Beyond burgers: 7 desserts you can cook on the grill

If there’s one way to keep the free-spirited feeling of summer alive, even as fall is knocking on your door, it’s grilling out. Sure, you’ve got hot dogs, burgers and ribs covered, but what about dessert? Don’t let the flames die out once you’ve finished grilling dinner. Stay outside a little longer, and keep the grill going for dessert! 

Grilled fruit

A delicious grilled dessert can be as healthy or as decadent as you want it to be. On one end of the spectrum, fruit makes a healthy and refreshing summer dessert. If the thought of fruit for dessert doesn’t excite you, don’t worry. Just a few minutes on the grill is all it takes to turn those seasonal fruits you’ve been eating for their vitamins and nutrients into a tasty treat.

Adding heat to fruit like sliced watermelon, peaches and pineapple changes both the taste and texture, adding crispy caramelization and so much sugary sweetness that you’ll almost forget it’s good for you. If you haven’t tried grilled peaches, you haven’t tasted summer. 

Thread berries onto skewers for another way to enjoy the contents of all those clamshell containers you couldn’t resist overbuying at the warehouse store. And, for fruit that might be just a day or two past its ‘best by’ date, grilling is a great way to save it from what might otherwise be a short, sad life of neglect, abandonment, and ultimately, the trash. 

Treat yourself

On the other hand, this is dessert. Use your skill with the grill to get a bit more … well, less healthy. There’s almost nothing that doesn’t taste better grilled, and that includes decadent treats like pound cake, marshmallows (hello, s’mores anyone?), and donuts. Yes, donuts.

One important rule to remember when grilling dessert: you can never go wrong by adding ice cream into the mix. Afterwards, though. We don’t suggest grilling the ice cream, because that would just be messy.  

Try grilling:

  • Sliced donuts, then top with ice cream
  • Pound cake skewers threaded with strawberries
  • S’mores packets of foil-wrapped chocolate squares, marshmallows and graham crackers
  • Banana split packets with bananas, chocolate chips and marshmallows grilled in foil and served over ice cream
  • Grilled watermelon with coconut cream and honey granola (recipe below)
  • Grilled Nutella and banana paninis with raspberry whipped cream (recipe below)
  • Fruit cobbler, as demonstrated in this video of The Next Door Baker making Raspberry and Peach Mini Cobblers on her Kenmore grill (recipe below). 

Recipes

Easy Fruit Cobbler
(Courtesy of The Next Door Baker)

Ingredients

For the filling:
1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
2 cups fresh summer fruits like raspberries, peaches, strawberries and blueberries, washed, patted dry and picked over for stems
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

For the biscuit topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. cornmeal
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp. buttermilk
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Coarse sugar for sprinkling (such as sanding sugar, turbinado or demerara)

Directions
Preheat a gas grill to high heat and line the grates with heavy duty aluminum foil. Have ready four 3 1/2-inch cast iron skillets (or similar-sized, grill-friendly dishes).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Add the blueberries, lemon zest and lemon juice and fold gently to combine. Divide the berry mixture among the skillets.

Set the skillets on the grill on top of the foil. Close the lid of the grill. Cook until the fruit is hot, bubbling up (and maybe even bubbling over), and beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the biscuit dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground ginger. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir gently until the dough is just combined with no dry pockets. Softly pat the dough into a rough ball in the bottom of the bowl, and score it into 4 equal pieces.

Open the grill, and carefully top each skillet with a quarter of the dough, flattening each portion with your fingertips a bit before placing it. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Close the lid of the grill, and reduce the heat to medium.

Cook until the topping is deeply golden and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the skillets carefully using a thick oven mitt, and allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving. Serve with a warning that the skillets may be hot!

Grilled Watermelon with Coconut Cream and Honey Granola
(Courtesy of Kari Karch)

Ingredients
1 watermelon, sliced into triangles
1 cup plain coconut cream yogurt
2 cups granola (I used chocolate granola)
1 Tbsp. honey

Directions
While the grill is still hot, carefully place the watermelon on the grill for about 4 minutes. Flip and grill for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve on a plate topped with coconut yogurt, granola, and drizzle with honey.

Grilled Nutella and Banana Paninis with Raspberry Whipped Cream
(Courtesy of Kari Karch)

Ingredients
8 slices pound cake
8 Tbsp. Nutella hazelnut spread
2 bananas, sliced thin into rounds
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint raspberries, muddled
Mint leaves to garnish

Directions
Heat the grill to medium heat.

Spread Nutella onto 4 slices of pound cake, top with bananas. Top with remaining pound cake.

Spread one side with butter, then place on grill and carefully spread with remaining butter. Grill till golden brown.

While panini’s are cooking, place heavy cream into a stand mixer and whip on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add in sugar and vanilla. Whip until a thick consistency forms. Fold in muddled raspberries. Serve as topping with panini’s. Garnish with mint leaves.

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