Item added Item updated Item removed

No products in the cart.

The World's First Online Tell-All Competition BBQ Cooking School

When it comes to grilling, of course, the first food option that many people think of is a delicious slab of meat. Even if you’re not always just grilling meat, it’s easy to fall into the habit of always cooking the same couple of things over and over again. 

But, there is actually a whole world of things you can throw on the grill that you may not have explored very deeply yet. From healthy options to mouth-watering desserts and even a low-country boil, there are a ton of different things you could run with. 

So, if you are wanting to venture out of the norm and are looking for ideas of unusual or unique foods to grill, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a list of some fun and easy options you can try out today and throw some variety in your grilling game:


Surprising Things You Can Grill Successfully:

#1 - Grilled Oysters and/or Clams

Many people are familiar with shrimp on the grill. But two more great and even more unusual seafood options that do really well on the grill are oysters and clams. 

They’re really easy to cook on the grill. All you have to do for prep is clean them. This is just letting them sit in a mixture of cold water and cornmeal to extract any sand. Then dry the shells and place them on the grill for several minutes. (For oysters, place them flat side up.) Close the grill and cook them until the shells pop open on their own and the inner meat is opaque. 


#2 - Grilled Pizza

Cooking pizza on the grill is super easy and a fun way to get creative with your own toppings. Plus, the grill smoke adds another layer to the flavor of the crust and the toppings. You can either use your own homemade dough or go with premade pizza crusts, naan bread, or even cauliflower crust. 

Make sure to brush a little bit of olive oil on whatever dough or crust you decide to use to prevent it from overly charring. Another trick is to slightly grill your crust on each side before adding toppings to prevent it from getting soggy. Then, add pizza sauce and toppings to create your own favorite combo. If you’re tight on time, you can even grill a pre-made frozen pizza.


#3 - Grilled Nachos


grilled nachos | unique foods to grill | unusual foods to grill
Source: Weber


If you’ve got an outdoor gathering planned (especially a tailgate party), grilled nachos make a great option. Yes, you can grill nachos! And it’s super easy to do. Just poke several holes in the bottom of an aluminum baking pan or use a perforated metal grill pan, fill it with your nacho chips, and top them with your favorite toppings. One delicious combo of toppings is ground beef or turkey, pepper jack cheese, jalapeño, diced tomato, and black beans. (Save the cold toppings, like guacamole, sour cream, and salsa, for after the nachos come off the grill.)


#4- Grilled Skewered Tofu

If you’re looking for a hearty vegetarian option, try grilled tofu. This is a great way to get a good amount of protein without meat. Tofu is naturally bland, but when you add a good marinade and grill smoke, you’ll end up with a delicious final result. Just cut extra firm tofu into 1-inch cubes and let them soak in your marinade. Also, make sure to pre-soak wood skewers before using them to prevent them from burning on the grill. Then drain the tofu, skewer the cubes, and grill over medium heat. 

Check out this recipe for delicious savory-spicy grilled tofu skewers with peanut sauce.


#5 - Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Grilled brussels sprouts make a great option for a grilled vegetable. Cooking them on the grill will get the outer leaves crispy and slightly charred, with that delicious grill flavor, while the center will still be soft. You can either cook them on skewers or keep them on the large stalk and cook them directly on the grill that way. Another option is to use a vegetable grilling basket, which works great for smaller vegetables.


#6 - Grilled Bacon


grilled bacon | unique foods to grill | unusual foods to grill
Source: allrecipes


Everyone loves bacon. And once you try it grilled, you may never go back to “regularly”-cooked bacon. You’ll end up with a healthier and less greasy result since it won’t be sitting and cooking in its own fat. Just cook each slice of bacon for 4 - 6 minutes (depending on how crispy you want it) on medium-high heat.

You can then enjoy the bacon on its own along with the rest of your breakfast, put it on your grilled burger, or break it up into a salad or on top of nachos (see above).


#7 - Grilled Granola

Granola is a great, healthy option for breakfast or a midday snack. Grilling it can kick the deliciousness up a whole other level that you didn’t know you were missing. Just wrap up the granola and some freeze-dried berries in a sheet of aluminum foil, poke a couple of holes in the pouch to allow the smoke in, and grill it over medium heat. 

When it’s done, you can enjoy it by itself, mixed into greek yogurt, or even as a topping for ice cream.

Check out this recipe for delicious grilled granola.


#8 - Grilled Grapes

Grapes are deliciously sweet and juicy both fresh and frozen. What you may not know is that they are absolutely delectable hot off the grill and super easy to do. Simply take a bunch of them (literally), lightly coat them with olive oil, and place them directly on the hot grill grate. Cook them for about 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally. They can be served alongside a thick-cut steak, pork tenderloin, grilled chicken, or even on top of a summer salad.

For a great combo of tangy and sweet flavors, check out this recipe for balsamic grilled grapes. 


#9 - Grilled Rambutan


rambutan | unique foods to grill | unusual foods to grill
Source: Savory Experiments


Chances are, you may not have heard of this golf-ball-sized red and green spiky/furry and delicious fruit. Grown in tropical Southeast Asia and some parts of Latin America, Rambutan is similar to a lychee, with a translucent white grape-like “meat” inside. This fruit is great when eaten fresh or even slightly chilled. But like many of the things we’ve covered in this article, their natural flavor is amplified even more when grilled.

Simply place them on the grill whole and cook over high heat until the outer “hairs” have singed black, usually only a couple of minutes. The shell actually steams the sweet inner fruit while it’s cooking. Sometimes they will pop open and leak some juice while cooking but this is ok. Just make sure to not overcook them.

After they come off the grill, carefully halve the outer shell to open them and enjoy! (Keep in mind there is a seed in the middle of the fruit.)


