Nothing beats the flavor of a perfectly seared steak. Or the sheer joy of biting into a homemade burger and corn on the cob hot off the grill. These are the intoxicating tastes of summer. What's astonishing is that the cooking method, not to mention the menu, has changed so little since the day some prehistoric genius discovered the incredible transformation that food undergoes when it spends time over flames. No other cooking technique is as hands-on or action-packed as grilling. The processes of lighting the fire, judging its heat, placing the components, and then moving them around to ensure the results you want—sear or no sear? Fully cooked through or medium-rare?—are all part of the enduring caveman thrill.

Aside from a charcoal or gas grill, no fancy equipment is required. What you need, of course, are some standout recipes, which is where this special edition comes in. For the first time ever, we've gathered the best of Gourmet's grilling repertoire—96 recipes in all—from burgers to ribs to Buffalo shrimp, plus the ultimate grilled side dishes and summer desserts (lemon-blueberry ice cream sandwiches!). We've keyed them with categories to help you zero in on the ones for you, whether you want quick, kid-friendly, or perfect party fare. As for entertaining, four menus set the scene for spectacular—and easy—outdoor celebrations. And Kitchen Notebook (starting on page 118) offers a complete grilling primer: essential gear, techniques, your new favorite barbecue sauce, and more.

We hope this collection inspires you to grab your tongs and start cooking. With a grill and some basic guidelines, every backyard chef can create an enticing, smoke-tinged feast. So let's turn on the heat!

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