Desserts You Can Make On The Grill

Summertime calls for afternoons and evenings spent tending to a hot grill, eating delicious smoky food, and enjoying the good weather. You probably know that you don't have to stick to the boring routine of hot dogs, hamburgers, and other meats; if not, we have a list of unconventional foods to cook on the grill that should give you some inspiration. However, even if you're a seasoned grill master who can turn out a whole meal using only the barbecue, you might not have thought to grill dessert. Sure, it's easy to just serve some vanilla ice cream after dinner when people want something sweet — but there's a whole world of grilled desserts out there if you're willing to seek them out.

The dessert ideas on this list take advantage of everything a grill can do, from high-heat charring to gentle indirect cooking to smoking. A surprising number of dessert recipes can be modified for the barbecue with great results. If you're a barbecue fanatic, try some of these ideas out; you might just find a new favorite dessert.

Peach Melba

We've said it before, but it's worth repeating: You should be grilling fruit. It caramelizes some of the sugars and develops the fruit's flavor, giving you a result that's complex and craveable. Peaches are a great fruit for the grill, and there's no peach-based dessert better than peach Melba.

Peach Melba has an illustrious history. It was concocted by culinary legend Auguste Escoffier while he was the head chef at the Savoy Hotel in London, and pays tribute to the famous Australian opera singer Nellie Melba. It consists of peaches, raspberry sauce, and vanilla ice cream. The original recipe calls for the peaches to be peeled and seasoned simply with sugar.

The next time you have a barbecue, try making our easy peach Melba recipe and substituting a grilled peach for the canned one. The notes of smoke and char from the grill will add an intriguing savory edge to this sweet, fruity dessert.

Pound cake

Pound cake is a sturdy, tasty base that can be dressed up in any number of ways to make a nice dessert, but on its own, it's just a little bit boring. Of course, toppings can help add some fun flavors and textures, but you can also do something to the pound cake itself to make it more interesting: Throw it on the grill.

This recipe from Taste of Home calls for buttering pound cake slices and grilling them gently until they get nice grill marks and taste toasty, then topping them with berries and cream. We think it would taste marvelous with Nutella and toasted nuts as well.

You could do this with homemade pound cake, but it's a great way to wake up a mediocre store-bought cake as well. Just be careful not to set your grill to too high a temperature, as the sugar in the pound cake can burn easily.


S'mores are a campfire favorite, but you don't have to wait to go on a camping trip to eat them. As long as you have a hot set of coals, you can roast a marshmallow to crispy perfection from the comfort of your own backyard. You don't have to limit yourself to simply roasting marshmallows on your grill, either. You can use indirect heat to take your s'mores game to the next level.

If there's one problem we have with a classic s'more, it's that the chocolate often stays cold and crunchy. The marshmallow usually isn't hot enough to melt the chocolate. This method from Martha Stewart solves this issue by grilling the whole s'more — graham cracker, chocolate, and all — over very low heat. This gently melts the chocolate, giving you the gooiest s'more you could ever hope for.

If you want to try this, one word of caution: If you leave the s'more on too long, the chocolate might melt too much and run off the graham cracker, so keep an eye on it while it's cooking.

Dessert pizza

Just because Domino's Oreo pizza was a failure, doesn't mean that dessert pizza is a bad idea on the whole. Pizza is just a crispy, starchy base with flavorful toppings on top, and what else fits that description? Pie, of course! Pizza dough is a blank canvas that can support sweet toppings just as well as savory ones.

To make a grilled dessert pizza, all you have to do is grill up a pizza crust and then cover it with whatever sweet stuff sounds good to you. You can use this recipe from the Food Network as a jumping-off point, but dessert pizza is infinitely customizable. Of course, Nutella is a natural choice as the "pizza sauce," but cream cheese frosting, sweetened peanut butter, or dulce de leche would all be great too. You can keep it relatively light and top it with fruit, coconut, or nuts, or go wild and put Reese's cups and gummy bears on it.


We all know that caramelized bananas taste wonderful, and while you might not think about making them on the grill, it actually works really well. This method from The Spruce Eats calls for splitting whole bananas lengthwise and rubbing the cut sides with brown sugar, then grilling them until the sugar caramelizes. Bananas are delicate, so this works best with slightly underripe specimens. Leaving the peel on the banana halves during the cooking process also guards against mishaps. Try serving these with a boozy brown sugar sauce for a smoky riff on bananas Foster.

The split-and-grill method isn't the only way to turn bananas into a dessert on the barbecue. If you want something a little more whimsical, try cutting slits into whole, unpeeled bananas, stuffing them with chocolate chips and other sweet goodies, and grilling them in aluminum foil pouches to make dessert banana boats (via Betty Crocker).


We're not talking about actually cooking donuts on the grill (we suppose you could heat up a pot of oil for frying on the grill, but that seems really dangerous and we wouldn't recommend it). Rather, you can use the grill to add another level of flavor to already-cooked donuts. You could really use any flavor of donut you want, though the sweet neutrality of a simple glazed variety would let the smoky taste of the grill shine through most clearly.

Donuts burn very quickly on the grill, so you have to monitor them closely. They'll only take a minute per side maximum on a hot grill, and it might not even take that long, so don't get distracted while they're cooking. You can either grill them whole and then dip them in sauce, as Better Homes & Gardens recommends, or split them and use them to make dessert sandwiches (via Sugar Hero!). Ice cream would be a great topping for these, but we bet a nice slice of grilled fruit would also taste delicious inside a donut sandwich.


We've already established that you can grill pre-baked pastries, but you can also bake desserts directly inside your grill with the right technique. We think of grills as being perfect tools for charring food over direct heat, but if you use moderate heat in a closed grill, you can bake stuff just like you would in a normal oven. You just have to use a vessel that can withstand the heat of the grill. A cast-iron skillet is perfect for this purpose.

Southern Living lays out the technique for making grilled cobbler. First, you cook the fruit mixture in a covered skillet until it's soft. Then, you remove the skillet's lid, add the topping, and cook on a covered grill until the topping is golden brown and delicious.

If the Southern Living recipe looks good to you, you can use it, but feel free to just steal the technique and apply it to your favorite cobbler recipe.

Grilled pineapple with whipped cream

Pineapple is the ultimate fruit for grilling. You can slice it into sturdy, steak-shaped pieces that won't fall apart on the grill, and its sweet-and-sour taste plays beautifully with a little bit of char and caramelization. It also looks beautiful, with picture-perfect grill marks.

Our recipe for grilled pineapple with whipped cream is the perfect light summer dessert that won't weigh you down after a big meal. To make it, simply grill oiled pineapple slices until they're lightly browned, then top with homemade whipped cream and a little drizzle of honey for extra sweetness. Some herbs, sliced almonds, or coconut would be welcome additions as well. If you want a more substantial dessert, you can add a scoop of ice cream and a smear of caramel sauce.

Grilled pineapple can also be used to garnish other desserts. It would add a delicious sweet and smoky tang to bread pudding, pound cake, or custards.


Believe it or not, you can make a pumpkin pie on your grill that looks perfect for Thanksgiving. In order to bake a pie on the grill, you need to use indirect heat. That means you only make a fire under about one-half of your grill, leaving the other side relatively cool. The less-hot side is where you cook the pie. This ensures that your pie bakes with gentle radiant heat instead of charring.

Other than using the grill, this Food Network recipe is basically like any other pumpkin pie. You just have to make sure you rotate the pie so it cooks evenly all the way around.

Crazy for Crust has another method for making pie on the grill. This fruit pie has the free-form, rustic look of a French galette. Instead of setting up a grill with hot and cold sides, this recipe calls for cooking the pie in a pan that's placed on a second, inverted pie pan. This raises it up from the grill and (hopefully) protects it from burning while it bakes.