#10 - Grilled Cucumbers

Many different vegetables cook really well on the grill, but one that you may not think of is cucumbers. The grill adds a delicious smokiness to the crunchy “cucs” and you can serve these as a side or a healthy appetizer option. Just cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then in half again. Grill them on medium heat for roughly 10 minutes.

If you love the vinegar flavor of pickles you can even use vinegar and salt in your prep before putting them on the grill. Then, pair them with a delicious pickled feta dip. Check out this recipe for all the details on that combo.  


Add Some Variety to Your Grilled Food Options Today!

With the options of unique foods to grill that we’ve covered above, you are ready to throw some variety into your grilling routine. You have plenty of ideas to choose from for appetizers, sides, the main course, and dessert. Feel free to adjust the above options to your tastes and make them your own. Don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to your backyard cooking!

Have you tried any of the items above on the grill? Do you have a favorite, more unusual food to grill? Leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!

If you want to really elevate your backyard cooking skills and learn from the pros how to cook a variety of delicious recipes step-by-step, check out the Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy!

For competition smoking and grilling techniques, even more in-depth insider secrets, and more, grab your All-Access pass now with the Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters in their one-of-kind online BBQ classes. You can master cooking a variety of meats in your smoker or grill today.

To stay on top of all the latest competition BBQ news and insider info, make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs YouTube channel!


**Feature image from Little Ferraro Kitchen

Most people will agree that grilled food and dessert are two of the best things in the world. What’s even better is that you can successfully combine the two for a mouth-watering sweet treat that will also have that smokey flavor you love. 

If you’re asking yourself “what desserts should I make?”, there are a lot of great options that can be cooked right in your grill or smoker. Many of these can be cooked right alongside other parts of your holiday meal on the grill or they can be cooking while everyone is enjoying dinner.

And what better time to try easy-to-make grilled desserts than for the holidays this year? Though all of these desserts we’ll cover below can be great options any time of the year. 

So, if you’re looking for options for desserts on the grill, you’ve come to the right place! Here are 6 options to choose from:


Baked Pumpkin Pie in the Smoker

What is Thanksgiving without some form of pumpkin pie? This is an easy-to-make homemade spiced pumpkin pie that bakes in your smoker in just under an hour. It delivers a smooth and delicious combination of those pumpkin, brown sugar, spice, and wood-fire flavors you love. Make sure to use Applewood as your fuel source to complement the pie’s flavors nicely.


smoked pumpkin pie | desserts on the grill | grilled desserts
Source: Traeger Grills


Banana Butter Pecan Kabobs

Kabobs always make an easy and fun grill option. Though many people often associate kabobs with chunks of veggies and meat. Surprisingly though, it works with dessert too! In this grilled dessert recipe, skewers are used to cook a delicious combination of bananas and pound cake brushed with butter, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.


Smoked Blueberry Cobbler

A rich, fruity cobbler is always a great option for dessert at a big holiday meal. This blueberry cobbler, combining the delicious flavors of blueberry, lemon, and mascarpone, is easy to make and cooks right in a cast-iron skillet in your smoker. The wood smoke from a lighter, fruitwood adds that delicious smoky flavor that pairs well with the berry.


smoked blueberry cobbler | desserts on the grill | grilled desserts
Source: Oklahoma Joe’s


Flourless Chocolate Cake on the Grill

Here’s one for the chocolate lovers. This grilled flourless chocolate cake is moist, tender, and decadent and makes enough to feed 8 to 10 people. You can easily mix up the cake, put it in the pan, and have it ready to go well before it’s time to put it on the grill. The cake only takes 25 to 30 minutes to cook and will have everyone’s mouths watering by the time it’s done.


Grill-Baked Apple Bourbon Crisp

Apple is a key element of many of the most favorite holiday desserts. Pair the tastes of apple, bourbon, and cranberry with wood-fire savoriness and you’ve got a winning combination. This baked apple bourbon crisp slow-cooks in your grill in an hour and emanates the delicious sweet and smoky flavors everyone will love.


Grilled Apple crisp | desserts on the grill | grilled desserts
Source: Traeger Grills


Grilled Orange Cupcakes

This delicious recipe involves grilling cupcakes directly in orange rinds on the grill, resulting in a flavor reminiscent of orange creamsicles with a touch of smokiness. These grilled cupcakes are a fun and easy way to give everyone their own individual dessert right off the grill to satisfy every sweet tooth.


Grilled Desserts Can Easily Satisfy the Holiday Sweet Tooth

There are a ton of things to choose from when it comes to easy-to-make desserts you can cook on the grill or smoker this holiday season. From the traditional apple lovers to the chocolate lovers, you can make something to satisfy everyone’s tastes. Plus, these options above make great desserts you can cook on the grill all year long! After all, our sweet tooth isn’t only reserved for the holidays.

For even more dessert options on the grill, along with step-by-step instruction in easy-to-follow online videos, check out the dessert classes with Max Nelson of Montana Max BBQ here at BBQ Champs Academy. Max Nelson, a Culinary Fight Club Champion, will show you exactly how to cook a delicious Smoked Bourbon Bacon Peach Crumble, Banana Foster Banana Pudding, and White Chocolate Mousse Pie.

Do you have a favorite grilled dessert that you could add to our list? Plan on trying a few of these dessert options for the upcoming holidays? Leave a comment below, we want to hear from you!

To learn more great backyard BBQ cooking recipes you can do any time of the year, check out our Championship Backyard BBQ Classes. In these first-of-their-kind virtual classes, you’ll get instruction straight from some of the top competition Pitmasters and Grillmasters. You’ll learn a variety of delicious recipes, step-by-step with all of the tips and insider info you need to know. You can master your backyard cooking today!


