7 Recipes That Take Traditional Grilled Fare Up a Notch

With Labor Day just around the corner, it’s safe to say many Americans have grilling on their minds. Hamburgers and hot dogs will never get old, but if you want to take your summer staples up a notch, check out these seven recipes that put a sophisticated spin on traditional grilled goodness. These gourmet dishes will make you everyone’s new favorite party host and neighbor.

1. Stuffed Bacon Cheeseburgers

ground beef, making hamburgers

Making hamburgers | Source: iStock

Feast your eyes on these stuffed bacon cheeseburgers featured on Food.com. Vegetarians should step away from the grill for this one. Stuffed with Monterey jack cheese and bacon, these beef burgers will start your summer off on a high note and keep you satiated and satisfied all season long. The recipe yields 4 burgers and takes only 25 minutes to make. Why grill up simple burgers when you can serve these sophisticated patties?


  • ½ cup shredded Monterey jack
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large hamburger buns, split
  • Ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard, for serving
  • Lettuce, sliced tomato, onion, and avocado, for serving

Directions: Combine the jack cheese and chopped bacon in a bowl. Put the beef in another bowl and season with salt and pepper; use a rubber spatula to mix it in. Flatten ¼ of the meat mixture in the palm of your hand. Squeeze together about a tablespoon of the cheese and bacon mixture to make a little nugget; put it in the center of the ground beef. Bring up the sides of the patty over the filling, making sure the cheese is completely covered by the meat. Flatten slightly for a nice patty shape. Set them side by side on a platter in the refrigerator while preparing the grill.

Place a large grill pan on 2 burners over medium-high heat or preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal barbecue and get it very hot. Brush the grates with oil to keep the burgers from sticking. Grill the burgers for 8 minutes per side for medium. Remove the burgers to a clean side plate while you toast the buns.

Rub the grill rack with more oil and place the buns cut-side down, toast for 1 minute. Serve the burgers with your favorite condiment and any garnish you like, such as lettuce, sliced tomato, onion, and/or avocado.

2. Homemade Chili Cheese Dogs

Chili Cheese Dogs

Chili cheese dogs | Source: iStock

If you prefer hot dogs over burgers, try these chili cheese dogs from A Sweet Pea Chef. The ballpark favorite can be perfected at home, too. All you need to do to perfect this decadent finger food is grill the dogs, whip up some chili, and don’t forget your cheese. Chili cheese dogs are the perfect fare with which to welcome summer and grilling season.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Hot Dogs

  • 6 hot dog buns
  • 6 grilled hot dog franks
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions: Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in deep pot. Add the onion and cook until sweating, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the ground beef and cook over medium-high heat until well-browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, ginger, and cayenne, and stir together, making sure all the meat is broken up into small pieces. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Stirring occasionally, simmer over low heat until chili thickens, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Serve over grilled hot dogs and garnish with shredded cheese.

3. Mexican Grilled Corn

grilled corn

Grilled corn | Source: Thinkstock

When you’re ready to get your veggies on the grill, try this recipe from Bon Appétit for Mexican-style street corn. No one will turn down the nutrients when they taste this good. Instead of simply salting and buttering your corn, this recipe has you taking things up a notch with chili powder and cayenne. The addition of crumbled cotija cheese also makes a decadent difference on the grill, and before you know it, you may have guests coming back for seconds of corn, rather than hot dogs or hamburgers.


  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 8 ears of corn, husked
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise or unsalted butter
  • ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese, Parmesan, or ricotta salata
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

Directions: Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill grate with oil. Combine chile powder and cayenne in a small bowl.

Grill corn, turning occasionally with tongs, until cooked through and lightly charred, about 10 minutes. Remove from grill and immediately brush each ear with 1½ teaspoon mayonnaise. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cheese and a pinch of chile powder mixture. Squeeze 1 lime wedge over each ear and serve.

4. Barbecued Cheddar Burgers

burgers and garnishes

Burgers | Source: iStock

We’re back to the beef for our next highlighted recipe found on Epicurious. These Barbecued Cheddar Burgers will make your meat-loving taste buds sing, and are a fun riff on the traditional summer party fare. Grab your favorite barbecue sauce, cheese, onions, and beef, and get grilling. Enjoy this dinner al fresco straight off the hot grills.


  • 3½ pounds lean ground beef
  • ½ cup purchased barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 12 sesame-seed hamburger buns, lightly toasted
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Sliced tomatoes

Directions: Mix first 4 ingredients in large bowl until blended. Mix in pepper. Shape half of meat mixture into eight ½-inch-thick patties. Shape remaining meat mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties.

