The Go-to Guide for Grilling Fruit to Perfection

Take advantage of your grill's precious real estate by adding fruit to the grates. Sliced, skewered, or halved, grilled fruit is this season's star.

Photo: Getty Images

You may be a gorilla on the grill—boss of burgers, champion of chicken, and skilled with a skewer—but do you know how to grill fruit to perfection? If not, this guide is for you. You can grill just about any fruit, and the grates affect each one differently.

Grilling fruit is a cookout move that yields great rewards for little effort. The rich flavors of fruit transformed by steel and fire often outshine the centerpiece proteins. Grilling summer’s sweet, juicy bounty is a shortcut to the soul of the season.

Just what you do with a perfectly grilled fruit depends on its nature and your imagination. If your cookout menu features ice cream, salsa, or cocktails, grilled fruit can help—and that's just a start. Use this guide to get your creative juices flowing and create new go-to grill favorites.


Grilled Apple and Brie Flatbread
Sabrina S. Baksh/Regarding BBQ, Inc.

Grilling an apple is as easy as A-B-C. Start with a firm variety—Granny Smith, Pink Lady, or Honeycrisp—that holds up better on the grill than, say, a Red Delicious. One challenge with grilling apples is to get them nicely softened but not too soft. A solution is to slice the apples (about ¾-inch thick) rather than halving them so they cook more uniformly.

Start with clean, lightly oiled grill grates or use a grill rack, which creates nice grill marks while keeping apples off the grates. Brush slices with melted butter and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway. Serve slices with honey, cinnamon sugar, caramel sauce, or ice cream.

For a different version, core and slice a whole apple into wedges, and then arrange them bloomin' onion-style in a double layer of aluminum foil. Add butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar, seal the packet, and then grill for 25 to 30 minutes over indirect heat. Open the packet and enjoy a campfire version of apple pie.


Grilled Honey Apricots
John Gagne/Getty Images

Stone fruits take well to grilling, but the humble apricot undergoes a distinctive change. Heat pulls out most of its sugars, leaving its tang more intense. To grill, place halved apricots over indirect heat to keep the punch at bay—or over direct heat if you want to embrace it—for 3 or 4 minutes on each side.

After grilling, you may want to chop the fruit and treat it almost like a spice. Add pieces to coffee ice cream, rich chocolate cake, or a similarly bold sweet. Go sweet and savory by swapping peaches for apricots in our grilled pork chops with peach arugula salad recipe.


Grilled Brown Sugar Bananas

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

A banana’s flavor evolves on the grill, developing a rich texture as its ample sugars transform and caramelize. The fruit’s sweet zones expand, becoming rounder and more three-dimensional. But how do you get there? A few ways.

Start by splitting bananas in half longwise, leaving the skin on, and grill skin-down so the inner fruit never touches the grates. Grill over direct heat for 5 or 6 minutes, and then flip so the flesh contacts the grill for a final 2 or 3 minutes, or until grill marks form.

While grilled bananas make a perfect topping for French toast, pound cake, or ice cream (grilled banana split anyone?), don't hesitate to give them a starring role. Sprinkle grilled banana halves with 2 parts brown sugar and 1 part cinnamon for a warm, easy, caramelized dessert. If that's not decadent enough, stuff a grilled banana boat with chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker crumbs.


Grilled Cantaloupe and Prosciutto Skewers
Victor Protasio

The hardest part of grilling cantaloupe is to wait until after it's been grilled to eat it, but grilled cantaloupe is worth the wait. Grilling adds smokiness to this sweet juicy melon that takes its flavor over the top.

To prepare it for the grill, cut cantaloupe into slices or wedges leaving the rind intact, or thread large cubes onto skewers. Next, brush with oil and grill for 3 to 5 minutes. Great on its own, you can boost its flavor with a drizzle of honey, squeeze of lime, or (if you're a sweet-hot fan) sprinkle of spice.

Grilled cantaloupe is so delicious, it holds its own as a side for just about any grilled chicken, pork, or fish dish. For a fun, salty-sweet appetizer, try our recipe for grilled cantaloupe and prosciutto skewers.


Grilled Chicken with Cherries, Shallots, and Arugula
Raymond Hom

Cherry tomatoes are a summer grill staple, but cherries? Not so much, although they should be because grilling makes these little gems taste even better. Cherries' tiny size warrants use of a grill pan to keep them from slipping through the grates while still displaying those distinctive grill marks.

Before grilling, halve your cherries and remove the pits. Spread them across an oiled grill pan over direct heat and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, flipping or stirring frequently, until soft and slightly charred.

Grilled cherries work well as a sidekick to rich fatty meats, like duck or pork chops. You can also use them to infuse dark spirits like rum or bourbon, which is a great way to keep their flavors alive long after their season ends. For a sweet-tart dessert, try them in our recipe for cherries jubilee.


