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Potatoes on the Grill. Help.

OK, so like many families, we like to grill hot dogs, chicken and burgers in the summer. The problem is side dishes; my kids aren't big fans of mac or potato salad, I don't like to feed them too many greasy chips, and although we do grill veggie skewers or slices, I want something more substantial. So my go-to starch side is grilled potatoes of some variety, but I have yet to find a recipe that we really like. Here's the problem(s):

1. If they're not parcooked, they take for-freakin'-ever, no matter how small I cube them.

2. If I slice or wedge potatoes (parcooked or not) and put them directly on the grill, it's awfully fussy to fiddle with and turn them all.

3. if I foil-packet them, they steam rather than *grill* or roast. Even if they taste good, they still seem kind of anemic and bland. Tonight I made some with EVOO, parmesan, fresh thyme and fresh oregano, and the flavor was awesome. But texture wise it was like eating boiled cafeteria potatoes.

I almost always end up using the copious leftovers for home fries or a frittata the next day.

Any tips/hints/recipes for kick-ass potatoes on the grill? I'm at the point where I almost want to fire up the oven and make roasted potato wedges, but that kind of defeats the purpose, you know?

Thanks in advance!

ETA: it's a charcoal grill if that makes any difference!

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  1. I almost always parboil and usually just throw them in a BB wok with some EVOO and fresh herbs, s & p. Another way I like to do them is parboil small new potatoes then gently flatten them with the palm of my hand (after they have cooled a little), you want them to remain in one piece and not start to fall apart. Brush them with olive oil and whatever seasoning you like and grill them. These are great when serving company because you can prepare them ahead of time and grill at the last minute, and they look nice too!
    I know what you mean about the foil packets, but maybe try opening them for the last 10 minutes or so. You could top them with cheese then too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cheesymama

      Thank you! I have never tried the wok, might have to look into that. We're simple folk when it comes to the grill. ;-) I like the smashed/crashed potatoes idea too...I've done those roasted. Never thought of opening the foil, that's not a bad idea. sometimes the bottom layer does get crusty, but seems like it's so out of my control, yk?

    2. we foil-packet them a lot, not sure if our method is a lot different, but we like 'em.

      Slice skin-on red potato (or yukon gold) fairly thin- do not need to be paper thin, but the thinner the better for faster cooking. Lay in an overlapping line on foil. Cover with onions sliced into thin rings (the more the better). Cut a stick of butter into pats (less is fine, depends on amount of potato & what you like), and put over potato & onion. Season with lots of salt & pepper, add other seasonings as desired (garlic is great). Wrap up the foil,place on grill butter side up.

      We stick them on as soon as we light the grill, and they usually take about 20 min or so. It is not a grilled potato, but very tasty.

      Alternatively, do the kids like cous cous? It is really quick & easy, makes a great side for a grilled meal.

      3 Replies
      1. re: elfcook

        This sounds almost like a scalloped potato...and sounds very good. I'll give that a whirl, soon. Thank you!

        Couscous...honestly, haven't tried the kids on that one. It's not my fave but I might give it another go and see if they like it. Good suggestion, thank you!

        1. re: elfcook

          This is exactly how I do my foil-packet potatoes on the grill. I put them on the second I pour the coals and usually leave them over the coals while my meat is resting. They then have enough time to get nice and brown. I would say they usually have about 1/2 hour or so total time over the fire. My favorite addition is a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

          I cook potatoes on the grill using this method almost every time I grill and the result is always delicious. If you can get your hands on tiny gold or red skinned potatoes - the size of marbles or so - you can cook them whole using the same method and wind up with lovely, earthy flavor.

          1. re: elfcook

            I do the foil packet thing, too - but use some olive oil instead of butter to make it more heart healthy. I start it on top of the grill, then put the packet right on the coals for the last 10 minutes to make them nice and smoky.

          2. I find parboiled halved new potatoes are easy to manage on the grill, but you really have to be quick with them. To be honest though though, all the grilled potatoes I've tried are rather dry and boring unless they have some sort of dressing or whatnot.

            6 Replies
            1. re: AndrewK512

              You mean dressing afterwards?

              Part of the problem is that it's my husband who usually mans the grill...and he is not, er, quick. He burned the hot dogs to a crisp last weekend and the poor kids had to peel the burned part off. So the cost-benefit analysis really means that I need something super-simple and hands off...which I know results in not-so-great eats.

              But if I can ever elbow my way into the grill with new potatoes from the CSA, please do tell me about dressing them after, if that's what you mean!

              1. re: VikingKvinna

                Yes dressing after. Just a basic vinaigrette and some chives, bacon, whatever you have, to make a grilled potato salad. It reintroduces moistness and adds flavor to otherwise plain potatoes.

                Now that I'm writing about it, I suppose it would be fun to toss the potatoes with a flavored oil beforehand and then grill them.

                1. re: VikingKvinna

                  Here's a link to a Southern Living recipe for Grilled Potato Salad. It's VERY hands-on (grill for 30 minutes, stirring every five) but also VERY delicious. You can make the dry rub and dressing way far ahead of grilling so that saves some time.

                  If you want, you can omit the dressing entirely and just enjoy these as a side dish rather than a potato salad. Some of the accompanying comments recommended either less Dijon mustard in the dressing or no dressing at all.


                  1. re: VikingKvinna

                    I think doing anything with new potatoes from your CSA besides steaming them and serving them simply - with butter, or olive oil, salt, pepper & chopped fresh dill... is tragic. New potatoes are too rare and special to do anything complicated and overwhelming to them, IMNSHO.

                    But, for super-simple and hands-off, I have that! This is my favorite thing with potatoes and it's dead simple. Get nice, unblemished waxy potatoes that you don't have to peel. Wash them, dry them, halve them, toss them in a plain roasting pan with salt, pepper & olive oil. When they are thoroughly combined, make sure each potato is cut-side down. ***You must use a plain, old-skool metal roasting pan that isn't non-stick.*** Stick them in the grill with the lid shut before you even turn it on - let it warm up while the potatoes are inside and let them cook for a good long time on not too high a temperature. They should get all crusty and carmelized on the bottom. You can do the same thing in your oven, of course, but this is definitely grill-friendly. My dh managed to burn them once - he must have had the grill nuclear-hot and left them for hours, maybe overnight, because this is truly the most idiot-proof, unfussy "recipe" ever.

                    Also, I think there's a recipe for roast potatoes somewhere here on CH, although as I recall they were making it sound harder and pickier than it really is. Aha: http://search.chow.com/search?query=r...

                    1. re: Mawrter

                      Not possible -- we have a charcoal grill, so putting the potatoes in before we "turn it on" isn't going to happen. And I've got oven-roasted potatoes down to a science!

                      1. re: VikingKvinna

                        Oh, right! Sorry! Charcoal = not gas.

                2. I use a disposable tin pan on the grill, which you can find at almost any stupidmarket (size depends on how much you are making). I cube red potatoes, slice an onion in thin wedges, toss with some EVOO and toss again with some BBQ seasoning (If I don't have some home made, I will sometimes use McCormick's BBQ seasoning). Cover with foil and place on grill. Mine usually take about 45 minutes or less - again depends on the size of pan and how much potatoes. Stir half way through. This usually produces some crispy potatoes and really great with anything BBQ'd!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: boyzoma

                    What a great topic and one I was going to post had I not found this timely post. Boyzoma, I'm going to make the vegetable/stew meat grill mix that you suggested yesterday and just returned from the store to purchase various vegetables - including baby new potatoes. I bought a grill basket years ago to use for veggies, but have NEVER used it - shame on me.

                    I'm accomplished on the grill with all meats and fish, but questions abound with anything from the garden. So, if I parboil the potatoes (and then smash), should I also nuke/saute the bell pepper, onion, carrot slices and garlic cloves so that they will all finish in about the same time? I'm also including mushrooms and summer squash, but those should take no time. I will probably get a sear on the meat first and then follow with the other components. This is going to be great and thanks for your "grill mix" suggestion!

                    VikingKvinna, thanks for the OP and letting me tack on......

