All About Grilling Fruit

July  1, 2014

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Jessica Goldman Foung (a.k.a. Sodium Girl) is giving her fruit some fire.

Grilled Fruit

Shop the Story

Throughout most of the year, there are five main tastes to play with: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. But during the summer, when the grill fires up, an unofficial sixth taste busts its way into the flavor game: smoky. And while that little bit of heat and char is what makes juicy burgers taste so good, it also does wonders for your fruit, too -- just imagine the potential ambrosia makeover. 

More: Try making over your ambrosia with roasted beets and fresh ginger.

Why grill fruit? For one, it means that you can cook an entire meal, from appetizer to dessert, in one place, which minimizes cleanup. But more importantly, grilling will caramelize the natural sugars in fruit, and lock in its flavor. 

So save room on the grill and use these tips to fire up your summer produce. Because your fruit deserves more than a salad bowl.

Grilled Fruit

What Fruit To Use
Honestly, anything fresh and in season will work. Just make sure to pick produce that's just slightly ripe; firmer fruit stands up better to the heat. 

How to Prep Fruit
It's best to leave the peels on your fruit -- this will help hold its shape.  

As for knife work:

  • Cut larger fruit -- like watermelon, mango, pineapple, and cantaloupes -- into wedges.  
  • Cut medium-sized, rounder fruit -- like avocados, bananas, apples, figs, citrus, peaches, and pears -- in half and remove pits, cores, and seeds. (Then fill up those pockets with everything from couscous to ice cream.) 
  • For small fruit -- like berries, tomatoes, and grapes -- or slices of fruit, use skewers or a grill basket. 

Then, be sure to brush the fleshy side with neutral oil (coconut, grapeseed, canola) or melted butter before hitting the grill.

More: Pair grilled citrus with grilled scallops and a chili glaze.


Grilled Scallops and Grapefruit


How to Give Fruit Flare
Fruit loves a good marinade or a glaze. Go sweet (citrus juice, maple syrup, honey); go savory (vinegar, herbs, and even barbecue sauce); go spicy (chili powder, smoked paprika, a curry blend); or go off the wagon with a splash of bourbon or Grand Marnier. 

Just remember: If you’re using sugary rubs or glazes, apply them towards the end of grilling to prevent burning.

How to Cook the Fruit
First things first, make sure your grill is super clean. Then, place the fruit flesh-side down on the grates (here’s where that brush of oil is so important). Cook over medium to medium-high heat for a few minutes, or until it’s as done as you want it. If you’re looking for a smoky flavor with minimal cooking, place your fruit on a cool part of the grill, over indirect heat. And remember: For softer, smaller fruits, keep a watchful eye to avoid a blackened, mushy mess. 

How to Grill Fruit  Grilled Fruit

What to Do with Grilled Fruit
If you’re nervous about grilling fruit, start with sturdy cantaloupe, pineapple, or watermelon. Not only will they hold up well on the grill, but they’ll pair with sweet and savory creations. (We brushed ours with coconut oil, then sprinkled it with cumin and flaky salt, and served it with a squeeze of lime.)

Grilled Fruit

Once you have your confidence, go bananas. Or avocados. Or peaches

How do you grill your fruit? Tell us in the comments!

Photos by James Ransom

Order Now

Any Night Grilling is your guide to becoming a charcoal champion (or getting in your grill-pan groove), any night of the week. With over 60 ways to fire up dinner—no long marinades or low-and-slow cook times in sight—this book is your go-to for freshly grilled meals in a flash.

Order Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Phillius Thomas
    Phillius Thomas
  • Pam Shropshire
    Pam Shropshire
  • lizabeth
In January of 2004, I received a diagnosis that changed my life. I was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that in my case attacked my kidneys and brain. Due to the intensity of the initial “flare up” of the disease, I became renal insufficient and eventually faced kidney failure. Amazingly, through great medicine, wonderful family and friends, and an enormous amount of support, I became stronger and healthier and miraculously, my kidneys partially regenerated. I no longer depend on dialysis and by regulating my diet, I depend on fewer medications. Five years later, I work part time and live a full and utterly enjoyable life. My dietary restrictions have transformed into a real passion for food and I hope to be able to pass along my favorite finds to others facing similar dietary challenges. Be creative, be friendly, and be full!


Phillius T. June 2, 2015
I had never heard of grilled watermelon before. That sounds pretty delicious! I am getting the image in my head of getting a fruit basket of grilled fruits. That would be so awesome!
Pam S. July 23, 2014
"For one, it means that you can cook an entire meal, from appetizer to dessert, in one place, which minimizes cleanup."
I consider it a dinner-time WIN when I can cook the entire meal on the grill! Grilled pineapple is one of my favorite things. I like to whisk together a little rum and honey to brush on the pineapple as it grills.
lizabeth July 2, 2014
Hi Jessica, I am following you because I have renal insufficiency due to being a Type 1 diabetic since 1969. I have recently started a semi-vegan diet which has been very helpful according to my labs. And, while I'm not trying to lose weight, I have lost 10 lbs. since January. I'm so glad to hear that you are off dialysis - I'm hoping to avoid it. All the best to you.