The Ultimate Guide To Cuts Of Pork Ribs

Do you know the difference between a pork tenderloin and a pork butt? How many different types of pork ribs are there? What’s the difference between a bone-in and a boneless pork chop? If you’ve got questions about pork, we’ve got answers. From bacon to baby back ribs to Boston butt, this guide to pork breaks down what you need to know about the various cuts of pork, including how to prepare and cook them.

Pork Ribs

It’s important to note that whatever different cuts of pork you’re working with, it is more nutritious and delicious if it’s humanely-raised, heritage-breed pork. Unlike factory farmed pigs, pasture-raised pigs are not treated with antibiotics, hormones, and don’t live in temperature-controlled indoor units, but in more animal-friendly environments. Plus, heritage-breed pork is more marbled than factory farmed pork, producing juicier, more flavorful meat.

Educate yourself on pork cuts, and get cooking!

Pork Loin Roast

Lean and mild, pork loin roast is taken from the most tender part of the pig. It only has a small layer of fat on the top. As the name suggests, it’s ideal for roasting. Try slow cooking it on low in a Dutch Oven, braised in copious beef broth — or opt for a simpler approach, with just good kosher sea salt, black pepper, and olive oil.

Try this maple brined whole pork loin roast with mini cranberry pies for a warm, comforting meal or this simple salt and pepper roasted pork sirloin with broccoli and cauliflower latkes.

Boneless Country Style Ribs

These densely marbled ribs are cut close to the shoulder, and hold up well in a variety of cooking methods. You can cook them low and slow, or high and fast — either way, they’re delectable. Try them in the crockpot with your favorite barbeque sauce or flash-sear them in a cast iron pan, then finish them off in the oven. No matter which cooking method you use, you will end up with a flavorful, American classic.

For a bright, colorful meal, give these boneless country style ribs with chimichurri pesto and jicama slaw a try.

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Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is a delicious, healthy choice: It’s extremely lean meat because it’s taken from a little-used muscle along the pig’s ribcage. Pork tenderloin is also mild, tender, and incredibly versatile; it is great grilled or as a slow-cooked pork roast. It cooks quickly and holds up well to strong marinades and rubs, like a piquant coffee rub.

Here’s a coffee-rubbed pork tenderloin with a blueberry balsamic reduction, or a zingy tapenade and feta stuffed pork tenderloin.

Pork Chops and Boneless Pork Chops

Both the bone-in and boneless pork chops come from the rib section of the pork loin. While the bone-in pork chop is distinguished by the curved bone along its side, both feature gorgeous marbling throughout, as well as a juicy and moist strip of tasty fat along the rim.

Try the bone-in pork loin chops pan seared with a flavorful maple-chipotle sauce or these honey lemon pork chops. Boneless pork chops are wonderful grilled, pan-fried, seared, or stuffed and braised with bacon and Asiago. Here are some grilled boneless pork chops with red pepper romesco.

Pork Stir Fry

Trimmed from various cuts of the tenderloin, pork butt, and chops, this thinly-sliced pork is ideal in stir-frys. You want to make sure you sear the thinly-sliced pork to ensure optimal texture and flavor before adding any liquid.

Use an extremely hot pan (think cast iron or a wok) to avoid overcooking the meat. This stir-fry meat pairs well with full-flavored sauces and Asian flavors, like Szechuan sauce. Here’s a Paleo and Keto pork and cashew stir fry to whip up on a weekday night.

Pork Breakfast Sausage

Hearty and flavorful, pork breakfast sausage was developed by rural farmers to get the greatest yield from their pigs. ButcherBox’s version is a healthy, authentic version made from different cuts of heritage breed pork and seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and sage — no added sugar! It’s a tasty, protein-rich way to start the day. Do just that with this sunny breakfast sausage scramble with avocado.

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Baby Back Ribs

As the name suggests, baby back ribs are the baby of all rib cuts. They’re also the leanest of all the rib pork cuts, cut from the very top of the ribcage. Cook them low and slow for optimal texture and flavor. For moisture and flavor, try quick-brining your baby back ribs. Use a good spice rub and smoke them over a low fire, then transfer them to the oven to finish. Be sure to score and peel your baby back ribs before cooking.

Here’s a straightforward recipe for oven-baked baby back ribs with chipotle pineapple BBQ sauce

Pork Butt

Richly marbled with plenty of connective tissue, the pork butt — also known as Boston butt — is the ideal choice for pulled pork. Funnily enough, the term “butt” is a misnomer, as the butt actually refers to the pork shoulder. It got its name from colonial butchers packing the cut into barrels called “butts.”

Slow cooking a pork butt will get you the best results; it’s best braised or roasted. Here’s a fork-tender smoky coffee-rubbed pulled pork recipe to try.

Ground Pork

With a meat-to-fat ratio of 80 percent meat to 20 percent fat, ButcherBox’s finely ground pork tastes clean and robust. The pork features trimmings from all over the pig but focuses on the most flavorful sections. Ground pork works perfectly sautéed in a stir-fry, or grilled as a BBQ sauce-laced patty. For a balanced meal, try these pork dumpling stuffed peppers.

Bacon

Ah, your favorite cut of pork: Bacon! Sourced from slow-growing, minimally-processed pigs, ButcherBox bacon sells out quickly. This bacon is uncured, nitrate and sugar-free. Serve it for breakfast or dinner. Whether wrapped around chicken tenders, spiced, and baked for dinner, or whipped up next to your eggs, it’s sure to please. For something different, here’s an apple tart with bacon fig syrup.

St. Louis Pork Ribs

Cut from the lower half of the rib section, St. Louis pork ribs attribute their rich flavor to unctuous belly meat fat. They’re thicker and fatter than baby back ribs, and were first trimmed into a rectangular rack in St. Louis—hence the name! To keep them moist, be sure to steam or add liquid to your ribs during the cooking process.