Grilled Lemons
Charred Lemons. Molly Watson

Lemon is arguably the easiest fruit to grill and the one with the most applications, serving as a gateway fruit for the uninitiated into the wonderful world of grilled fruit. There's always room on the grill for a couple of lemon halves, and a squeeze improves just about everything it touches,

To grill, place lemon halves flesh-side-down on the grates for about 5 minutes. As they cook, grilling makes the zing of their juice recede, allowing its fruity nuances, now enriched by heat, to speak more boldly.

Squeeze grilled lemon over grilled fish, asparagus, or salad. For an outdoor cocktail party, use a grilled lemon wedge to garnish a classic amaretto sour or a citrusy spiked lemonade.


Prosciutto-Wrapped Nectarines
Christopher Baker

For best results, choose ripe nectarines for grilling, because because rock-hard fruit is more likely to scorch before it softens. A ripe nectarine (and this goes for all stone fruits) is fragrant and gives a little when pressed gently with your fingertip. 

To grill, lightly brush the cut side of halved, pitted nectarines with melted butter, and cook cut-side down on an oiled grate or grill pan. Grill until lightly browned, turning occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can nest nectarine halves in aluminum foil so they steam on the grill, creating their own delicious sauce.

For dessert, serve grilled nectarine halves sprinkled with brown sugar, or drizzled with maple syrup or honey. For a sweet-and-savory grilled appetizer, try our recipe for prosciutto-wrapped nectarines.


Grilled Chicken and Orange Skewers With Zucchini Rice
Con Poulos

Orange is one of those fruits that's equally appropriate for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or a beverage, and grilled orange is just as versatile. Serve grilled slices as a garnish, side, or dessert; grill orange halves to squeeze over chicken or fish; or skewer wedges threaded with other fruit, veggies, or meat.

To grill slices, cut them ¼-inch thick leaving the rind on (to make flipping easier). Place slices on lightly oiled grates over indirect heat and grill 8 to 10 minutes, flipping midway. For the last few minutes, drizzle with honey or sprinkle with brown sugar, and serve warm.


Grilling Fruit
Grilled Peaches. Photo © mccun934/Getty Images

The shape and size of a peach present a challenge for the grill: If you cut them in half and grill cut-side-down over direct heat, the surface burns before the middle cooks. The solution? Cut the peach into three or four wedges, allowing the surface and interior flesh to cook at the same speed. Another option is to cook halved fruit over indirect heat or on a second-level grate.

A grilled peach's flavor lightly alters, turning a it tad richer and more ornate. It goes well with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella or burrata. It can also add nuance and intrigue to salsa and makes an intriguing pizza topping.


grilled pears on a grill

The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

If you like pears, you'll love grilled pears. Grilling add smokiness, brings out their natural sweetness and, when paired with brown sugar, takes your pear-eating experience to the next level. Serve grilled pears with grilled pork or sausages, or—even better—ice cream, whipped cream, or frozen yogurt.

To grill, lightly brush the cut side of halved, cored pears with oil or melted butter, and then place cut-side down on oiled grates over medium heat. Cover and cook until you see grill marks, about 10 minutes. For even more tender fruit, flip the pears and cook for a few more minutes.


Glazed Chicken and Pineapple Recipe
Victor Protasio

Grilled pineapple rings have range: Torched over direct heat, they caramelize and char beautifully. If you have a second-level rack, you may want to toss a few rings up there so their juice can drip onto pork, beef, or chicken below.

The combination of cooked pineapple and pork is used across many culinary traditions, made famous by dishes like al pastor tacos. Pineapple does well with tacos of any kind, even fish, and plays a co-starring role in our glazed chicken and pineapple recipe. On the sweet side, use grilled pineapple to boost vanilla ice cream or pound cake, or position an arc on the rim of a piña colada.


Grilled Plums

Bloxsome Photography-Getty Images

Plums may be one of the least likely fruits you'd think to grill, but one of the most flexible. They're equally at home next to grilled lamb as a main, stuffed with ricotta for an easy appetizer, tossed with arugula and goat cheese for a summer salad, or topped with ice cream for dessert.

With your grill preheated to medium and grates lightly oiled, placed halved, pitted plums cut-side down on the grill. There's no need to oil or butter the fruit because they're naturally juicy. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes or until grill marks appear, and then flip to cook another 2 to 3 minutes.

Make sure to grill way more plums than you need for one meal, because there's plenty to do with them the next day. Throw some in with granola and yogurt for a breakfast treat, top with balsamic and goat cheese for a light lunch, or use them as a healthy sundae topping. (We told you they were flexible!)


grilled food ideas: Fresh summer grilled watermelon salad with feta cheese, arugula, onions on blue background
Getty Images

Watermelon evolves mildly on the grill: Its juice factor diminishes and biting becomes less about an explosive burst and more about gentle flavor. To enhance its flavor, add salt or ground red pepper just before cooking.

For the most painless grilling, slice watermelon into long meaty sheets or wedges still attached to the rind. Grill over direct heat just long enough to develop char marks on each side, 2 to 3 minutes.

Cubed, grilled watermelon with feta, mint, and balsamic glaze makes a refreshing appetizer. Swap out fresh watermelon in your favorite recipes for grilled to serve on kebabs, in a salad, chopped into salsa, or even blended into a cocktail.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles