How to CookGrill/Barbecue

Grill Your Baked Goods, Bask in Summer Dessert Glory

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We know grilled desserts are pretty, well, sweet. Caramelized, grill mark-patterned fruit—good (these are good, too). Marshmallows for s'mores—great. Grilled chocolate sandwiches—even better.

So, we wondered, what would happen if we brought some of of our other favorite desserts to the charcoal party—you know, all those cookies, brownies, and quickbreads we love so much? Turns out, they have a place on the grill, too! Day-old baked goods crisp up to their toastiest, best selves when you grill them. They then become the perfect landing pad for all manner of toppings: that same grilled fruit we know and love, a cool or creamy sauce or spread, a drizzle of something bright and acidic, and a crunchy doodad or two for surprise and flair.

How Embracing My Grill Fired Up My Weeknight Dinner Routine

How Embracing My Grill Fired Up My Weeknight Dinner Routine by Paula Disbrowe

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Camping Spatula & Tongs

Camping Spatula & Tongs

$23$25

In our love letter to all things cooked over coals—our latest book, Any Night Grilling—author Paula Disbrowe gives a handy equation for standout desserts with a smoky-sweet charm. It's as simple as this:

grilled base + grilled fruit + creamy sauce + sweet or acidic accent + crunchy topping

Sounds like a cinch, right? Right! Below, you'll find some ideas on what parts of the dessert to grill and how to put them all together.

1. Make your Grilled Bread Bed

Grilling up baked goods is easy, and brings a rich, caramelly undertone to the table. Take slices of sturdy, sweet-ish breads, like cookie bars, enriched loaves (like brioche or pan de mie), quickbreads, pound cake, muffins, or even biscuits, and put them on the grill the same way you would grill bread (that is, toast 'em for just one minute on each side, until grill marks form and things are smelling really great).

This Buttery, Too-Darn-Easy Pound Cake Breaks All the Cake Rules

This Buttery, Too-Darn-Easy Pound Cake Breaks All the Cak... by Alice Medrich

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Shirley Corriher's Touch-of-Grace Biscuits

Shirley Corriher's Touch-of-Grace Biscuits by Genius Recipes

Malted Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars
Malted Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

2. Pile on all things Fun & Fruity

The key to grilling fruit is to consider its density and how well it will hold up on the grates. This will affect the way you cut them before putting them on a (medium-high heat) grill. Juicy fruit like plums, peaches, figs, and apricots will soften quickly; these should be halved so they hold together and are easier to remove from the grill. Firmer fruits that benefit from a sear on two sides, like pineapple or star fruit, should be cut into slices or long spears. Larger pieces of fruit are generally preferable, because small, bite-size chunks tend to break down.

In a bowl, toss fruit with enough olive oil to lightly coat (or brush the fruit slices to coat if you’re worried about them breaking down). Grill until charred in spots (anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes). To limit the amount of crumble between the grates or your luscious peach tasting like the steak you just grilled, use an oiled and preheated grill basket set over direct heat (or even a grill pan) to grill your dessert components.

not grill-able, but still smoky & sweet

3. dollop on something Creamy & Cooling

When your bread base and fruit are grilled and sitting pretty on the plate, spoon on a generous amount of of ice cream, crème fraîche, whipped cream, and the like, to cool things down while also luxing them up. Salted caramel, toasted marshmallows (see above), and even softened cream cheese would not be unwelcome.

Dori Sanders’ No-Churn Fresh Lemon Ice Cream

Dori Sanders’ No-Churn Fresh Lemon Ice Cream by Genius Recipes

Making Crème Fraîche at Home

Making Crème Fraîche at Home by A Cozy Kitchen

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A No-Cook Caramel You'll Eat by the Spoonful
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A No-Cook Caramel You'll Eat by the Spoonful

4. drizzle a little of the zippy, tangy, Sweet stuff

Next, add a few dashes of something sweet and/or acidic, like jam, maple syrup, or a honeyed vinegar.

Honey Balsamic Sauce

Honey Balsamic Sauce by Alice Medrich

For the Easiest Fruit Jam, Skip the Stove—and the Sugar

For the Easiest Fruit Jam, Skip the Stove—and the Sugar by Emma Laperruque

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5. Top things off with a satisfying crunch

Nuts, granola, toffee shards, crumbled-up cookies—the ones with a little bite, this time!—all work here.

Scottish Toffee

Scottish Toffee by Lizthechef

Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies by Merrill Stubbs

A Halfway-to-Granola-Bar Brittle with Maple, Buckwheat & Oats
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A Halfway-to-Granola-Bar Brittle with Maple, Buckwheat & Oats

And voilà! Dessert is served. These formulas don't really require a recipe, but just call for a bit of imagination and resourcefulness. Since your grill's already hot, why not make the most of it with something sweet?

What's your favorite dessert to fire up on the grill? Let us know in the comments!