Bread pudding

As with pie, there are two ways you can cook bread pudding on a grill. The first method (from Allrecipes) uses indirect heat on a grill with multiple heat zones, just like the pumpkin pie recipe above. You simply make a standard bread pudding recipe, then put it into a pouch made from heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake it on the cool side of the grill. You can use any recipe you want; may we suggest our classic bread pudding recipe?

One disadvantage of this technique is that since the bread pudding cooks in a closed container, it doesn't brown at all. We really enjoy the crispy bit on top of a traditional bread pudding, so the lack of texture is a bummer.

Another recipe from the Food Network takes a radically different approach. Though it's called bread pudding, it's really more like grilled French toast. To make it, you soak slices of bread in a custard mixture and then grill each one individually until browned and crisp.


If you can control the heat level inside your grill well enough, you can make pretty much anything you would make in a normal oven, including delicate dishes like custard.

Grilling Companion's recipe for grilled coconut custard uses halved coconuts as natural vessels to hold the custard mixture while it cooks. Not only does the coconut give the dish a nice tropical flavor, but it also contributes to this dessert's fun, kitschy, tiki-style presentation. To make it, you simply set your grill fairly low (around 325 degrees Fahrenheit) and make little tinfoil nests to rest the coconut halves on.

The coconut custard is just one idea for a creamy dessert you can make outside. If you have a grill that you can set up for smoking, this recipe for tangerine smoked flan from Barbecue Bible would be a fun one to try. The low heat of the smoker cooks the flan gently, much like the traditional method of using a water bath in the oven.

Upside-down cake

If grilled pineapple is tasty, why not grill a whole pineapple upside-down cake?

This recipe from Weber adds complexity to this traditional treat by first grilling fresh pineapple slices, then cooking them in brown sugar, adding cake batter, and baking everything over indirect heat in a covered grill. Grilling the pineapple before incorporating it into the cake (and using fresh pineapple instead of canned pineapple rings) gives this cake a savory undertone that's missing in the conventional, sickly-sweet, oven-baked version. As with the cobbler, a cast-iron skillet is the best vessel to use when grilling upside-down cake.

While pineapple may be the most popular flavor of upside-down cake, it's far from the only option. In fact, upside-down cakes weren't commonly made with pineapple until the Hawaiian Pineapple Company began canning pineapple in the early 20th century (via What's Cooking America). You could make this with any type of fruit that does well on the grill. Ripe stonefruits like peaches, plums, or nectarines would taste great. Pears would do wonderfully as well.

Tarte Tatin

If upside-down cake is classic Americana, then tarte Tatin is its classy European cousin. Just like upside-down cake, this French dessert, which was supposedly born during a kitchen accident, is inverted after cooking to reveal a beautiful layer of cooked fruit. However, instead of pineapple, tarte Tatin uses sliced apples cooked in a rich caramel made from butter and sugar. Rather than pouring cake batter over the fruit, you top it with pastry — either a basic butter shortcrust, as in Traeger's recipe, or puff pastry, which is what our tarte Tatin recipe calls for.

To make this, first cook together the butter and sugar in a pan set on hot grill grates. Once this mixture turns into caramel, add apples, and then drape pastry dough over the whole thing. Cook in a covered grill set to moderate heat until the pastry dough is done. Flip the pan over onto a plate and serve with vanilla ice cream.


Brownies are a natural choice for cooking in a smoker. Chocolate already has a toasty flavor, and the addition of wood smoke reinforces that taste and cuts through the sugary sweetness of this classic dessert. Oklahoma Joe's recommends using apple wood to make smoked brownies, but if you happen to have some other type of wood chips lying around, they should work, too.

Oklahoma Joe's recipe doubles down on complexity by using three types of chocolate: semi-sweet, white, and cocoa powder. The recipe also adds depth and bitterness to the chocolate flavor with some coffee. However, if you have a brownie recipe you prefer, by all means, use that instead. To cook the brownies, pour the batter into a cast-iron skillet and put it on your grill or smoker at around 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes or so. If you're not a chocolate person, this method should work just as well for your favorite blondie recipe.