A Salt Block To Cook And Chill This Summer

No recipe is complete without a little salt, and Chill for good reason summer. Sodium from salt is essential to many of our bodies’ complex processes, including regulating the body’s internal balance of water and sodium. It is also instrumental in bringing out and showcasing flavor in food.Summer

It’ll be no surprise, then, when I tell you that a Himalayan salt block should be the next—and ultimately will be the best—addition to your summer cooking arsenal.

These pink slabs of joy are highly effective at cooking, chilling, and seasoning your food. They are also a rich source of some key trace minerals. And unlike the salt your sprinkle on your food, these highly dense salt blocks can be used over and over, in a variety of different situations.

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Cooking with the Salt Block

Before you start hosting your own block parties, here are a few quick tips to cooking on a naturally seasoning surface:

  • Before the first time you cook with it, season your salt block.
  • When cooking, heat the block in stages, starting on low heat and gradually moving to high. Too hot, too fast can crack the block.
  • The more moisture your meat has, the more salt it will absorb.
  • The higher the fat content, the less salt it will absorb.
  • Longer cook times lead to saltier foods. Thin cuts are best.

Grilling Steaks

Salt blocks work great on the grill.

Once you’ve slowly heated the block, test that the surface is hot enough by drizzling a few drops of water. If there is sizzle, you’re ready. Cook the steak as you would on the grill, 1-2 minutes per side for thinner cuts, and 4-5 minutes for slightly thicker cuts. This is perfect for a New York strip or ribeyes (use a meat thermometer to get the right level of doneness you want).

Remember—no need to salt the meat before you cook. The block has you covered.

Seared Scallops

Just like with the steaks, heat your block up on the grill to a high heat. Around 500°F is ideal.

Dry the scallops and then coat them lightly with olive oil (this will prevent them from getting too salty). Sear them as you would in a pan, flipping them with tongs once a brown crust has formed. Depending on the thickness of the scallops, this should be for just a few minutes per side.

The seared crust from cooking on a salt block will be unlike anything you get on a regular cooking surface.

Stove-Top Pork Chop

Salt blocks work just as well on the gas stovetop.

For an electric stovetop, place a metal ring (like a pastry ring) between the block and the stove, as a buffer. Heat the block slowly, like you would on the grill, bringing it up to around 400°F.

Once you’ve dried the excess moisture from your pork chops, coat it with olive oil, and cook it on the block. Again, thinner cuts are better to avoid over-saltiness. Like the scallops, that salt-seared crust is worth the extra effort.

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Serving Cold Food on the Salt Block

Before serving cold foods on your salt block, here are a few functional tips:

  • Store your block in the freezer for 24 hours before use
  • The longer food rests on the block, the more salt it will absorb. It can also lead to a frozen layer on the bottom of the food.
  • Watch the moisture. The more moisture the food has, the more (and quicker) it will absorb salt.

Sushi and Sashimi

Think of the salt block like a super fancy self-seasoning serving platter.

When preparing sushi and sashimi, especially in the warm summer months, it’s essential to keep that fresh, raw fish cold—and the salt block does just that. Remember, the moisture of the sashimi or the sushi rice will directly affect the amount of salt it absorbs. The slight hint of salt from the block will add an extra layer to the flavor!

Vegetables, Fruits, and Cheeses

Sometimes, it’s all about the presentation—and the salt block is certainly a showpiece. Using a chilled salt block (let it rest for at least 20 minutes after taking it out of the freezer), you can prepare appetizers of cheeses, fresh fruits, and vegetables, all on your fancy pink block. The block will keep your items cold and fresh, add slight amounts of seasoning, and be an excellent talking piece amongst your guests.

Grilled Pizza – Recipes With Homemade

We all know and love pizza, but have you ever grilled your pizza before? If not, summer is the best time to try. Beyond that fact that you can avoid using the oven on steamy summer nights, here’s why grilled pizza is the best.

Grilled pizza comes together in mere minutes, and while we love an oven-baked pizza, nothing beats that charred, smoky flavor that comes from the grill. Not to mention, the high heat created on a grill can mimic that found in a wood-fired pizza oven. (Check out our how to grill pizza guide for tips on how to create heat zones on the grill and more.)

grilled

A grilled pizza is ever-versatile: If it sounds like it would taste good on pizza, any topping is fair game. With this list, we’ve compiled some of our favorite pizza recipe ideas—heavy on chicken, sausage, and bacon! Feel free to take them as suggestions and riff however you please.

On this list, you’ll find recipes like:

  • Grilled pizza with maple-glazed bacon, potatoes, and blue cheese
  • Grilled pizza with summer veggies and smoked chicken
  • BBQ beer brat tailgate pizza
  • Grilled peach, chicken, and ricotta pizza
  • And more!

We hope this inspires you to get creative at your grill, and to enjoy lots of pizza. It’s a win-win.

1. Margherita Grilled Pizza

Let’s start with a classic, on the grill, with this margherita grilled pizza. All you’ll need to assemble this pizza is your pizza dough, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and parmesan, and a good bit of fresh basil.

The steps are as simple as the ingredients: Preheat your grill, stretch your dough (homemade or store-bought, both work), and plop it on. You’ll cook the dough until the bottom is golden brown, then top with your tomato sauce and mozzarella.

Let it cook covered for just a couple minutes, then sprinkle with fresh basil and grated parmesan. Perfection!

2. Grilled Pizza with Maple-Glazed Bacon, Potatoes, and Blue Cheese

We’d be hard-pressed to come up with a better combo than maple bacon, potatoes, and blue cheese. Now, throw all that on a pizza, and you’ll have this grilled pizza with maple-glazed bacon, potatoes, and blue cheese recipe.

This recipe makes the dough from scratch, but it’s a very simple, foolproof recipe. You’ll also roast your potatoes and crisp the bacon (brushed with sweet, sweet maple syrup) at the same time in the oven.