**Feature image from Taste of Home

With the Thanksgiving holiday a couple of weeks away, you may be starting to think about what exactly you will be cooking. Often the biggest dinner of the year, there will probably be a whole lot of food involved. Of course, a whole turkey will be the centerpiece, but what about the sides? 

Chances are, you probably have some longtime Thanksgiving favorites, like green bean casserole or cranberry sauce. But, did you know that many favorite side dishes for “Turkey Day” can also be done on your outdoor cooker? You can easily elevate the flavor of almost anything with that smokiness you love.

In this article, we’ve put together some great ideas for Thanksgiving side dishes on the grill or smoker that you can try out this year:


Grilled Brie with Cranberry-Jalapeno Relish

If you are looking for an appetizer idea to keep everyone satisfied until dinner, this grilled brie makes a great option. The flavor medley of the grilled, savory cheese with the sweet and spicy relish makes for a delicious combo. Plus, it only takes 10 minutes to cook!


Smoked Cranberry Sauce

Speaking of cranberry, cranberry sauce is one of those must-have staples for any Thanksgiving dinner. But, this smoked cranberry sauce recipe from Traeger Grills puts a unique and deliciously smoky twist on a holiday favorite. For extra flavor, you can even add orange zest and vanilla extract. Make sure to use Cherrywood as your fuel source to impart a smoke that will complement the flavors of the sauce. 


smoked cranberry sauce | Thanksgiving side dishes on the grill | Thanksgiving sides on the smoker
Source: Traeger Grills


Smoked Cream Corn

For a smoky twist on a delicious and fresh vegetable option, check out this Smoked Cream Corn. The sweetness of the corn cuts through the smoke to offer an amazingly balanced flavor profile that goes very well with turkey. This recipe is easy to make and gives you another option for Thanksgiving side dishes that everyone will enjoy.


Roasted Hasselback Potatoes

It’s a must to have a starch as a Thanksgiving side. For that, these roasted Hasselback potatoes make a great choice for something different. These hearty and filling potatoes are loaded with butter and bacon and slow-roasted in your cooker. Once they’re done cooking, finish them with melted cheddar cheese and scallions for a delicious topping.


smoked potatoes | Thanksgiving side dishes on the grill | Thanksgiving sides on the smoker
Source: Traeger Grills


Smoked Mashed Potatoes

If you’re wanting the more traditional starch option for Thanksgiving dinner, check out these mashed potatoes from Char-Griller. This smoky twist on a classic will help satisfy the desire for a “stick-to-your-ribs” meal. These potatoes are simple to prepare and can slow smoke alongside other dishes on your cooker. Don’t be afraid to get creative with toppings to finish them off, like diced bacon, chives, and of course gravy.

Bonus Tip: Use the drippings from your smoked turkey to make homemade Turkey gravy to top the mashed potatoes with.


Smoked Sausage, Caramelized Onion, and Cornbread Stuffing

Another staple for many Thanksgiving dinners is stuffing. There are dozens of different varieties of stuffing. But this easy-to-make smoky version can be cooked on your grill or smoker and delivers a delicious combination of savory and sweet flavors.


smoked stuffing | Thanksgiving side dishes on the grill | Thanksgiving sides on the smoker
Source: Vindulge


Grilled Green Bean Casserole

For another twist on a traditional Thanksgiving classic, check out this grilled Green Bean Casserole recipe from Weber Grills. This casserole combines green beans, mushrooms, onion, and savory seasonings and is slow-cooked (still only 25 minutes) over the indirect heat side of your grill. You’ll have everyone coming back for seconds for sure.


This Year, Try Your Hand at a Few Thanksgiving Sides on Grill or Smoker

As you can see, there are a lot of great options to choose from when it comes to Thanksgiving side dishes on the grill or smoker. From savory sides to deliciously sweet desserts, you can cook plenty of different things to satisfy everyone this holiday. Try your hand at a few of them!

For even more holiday cooking info, make sure to check out our article on cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner on the grill. And for any of your vegetarian guests, check out our article on a variety of meatless options you can also cook on the grill for them.

Are you cooking your sides on the grill this year? Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving side done in a smoker? Tell us about it below, we want to hear from you!

For more great backyard BBQ cooking you can do all year, check out our first-of-their-kind Championship Backyard BBQ Classes with some of the top competition Pitmasters and Grillmasters. You can learn a variety of different, delicious recipes, step-by-step with all of the insider info you need to know. Master your backyard cooking today!

No matter if you are grilling beef burgers or meatless burgers (like portobello mushroom burgers), the toppings you choose are what can really level up the deliciousness. You can take an ordinary burger to extraordinary in just a few seconds. 

So, if your idea of burger toppings only consists of lettuce, tomato, onions, and the traditional condiments, it’s time to start thinking outside the box.

There are dozens of creative ideas for burger toppings that you can try today. From savory flavors to a mix of sweet and salty, there is plenty to choose from to have something for everyone’s tastes. Here are a few great options:


Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil

The ingredients in the simple Italian salad known as a Caprese salad actually make for great burger toppings as well. This is especially true if you’re doing portobello burgers. Though it’s great with beef as well. For this combination of toppings make sure to use thick slices of beefsteak tomato and slices of fresh mozzarella for best results. Also, you can marinate the tomato in balsamic vinegar, oil, and salt, and pepper, or use a balsamic glaze directly over the toppings on the burger.


Pesto Mayo & Swiss Cheese

The Italian word for “to crush” is pesto, so use your favorite method to crush pine nuts, basil, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Then, mix with mayo and you’ve got a tangy condiment to spread before you top your burger with Swiss cheese, slices of avocado, and some red leaf lettuce for more vibrant color.


pesto mayo | ideas for burger toppings | burger toppings
Source: A Spicy Perspective


Grilled Pineapple, Teriyaki Sauce, & Bell Peppers

Grill some pineapple rings and red or green peppers. As those are browning, mix mayo with a bit of teriyaki sauce, and layer it all on a burger with thick slices of tomato and red onions. You just created a salty-sweet crunchiness that will wow your guests.


Salisbury Ribeye Steak-Style with Caramelized Onions

When prepping your burger meat, add some beef bouillon to the meat for a savory, umami-packed taste. Then, simply top your burgers with caramelized onions and a Worcestershire mayo for a Salisbury steak-style. This makes for an easy and delicious combo.


Sweet Onion Chili Sauce

Mix up your favorite burger mix, adding fresh herbs you prefer. Then saute some onions, red chili, and cinnamon to make a sauce. Top your burger with this sweet and spicy topping and your guests will be asking for your secret recipe!


Roasted Red Peppers & Feta Cheese

Roast some red peppers and get ready for a mouthful of delightful surprise! The surprise is the addition of tangy feta cheese. If you can get sheep’s milk feta, the texture is creamier. Top burgers with the red peppers and the feta and finish off with a garnish of parsley or arugula lettuce.


roasted peppers on burger | ideas for burger toppings | burger toppings
Source: Caitlin’s Cooking and More


Sriracha & Bacon Burger

Sriracha has made a huge splash on the culinary scene since the 1980s. It is a bright red hot sauce made from red chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Rather than just heat, though, sriracha has a touch of sweetness, too. And it makes for a great addition to burgers. You can mix the sauce right into the burger meat before cooking and then add a piece of bacon on top of each burger, with a large dollop of sriracha before serving. Get ready for the rave reviews!


Mac and Cheese

Why not? Mac and Cheese makes everything better! Rather than eat it by itself the next time you cook burgers on the grill, try this. Make the burgers a bit smaller than normal, especially if you’re having lots of guests. Then, build your burger stack with lettuce, the burger, a thick slice of tomato, and a spoonful of mac and cheese. It’s creamy and filling, and no one will go home hungry.


Maple Syrup (or Peanut Butter) with Bacon

Sometimes you just have to leap into an idea like this when it comes to ideas for burger toppings! Maple syrup isn’t just for breakfast and you know everyone loves the thick, sweet texture. So, add a tablespoon or so to the top of each burger along with a strip of bacon, and enjoy! (How could you go wrong with this?) But if that’s too sweet, try peanut butter. The peanut butter will melt from the heat of the burger and satisfies that craving for creamy, salty thickness. You can add bacon to this also or just go with the peanut butter by itself.


peanut butter burger | ideas for burger toppings | burger toppings
Source: Parade


Hummus & Cucumber

If you or your guests want to maintain some nod to healthy eating, hummus is made from protein-packed chickpea and sesame tahini. You can make your own (it’s easy to make with a blender) and simply add a dollop of store-bought hummus to the top of your juicy burgers. You will feel like you’re in a cafe in the Mediterranean!


Southwestern Style 

There is no easier way to make your burgers gourmet than by adding some spice with seasonings like garlic, paprika, and chili powder. Add it to the meat; add it on top. Then top with your favorite salsa, some crispy tortilla chips, and pepper jack cheese. It’s a Southwestern feast, for sure.


Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the Box for Burger Toppings

There’s a whole other world of burger toppings ideas besides just the plain old lettuce, tomato, onion combo. Don’t be afraid to try things that may seem out of the ordinary. Combine several different flavor profiles. As you can see above, there are a lot of great combinations of toppings that will give you a totally different burger than you may have had before.

Do you have a favorite combination of burger toppings? Have you recently tried one of the combinations we mentioned above? If so, leave us a comment below. We want to hear from you!

If you want to step your backyard cooking game up and impress your friends and family, check out the BBQ Champs Academy Backyard BBQ Cooking Classes today! In these virtual classes, you can learn step-by-step straight from the pros how to cook a variety of grilling favorites.

And if you are ready to try your hand at in-depth competition smoking and grilling techniques for a variety of BBQ favorites, grab your All-Access pass now! In these first-of-their-kind virtual classes, you’ll join some of the top competition Pitmasters and Grillmasters and learn how to cook competition-caliber meat step-by-step.

Make sure to also Subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel to stay on top of all the latest insider info and BBQ news!

Anyone who likes to cook outside on the grill will tell you that one of the best things about it is that char-grilled taste you end up with. There’s nothing quite like it. And with summertime here, you are probably spending more time backyard cooking. But, meats are not the only options you have when it comes to deciding exactly what you are going to be grilling. 

With more grilling happening and more and more people looking to eat a little healthier these days, you may be searching for how to grill healthy options as well. So, if you are looking for new, fun, and/or unusual foods to grill that you can add to the rotation, there are actually quite a few foods that you may not know could easily be grilled to perfection. 

In this article, we’ve put together just a sample of delicious and healthy foods you didn't know you can grill today:


Romaine Lettuce

Who doesn’t love a good salad during the summer? For a twist on your traditional salad to serve before the meal or even as a quick meal by itself, grilling romaine lettuce makes for an awesome light and crunchy option.

Just cut a head of romaine lettuce lengthwise in half and brush it with olive oil. Place it face down on your grill and cook it over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Drizzle it with your favorite dressing and top it with shredded parmesan cheese, chopped bacon, and tomatoes or you can even chop it and mix it with other grilled fruits (see below) or veggies of choice.

Cabbage and endive both also do well on the grill if you want to have a couple of other leaf vegetables to add to the romaine for a great salad.


how to grill healthy | healthy foods you can grill | grilled romaine
Source: Simply Recipes



It’s hard to just mention one particular fruit when there are so many that hold up well on the grill and end up with a deliciously sweet and smoky flavor. Watermelon, pineapple, peach, mango, bananas, pear, and grapefruit are just a few examples of fruits that can be grilled.

