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10 Best Meats for Grilling This Summer

meats on outdoor grill

The juiciest and most flavorful meats will boost your summertime culinary adventures, so be ready to fire up the grill. Discover the greatest meats to grill with us as we go on a carnivorous adventure through the world of barbecue. We’ll uncover the techniques for attaining the ideal char and smokey perfection on everything from the succulent, well-seasoned chicken thighs to the rich, marbling of a nicely aged ribeye. Regardless of your level of experience with grilling or passion for backyard barbecues, this guide will entice your palate and motivate your summertime cooking endeavors. As we explore the world of grilling and learn about the top cuts that will make your barbecue sessions unique, get ready for a carnivorous feast.


Ribeye Steak

Ribeye Steak
Source: Instagram

Let’s start the list off with an obvious choice to get the ball rolling: ribeye steaks. Ribeye steaks are classic grilling options for a good reason. This cut of meat is appropriately titled, as it comes from the ribeye muscle on the back of a cow. You’ve heard that location is everything, right? Well, that saying applies to meat, too. This cow muscle doesn’t get much work during a cow’s life, so it’s super tender and offers top-notch fat marbling. The result is a juicy, melt-in-your-mouth experience. For grilling, a boneless ribeye steak is the way to go. It cooks more evenly and does well with short cook times and high temperatures. 


T-Bone Steak

T-Bone Steak
Source: Instagram

If a T-bone steak sounds fancy to you, that’s because it is. The T-bone steak isn’t cheap, but it’s worth the cost. This cut of steak gets its name from the bone present in the middle, which is shaped like a capital T. And if you’re wondering why it’s so expensive, it’s because the steak is essentially two steaks in one: New York strip on one side of the bone and filet mignon on the other. With two steaks in one, you get two great flavors. It’s certainly not a boring option. T-bone steaks cook best on the grill when you use both direct and indirect heat. Sear it first directly over the flame, then set it to the indirect heat to reach your ideal temperature. 


Chicken Thighs

Chicken Thighs
Source: Instagram

Chicken thighs are the unsung heroes of the poultry world. Chicken breasts get all the attention, likely because they’re boneless and versatile, but I prefer chicken thighs – especially when it comes to grilling. Not only are chicken thighs juicy and flavorful, but they’re cheaper than chicken breasts. They make an excellent option for BBQs with a long guest list and a tight budget. My favorite chicken thighs to grill are bone-in, skin-on, and marinated. Bone-in takes a little longer to cook, but it’s more affordable and leaves your chicken extra juicy every time. It’s almost impossible to mess up. The skin isn’t the healthiest part of the chicken, but the way it gets crispy and holds onto a good marinade makes it well worth the extra calories. 

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Swordfish

Swordfish
Source: Instagram

If you’re feeling eclectic and fancy, you can’t go wrong with a good, grilled swordfish. Don’t be intimidated by the sound of it; it’s quite simple to make. Unlike other kinds of fish and seafood that can be pretty fragile and fleshy, swordfish is firm and juicy. While it resembles chicken, it tastes a little sweeter. But like chicken, swordfish can quickly dry out if you cook it too long. Grill swordfish between 120 and 125 degrees to get a firm, springy texture and a juicy bite. It’s tasty, healthy, and will certainly impress your guests.


Pork Chops

Pork Chops
Source: Instagram

Pork chops can be hit or miss in any setting. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you run the risk of overcooking them, which leaves them dry and, frankly, unappealing. But a nice pork chop hits the spot when you heat it on the smokey grill. The best pork chops to cook on the grill are thick and fatty with the bone in. A good example of this is a rib chop. It’s going to cost you a bit more, but it can turn out like a good steak if you do it right. Sirloin chops, center-cut loin chops, and loin chops are also good grilling options. You can use a boneless cut as well, just be extra careful about overcooking. And always use a good brine ahead of time. 


Burgers

Burgers
Source: Pinterest

Burgers will always be a cookout favorite of mine. They’re classic, all-American food, and easy to make in bulk. And most grill enthusiasts have already mastered the perfect technique for the perfect burger. But if you’re new at this, no sweat; burgers are easy to learn about. You can make them as simple or as complicated as you prefer. Keep it easy by purchasing frozen burgers of your choice from the supermarket, or take things up a notch with a homemade recipe. Burgers are also quick. From rare to well-done, each burger will take between 4 and 10 minutes – that’s it! 


Cod

Cod
Source: Instagram

Cod is a general term for groundfish, but it mostly refers to the Pacific cod and the Atlantic cod. If you’re not a big fish person, then cod is a good one for you to try. It lands among the list of fish labeled the chicken of the sea. Cod is very healthy and very mild, so it goes well with practically any kind of seasoning. Some prefer it with a classic lemon-butter rub. I prefer to go with a garlic cajun sauce for a bit of a kick. Because cod has firm flesh, it’s great for grilling. Keep the grill to medium-high heat to slightly char the outside without overcooking the inside. 

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Chicken Breast

Chicken Breast
Source: Instagram

Chicken breasts are versatile, boneless, and healthy, making them a popular choice for barbecues. You can grill chicken however you want: with a marinade, topped with sauce, after a long brine. The options are endless. I prefer to tenderize the chicken a bit and then drop it in a brine. The brine helps add extra moisture so the chicken doesn’t dry out on the grill. I like to go classic and brush on some barbecue sauce


Mahi-Mahi

Mahi-Mahi
Source: Pinterest

Mahi-mahi, also known as the common dolphinfish, is a popular fish similar to halibut. Its meat is white and firm with a semi-sweet taste that goes with everything. The unique thing about mahi-mahi is that it has very tough skin. The skin stays on for cooking, which is why it’s fantastic on the grill. The firm outer layer keeps everything in one piece as it cooks, and you simply cut it off when you’re ready to eat. This is a lean fish, so it only takes a few minutes to cook it on the grill. Too much time over high heat, and the fish will come out dry, so take care. 


Beef Kabobs

Beef Kabobs
Source: Instagram

Kabobs are yet another barbecue classic that never misses. The best kind of beef for a grilled kabob is a tender piece that cooks quickly. Tougher cuts like shoulder pieces require a long, slow cook. A few of my favorite cuts for kabobs include sirloin, flat iron, and strip steak. Cube these babies up and marinate them well to get the most of their flavor. The best thing about kabobs is that you can put practically anything on them. Try a wide range of grilled veggies, such as red onions, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes. I always aim for an eye-catching rainbow of color. 

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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