On the grill, you’ll follow the same process as many of the recipes on this list. Cook the dough until golden-brown on the grill, then add your cooked bacon, roasted potatoes, mozzarella, and blue cheese, thinly sliced onion, and cook for a few minutes until everything is bubbly and oh-so-delicious.

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3. Grilled Pizza with Summer Veggies and Smoked Chicken

This grilled pizza with summer veggies and smoked chicken is the ultimate way to use up summer produce. It compiles some great veggie ideas, but you can work with what you’ve got on hand. Bonus points if the chicken is leftover from another meal!

To start, you’ll want to lightly char your vegetables in a grill basket, building smoky flavor and par-cooking them for the perfect texture. This recipe opts for zucchini, red onion, and corn.

You’ll repeat that by-now familiar process of grilling the dough, loading on your toppings (those great veggies, smoked chicken, and mozzarella in this case), and finishing cooking the whole thing until nice and melty.

4. BBQ Beer Brat Tailgate Pizza

Ready for a delectable grilled pizza you can make while tailgating? Try this BBQ beer brat tailgate pizza.

You can make this grilled pizza anywhere you have access to a grill, whether you make it at home or at a tailgate. On it, you’ll find succulent slices of beer brats, barbecue sauce, red bell pepper, and mozzarella.

Note: The pizza dough contains wheat beer, too, which adds a depth that water can’t touch.

5. Grilled Chicken Caesar Pizza

Have you ever had a salad pizza? It’s exactly what it sounds like: A well-dressed salad, with plenty of texture and tasty components, topped on a pizza. It’s delightful, as you’ll find with this grilled chicken Caesar pizza.

This recipe starts by building a simple, but delicious, pizza on the grill. The dough is grilled, brushed with a heavenly garlic oil, then topped with chicken, bacon, and mozzarella. Once ready, you’ll top that pizza with a salad made with more chicken and bacon, Caesar dressing, fresh romaine, and parmesan.

The contrast between cool and warm, and the mouthful of incredible flavor, is something not to be missed.

6. Bacon and Red Onion Grilled Pizza

Looking for a simple grilled pizza that comes together in minutes? Try this bacon and red onion grilled pizza.

This easy pizza recipe combines tomato sauce, thick-sliced bacon, thinly-sliced red onion, mozzarella, and a hint of red pepper flakes. Cut into personal-sized pizzas, this recipe cooks up in mere minutes on the grill.

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7. Easy Spicy Italian Sausage Grilled Flatbread

Served as an appetizer or a full meal, this easy spicy Italian sausage grilled flatbread is a crowd-pleaser.

This recipe is flavor-packed, thanks to bold toppings like capicola salami, spicy Italian sausage (both slices and crumbles work here), sauteed mushrooms, and manzanilla olives. A sprinkle of fresh basil and parsley brightens things up.

8. Grilled Avocado-Barbecue Chicken Naan Pizza

If you’re looking for a grilled pizza dough shortcut, try naan bread. This fluffy, flavorful flatbread makes a great crust in a pinch, shown perfectly in this grilled avocado-barbecue chicken naan pizza recipe.

This recipe couldn’t be simpler to throw together, especially when your skipping all the prep work of pizza dough from scratch. Beyond naan, you’ll need olive oil, barbecue sauce, fresh mozzarella, shredded chicken, avocado, red onion, and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Keep this pizza on indirect heat to avoid burning the naan, and you’ll be golden.

9. Grilled Peach, Chicken, and Ricotta Pizza

This grilled peach, chicken, and ricotta pizza mixes up the formula: While it takes a trip to an oven to bake, the toppings are all grilled for a rich, smoky flavor.

You’ll grill your peaches, red onion, and chicken until they’re beautifully charred, then slice them and layer on your preferred pizza dough. Add creamy ricotta and bake, and that’s it. Add a sprinkle of fresh basil for brightness.

10 Easy Freezer Meals

If you’ve never heard of freezer meals, we’re here to make meal planning that much easier. These easy and affordable freezer meals will save you time, money (less “I’m too tired to cook” takeout), and will fill your family up with delicious food. It’s a win all around.

freezer

What are freezer meals?

As the name suggests, freezer meals come from your handy freezer. Typically, you’ll dedicate a chunk of time to prepping a few meals with freezer-friendly ingredients, then storing them in the freezer to be cooked at a later date.

Sometimes, you thaw your freezer meal before cooking it, but often you can cook your meal straight from the freezer by loading it into the oven, or perhaps your Instant Pot. All told, freezer meals can be a real lifesaver when you have nothing prepared for dinner. Just pull it out of the freezer and go.

Freezer meal supplies

You don’t need much in the way of equipment to start making freezer meals, but there are a few items you might want to invest in.

To preserve the quality of your food for months to come, stock up on:

  • Quality freezer storage bags
  • Foil baking pans and heavy-duty foil
  • Plastic storage containers
  • A permanent marker for labeling your recipes and dates

Freezer-friendly recipes

On this list, we’ve compiled freezer meals that turn out as good as freshly-cooked ones, every time. You might be surprised by the things you can cook frozen, like:

  • NY strip from frozen
  • Keto meatballs
  • Beef enchiladas
  • Pork chops from frozen
  • Paleo beef kebabs

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Find these recipes for freezer meals and more below.

1. Perfect NY Strip from Frozen

When you think of freezer meals, you probably don’t envision a juicy steak dinner. We’re here to dispel that thinking with our perfect NY strip from frozen recipe.

All you have to do is pull your NY strip directly out of the freezer, quickly run it under cool water, and get cooking. This recipe incorporates umami mushrooms and balsamic vinegar for bold flavor, but you could easily whip up a quick side salad to round out the meal. Even though these steaks come straight from the freezer, this meal is ready in 20 minutes flat. You can’t beat it.