Depending on the fruit (like pineapple or peach), you can either slice them into 1-inch thick round slices, slice them in half, or skewer them. You can even cut a variety of fruits into chunks and do a fruit kebab.  

Make sure to lightly brush the surface of the fruit that will be touching the grates with oil. Then grill over medium-high heat to midway between crisp and tender. It won’t take long!

Bonus tip: Try grilling mango seasoned with Tajin for a delicious sweet and spicy treat.



You may have had artichokes steamed, which are delicious, but grilling them adds a delicious smoky dimension to the flavor profile. If you want extra-tender results go for baby artichokes if you can find them.

Start by halving the artichokes and scooping out the prickly choke. Then just brush them lightly with extra-virgin olive oil season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Grill them over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until they’re lightly charred and tender.



For a more “unusual” option of healthy foods you didn't know you can grill, if you like fried calamari, you have to try it grilled. The best place to get fresh (or recently frozen) squid is at your local seafood market. You may be able to find it in the seafood department at your grocery store as well. Make sure the squid has been cleaned before you bring it home. 

Cut the tubes (body) of the squid into half-inch rings and leave the tentacles whole and toss everything in olive oil. Then slide the pieces onto skewers and cook on the hottest part of the grill, turning once or twice, until just cooked through for a tender and delicious result. They will usually only take 2 to 4 minutes to cook.


unusual foods to grill | healthy foods you can grill | grilled calamari
Source: Foreman Grill Recipes



If you are looking for a quick and easy healthy snack you can grill and serve before a meal you should try olives. Grilling olives enhances their natural flavors, making them even more delicious. Look for jarred “Colossal” or “Queen Sized” pitted olives, like Sicilian or Spanish olives for example. You can even do stuffed olives as well.

Make sure to lightly coat them with oil before they go on the grill and you can season simply with black pepper and sea salt. Then grill them on a skewer over medium-high heat only until heated through and showing grill marks.



Avocado is much more than just a guacamole ingredient. It actually does really well on the grill and can make for a great, healthy appetizer. The best avocados for the grill are going to be newly ripe ones that are not super soft. 

Slice the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Then brush the halves lightly with olive oil, season with salt and even paprika or chili powder, and grill over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. They are delicious on their own or topped with fresh pico de gallo.


Sweet Potato (Wedges)

Grilled sweet potato wedges make for a tasty and easy side to go with any meal or even as an appetizer. You may never go back to oven-cooked or fried once you try them grilled. 

Just cut a sweet potato into wedges and grill them over medium-high heat until you see grill marks. You can even try them with yogurt and/or honey for a sweet yet healthier side. 

foods you didn't know you can grill | healthy foods you can grill | grilled sweet potato
Source: Good Life Eats


Angel Food Cake

You are probably wondering why we put cake on a list of healthy options. But, if you are looking for a fun and different option for a delicious dessert on the grill, angel food cake is much lower in calories and sugar compared to other options. 

Plus, you probably didn’t know that grilling this classic summer favorite can add delicious complexity to the flavor profile. Just slice it into 1 to 1 ½ inch slices and toast it to a light golden brown until on each side.


Mix Up Your Grilled Food Selection With Healthy Options Today

So as you can see, there are quite a few options when it comes to healthy foods you can grill that you may not have known, from snacks to desserts and everything in between. You can enjoy that delicious grilled taste on much more than just cuts of meat. Of course, many of the healthier options will be vegetables and fruits. 

(Check out our article on tips for grilling vegetables and fruits to ensure you end up with the best result.)

Like with any time you are going to be grilling, just make sure you are prepared before you start and have everything you need on hand. Doing so will ensure you end up with a delicious final result no matter what you are cooking.

Have you recently grilled any of the items we covered above? Do you know of other options in usual foods to grill that we didn’t cover? Let us know below in the comment section. We want to hear from you!


To up your backyard cooking game and learn step-by-step from the pros how to cook a variety of delicious things, check out our Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy today!

For even more in-depth insider secrets, competition smoking and grilling techniques, and more, get your All-Access pass now with our Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters in their one-of-kind online BBQ classes. Master cooking a variety of different meats in your smoker or grill today.

To stay on top of all the latest news and insider info straight from the BBQ pros, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

*Feature image from Traeger Grills

You’ve been experimenting with outdoor cooking techniques, learning how to master your grill, or even trying your hand at smoking big cuts like brisket. Now you’ve planned a barbecue for some friends and family to come and enjoy some of your BBQ skills. But, what happens when one of them is vegetarian?

There are some great vegetarian grill ideas you can include that are easy and delicious. Many vegetables and fruits hold up very well on the grill. Then, everyone gets some great-tasting food at your next barbecue get-together and you can elevate your outdoor cooking skills even more. Plus, some of these vegetarian items make great sides that anyone can enjoy.

We’ve put together seven vegetarian grilling ideas for you to choose from. Let’s take a look:


Cheese-Stuffed Grilled Peppers


grilled peppers | vegetarian grilling ideas | vegetarian grill ideasSource: Food & Wine


Peppers are one example of a vegetable that does really well on a grill. These cheese-stuffed grilled peppers make for a delicious vegetarian side that anyone can enjoy. 

This easy-to-make recipe by Robert Perkins and John Lancaster uses a delicious blend of three different kinds of cheese stuffed into different types of medium-sized peppers. As the peppers blister on the grill, the cheese mixture on the inside melts into a deliciously gooey combination. 

These peppers can be prepared and stuffed beforehand and stored in the refrigerator. Just make sure to bring them to room temperature before grilling for the best results.


Beer-Can Cabbage Sandwiches


vegetarian grilled sandwich | vegetarian grilling ideas | vegetarian BBQ ideas
Source: Epicurious


Burgers have long been a staple item of backyard barbecues and tailgate parties. So, for your vegetarian guests, these beer-can cabbage sandwiches make a great substitution for a beef burger and can utilize a lot of the same toppings. 

