There’s nothing like fresh fruit; a common phrase heard throughout the summer. Many find it refreshing, especially when served cold. What if you were to learn that grilling brings out the best flavours of some varieties? Whether using gas or charcoal, the intense heat adds a smoky-sweet flavour or caramelized texture to most fruits – creating more reasons to include fruit in your dishes.
Your fruit isn’t quite ripe – no worries. That unripened condition is perfect for grilling. It’s important that the raw fruit be slightly firm so that it holds up on the grill. The heat caramelizes the sugars in fruit and weakens the structure. Overripe or mushy fruit will be more likely to fall apart on the grill.
Most fruit is fairly delicate, so cut fruit into large chunks or slices to help it maintain its structure. Also, larger pieces are less likely to fall between the grates. Small fruits such as strawberries and grapes can go on skewers so you don’t lose them to the flames.
For the coveted grill marks, most fruit will be grilled over high heat for three minutes without moving or turning it to get the perfect sear. Flip and cook for one to three minutes more. The surface of the fruit needs time to sear so that it won’t stick. Be warned; some sticking could happen no matter what you do. Sometimes you get better grill marks with unoiled fruit.
By placing a hearty piece of fruit flesh side down, you’ll get that caramelization.
High heat causes some grilled fruits to give off a lot of juice. By placing the fruit on a rimmed baking sheet, you can catch all that juicy goodness after it comes off the grill. The juice would be a great marinade for proteins like pork and fish.
Best Oils to Use:
Use a neutral-tasting oil on the fruit that’s suitable for high heat, such as safflower or grapeseed oil. Brushing olive or avocado oil directly on the grates while they’re cold is also effective for keeping the fruit from sticking.
Which Fruits Grill the Best?
Pineapple, watermelon, lemons, peaches, bananas, avocado, apples, and pears are some of the tastiest fruits to grill that hold up against the heat.
Pineapple’s tanginess and acidity become sweet and aromatic with the intense heat of the grill. Cut your pineapples into slices or wedges and grill them for three minutes on each side. Pineapple needs more time to cook than peaches and citrus fruit do. To help dense fruits heat all the way through, you can put the lid on the grill for a few minutes at a time.
- Health benefits – pineapple is low in calories and rich in fibre, it aids in digestion, promotes good bone health and is an anti-inflammatory.
Grilled watermelon takes on a smoky-sweet flavour that is truly out of this world. Set your grill on medium, instead of hot, to avoid scorching the wedges while cooking for 3 minutes on each side.
- Health benefits – watermelon is a good source of vitamin C, as well as the antioxidant citrulline, which has been associated with improved blood pressure.
Grilled lemons take only five minutes to grill, drizzled with a little olive oil, and the heat loosens their sour, citrusy juices and adds a tasty, charred flavour.
- Health benefits – lemons may support heart health, weight control, and digestive health.
Cut peaches in half and remove the pit. Lightly brush each side of the peach with olive oil and grill each side for 4 to 5 minutes until grill marks appear.
- Health benefits – peaches are rich in vitamin C and great for digestion.
Cut your banana in half lengthwise, and grill for 3 minutes for a firmer fruit. Or you can leave the peel on the banana and slice it lengthwise. Wrap it in foil and grill until it reaches your desired texture. Scoop directly out of the peel; adding it as a topping to ice cream or other desserts.
Health benefits – bananas are rich in potassium, which helps regulate fluid balance on warm summer days.
Grilling adds a smoky flavour to an avocado and makes them extra creamy. Grill flesh side down for 4 to 6 minutes.
- Health benefits – a superfood that provides essential benefits for your well-being.
Cut your apples sideways into slices and place them on the grill for 2 minutes on each side.
- Health benefits – apples help stabilize blood sugar, help to lower cholesterol levels, and may help prevent colon cancer, among numerous other benefits.
Cut pears in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush or spray with olive oil and place them cut side down on the grill on high heat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until tender.
- Health benefits – pears are an anti-inflammatory and contain anthocyanins which may help to prevent diabetes.
Experiment with different fruits on the barbecue. Mix them into your favourite sandwiches, salads, or meat dishes. Whether you use a grill-safe baking dish, skewer some fruit on kabobs, or place slices directly on the grill, they’ll be ready in minutes.