2. Easy Keto Meatballs

Meatballs are an excellent freezer meal because they cook up so beautifully after being frozen. We recommend these easy keto meatballs for a low-carb option.

To make these meatballs, you’ll combine simple ingredients like ground beef, eggs, Italian cheese, heavy whipping cream, and a bevy of spices. The blend of basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic builds in great Italian-inspired flavor. For a make-ahead meal, store these meatballs in the freezer and cook them from frozen in your favorite sauce.

3. Make-Ahead Beef Enchiladas

Hearty and filling, these make-ahead beef enchiladas are bound to be a crowd-pleaser. Even better, you can prep a double batch and freeze one for later.

Assembly is easy with this freezer meal. Make your filling with ground beef, onion, garlic, sweet peppers, green chilies, black beans, and plenty of spices. Then, wrap it all tightly in tortillas. Freeze for later.

When you’re ready to cook it, layer on some enchilada sauce and cheese, and bake until bubbly.

4. Perfect Top Sirloin from Frozen

Not yet convinced you can make a full steak dinner straight from the freezer? Here’s another recipe: perfect top sirloin from frozen.

This frozen top sirloin recipe is a full meal, complete with gooey eggs and fresh broccoli. While you may think frozen steaks require a special cooking technique, they’re pretty straightforward. Season them, sear them in oil, and baste liberally with butter. You’ll finish your steaks in the oven, along with your broccoli. So simple, so delicious.

5. Instant Pot Honey Lime Chicken

Ready for another mind-blowingly easy meal that comes straight from the freezer? This Instant Pot honey lime chicken recipe is the one. You’ll start by prepping your chicken ahead of time, combining olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and honey to make a marinade. Freeze all of it in sturdy freezer bags.

Ready for dinner? Pull out your bag and dump it all in the Instant Pot. It only needs about 10 minutes of pressure cooking. And P.S. This meal is Paleo-friendly.

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6. Bacon, Potato, and Cheese Waffles

Freezer meals aren’t just dinners. Breakfast is totally made easier with the addition of these bacon, potato, and cheese waffles.

To make your waffles, you’ll combine hash browns, flour, baking powder, milk, eggs, cheese, and cooked bacon. Cook this mixture in your waffle maker, and you’re set. You can eat a couple for breakfast that day and freeze the rest for easy, savory breakfasts throughout the week.

To reheat your waffles, toast them. That’s it!

7. Perfect Pork Chops from Frozen

It doesn’t stop with perfectly cooked steaks from frozen. In fact, you can also achieve perfect pork chops from frozen.

Once again, cooking your pork chops straight from the freezer is pretty straightforward. You’ll just quickly run the pork chops under cool water, then season with salt and pepper and sear in oil. Add in some Italian dressing for bold flavor, and finish the pork chops in the oven.

Serve these perfect pork chops with a side that’s equally as quick (fresh salad, maybe?) and you’re in weeknight heaven.

8. Chicken, Broccoli, Bacon and Potato Bake

Here’s a complete meal straight from the freezer: chicken, broccoli, bacon, and potato bake. As the name suggests, you’re tossing together a delicious, balanced combo of chicken, broccoli, bacon, and red potatoes. This bake is made extra indulgent thanks to the addition of heavy cream and cheese.

It’s as easy as assembling the bake, freezing it with a tight cover of foil, and baking. Don’t forget that final sprinkle of cheese!

9. Easy Ground Beef from Frozen

Ground beef is the base for so many quick, affordable weeknight meals—tacos, spaghetti sauce, you name it. It’s only fitting that we show you how to make easy ground beef from frozen.

The key to cooking ground beef from frozen is a quick and easy method of searing, flipping, and scraping. You’ll start by searing your hunk of frozen ground beef, scrape off the cooked beef, and flip it over. Repeat this cycle until your ground beef is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

10. Paleo Steak Kabobs

You can prep and freeze paleo steak kabobs for a delectable grilled dinner. That means less mess, and a delicious dinner in minutes.

To make these kabobs, you’ll quickly marinate hunks of steak in olive oil, garlic, oregano, and thyme. Assemble your kabobs with alternating steak, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers.

Fired Up For Grilled Pizza

Making pizza at home typically involves blasting your oven as high as it will go—which, in the thick of summer, can be a tough sell. And while homemade pizza is a fun project, it’s even more fun to take the process outside to the grill for some trial, error, and ultimately, triumph. Grilling (one of my favorite cooking methods) and pizza (one of my favorite foods) have something in common—they both give you a chance to tinker with the process.

pizza

Think about it: Grilling—especially with charcoal or hardwood—is an exercise in responsiveness. It involves figuring out where the hot and cool spots are; controlling the air intake to regulate the temperature; moving food around depending on whether it needs a shock of super high heat or a chunk of time cooking low and slow.

And pizza, well—how long are you fermenting the dough? How long should you rest it before cooking? Should you sear it in a hot cast-iron before transferring to the oven or just place it right on a pizza stone on the oven floor?

Testing, tweaking, adapting—that’s the joy of cooking right there. So on a long, lovely summer evening when you’d rather be anywhere but in a kitchen with the oven cranked to 550°F, bring your dough and toppings outside and start tinkering.

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Here are a few tips to get you started:

Two Zones are Essential

When you build your fire, whether with gas or charcoal, create two zones for direct and indirect heat. If using gas, light the grill to high on one side and low on the other. If using charcoal, light the coals and when they burn down, bank the coals on one side of the grill.

Twice is Nice – For Grilled Pizza Dough

Cook the dough in two steps. First, sear the dough for between 30 and 60 seconds on each side over direct heat. Next, remove the seared dough from the heat, scatter on the toppings, and return the pizza to cook, covered, over indirect heat—using the grill more like an oven than a stovetop. Par-cooking the dough gives you a more sturdy base for toppings; finishing over indirect heat allows time for the ingredients to heat through and the cheese to melt—without scorching the pie.