This hearty vegetarian sandwich from Epicurious features a beer-steaming-plus-grilling technique and results in a mouth-watering smoky, sweet flavor.


Sweet & Spicy Paneer Kebabs


vegetarian grilled kebabs | vegetarian grilling ideas | vegetarian BBQ ideasSource: The Spruce Eats


Kebabs are always a great option when it comes to grilling, especially when you are looking for vegetarian BBQ ideas. These sweet & spicy kebabs from The Spruce use Paneer cheese and are an elevated fusion of both Indian and Chinese flavors. 

These easy-to-make kebabs are marinated in tandoori masala and only take about 25 minutes to grill.

Check out our article on tips for grilling kebabs to get the inside scoop on how to successfully grill them every time, no matter what type you are cooking. 


Blue Cheese-Crusted Tomatoes


grilled tomatoes | Vegetarian grilling ideas | vegetarian ideas for grillingSource: Bon Appetit


Tomatoes are another delicious vegetable that can be easily cooked on the grill.  These grilled tomatoes topped with blue cheese from Bon Appetit are both rich in flavor and filling, yet easy to prepare and cook. 

For this recipe, remember to look for medium to large ripe tomatoes. They’ll only take about 13 minutes to cook and you’ll have a delicious choice for your vegetarian guests.


Charred Sweet Potatoes


grilled vegetable | Vegetarian grilling ideas | vegetarian BBQ ideasSource: Epicurious


A combination of Japanese sweet potatoes, honey, and olive oil makes for a mouth-watering sweet and savory combination. With this recipe from Epicurious, you’ll have another delicious vegetarian grill option. Japanese sweet potatoes are actually starchier than yams and can hold up well on the grill.

Insider tip: If you steam the sweet potatoes before they go on the grill you’ll get a perfectly moist interior with the right touch of char on the exterior.


Open-Face Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches


grilled eggplant sandwich | Vegetarian grilling ideas | vegetarian grill ideasSource: Food & Wine


For a smoky version of eggplant parmesan, try this delicious open-face grilled eggplant recipe from Food & Wine. Eggplant holds up well when grilled and takes on a rich and smoky flavor. Combine this with buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and basil on grilled peasant bread and you’ve got another hearty, delectable entree option. 

Pairing this sandwich with the bold taste of a cold Guinness makes for a delicious pair. (Check out our article on beer and barbecue pairings for more great info on this.)


Grilled Pineapple Dessert


grilled pineapple | Vegetarian grilling ideas | vegetarian BBQ ideasSource: The Spruce Eats


If you are looking for a grilled dessert option, pineapple always makes a great choice. When grilled, this popular juicy and sweet fruit can take on completely different flavor profiles. In this grilled pineapple recipe from The Spruce, a combination of Tequila, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla will have everyone coming back for more. 

You can either grill the pineapple in large rings or cut it into smaller pieces and skewer it. Also, if you’re not a fan of Tequila, Rum makes a great alternative in this recipe. 


Try One Of These Vegetarian BBQ Ideas Today

As you can see, there are some great vegetarian grilling ideas to choose from. Include one or two of these at your barbecue get-together for your vegetarian friends or family. You’ll get to show off your outdoor cooking skills and have everyone smiling. 

Have you mastered any of these meat-free items already? Do you know of more great vegetarian grill ideas that you like? Leave a comment below, we want to hear from you!   


Here at BBQ Champs Academy, through our first of its kind online BBQ cooking school, our Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters will teach you everything you need to know to elevate your backyard BBQ techniques. Learn from the pros and start cooking competition quality BBQ today.

Make sure to also check out our YouTube channel for the latest videos packed full of tips and insider info, as well as the latest BBQ news. Click “Subscribe” on our channel to make sure you don’t miss the latest from BBQ Champs Academy!

No matter what style of barbecue you are cooking, chances are you want to have a barbecue sauce (at least on the side) that complements and elevates that great meat flavor even more. The use of barbecue sauce when outdoor cooking meat dates back to as early as the end of the 15th century when Christopher Columbus brought a primitive sauce back from Hispaniola that was used for cooking Alpaca meat.

The variety and number of options now available in store-bought barbecue sauce are enough to make your head spin. There are definitely some great ones available. But, if you are spending time learning how to cook like a champion pitmaster, why not elevate your sauce game too by making a homemade barbecue sauce. 

Learning how to make barbecue sauce from scratch like a pro is actually easier than you may think. Plus, the most fun part is putting your own twist on the sauce, experimenting, and determining what flavor profile you like the best. 

In this article, we’ll break down some necessary background info you need to know first. We’ll also give you a good starting point for making a barbecue sauce that you’ll be proud to show off.


Pair Your Barbecue Sauce & Your Meat 

If you are not sure where to start when it comes to how to make barbecue sauce, a good jumping-off point is to consider what type of meat you’ll be pairing it with. 

Some flavor profiles pair better with certain types of meat. Remember, you want the flavors in your sauce to complement and enhance the meat. Not overpower or fight against it.

  • Savory Sauces - Sauces that have a more savory flavor profile tend to pair well with beef and other richer cuts of meat (especially beef brisket and other cowboy cuts).
  • Sweet Sauces - Barbecue sauces that have a sweeter profile pair well with pork (especially baby back and St. Louis ribs).
  • Tangy Sauces - If you like a tangy taste to your sauce, smoked pork (especially pulled pork) and beef (especially beef brisket) are both good pairings.

If you are grilling or smoking chicken, you can pair several different types of barbecue sauce depending on your taste preferences. Many people enjoy lighter, vinegar-based sauces with chicken. If you want to try a more unique sauce that pair deliciously with chicken, a mayo-based white sauce (like the Alabama White Sauce made famous at Big Bob Gibson’s in Northern Alabama) is a great option as well. 


