The true joy of cookouts lies in spending quality time with friends and family in the great outdoors. So really, it’s fine if the food is just, well, fine. But if you’re ready to level up beyond the split hot dogs and overcooked burgers, my team at Epicurious is eager to help. We’ve been busy trying out tons of grills and accessories, and testing—and re-testing—wow-worthy recipes for every part of your cookout.
Below, you’ll find a few crucial tips for better grilling, plus the recipes you need for showstopping mains, sides, and sweets. Try a few for your next barbecue and just watch how quickly your friends and family ask when they can come over again for salt-bathed corn, grilled brownies, and of course, more quality time.
MH: “Straight talk: This grilled chicken recipe from Leela Punyaratabandhu, which was inspired by the amazing version served at Jeerapan in Bangkok, is the best grilled chicken I’ve ever made. The herb-rubbed skin is crisp and smoky, the meat is juicy and well-seasoned, and the pineapple dipping sauce is, frankly, drinkable.”
MH: “We all know that grilled corn is a key part of any barbecue, but to make it truly great, you have to try this tip.”
MH: “I tend to fall back on the same side dishes over and over. You too? This list will fix that.”
MH: “Setting a charcoal grill up isn’t hard, but there are some key details that really matter. Like getting those heat zones right. This guide is all you need to become a pro and never overcook your pork chops again.”
MH: “Maybe it’s time to upgrade your equipment. Everyone around our offices (and in our office Slack) is talking about this new grill, and Emily Farris, whose entire backyard always seems to be filled with different grills she’s testing, explains why it’s a game-changer.”
MH: “Sometimes hosting feels like a lot of pressure. That’s when I like to take a deep breath and dive into a big collection of expert-tested recipes and just see what makes my heart sing. Cedar plank salmon? Grilled peach toast? Yes, please.”
MH: “Don’t forget dessert. When I first heard about cooking brownies on a grill, I was skeptical. But these are killer: a little smoky, a little spicy, and totally hands-off—they bake on the grill’s residual heat while you’re busy eating dinner.”
MH: “Okay, one other super-easy, no-bake dessert option. I love a dessert that’s make-ahead, especially if I’m hosting a crowd, and Kendra Vaculin’s mix-and-match formula is genius.”
Maggie Hoffman is a contributing editor at Epicurious. Previously, she was the managing editor of Serious Eats and the founder of that site's drink section. She's the author of Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Drinks for Every Occasion and The One-Bottle Cocktail: More than 80 Recipes with Fresh Ingredients and a Single Spirit, both published by Ten Speed Press. Her writing about food and drinks has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Food + Wine, Rachael Ray Every Day, and others.