Easy Weeknight Meals from the Grill
Head outside for weeknight grill recipes featuring big flavors, short prep time, and minimal cleanup
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Above: Grilled Greek Chicken Kebabs. Article, recipes, and photos by Ashley Strickland Freeman
I’m a busy mom, so anytime I can make something that requires little prep and most of all, little cleanup, I’m game. With school and soccer practice starting back up, I like to have some all-in-one recipes in my back pocket, especially easy weeknight bbq dinners.
One of my favorite summer scents is a steak or hamburgers cooking on the grill, but that aroma gets even better when you add some vegetables to the mix and grill the entire meal. Plus, the kitchen stays cool, there are no spatters around the stove, and the family gets to spend time outside together.
With all that in mind, I’ve got three new weeknight bbq recipes that’ll help end the midweek dinner madness, no matter how hectic your days may be.
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5 tips and tricks: How to make easy weeknight grill recipes
Here are my best tips for making weeknight grilling as easy as can be.
1. Make it a main dish and side dish in one
For a stress-free weeknight barbecue, I like to cook the entire meal on the grill. Marinated meat plus grill-friendly veggies like grilled corn on the cob, zucchini, green or red peppers, and even sweet potatoes will fill those bellies, minus the sink full of pots and pans from cooking a traditional dinner in the kitchen. Foil packets where the meat and vegetables steam together on the grill are also a great option. I love making shish kebabs too, threading my favorite meat and vegetables onto skewers for the easiest weeknight grilling of all.
2. Maximize your marinade
When making a marinade from scratch, I follow this equation: acid + seasonings + oil. Acidic ingredients like balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, and even wine help to tenderize the meat. For seasonings, of course there’s salt and pepper and any other spice or herb you’re in the mood for. Cumin and chipotle chili powder are great for adding a smoky flavor to Mexican dishes. I also love adding fresh herbs like oregano, cilantro, or parsley to my marinades for a punch of flavor.
Finally, oil holds everything together and transfers the flavors you’ve stirred up into whatever you’re marinating. For dishes that require a little longer time on the grill, I opt for a high-heat oil like vegetable oil. If your weeknight grill recipes are based on vegetables or lean protein (like seafood or chicken), olive oil will work just fine since the cook times for those dishes tend to be shorter.
3. Don’t forget store-bought sauces and seasonings
In the recipes that follow, I’m sharing from-scratch recipes that come together fast, but I did work in some short-cuts that shave off time, including store-bought hummus, tzatziki, and flatbreads.
On nights where I don’t have time to throw together a quick marinade or assemble kebabs, I rely even more on the many convenience items from the grocery store. Chicken breasts or pork chops sprinkled with a little salt and pepper are great grilled and served with barbecue sauce or store-bought chimichurri or pesto. Pair the protein with potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil and grilled alongside the meat, plus grilled zucchini or asparagus, and you’ve got flexible ideas for easy weeknight bbq dinners.
If you’re in the mood for Mexican food, sprinkle taco seasoning on skirt steak, flank steak, or chicken breasts and add that to the grill along with bell peppers and onions. Slice and serve on tortillas with store-bought salsa and guacamole.
4. Soak those skewers
Speaking of kebabs, either metal or wooden skewers work great, but just remember that if you’re using wooden skewers, you’ll want to soak them in water at least 30 minutes so they don’t burn to a crisp on the grill.
5. Start with a clean grill grate
Smoky flavor from the grill: mmm. Smoky food stuck to the grill: ack! Whether you use a gas grill or a charcoal grill, be sure the grill grate is nice and clean before you start cooking so the food won’t stick. I make sure to preheat the grill grates and get them super clean by rubbing them with a wire grill brush or the cut side of half of a yellow or red onion. (Combined with the high heat, the juices from the onion help to remove any stuck-on bits — and they also smell really nice).
3 weeknight grilling recipes
What are some easy weeknight bbq recipes, you might wonder? Now that you know some of my secrets for easy weeknight meals on the grill, here are the three new weeknight grill recipes that I created to take you way beyond hamburgers and hot dogs.
Greek chicken kebabs
Whether you call them kabobs or kebabs, these grilled chicken skewers with veggies will hit the spot. A simple marinade of lemon juice, garlic, and fresh herbs — oregano, to be exact — keeps the chicken juicy and bursting with flavor.
There are several grilling secrets for great kebabs. First, remember to soak your wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes (if you’re not using metal skewers). The second is to make sure that the chicken and vegetables are cut into similar-sized pieces so they cook evenly. I also like using boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts because of their higher fat content. This ensures that the grilled chicken remains juicy.
Finally, don’t go overboard on your marinating time. For this recipe, you want to stay within the 30-minute to 2-hour range so the meat stays tender. Longer, and the acid from the lemon juice will actually end up “cooking” the chicken and will make it tough.
Balsamic grilled flank steak and veggies
If you don’t feel like threading meat and veggies onto skewers, then this next recipe may be just the weeknight bbq recipe you’re looking for. My all-in-one marinade is perfect for adding delicious umami flavor to flank steak, portobello mushrooms, and red pepper. I even save some to brush onto grilled corn.
The trick is to allow ample time for the flank steak and veggies to hang out in the marinade.
You’ll want to put this together the night before or morning of, because the sugars from the balsamic vinegar as well as the brown sugar help caramelize the flank steak and vegetables as they grill. You'll also get more flavor — so longer they have to soak in the marinade, the better.
Grilled Mediterranean flatbread
Finally, if you’re looking for healthy weeknight grill recipes, this easy vegetarian flatbread is perfect. Topped with grilled halloumi cheese, grilled zucchini and red onion, baby arugula, tomatoes, olives, and a super simple vinaigrette, it’s a complete, satisfying summer dinner.
This recipe is especially great when I’m in a hurry. Thanks to prepared flatbreads and hummus, it comes together in a snap. I use the hummus to make a quick vinaigrette bursting with all of the Mediterranean flavors I love. Onto the grill go the flatbreads, zucchini planks, red onion slices, and halloumi cheese to get kissed by the heat. If you’re unfamiliar with halloumi, it’s a cheese that holds up on the grill, soaking in all that great smoky flavor. But don’t worry if you can’t find halloumi; feta cheese (not grilled) works great too.
All that’s left to do is pile the veggies along with arugula, tomato wedges, and olives on top of the flatbread and drizzle with the hummus vinaigrette. That’s it! An easy weeknight meal ready in a flash.
More weeknight bbq ideas
Looking for more easy weeknight grill recipes? Check out these other ideas from Yummly.