Traditional Flavor Profiles Of Barbecue Sauce

flavor profiles of barbecue sauce | how to make barbecue sauce | BBQ sauceSource: The Daily Meal


When you are planning out what will go in your barbecue sauce, it is important to utilize several flavor profiles that balance and enhance each other to create a harmonious overall flavor. Of course, some sauces will lean heavier towards one flavor profile but will still have enough of other flavors to balance it. 

The traditional flavor profiles found in barbecue sauce include:

  • Sweet - Most often, sweetness in barbecue sauce comes from brown sugar. But, some other great alternatives or supplements include blackstrap molasses, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, sorghum, or even sodas.
  • Salty - You definitely don’t want your barbecue sauce to be overly salty, but salt enhances other flavors, like sweet, and balances others, like spiciness and bitterness. Kosher salt is a usual favorite. But, other options include Worcestershire, soy sauce, smoked salt, celery salt, onion salt, tamari, or even anchovy paste.
  • Sour/Tangy - Tangy or sour flavors balance perfectly with both salty and sweet flavors. Tangy starts with the acid component in tomato, which is the base for many barbecue sauces. But tangy and sour flavors can be boosted by using different types of vinegar, lemon, grapefruit juice, mustard, pickle juice, tamarind paste (which also adds a touch of sweetness), or even beer.
  • Spicy - Every good barbecue sauce needs at least a little bit of spiciness to balance any sweetness. An easy way to add a little bit of spiciness is with black pepper. You can amplify spiciness by using things like hot sauce, chili powder (like chipotle, cayenne, or ancho), fresh dried chilies, fresh chopped peppers in adobo sauce, pepper jellies, or even Habanero rib candy glazes.


Focus On The Base First

Now that you understand how the flavor profiles play a factor in a well-balanced sauce, it’s time to focus on the base of your sauce first. Your base will help guide you in what and how much to add from the other flavor profiles. Most barbecue sauces start with a tomato base in some form. As we mentioned above, tomato is going to put you at a starting point of a tangy flavor. 

Some popular choices for a tomato base include ketchup, tomato-based chili sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and pureed tomato. Ketchup is a popular choice for a base because it already has some spices built-in, as well as high sugar content which helps achieve a nice sticky glaze on your meat when it is cooked.

Of course, there are some regional style variations when it comes to barbecue sauce and your base may not be tomato at all. If you’re going for a traditional Carolina style sauce, you’ll start with a vinegar or mustard base. Or, as mentioned above, the Northern Alabama style sauce will start with a mayonnaise base.

Whether you are starting with a tomato, vinegar, mustard, or mayonnaise base, focus on your base’s flavor profile first and build out from there to complement it.


Get Creative With Flavor Boosters, Herbs, & Spices

barbecue sauce ingredients | barbecue sauce | how to make barbecue sauceSource: Cooking Channel


One of the best parts about making barbecue sauce from scratch is that once you’ve combined the basic ingredients you have the opportunity to flex your culinary creativity. Those basic ingredients will get you started on hitting the essential flavor profiles. You can elevate and expand on flavors by using flavor boosters, herbs, and signature spices.

  • Experiment with even more creative ways to add sweetness by using fruit. You can add guava paste as part of your base, use fresh blueberries or blackberries, or even add a little bit of fruit jelly/preserves.
  • To add extra texture and depth you can opt to add in some aromatics. Things like minced garlic, chopped onions, diced jalapenos, or diced bell pepper are good examples.
  • Some herbs can help enhance a delicious savory flavor. Examples that work well in barbecue sauce include dried rosemary, thyme, basil, sage, bay leaf, cilantro, mint, and parsley.
  • Getting creative with additional spices is an easy way to boost the existing flavor profiles in the base. Depending on how sweet of a sauce you want, or the meat you are cooking, you can use things like cinnamon, nutmeg, Allspice, cardamom, and ginger to add sweetness. While things like paprika, coriander, cumin, and curry powder can be used to achieve a savory flavor.
  • All barbecue sauces need some type of liquid to provide a smooth texture. This is an opportunity to get creative as well. Different kinds of beer are an easy way to enhance tangy and savory flavors. Bourbon and even red wine are other options. Root beer and colas are a way to enhance a little sweetness. Brewed coffee can even add delicious bitterness. Even a little bit of bacon drippings can add a robust savory flavor.


A Starting Point For How To Make Barbecue Sauce

Now you have the knowledge of flavor profiles and how to build on the different flavors to create a great barbecue sauce. But, you may still be wondering exactly where to start once you’ve decided on a base. 

This recipe below from Char-Broil is a simple, traditional tomato-based sauce that can give you a starting point. It touches on all of the traditional flavor profiles to give you a well-balanced overall flavor. From this recipe, you can modify it, add in different things, and get creative until you’ve made your own signature sauce built around your flavor preferences. 

Makes 1 1/2 cups


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon BBQ rub or 3/4 teaspoon chili powder


Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow sauce to cool before serving. Store refrigerated for up to 1 month.


How To Correct Homemade Barbecue Sauce

homemade BBQ sauce | barbecue sauce | how to make barbecue sauce


So you’ve been mixing up your barbecue sauce and maybe now it tastes too salty, too sweet, or even too spicy. Don’t worry, you don’t have to throw the sauce out and start over. There are easy ways to correct it and still end up with a great tasting sauce.

