20 Grilled Appetizer Recipes That Turn Any Gathering Into a Party

Grilled Zucchini and Tomato Salad
Dana Gallagher

One of the many reasons we love grilling is because it gives us the chance to cook and eat outside. You can take this outdoor frame of mind one step further by ditching cooking kitchen altogether for your next gathering. Sometimes we like to begin a cookout with make-ahead appetizers, like a dip or a decadent cheese board, but we also think there's something special about grilling the starters. Try our Grilled Zucchini with Miso or Bloody-Mary Tomato Salad, which is pictured here.

As it turns out, there are so many different appetizers that lend themselves to grilling. Skewers are an obvious option, and we're not just talking about meat or chicken; you can also use skewers to corral smaller foods that might slip between the grates, like fava beans, grilled peas with coconut, or meat-and-vegetable combos such as padron peppers and chorizo. A shrimp appetizer is always a crowd pleaser, but a grilled shrimp appetizer is even better. Our shrimp skewers get an infusion of Thai-inspired flavor thanks to a marinade and dipping sauce made with chili paste and fish sauce.

Grilling elevates the simplest foods: Sure, you could toast the bread for bruschetta, but this dish tastes (and looks) so much better after a pass on the grill. The same is true for corn, sausage, and oysters. What doesn't benefit from the smoke and char of the grill? Even foods you might not think to grill are incredible once cooked over your grates. Case in point? Grilling cheese; it's not a grilled cheese sandwich, but rather a whole wheel of cheese that's prepared over the flames. Let's just say it beats baked brie any day.

If you're ready to take the party outside, choose a few of our favorite grilled appetizer recipes and fire up the grill!

01 of 19

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon

Marcus Nilsson

Let summer fruit such as watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe shine in this two-ingredient appetizer. The melon is cut into wedges, wrapped in cured Italian meat like prosciutto and salami, and then grilled for just a minute or two.

02 of 19

Grilled Garlic Bread with Herb Butter

garlic bread
Lauren Ross

Start the party by making homemade garlic bread on the grill; ours features an aromatic parsley-herb butter. Kids and adults alike will devour it in a flash.

03 of 19

Grilled Lamb Meatballs with Salsa Verde


A combination of ground lamb and ground pork bring a one-two punch of gamey flavor and uber-tender meat in this meatball appetizer. The meatballs are threaded onto skewers, grilled, and served with an herbaceous salsa verde.

04 of 19

Grilled Oysters with Compound Brown Butter

Grilled Oysters with Compound Brown Butter
Paola + Murray

We're all about shucking and shooting raw oysters on the half shell during summer, but they're also delicious when grilled and served with a nutty butter sauce packed with fresh herbs.

05 of 19

Grilled Peas with Toasted Coconut

grilled peas with toasted coconut
Armando Rafael

Dress up unshelled English peas by threading them onto skewers and grilling until they're charred and crispy on the outside. Then, serve with a sprinkle of toasted coconut, a dash of cayenne, squeeze of lime, and pinch of flaky sea salt.

06 of 19

Grilled Vegetables and White-Bean Fattoush

Grilled Vegetables and White-Bean Fattoush
Con Poulos

Choose your own adventure with this colorful grilled appetizer. We grilled an assortment of bell peppers and onions, but you can use any vegetables that you please; serve them alongside a simple escarole salad, herby white beans, crumbled feta cheese, and pita bread.

07 of 19

Grilled Artichoke, Green Garlic, and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Romulo Yanes

Celebrate the arrival of spring with these grilled globe artichokes, which are sliced and placed atop crunchy country bread and a green garlic and rosemary goat cheese spread.

08 of 19

Grilled Kofta Kebabs

Lennart Weibull

These mini lamb kebabs have so much flavor thanks to a combination of ground cumin seeds, cinnamon, and parsley, which are mixed with the ground meat before they're grilled. Serve with wedges of pita bread on the side.

09 of 19

Grilled Bread and Chiles with Burrata

grilled bread and chiles with burrata placed on an outdoor picnic table
Elizabeth Cecil

Smoky, charred bread with an assortment of grilled chiles and sweet peppers is perfectly complemented by the soft, creamy cheese. This is an appetizer sure to make mouths water.

10 of 19

Grilled-Vegetable Agrodolce

grilled vegetable agrodolce
Ryan Liebe

An antipasto platter combining grilled and non-grilled elements is a winning way to start a party. The grilled eggplants and squashes get a sweet-and-sour marinade full of plump raisins and briny capers. They can even be prepped the day before if you like, which means all that's left to do is toast some crusty Italian bread and arrange them on the platter with cheeses and cured meats.

11 of 19

Grilled Tomato Bruschetta


Use a hot grill to char halved plum tomatoes and thick slices of country bread to create this bruschetta. Combine the tomatoes with minced garlic, red-wine vinegar, red-pepper flakes, and fresh basil before mounding on the grilled bread.

12 of 19

Grilled Clams


This recipe has only one ingredient: clams. The shells are placed directly on the grates of the grill to steam open under the grill lid. Their natural juices are the only flavorings required. Place clams in a pot or bowl for serving, discarding any unopened ones.

13 of 19

Padron Peppers Skewered with Chorizo

Padron Peppers Skewered With Chorizo
Johnny Miller

Take tapas to the grill with these skewers of smoky chorizo and spicy peppers.

14 of 19

Grilled Shrimp and Bacon with Lemons


Everything in this dish is grilled, including the lemon slices, which you can treat as a garnish or nibble on with the shrimp. Grilling the shrimp in their shells helps them retain their flavor and keeps them from being overcooked.

15 of 19

Grilled Italian Sausages and Tomatoes on Focaccia


Grilled summer tomatoes tossed with fresh oregano make the perfect platform for tantalizingly charred sausages.

16 of 19

Chicken Satay with Peanut-Chutney Sauce


A creamy, tangy sauce of peanut butter, mango chutney, lime juice, garlic, and soy sauce gives these chicken breast skewers irresistible appeal.

17 of 19

Kielbasa Bites with Grainy-Mustard Potato Salad


Links of Polish sausage are grilled to highlight their garlicky flavor. Sliced into small pieces, they contrast nicely with buttery Yukon gold potatoes with a light coating of grainy-mustard vinaigrette.

18 of 19

Grilled Scallops Wrapped in Prosciutto


It only takes a few ingredients—thin slices of salty prosciutto, delicate scallops, olive oil, and lemon—to make these quick-cooking skewers that are an elegant starter to or an easy addition to any grilled menu.

19 of 19

Tequila-Grilled Shrimp


The citrus marinade for these shrimp is spiked with tequila, which makes for a very flavorful grilled appetizer.

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