There is something almost primal about cooking food over an open grill and smelling those sizzling aromas wafting all around. I, for one, enjoy the simple pleasure of tossing anything from beef and pork to vegetables and even fruit or lettuce on the grill to obtain that rich, smoky flavor.

Dating all the way back to ancestral cooking, people seem to have a strong connection with searing their food over a fire. And what better way to take full advantage of grilling season than to serve up all kinds of delicious dishes and a bit of spontaneous brilliance in the summer for holiday events like the 4th of July! To offer variety, I’ve put together a list of my favorite meat filled and vegetarian dishes for you to prepare on the grill. And, as a bonus I’ll give you a few starting grilling tips for the ultimate barbecue. So, are you ready to get cooking with fire?

Pro Grilling Tips

Just like having skills in the kitchen, what separates the grill masters from the masses is that experts understand how to use and manage their grill. Recipes can give you a starting point, but what really makes or breaks a barbecue lies in the technique. So, before I share with you some of my favorite 4th of July BBQ ideas, here are a few tips to becoming a true master for better grilling.

  • Use a clean grill: However simple sounding, this can be an easy tip to forget if you’re just breaking out your grill for the season. Start with a clean grate by rubbing off any debris or dirt with a brush or cutting a lemon in half and sterilizing. Don’t worry about adding a lemony taste, it will cook off when you start the flames.

  • Preheat your grill: First, a preheated grill helps to loosen any remaining debris so it’s easier to clean. Secondly, it prevents your food from sticking, helps to cook food more evenly and gives it that nice seared look from the hot grate. I recommend about 10-15 minutes for gas grills or until the charcoal is hot and the heat is evenly distributed.

  • Don’t use cold food: Let your food sit at room temperature before placing on the grill to prevent it from drying out.

  • Don’t move your food around: I like to let my food sit on the grate as long as possible for those nice grill marks and so that it caramelizes or browns. That process offers a world of flavor and aromas to be enjoyed!

Grilling Recipe Ideas

There’s nothing like adding that deep smoky flavor of summer into my meals!

Starting Ideas

If you’re entertaining guests this 4th of July or simply cooking at home for family, start with seasonal ingredients and pair them with your proteins and grains or pasta of choice.

I simply can’t get enough sweet corn in the summer, and adding it onto the grill just seems natural. This Grilled Shrimp and Corn Salad is one of my go-to options as I can sub in fresh corn for the canned variety. If you have any shrimp leftover you can also make this Shrimp Salad recipe.

If you love those spring and summer greens like asparagus, bell pepper, zucchini, green beans, and more, these next two options are for you. For a vegetarian option, this Grilled Vegetable Couscous is perfect. Or, pair grilled chicken and RiceSelect® Pearl Couscous in this Whole Wheat Chicken and Couscous Salad.

Vegetable Tip: I like to use this Pearl Couscous recipe as a guide, but if I have a variety of fresh vegetables on hand I always substitute in what I prefer or what I have in my garden.

Marinated Options

While I love the simplicity and natural taste of simple olive oil, salt and pepper, I also enjoy food that has been marinated or rubbed in a seasoned blend of ingredients!

For a simple marinade, I coat the steak in a blend of lime juice, water, ginger, garlic and green onion for this Steak and Mango Salsa recipe. I let that sit for 6 hours or overnight to unlock loads of flavor, grill and top with a homemade salsa to finish it off.

When I entertain, I often have fun with international flavors in meals to give my guests an unexpected but delicious taste. These Korean Beef Rice bowls use a marinade of ginger, garlic, mandarin zest/juice, honey, fish sauce, soy sauce and olive oil for the perfect option. To soak up all of those flavors, use Arborio, which is made to absorb more delicious taste.

Or I add in Caribbean flavors like a Jerk marinade for chicken, shrimp or vegetables! My ingredient combinations vary from recipe to recipe but always include a citrus juice, spices, herbs and a sweet touch. Take a look at these three options below using different ingredients:

Jerk Shrimp and Quinoa Bowl with Thai Slaw Jerk Shrimp and Quinoa Bowl with Thai Slaw
Jerk Shrimp and Quinoa Bowl with Thai Slaw Jerk Shrimp and Quinoa Bowl with Thai Slaw
Jerk Shrimp Quinoa Bowl With Thai Slaw Recipe

Get swept up in the satisfying taste and vibrant colors of this fusion quinoa power bowl inspired by the flavors of Caribbean and Thai cuisine.

Coconut Quinoa Jerk Chicken Bowl Recipe

Rubbed with jerk spices and baked in the oven, this tasty chicken is served with fragrant coconut quinoa and a zesty black bean and pineapple salsa.

Instant Pot Caribbean Rice and Beans with Grilled Jerk Eggplant

This hearty vegetarian dish is bursting with Caribbean flavors that will wow any crowd! Serve it any time of year from a comforting winter dinner to an outdoor summer BBQ.

Classic Kabobs and Skewers

With a light brush of olive oil, a kabob or skewer is a simple yet flavorful meal on a stick. To make the perfect kabob, I cut my vegetables and meats in similar sizes so they cook evenly and let them cook slowly. I also make sure to let them sit and get those nice seared marks before I turn them.

Another key factor for optimum flavor is serving them over a delicious bed of couscous or orzo recipes to soak up all the delicious juices. RiceSelect® has a variety of options to choose from and I can always trust that they provide quality products! Choose your combination of choice:

Grilled (Vegetarian) Burgers!

Layered with crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes and a secret homemade sauce, you don’t have to eat meat to savor an incredible freshly-grilled burger! In fact, these hamburger options are some of the best I’ve eaten in my life, loaded with flavor for everyone, both vegan and meat eaters alike.

Seasoned with a homemade BBQ spice rub, these grillable Veggie Burgers are made with a compact and filling texture of Royal Blend® Rice, walnuts, black beans and bread crumbs. Load on the yummy toppings and savor every meaty and rich bite. Right before serving, I toss the burger buns on the grill for an extra toasted and delicious taste.

Looking for a more southwestern taste? These Mexican Spiced Burgers are made with Texmati® Brown Rice, kidney beans, chipotle in adobo and topped with a smoky adobo sauce.

Meat-free Note: While these burgers and homemade sauces are completely vegan, I always make sure to buy vegan burger buns and any meat free additional toppings or sauces.

Are you ready to fire up that grill and get cooking this 4th of July? I know I’m already thinking about what my first cookout meal will be. If you make one of these delicious recipes, I’d love to see how your grilling turned out. Take a pic and connect with me on instagram by tagging @Riceselect.