  • Too Salty - If you find, after mixing your ingredients, that your sauce is too salty then you have a couple of options. One is you can simply double the batch while leaving out any of the salty ingredients you have already used. Or, lemon juice or brown sugar can be used to tone down an over salty sauce.
  • Too Sweet - If your sauce is tasting too sweet DO NOT add salt. Remember from earlier in this article, salt enhances sweet flavors. To cut down on the sweetness you can add a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice. Another option is to add more of the base and sour ingredients.
  • Too Spicy - If your sauce has too much of a kick you also have a couple of options here. One is to add a little bit more of a sweetener plus an acidic ingredient to tone the spiciness down. For example, brown sugar with vinegar. But just add a little at a time and taste as you go. Your other option is to increase the amount of all of the other ingredients (except the spicy ones of course).


Wrapping It All Up

As you can see, there’s more to making barbecue sauce like a pro than just throwing a bunch of ingredients together. It is important to understand the different flavor profiles, how they complement and enhance each other, and how they pair with different meats.

Learning how to make barbecue sauce can be just as fun as actually cooking the meat. It is also a time where you can show off your culinary creativity. There are many options for ingredients to use to end up with your own signature barbecue sauce that you’ll be proud to share with friends and family.

For tips on how and when to use your homemade barbecue sauce when you are doing your outdoor cooking, check out our other great article here.

This insider information and tips like we’ve covered above are the type of barbecue insight you’ll get from the award-winning pitmasters and grillmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy. You’ll learn step-by-step outdoor cooking techniques alongside insider secrets, all in stunning high-def 4K video. Check out our All-Access pass to get the full inside look.

It’s that time of the year again. Football is back,
Nascar and NHRA drag racing is coming into the final stretch of their seasons, and you can smell the BBQ’s going through parking lots across America. It’s time to take your backyard BBQ cooking to the tailgate and master your BBQ game and race day tailgate party.

But a great bbq tailgate get-together is more than just the different kinds of BBQ meat you may be grilling or smoking. If you can also nail the sides to compliment your BBQ, you are sure to create the best tailgate BBQ meal of the season. 

Top BBQ pitmasters know that using side dishes to play off of and compliment the flavors of the meat can actually do wonders to even further enhance the meat’s flavor profiles. Let’s take a look at some top outdoor eating sides for your BBQ tailgate party:


Calico Bean Bake


baked beans | bean bake | backyard bbq | tailgate BBQ | bbq tailgate food | bbq cooking school
Midwest Living Magazine

One hearty and warm side that pairs very well with BBQ is baked beans. But to leave a lasting impression you should skip canned baked beans. Go for a delicious elevated version like this Calico Bean Bake from Midwest Living. 

Looking for something to feed a large group? This easy to make recipe, part baked beans, part chili, is ready in 45 to 50 minutes and feeds 12 people.


Fall Grilled Pineapple


grilled pineapple | backyard bbq | tailgate BBQ | bbq tailgate food | bbq cooking school

Pineapple isn’t just for dessert anymore. This popular sweet and juicy fruit can take on completely different flavor profiles when grilled. This is another easy-to-make side that can be cooked on the grill at the same time your BBQ meat is cooking. 

Prepare it the night before so it can marinate and it’s ready in 2 to 3 minutes of cooking. This tailgate side makes for a perfect appetizer while waiting on the rest of the meal. With a mixture of sweetness and hot sauce to give it an interesting kick, this grilled pineapple recipe from Allrecipes.com will have everyone’s taste buds dancing.


Chargrilled Corn Guacamole

corn guacamole | backyard bbq | tailgate BBQ | bbq tailgate food | bbq cooking school

Source: Food Network

It’s always a good bet to balance off tailgate BBQ with a cold appetizer. Another fan favorite often is guacamole. Elevate the normal everyday guacamole with this great recipe from Bobby Flay for Food Network

By mixing in some chargrilled corn, the guacamole gets an added sweet and smoky flavor. With just a few ingredients, this recipe can be made very quickly and easily.


Tangy Cabbage & Collard Slaw

tailgate slaw | backyard bbq | tailgate BBQ | bbq tailgate food | bbq cooking school

Source: Country Living

You might hear many people say that you can’t have a great tailgate party, or any BBQ for that matter, without some great slaw. This staple side can come in a variety of different flavor profiles, with different types of cabbage, or additions. 

This particular recipe from Country Living will help you create a tangy slaw with a mix of two different crunchy greens. Another easy-to-make side, it pairs great with BBQ and is a sure crowd-pleaser. It can be enjoyed on its own as a side or on top of grilled brats or other meats.


Jack Cheese & Smoky Chipotle Fondue


tailgate fondue | backyard bbq | bbq cooking school

Source: Midwest Living

Dips are always a great option for a side at a tailgate party. They are easy to prepare and can often be done the night before or alongside your meat on the grill. And usually, everyone loves cheese! This creamy fondue dip from Country Living is another side that pairs well with sweet or smoky BBQ flavors and is sure to go fast.

With a serving size of 16, you can keep everyone fed and enjoying a blend of savory and smoky flavors in this fondue with just a little kick of spice. Just make sure to have enough bread cubes or tortilla chips to go around.


Wrapping It All Up

Remember, a great tailgate BBQ party isn’t just about the meat. Great complimentary sides like the ones above can help leave an even greater lasting impression for your friends and family. Try some of these easy to make sides to kick your BBG cooking up a notch.

Here at BBQ Champs Academy, through our first of its kind online BBQ cooking school, we, along with our World Champion pitmasters and grillmasters, aim to teach you everything you need to know to enhance your backyard BBQ techniques. Learn from the pros and make competition quality BBQ and sides. 

Have you mastered any of these sides of above already? Do you know of more great sides that you love with your tailgate BBQ? Leave a comment below, we want to hear from you!


Looking for a great place to buy rubs, sauces, charcoal, accessories, & more with fast shipping? Click the logos below!

Top closelockfacebookellipsis-vyoutube-playinstagramshopping-bagcrosschevron-down