Similarly, since the cooking time is so short for a grilled pizza, many toppings should be cooked ahead. You can use the grill for this, too. Char some eggplant or red onion on the grates, or heat a skillet over the coals (or gas) and cook some crumbled sausage or spiced ground beef.

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Less is More

Almost anything can top a pizza, but the key is to hold back on the volume of toppings—too many and the dough will get soggy.

I like to go for three toppings, max—including the base of pesto, ricotta, or a very judicious swipe of marinara. To keep moisture at a minimum, use vacuum-packed mozzarella rather than the water-packed kind, and sauté (on the grill!) any hearty greens you plan to use.

Grilled Pizza is All About Contradictions: More is More

You can make your own dough or use store-bought; either way, smaller rounds of dough are easier to manage on the grates. A one-pound ball of dough, for example, can get made into two small pies—all the better for amping up the variety of toppings.

Amplify the Flavor

A grilled pizza’s biggest flavor is the smoky char of the grill against the dough—so toppings should be similarly bold, or offer distinct contrast. For example, some bitter broccoli rabe and spicy pork sausage would stand up well; a smear of chevre topped with thinly sliced ripe melon and a tangle of lemony arugula and mint would be a delightful contrast.

Outdoor pizza night is best when it’s a bit of a rolling feast. Have snacks and drinks on hand, a big salad ready to be tossed, and just slice and eat the pies as they come off the grill —under the sky, as opposed to in a muggy kitchen.

7 Ways To Upgrade Your Grilling Skills

Cooking outdoors is an excellent skills way to soak up the sunshine while making delicious meals for the whole family. If you’ve had your fill of grilled burgers and hot dogs, we’ve compiled some tips to upgrade your grilling skills.

skills

From a simple plan to smoking meat at home, to working your way up to grilling centerpiece-worthy roasts, this list offers seven novel ways to use your grill. Master these tips, and you’ll never grow bored of a grilled meal again.

1. Get smoking (no fancy equipment necessary)

If you’ve ever enjoyed a masterfully smoked cut of meat, you know the huge difference smoke can make to your barbecue exploits. And while many people believe it requires fancy equipment (like expensive smokers) to achieve that flavor, you can actually smoke meat with little more than a charcoal grill and some wood chips.

Simply arrange a 50/50 mix of wood chips and coals under half of the grill, place your hunk of meat on the indirect heat (cooler) side of the grill, and close the lid. You may also want to use a drip pan. Follow your preferred recipe and cook your cut for the correct length of time. Here’s a guide to smoking meat at home for more information.

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2. Learn to reverse-sear

We’re taught to sear our cuts of meat—like steak—on the grill first, to lock in the juices. There’s nothing really wrong with that approach. It definitely gets the job done. The one pitfall of searing first? Sometimes, it leads to overcooking our meat. If you’d like to upgrade your skills, try learning the reverse-sear.

Reverse-searing is exactly what it sounds like. Start by cooking your meat to your desired doneness on the indirect heat (cooler) side of the grill. Cook until a meat thermometer reads your desired temperature. Then, add fresh coals to the direct heat side of the grill. Once the grill is screaming hot, sear your meat quickly. Let the meat rest. That’s it!

This can also be done quite easily on gas grills by setting different temperature zones.

3. Upgrade to full roasts on the grill

Burgers, hot dogs, steaks. We’ve all made these on our grills. But if you’re looking to upgrade your skills, opt for a centerpiece-worthy roast. Made completely on the grill.

If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. When it comes to grilling a roast—whether it’s pork butt, brisket, or even a whole chicken—the biggest change is the amount of time the cut spends on the grill. It will spend more time on indirect heat than you may be used to, but it’s not hard or inaccessible, at all.

Find your favorite recipe—maybe our sirloin cap with peppers and onions—and get grilling.

4. Try fruit tree wood chips

If you’ve tried smoking meat on your grill, there’s a good chance you used either hickory or mesquite wood chips. Those are wonderful for achieving sweet and smoky flavor profiles, but there are a number of chips from fruit trees and beyond worth experimenting with.

You could try applewood, which is mild and sweet, and pairs wonderfully with lighter cuts, like chicken or fish. Or, there’s cherry, pecan, and peach wood chips. Here’s a breakdown of their flavor profiles:

  • Cherry wood: Mellow, sweet, tart (pairs well with most anything)
  • Pecan wood: Mellow and nutty (try beef, poultry, lamb)
  • Peach wood: Sweet and fruity (try poultry or fish)

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5. Dry your steaks overnight

You’ve heard that you should let your steaks come to room temperature before grilling, and we all know they need a good rest after cooking. But, there’s one step that can help you achieve the juiciest steaks ever: Let them dry overnight.

This method is called dry brining, and requires you to salt your steaks and leave them uncovered in the fridge overnight. Make sure there’s nothing funky, with a strong odor, in the fridge. You don’t want that flavoring your meat.

By dry brining, you tenderize the steak, as well as dry the surface to achieve a perfect crust while searing. It’s a simple step that will totally upgrade your steak grilling skills.

6. Make dessert on the grill

The grill is not the place most people think to make dessert, and that’s a shame. Hot grills can deliver beautiful caramelization to hearty pieces of fruit, and leave slices of shortcake nice and toasty. Try our grilled peach shortcake and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

More than that, it’s an excellent option for skillet desserts. Load your cast iron skillet with the ingredients for a berry cobbler, and use the grill as you might use an oven by closing the lid. Perfection.

7. Add herbs to the coals

Here’s a novel use for herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage: Throw them in with the coals in your charcoal grill. As they burn, they’ll impart your steaks, chicken, and more with a herbal smokey flavor that’s to die for.

