead steak is great for entertaining. Set the meat in the marinade and prep the sauce the day before to make cooking and serving a cinch. If there are leftovers of this steak (which is unusual), it makes for great steak salads, tacos, steak and eggs or a classic steak and cheese sandwich.

Barbecue Chicken with Salsa Verde

"This is my favorite recipe my dad used to make when I was a kid," says Gaby Dalkin. "It was so special whenever he'd make a BBQ chicken and we'd fight each other over who got the legs. I've changed things up these days with the spice mixture and I always serve it with the salsa verde."

Chef D's Grilled and Glazed Baby Back Ribs

These ribs get infused with a ton of flavor from a wet rub and grilling process. Serve these tasty ribs with summery salads, seasonal grilled veggies and traditional barbecue sides like baked beans, potato salad or mac and cheese.

This dish tastes like summer, with smoky and crispy grilled chicken, sweet tomatoes and creamy cheese. It’s an appetizer, salad and main course all in one.

If you want the robust flavor of a great steak but don't want all the heavy sides that usually accompany it, this Southwestern-inspired salad invites the garden to the party for a light yet meaty dish.

Grilled seafood

Salmon is a wonderful fish to cook on the grill because it is less delicate than other varieties and won't fall apart. Pair the grilled fish with sweet snap peas and hearty potatoes for a healthy and satiating meal.

Char-Grilled Oysters

Char-Grilled Oysters

Leon's Oyster Shop

This flavor-packed seafood dish is an homage to New Orleans. Leon's is a classic oyster restaurant and the char-grilled oyster platter is a classic from New Orleans culinary history. Leon's version is delicious, but made simply and with care. The butter can also be made ahead of time in bulk and stored in the fridge or freezer. It's also great on fish and steak!

This recipe is a perfect weekday quick and healthy meal that is also visually stunning and delicious. It can also double as your weekend entertaining dish.

Adam Richman's Grilled Littleneck Clams

Grilled clams in a heavily salty brine with a little lemon and cocktail sauce encapsulates the taste of summer cookouts or beachside picnics.

This dish is so full of flavor and healthy at the same time. White miso adds delicate sweetness while upping the umami flavors of fresh salmon. The crunchy, caramelized broccolini is a perfect foil to the tender grilled fish.

Al Roker uses olive oil with a high smoke point in his marinade so that the shrimp doesn't burn, keeping the shell on to ensure the smokiest flavor possible.

Al Roker's Grilled Scallops

Don't be intimidated by the delicate nature of these tender little scallops. All they need is a quick kiss on the grill. The simple preparation lets the subtle, sweet flavor of the seafood shine through.

Sea bass on its own is amazingly buttery, but the marinade takes it to another level. The crispy, gingery broccoli brings the perfect contrast in both flavor and texture.

Garlicky salmon gets an upgrade with this incredible sauce made from tamarind paste, dark brown, lime and Thai chile. Fused with the smoke of the grill, it's a must-make.

Carson Daly loves a good surf and turf, and meaty swordfish holds up beautifully when it's grilled. It's a hearty fish, yet light and summery as well.

10-Minute Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Michelle Bernstein adds major flavor to grilled shrimp with six ingredients you probably have in your home right now: Old Bay seasoning, garlic, chile pepper, onion, cilantro and lime juice. Topped with creamy avocado and you're got a delicious salad in under 10 minutes!

Grilled Salmon Burgers

Salmon burgers are a fresh and flavorful alternative to the traditional beef patty. They have the same juicy qualities that regular burgers do, while adding tremendous health qualities.

Grilled veggies

Al's Grilled Vegetable Skewers

Sometimes these disappear even faster than the burgers, ribs or chicken at a cookout. There's just something about how juicy and flavorful each veggie gets over the flame.

Grilled Caesar Salad

Looking for some new summer grilling recipes? If you're a fan of the classic Caesar salad, you will fall in love with this version that's easy enough to make on a busy weeknight and elevated enough to wow guests at a dinner party table. To make it, grill halved lemons and a head of romaine alongside thick-cut pieces of baguette. The dressing, made with a Dijon mustard base, zippy olive oil and fresh garlic, is creamy. The romaine and lemons get a deeper flavor on the grill. Topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano, it's a salad worthy of a five-star restaurant.

Grilled Mexican street corn is an exciting way to kick up the all-time favorite summer side! It adds so much flavor, you may never be satisfied with just butter ever again. One of the best parts about this easy grilling recipe is that, as opposed to other variations of street corn recipes that require utensils and serving platters, this one is made right on the cob.

The couscous, vinaigrette and crostini in this flavorful salad can be made up to four hours ahead of time. That way, when it's time to grill the fresh tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini and avocado, the rest is ready to go.

The sweet, tangy jolt of pomegranate molasses is simply divine combined with the smokiness of grilled eggplant.

Grilled Vegetable Paella

The authentic way to cook paella is over an open orange wood or grapevine fire. (The wood subtly smokes the rice, adding flavor nuances you simply can’t achieve indoors.) The good news is that the process translates easily to a grill or campfire. Here’s a plant-based paella bursting with bright Spanish flavors. The chickpeas provide the protein.

Grilled Asparagus

All you need is some olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon to make asparagus reach its full grilled glory. This verdant green is a versatile side that works with anything from steak to fish to other veggies.

Everybody loves potato salad at a backyard barbecue, but using tricolored potatoes and a dressing without the traditional mayo makes it a more colorful and lighter option.

Grilled Broccoli Caesar Salad

This non-traditional dish borrows ideas from three different countries. The Caesar salad was invented in Mexico, the migas (toasted seasoned bread) hails from Spain and the dressing has a dollop of Japanese miso in it. The result is a dish with a symphony of textures and umami.

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

"Pasta salad is one of my favorite summer side dishes," says Mat Abdoo. "When I was growing up, my mom would make a huge batch to keep it in the refrigerator and pull it out for as many dinners or lunches as possible. It gets even better as it sits in the fridge."

Barbecue Sweet Potato Wedges

The sweet potato and all-purpose barbecue seasoning are just a match made in heaven. These fries also give a vegetarian option a very recognizable barbecue flavor.

Grilled Zucchini Lasagna

Grilled Zucchini Lasagna

Catherine De Orio

This recipe is lighter than traditional lasagna and is bursting with garden-fresh flavor. Even a pasta lover won't miss the noodles! This recipe has a lot of steps, but since it freezes well, you can make one or two extra to keep in the freezer for dinner another night.

Add a little Middle Eastern flair to this summery salad with grilled halloumi. Halloumi is the only cheese you can grill, and once you grill it, it changes its texture and flavors completely, which goes so well with the rest of the salad.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

This recipe is an easy way to get delicious vegetables onto your cookout menu (if you're already grilling meats, why not throw some veggies on there, too?). Grilling is the fastest and tastiest way to cook vegetables, according to Jet Tila.

Grilled Corn Salad with Basil

This is a summer grilling greatest hit. There is no way everyone won't devour this simple side. It's ideal to eat it freshly assembled and still warm, but it also tastes great chilled.