Chefs share 7 of the best and 6 of the worst foods to cook on a grill

grilling meat
Some foods come out better on the grill than others.iStock
  • Insider asked chefs to share the best and worst foods to grill. 

  • Chefs said corn, tofu, and peaches can taste great when grilled

  • Grilling tomatoes and flaky fish can be messy and not worth the risk. 

Corn is one of the easiest things to grill.

grilled corn on the cob summer food
You may want to soak corn before you grill it.Shutterstock

Corn on the cob is simply the perfect vegetable for grilling, according to Erik Pettersen, executive chef and owner of Evo Italian.

Grilled corn is very hard to mess up, he said.

"I like to grill my corn in the husks, but it's important that you soak them first," Pettersen told Insider. "I leave them soaking for six to eight hours, but 30 minutes is enough."

After they've soaked, throw them on the grill and the husk will steam the corn, said Gabriel Rucker, executive chef of Le Pigeon and Canard.

It's OK if the outside burns, as the corn will still be fresh and hot inside, he explained.

New York strip steak is a good grilling meat for beginners.

new york strip steak flower garnish meal
New York strip steak can develop a nice char.Shutterstock

Strip steak is a great meat to work with on the grill, especially if you're a novice home cook, according to Rucker.

"New York strip is a very tender cut of steak," Pettersen told Insider. "It's from the short loin of the cow, so it is much easier to cook on the grill than filet mignon."

Pettersen said with this cut of meat, cook it for two to three minutes and then rotate it until you achieve the temperature you'd like.

Grilled beef short ribs are easy to prepare.

grilled short ribs
You can also season short ribs before grilling them.Shutterstock

Short ribs are another type of meat that does well on the grill, according to Salil Mehta, chef and owner of Laut and Laut Singapura.

Beef short ribs are great for grilling because they cook quickly and are easy to prepare, Mehta said.

Once your ribs are grilled, the fat and the bones add so much natural flavor.

Heartier fishes that are firm and flavorful are perfect for charring.

grilled mackarel
You can pair grilled fish with anchovy butter.Shutterstock

Heartier fishes, such as mackerel, cook well on the grill, according to Chris Scott, chef at the Institute of Culinary Education. Mackarel skin is especially perfect for charring.

"Mackerel is a favorite of mine," Scott said. "I like how it's firm, flavorful, and has a little fishy taste."

Tofu soaks up a lot of flavor, making it perfect for grilling.

grilled tofu skewer
Tofu can be marinated with soy sauce, garlic, and more.Shutterstock

If you're vegetarian or vegan, there are a ton of grilling options still available at your disposal. One alternative that does really well on the grill is tofu, Scott said.

Tofu can absorb a lot of flavor, he said, and you can use almost anything to marinate such as soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, fresh herbs, and crushed tomatoes. Throw the tofu on the grill, let it get some char and smokiness, and it's ready to go.

Grilled tofu is also very versatile.

"You can smash it and turn it into a vegetarian Bolognese, or slice it and add more crushed tomato and herbs and have an Italian-style summer tofu salad," Scott told Insider.

Some fruits and vegetables, like zucchini squash, onions, and eggplant, do especially well on the grill.

grilled eggplant
Eggplant can develop a nice char.Shutterstock

Eggplant, zucchini, squash, and onions grill particularly well, Scott told Insider.

When cooking vegetables, Scott said, just make sure you infuse them with flavor before putting them on the grill. This can be done using dried herbs, dry rubs, wet marinades, or brines.


Grilled peaches can develop a delicious, smoky flavor.

grilled peaches
Grilled peaches pair well with ice cream.Shutterstock

For a fruity option, marinate and grill peaches, which develop a nice, smoky flavor when grilled.

"You can marinate peaches in brandy, brown sugar, and spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice), and put them on the grill with a drip tray underneath," Scott told Insider. "With the juice you caught in the tray, you can reduce it into a smoked peach syrup to use on ice cream."

On the other hand, filet mignon can be difficult to grill.

filet mignon medium rare steak
Filet mignon won't always cook evenly on a grill.Shutterstock

Filet mignon is a very lean cut of beef, so heat control is an issue when grilling, as it's not a sure thing every time, Pettersen said.

In place of filet mignon, try grilling up some flank steaks, Scott recommended. He said these grill wonderfully and can handle a lot of heat.

The vegetables in shish kebabs sometimes burn easily on the grill.

shish kebabs veggies food grill skewers
Sometimes vegetables can burn while the meat cooks.Shutterstock

Shish kebabs, which usually consist of meats and vegetables on a skewer, can be tricky to cook evenly. Oftentimes the vegetables can get burnt, Pettersen said.

"Beware if you try to grill them without a skewer, as they can fall through the grates of the grill when you turn them," Pettersen said.

If you still want to break out the skewers, try sticking some shrimp on them instead of beef or chicken, he added. Shrimp is very tender and can cook quickly on a grill.


Pork chops are a lean meat, so they can easily dry out on the grill.

pork chops
You may be better off cooking pork chops in an oven.pada smith/Shutterstock

Pork chops are typically lean and can dry out quickly. Thin pork chops especially tend to cook too quickly before they have a chance to develop a nice crust on the outside, Pettersen added.

If you're craving white meat, you may want to grill chicken instead since it's really versatile and simple to grill.

"If you properly marinate chicken, you can ensure a tender, juicy, flavorful dish," Pettersen told Insider. "There's a reason people say chicken is the easiest food to prepare on the planet."

Flaky fish can fall through the grill slats.

grilled cod fish entree dinner fancy
Cod isn't ideal for grilling.Shutterstock

A flaky fish, such as flounder or cod, is challenging to grill because it is so delicate, Pettersen told Insider. Because of this, it can easily fall through the grill slats.

Scallops are a great alternative if you still want to grill some seafood since grilled scallops are crisp on the outside, yet tender on the inside.

"They are also super easy to figure out how long you should cook them," he told Insider. "If scallops are opaque, they are done — so simple."

Tomatoes are so delicate that they can easily fall apart on a grill.

grilled tomatoes
You may want to roast tomatoes instead.Shutterstock

Tomatoes are another delicate food that can easily stick to the grill and fall apart, Pettersen told Insider.

Instead, Scott said, you may want to grill root vegetables, such as carrots or beets. They're sturdy and they grill best when they're placed on the upper grilling rack, he added.


Grilled watermelon can be messy and sort of dry.

grilled watermelon
Watermelon won't be as juicy if you grill it.Shutterstock

"For me, watermelon is best enjoyed as nature intended," Mehta told Insider. "When you grill it, the watermelon loses its juiciness and, therefore, has an overpowering smoky flavor."

Instead, opt for grilled pineapple slices, which can be used in savory and sweet dishes, Scott said.

You can serve grilled pineapple slices with ice cream, pound cake, and whipped cream for a sweeter take, Scott said. Mehta said you can also serve grilled pineapple with sticky rice if you're looking for a more savory option.

Read More:

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11 mistakes you're making when grilling steaks

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