First, soak your herbs. Then add them to the coals—even soaked—they’ll burn off fairly quickly, so you’ll want to keep the grill closed while they flavor the meat.

5 Tips For Cooking Outdoors With Kids

Today, we’d like to introduce you to the idea of an outdoor cooking camp—for your kids! In this guide, we’ve compiled tips to successfully foster confidence and creativity in your little ones, all while soaking in some vitamin D.

cooking

This guide works for cooking at a campsite or just grilling in the backyard. You can find ways to cook outdoors with kids, no matter the equipment you have at the ready. Here are just a few reasons why you’d want to get your kids cooking outside.

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Why cook with kids outdoors:

Cooking outdoors teaches self-sufficiency

It probably goes without saying, but learning how to cook is an essential life skill. It’s important to involve the kids in the kitchen (or camp kitchen!) from an early age. Plus, it’s the gift that gives back. The more your kids learn to cook on their own, the less that burden falls on you.

Cooking outdoors teaches confidence and provides a sense of accomplishment

Beyond self-sufficiency, learning to cook is an educational activity that boosts children’s confidence. The more adept they grow with, say, knife skills, or following a recipe, the more accomplished they feel.

Cooking outdoors encourages creativity

If cooking (especially outdoors) isn’t an outlet for creativity, what is? Let your kids come up with the recipes they’d like to cook outside and let them customize them to their heart’s content. This is also a great tool to ensure they’ll actually want to eat what they cook.

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Cooking outdoors can be an amazing bonding opportunity

Did you grow up with memories of cooking with your family? If you did, you know how cooking can bring families together. If you didn’t, now is the time to make those memories with your kids!

1. Plan ahead

When cooking with kids, planning for all the necessary steps and potential hiccups keeps everything running smoothly. It’s already a handful to supervise and guide kids through all the steps of an outdoor recipe, let’s not add to the chaos with no preparation.

This is especially true if you’re camping or otherwise cooking away from home, and you’ve forgotten a tool or ingredient. To avoid this, make a checklist of everything you’ll need, from equipment to ingredients. You can read more about recipes and equipment options below.

2. Prep ahead (and let the kids help)

On the same note, it’s helpful to prep any ingredients that you can ahead of time. Making fruit kabobs? Avoid the potential for outdoor pests and chop the fruit while you’re still indoors, then store it in airtight containers until you’re ready to skewer it.

The same goes for meat that may need marinating or seasoning, or batters and doughs you need to mix. This way, you can focus on the actual cooking outdoors. Just because you’ve moved indoors for prep, doesn’t mean the kids can’t help. It’s still a part of the whole experience, so let them help every step that they can. Even little ones can help with mixing batters or seasoning meat.

3. Keep recipes kid-friendly

Chances are, if you’re cooking outside with your kids, you’re not looking to make a Michelin-level meal. (But hey, if that’s you, kudos!)

Instead, you’re probably focused on teaching your kids self-sufficiency and trying to whip up a simple, crowd-pleasing meal. For this, kid-friendly recipes are best. Opt for recipes that allow for lots of customization, with plenty of opportunities for kids to get hands-on with the cooking. Think simple recipes like burgers or grilled veggies.

Check out some of our suggestions below.

  • The Simple, 3-Ingredient Burger
  • Grilled Pizza (endless opportunities for customization)
  • Smoky Citrus Grilled Chicken Thighs
  • Campfire Nachos
  • Grilled Veggies with Aged Balsamic
  • Grilled Fruit Kabobs

4. Campfire? Grill? Figure out your cooking approach

Are you camping, or in your backyard? Do you have a portable grill, or are you working strictly with campfires? These are the questions that’ll determine your family’s cooking approach.

Outdoor cooking options have come a long way—you can, if you have the inclination—transport a whole kitchen outdoors if you’d like. Or, you can keep it simple with some coals in a fire pit. Either way, you’re teaching your little chefs life skills and bonding at the same time.

Here are some equipment options for cooking outdoors with your kids. Work with what you’ve got!

  • Old fashioned campfire (in a fire pit)
  • Coals in a fire pit (use tools like skewers, rotisserie, cast iron skillet, or a Dutch oven)
  • Charcoal grill
  • Gas grill
  • Portable BBQ or flat top
  • Camp stove
  • Pizza oven
  • Smoker

5. Don’t stress about mess

If there’s one idea we could leave you with for cooking with kids, it’s this: Let go of perfection. That’s not the point of outdoor cooking camp. Instead, your kids are taking major steps toward self-sufficiency, you’re creating beautiful family memories, everyone is soaking in some vitamin D, and you all get a delicious meal out of it.

So, if there’s a bit of a mess, have everyone pitch in to clean it up, and get on with your day. Don’t stress about it in the midst of cooking.

8 In-season Foods To Grill This Summer

Do you try to eat in-season? There are a lot of great reasons to opt for seasonal fruits and veggies. They’re tastier, more nutritious, and better for the environment. They’re also a good bit more affordable, and more likely to be sourced locally—because they don’t have to be imported from afar.

season

Here are some of the fruits and veggies that are in-season in much of the United States this summer:

Today, we’ve compiled a list of recipes that feature some of this bountiful in-season produce. They’re bright, summery, and delicious. We hope they inspire you to cook up some seasonal fare in your own kitchen!

1. Grilled Sockeye Salmon with Peppadew Butter, Asparagus, and Charred Tomatoes

Is there anything more summery than a delicious piece of grilled fish and in-season veggies? This grilled sockeye salmon with Peppadew butter, asparagus, and charred tomatoes is the perfect example.

You’ll find vibrant peppers and juicy tomatoes in season right about now, so showcase them in this light and delicious meal. The Peppadew pepper lends incredible flavor to a compound butter that you’ll want to douse everything with, while the tomatoes burst with flavor thanks to their charring on the grill.

This summery combo works well with just-a-little sweet salmon and earthy asparagus.

2. Grilled Greek Marinated Chicken Breast with Peach and Endive Salad

Channel Mediterranean vibes with this grilled Greek marinated chicken breast with peach and endive salad recipe, which uses in-season peaches, corn, and lettuce to build a crisp accompanying salad.

To make your Greek-inspired chicken breasts, keep it simple with a premade Greek vinaigrette. Marinate your chicken in the vinaigrette overnight to lock in amazing flavor.

While the chicken grills, take the opportunity to grill some in-season corn. The char contrasts beautifully with the natural sweetness of corn. You’ll use that corn in the accompanying salad, which also features in-season peaches and endive lettuce.

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3. Grilled Veggies with Aged Balsamic

There isn’t a simpler, more delicious way to use up in-season produce than with this grilled veggies with aged balsamic recipe.

You can opt for virtually any assortment from the produce you have on hand—the char of the grill with a kiss of aged balsamic, goes well with everything. This recipe opts for a blend of onion, asparagus, portobello mushrooms, corn, Japanese eggplants, and an assortment of peppers.

Add a little bit of salt, pepper, and oil, and you’ve got a complete seasonal side dish.

4. Ginger-Soy Ranch Steaks with Cucumber and Herbs

Cucumbers are an uber-refreshing, in-season veggie, so put them to good use in this ginger-soy ranch steaks with cucumber and herbs recipe.

Ranch steaks are marinated in a flavorful blend of garlic, fresh ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and lime juice and zest. This Asian-inspired marinade keeps the hearty steaks fresh and light, and perfect for accompanying a bright cucumber-radish salad.

To make that salad, you’ll combine in-season cucumbers and radishes with scallion greens, and fresh herbs including mint, cilantro, and basil. The dressing is simple because all the other flavors shine: Just drizzle on a bit of olive oil, salt, and lime juice.

5. Grilled Peach Shortcake

We did. This grilled peach shortcake deserves a place in your summer cooking adventures.

With this recipe, you’ll get sweet, caramelized grilled peaches; tall, buttery biscuits; and thick, decadent whipped cream. You might never return to the strawberry version again.

Peaches are a summer mainstay, along with their stone fruit cousins nectarines and plums. You could totally opt for those stone fruits in this recipe too, or even a blend of all three. Work with what you have on hand.

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6. Sirloin Cap with Peppers and Onions

Here’s an intensely flavorful, seasonal meal you can make on the grill: sirloin cap with peppers and onions.

If you’ve never tried making a roast like sirloin cap (also known as picanha or coulotte) on the grill, now is the time. A bold, blended marinade gives this roast its distinctive flavor, thanks to ingredients like garlic, onion, Fresno chile, beer, citrus juices, and more.

Joining the roast is a bevy of in-season peppers and onions, which you’ll prepare with a skillet directly on the grill. Make sure to use one that withstands high heat.

7. Just Peachy! BBQ Chicken Thighs

In-season peaches don’t just have to be for dessert (though we love that grilled peach shortcake). Try them in this Just Peachy! BBQ chicken thighs recipe, too.

A key element of this recipe is the BBQ sauce from scratch. You could opt for something in a bottle, but you might be surprised by how simple it is to whip up the stuff at home. You’ll need ingredients like onion, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, tamari, and more. That, and a small skillet.

From there, you’ll grill your peaches, and roll your chicken thighs in the sauce and grill, too. This recipe is delicious served atop a base of leafy greens, with some balsamic vinaigrette.

8. Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Grilled Tomatoes

Fresh summer tomatoes are at their peak in juiciness, so it only makes sense you’d want to grill them. These bacon-wrapped stuffed grilled tomatoes are a great start.

That name may be a mouthful, but the ingredients list is simple. You’ll just need tomatoes (flat-bottomed ones work best, so try beefsteak or heirloom), fresh mozzarella, bacon, basil, balsamic glaze, and a bit of salt and pepper. That’s it!

Toddler-friendly Meals The Whole Family

Kids are notoriously picky eaters, but that doesn’t even begin to describe some toddler. If your little one lives on a steady diet of chicken nuggets and pizza, we get it. On this list, we’ve compiled recipes for little palates that will break them of the nugget habit, and you’ll still get to eat delicious, nutritious meals to boot.

toddler

Here are some of the toddler-friendly recipes on deck:

  • A simple, 3-ingredient cheeseburger
  • Baked chicken tenders (better than the drive-thru!)
  • Bacon cheeseburger meatballs
  • Easy taco meat
  • Individual, customizable mini frittatas

You’ll find these and several more tasty and nutritious options that the whole family will love below.

1. The 3-Ingredient Burger

Burgers are a family favorite, and the simple flavor profile in this 3-ingredient burger recipe ensures little palates will love it too.

All you need to whip these burgers up is some ground beef, garlic powder, paprika, and a liberal application of salt. Of course, we recommend topping your burger with some melty American or cheddar cheese, if you’d like.

Keeping the burger simple means everyone in the family can customize their burger with toppings. So dad can pile on the jalapenos, while little ones can slather theirs in ketchup.

2. Quick and Easy Baked Chicken Tenders

These quick and easy baked chicken tenders are a weeknight saver, and they taste just as juicy and delicious as the drive-thru options. They’re a good bit more nutritious, too.

It’s the simple spice blend that makes these chicken tenders shine. To make it, combine garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a bowl. Toss your chicken tenders to coat, and then bake them for 20 minutes or so. That’s it!

3. Gluten-Free Skillet Cornbread with Breakfast Sausage

Sweet and comforting cornbread is a childhood fave, but this gluten-free skillet cornbread with breakfast sausage recipe ups the ante with some succulent breakfast sausage.

Your kids will love this all-in-one breakfast, made with cornmeal, gluten-free flour, brown sugar, eggs, and more. The sage in the crumbled breakfast sausage adds just enough salty and savory notes to make this cornbread addictive. So, your kids will love it, but we think you might too.

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4. Paleo Salmon Cakes

Salmon can be a hard sell for little palates. While it’s quite nutritious, it can also can taste, well, a little too fishy. Make it more appealing with these kid-friendly paleo salmon cakes.

Turning fresh sockeye salmon filets into crispy cakes makes them easy to pick up for little hands. Ingredients like bell peppers, paleo breadcrumbs, mayo, Dijon, and more add plenty of flavor, while pan-searing the cakes gives them a pleasing texture.

It’s a great way to introduce toddlers to salmon.

5. Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs

Not only will your toddler love the flavor of these bacon cheeseburger meatballs, but they’ll also love how fun they are to eat.

To make your cheeseburger meatballs, you’ll combine ground beef, crisp bacon, shredded cheddar, ketchup, breadcrumbs, and more. These meatballs get slathered with a delicious, tangy sauce made from mayo, ketchup, and pickles.

You serve these meatballs on a toothpick, but if you’re worried about little ones poking themselves, sub in a pretzel stick instead!

6. Simple Taco Meat

Taco nights are another crowd-pleasing option for the whole family. Use this simple taco meat as a base that even picky toddlers will love.

To make your taco meat, brown some ground beef with cumin, garlic, chili powder, a pinch of cayenne, and some salt and pepper. You can tone down the heat by omitting that pinch of cayenne.

Once again, tacos are a great option for families because of the opportunity for customization. Let your toddler pile on the cheese, while mom goes heavy on the guac.

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7. Breakfast Sausage

If your toddler is anything like mine, he or she loves breakfast sausage. Seriously, my son can devour several links or patties in one sitting.

You’ll find that making breakfast sausage from scratch is incredibly easy. Simply combine ground pork, ground sage, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Form into links, patties, or crumbles and cook away.

Of course, this sausage pairs amazingly with kid favorites like scrambled eggs and toast.

8. Individual Frittatas

If you haven’t figured it out yet, meals that allow for personalization are the best way to feed picky and refined palates alike. These individual frittatas provide the perfect opportunity.

Let your little one add in their favorite egg pairings, like cheese, bacon, and cherry tomatoes. Meanwhile, you can load yours up with all the broccoli and mushrooms you like. Muffin tins mean each mini frittata keeps to itself in the oven.

9. Honey Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Any recipe that includes a “bacon blanket” will please a crowd, it doesn’t matter their age. So, it’s no surprise that kids love this honey bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin recipe.

It may sound flavor-packed, and it is, but it’s also so easy to make. You’ll roll your pork tenderloin in a bed of spices like chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then, use parchment paper to help “blanket” your pork tenderloin in bacon. Bake away.

Learning To Cook With Kids

In the last installment of “Learning to Cook with Kids,” chef and culinary educator Cleo Bell revealed some of her best practices for cooking with kids. Her big takeaway: Set a tone of respect and trust in the kitchen and kids will rise to the occasion. She also broke down the best types of recipes for young cooks to follow. Her approach is to introduce kids to a broad array of ingredients and techniques—the wider the range of foods, she says, the more foods they’re likely to try.Learning

Not only does cooking help instill curiosity by getting kids to figure out what they enjoy eating, but they also can build a sense of pride in their growing self-reliance—especially when they learn to cook foods that might usually be prepared for them. If a child loves chocolate chip cookies, for example, they might love them more when they learn to make their own.

Read on for some further recipe ideas for teaching your kids to cook.

Basics are Best

If there were a basic repertoire for young cooks, it would definitely start with chocolate chip cookies. “Anything baking-related,” says Bell, “and kids get excited.” Classic for a reason, chocolate chippers also introduce kids to a few key steps that they’ll then remember for other baking projects, such as cracking eggs, creaming butter and sugar together, and measuring dry and wet ingredients separately.

Pancakes or waffles could be next—and though the steps are similar to cookies, mixing a waffle batter requires a different technique (gently folding so that gluten doesn’t get overdeveloped) that can then be translated to crepes and muffins as skills advance.

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Teach Technique

Bell is a fan of teaching kids to cook eggs lots of different ways. “Kids love learning to crack eggs,” she says. (I can attest to this.) Between scrambled, sunny-side-up, hard-boiled, fried, or in an omelet or frittata, there’s no shortage of techniques to master when it comes to eggs. Bell favors frittatas, she says, because they offer a chance to sneak in some vegetables.

The day my older son made his first grilled cheese sandwich was a big day—he was so pleased with his ability to get the cheese melted and gooey while the outside got golden and crisp. Because grilled cheese ingredients are easy to come by, and the sandwich itself never gets old, it’s a good one for kids to master early on.

Burgers and meatballs give young cooks another chance to flex their budding chops. The techniques are simple, but it’s fun for kids to shape and season the meat; when they cook and assemble an entire burger, they’re often amazed at the thing they created.

As their confidence increases, let kids dive into more involved recipes, like strawberry shortcake —the biscuits require a special touch that takes some learning. If kids don’t get it right at first, no worries. Learning to cook is a perfect way to adopt a growth mindset—just because the first round of biscuits didn’t turn out right, doesn’t mean you’re a bad biscuit baker. Just try again.

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The recent focaccia garden trend, where bakers decorate a sheet of dough with artfully arranged vegetables, is another project kids love, says Bell: Tactile, creative, and tasty—with a lesson about yeasted dough for good measure.

Chef Cal Peternell conceived his 2014 cookbook 12 Recipes as a handbook for his son who was going off to college.

He wanted his kid to have all of the basics all in one place, so he could cook for himself as he grew into his independence. Basics like vinaigrette for salads and roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes and roasted chicken, are alldishes that kids can learn now, and cook for a lifetime.