Grilling fruit is something most of us never consider, but truthfully, it makes a good thing even better. Have you ever been sincerely disappointed with grilling anything? When it comes to grilling fruit, the flavors intensify as the natural sugars caramelize, juicy fruits get even juicier, the smoke from the grill gives everything a wonderful woodsy flavor, and the grill marks make the presentation a masterpiece. Just about any fruit can go on the grill as long as they are fairly firm and not overripe. Stone fruits, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, melons and bananas are just some of the fruits that do well with their feet to the fire. Here are some tips for grilling fruit to perfection.
Most fruit is fairly fragile, so cut it into large chunks or slices to help it maintain its structure as it heats up and breaks down. Larger pieces are less likely to fall between the grates, too, depending on your setup. Small fruits like strawberries can go on skewers, so you don’t lose them to the flames.
Hot grills reduce sticking
Heat your grill to medium-high for at least 10 minutes, then scrape and oil the grates before laying down the fruit. Use a neutral-tasting oil suitable for high heat, such as safflower oil.
Dusting the cut side of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit with granulated sugar before putting them on a hot, oiled grill keeps the rinds from sticking and gives the surface of the fruit a truly gorgeous caramelized finish. This tip is handy when using grilled lemon and lime wheels to garnish cocktails and desserts.
Let the fruit sit on the hot grill for a few minutes before checking for grill marks; the surface of the fruit needs time to sear so it won’t stick. But know this: Some sticking could happen no matter what you do. It’s not the end of the world; the fruit will taste sublime no matter what.
Put smaller fruits like strawberries and kiwis on a skewer and grill over direct medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
More grilling tips
For stone fruits like apricots and peaches, remove the pit, slice and place cut side down on the grill. Grill on medium heat for 6-8 minutes.
Pineapple and melon
Large, juicy fruits like pineapple and watermelon need less time. Slice and grill over medium heat for 2 minutes, flipping once.
Bananas must be split open (add marshmallows and chocolate for the ultimate dessert) and grilled upright over direct medium heat for 5-6 minutes. The peel will turn black, but the inside is gooey heaven.
“When grilling fruit, use firmer fruits like pineapple or peaches. Make sure you have a nice, clean grill. Use oil or even brush a little mayonnaise so the fruit doesn’t stick to the grates. And season as you’re grilling.” – Joshua Castillo of Charlie’s Coastal Bistro