When the weather gets warmer, you'll find me cooking outside to have easier, healthier and more delicious meals.

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
May 10, 2020
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I love grilling for a lot of reasons, but it all starts with my memories from home. My dad is a grill master, through and through. Anything he cooks on the grill is covered in mouthwatering char marks and bursting with flavor. My brothers even say his pork ribs could rival any restaurant, and I concur (although, we're both a little bit biased). As soon as the weather would warm up in Michigan, my home state, we would grill everything we could. From whole spatchcock chicken to asparagus and naan, our grilled dinners are some of our favorite meals shared as a family.

Even if grilling sounds intimidating—it's likely easier than you think and we even have this Ultimate Guide to Start Grilling to get you started. Here are some of the main reasons I love grilling at this time of year and why you should consider it too.

Easy way to boost flavor

Grilling gives food a smoky flavor from cooking over an open flame, especially if you use a charcoal grill (my preferred method). I'd love to say the fragrant sear on your steak is just magic, but there is scientific reason for why its so delicious. It's called a mallaird reaction. In short, a mallaird reaction happens when foods like meat, bread or coffee beans are exposed to high heats. This transforms the food and gives it more complex and robust flavors, with extra smokiness if it's on the grill.

Grilling also lends itself well to cooking whole foods, plant or animal. Many people are used to grilling meats, but let me just say, grilling your vegetables is a total game changer if you don't already. Recipes like Summer Vegetable Gnocchi Salad and Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Honey-Balsamic Glaze will have everyone coming back for more.

Healthy & quick cooking method

When you grill, you can use fewer fats or oils than you would over the stove or in the oven. Since the cooking method itself adds so much flavor, there is less need to add things like salt or sugar as well. We have several low-calorie grilling recipes for light meals that don't spare any deliciousness.

For those of you with several people to feed, grilling is perfect for nights beyond the weekend. Since it is high-heat and uses minimal dishes, it can be done quickly and easily in a pinch. Vegetables like peppers and onions can be grilled in 5-10 minutes versus roasting them in the oven for 40 minutes.

Charcoal grills can take a little while to heat up, but I use a grill chimney, like Outset Chimney Charcoal Starter from Wayfair.com (buy it for $19.99), which speeds up the process without lighter fluid.

Get to be outside

A happy consequence of grilling is that is forces you to get outside while you cook. To me, this is one of the first things that makes it feel like summer. Grilling has been a really nice (and delicious) way to get outside—especially after being inside working for most of the day.

Cuts down on clean-up

Besides whatever baking sheets, cutting boards or plates you use to prep and transfer foods from the kitchen to the grill, this way of cooking is basically dish-free. If you make one of our tasty foil pack recipes, that helps cut down on dish washing as well. Sometimes, I'll get a jumpstart on dishes as my food cooks. It only takes a few extra minutes and allows me to relax during and after my meal without having to stress about clean-up.

Bottom Line

Whether it's meat, vegetables or pizza, grilling gives my favorite foods a healthy flavor boost. Especially as the weather warms, I take advantage of this aromatic, delicious way of cooking. If you are still spending more time at home, it can also help you switch up your routine. In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be outside firing up my Weber, potentially with a beer in hand.