Prepare barbecue. Grill patties to desired doneness, topping with cheese for last minute of cooking, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare ½-inch-thick patties, and about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare 1-inch-thick patties. Place burgers on bottom halves of buns. Top with lettuce, tomatoes and upper halves of buns.

5. Grilled Honey Chicken and Veggie Kebabs

chicken skewers, kebabs

Honey chicken and veggie kebabs | Source: iStock

Next up: A food formula from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe that helps you get both your poultry and veggie fix for the day. Everyone knows nutritious tastes delicious when we’re talking veggie kabobs cooked on the grill, but it’s time to kick things up a bit by pairing the bright and beautiful vegetables with poultry. Grilled honey chicken and veggie kebabs is the quintessential summer meal, and you can enjoy the dish without even turning on your oven. Instead of going all beef at your next barbecue, give healthier fare a try via this recipe.


  • ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ⅓ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2½ pounds chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into large pieces
  • 1 large red onion, cut into large pieces
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, stemmed
  • 2 to 3 cups fresh pineapple chunks

Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, pepper, garlic, and oil. Measure out ¼ cup marinade and place in a covered container in the refrigerator to use for grilling. Place the cubed chicken in a large ziploc bag and the vegetables in another ziploc bag. Pour half of the remaining marinade over the chicken and the other half over the vegetables. Seal the bags and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

If using wooden skewers, soak them in water 30 minutes prior to cooking. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and alternate the veggies/fruit on separate skewers.

Preheat a grill to medium heat and grill the skewers, flipping every couple of minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. The vegetable skewers only need a few minutes per side. Use the reserved marinade to brush over the chicken and veggies during the final minutes of cooking. Serve immediately.

6. Grilled Chicken with Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

grilled chicken

Grilled chicken | Source: iStock

Up in our No. 6 spot is another chicken recipe, but this one from Sunset calls for booze. Booze in the form of Jack Daniels, to be exact. Grilled chicken with whiskey barbecue sauce is an outdoor picnic culinary dream, as it keeps poultry interesting by adding a number of different fresh flavors to the mix, while also maintaining desired summer simplicity. The sauce is made up of a number of ingredients including ketchup, hot sauce, whiskey, molasses, and mustard, while for the chicken, all you need is olive oil. You also have the option of preparing your poultry ahead of time so when it’s time to party, all you need to do is fire up the grill.

This recipe also comes with instructions for a spicy slaw.



  • 1¼ cups ketchup
  • 1 to 1½ teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced


  • 1 pound cabbage, cut into shreds
  • ¼ red onion, cut into long slivers
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper


  • 6 chicken legs with thighs attached or bone-in breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions: To make sauce: Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cover and simmer 45 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally with a long spoon. Add a little water if sauce gets too thick to pour. Let cool, then transfer to a plastic container and chill up to 1 week.

To make slaw: Toss vegetables in a large bowl to blend. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag. Put remaining ingredients in a small container with a tight-fitting lid. Chill slaw and dressing up to 2 days.

To prepare chicken: In a large bowl, coat chicken in oil; pack in a resealable plastic bag and chill up to 2 days, or freeze. Build a charcoal or wood fire in a grill and let burn to medium. Bring salad dressing to room temperature. Set aside ½ cup sauce.

Grill chicken until browned all over, about 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Turn again, generously brush tops with some of remaining sauce, and cook a few minutes; repeat turning and brushing 2 more times, until chicken is well-browned and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes total.

Toss slaw and dressing in a large bowl and serve with chicken and reserved sauce.

7. Grilled Chocolate Banana Melt


Marshmallows | Source: iStock

We’re going out on a sweet note with this grilled chocolate banana melt found on Tablespoon. S’mores are the sweetest snack of the summer, but cooking them on the grill makes them that much more sophisticated. Drop the graham crackers and pick up bananas and the sugary cereal of your choice. This recipe has you grilling your chocolate chips and marshmallows alongside bananas and cereal, and all the magic takes place in aluminum foil. Instead of waiting for your marshmallow to roast and catch on fire, turn to your grill and let it do all the work for you.

This recipe serves 1.


  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons miniature marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, slightly crushed, or other sugary cereal of your choice

Directions: Preheat grill to medium high heat. Slice banana lengthwise and slightly open. Place on a rectangle of aluminum foil. Insert marshmallows and chocolate chips into the sliced banana. Wrap banana up in foil and cook on the grill for 5 to 6 minutes. Unwrap banana and top with cereal. After melt has slightly cooled eat with a spoon.

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