                    1. re: CocoaNut

                      When I do the red potatoes, I don't even par-boil them. Just wash, toss in the oil/seasonings and onion and place in the pan, cover with foil, then on the grill. As for the veggies, I also just cut to the size I like for the peppers, slice circles of the squash, add in any other veggies (shrooms, etc.) add everything to the basket and put on the grill. When they are almost done, you can also add some cherry tomato's and some chunked pineapple to give it a little zip of acid vs. sweet and finish tossing and grilling. Potatoes will take a little longer than the veggies, but if you give them about a 10-15 minute start (again depending on size) you should be good. Just when everything looks "almost" there, add in your meat and toss till meat is tender and juicy. Should all be ready about the same time. Good Luck and let me know how it goes!

                      1. re: boyzoma

                        Good that you don't, b/c parboiling would destroy your chances of crispiness! :)

                        1. re: boyzoma

                          I finally got around to doing this today and am more than pleased with my first attempt at grilling in a basket. Because I cook with charcoal and was unsure of how long the potatoes would need to cook, I did bring them up to a boil (from cold water) for the sole purpose of getting a kick start on the heat factor. They were only about 1 - 1-1/2" and turns out, I don't think I needed to, but you don't know what you don't know. Next time, I'll just give them a splash of oil, S&P and throw them on. Also, I may go with baby Yukon Gold over the new red's - texture preference. The meat was "ok", but was overcooked simply because I've never cooked such small pieces before (on the grill). In any case, the veggies were so good, there may not be a next-time for the meat. Having pre-heated the potatoes, I don't think it took more than 20 minutes total. Anyway, thanks for your advise and directives!

                          1. re: CocoaNut

                            Don't give up on the meat aspect. Just don't put the meat in until everything is almost done. That way the meat will be tender. If you do it all at the same time, your meat will be over cooked. It's kind of like adding tomato's at the end. Just barely enough to cook through.

                    2. Use a combo of foil wrapped and direct grilling.

                      Foil wrap your potatoes and toss them on the grill for about 25-30 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your potatoes.

                      Then remove them from the foil and finish the potatoes by grilling them directly on the grill.

                      This way you get soft and fluffy potatoes (from the foil cooking), but a nice crispy crunchy outer layer (from the direct grilling). It's a win-win!

                      1. I've got a vegetable basket for the grill. It's a clamshell style, so all the "fiddling" amounts to is just turning over the whole basket, maybe giving it a shake every once in a while. I'll par-cook potatoes in the microwave before adding to the basket to grill. But the veggies are tossed in a little olive oil, S&P, maybe rosemary or thyme before sticking on the grill, and sometimes dressed with a bit of balsamic when they come off.

                        1. I make 2 style of potatoes on the grill, and both involve parcooking in the microwave.

                          1. Grill-roasted potatoes: Scrub red potatoes (leaving jackets on.) Halve or quarter into largish chunks. Place in MW safe dish in one layer with scant water, cover, and cook in MW for 5 minutes on high. Remove & drain potatoes. Coat in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder (or whatever other herbs you prefer). Cook on hot grill for 15 minutes, turning once or twice so all sides brown. After removing from grill, dress with additional olive oil (add balsamic vinegar too, if you like).

                          2. Grilled, "baked" potatoes: Scrub baking potatoes and slice in half lengthwise. Place cut-side down in mw-safe dish (I use pyrex 9x13), add scant water, cover, and cook on full power for 5-10 minutes, depending on how big the potatoes are. Drain, coat with olive oil, and place cut-side down on grill for 15 minutes. Serve with butter, or whatever other toppings you usually use on baked potatoes.

                          1. Here's a recipe that uses some of the ideas everyone is using (parboiing then grilling). I thought these were sensational. Leftovers were great too. Grilling is a little timeconsuming and fussy. (But those leftovers!)


                            1. I have been wanting to do a fingerling pot kabob I saw some time ago or could use lil baby reds, par boil first, toss in oil, rosemary and garlic - thread on kabobs. Let me see if I can find it - nope but heres a good one.

                              1. i parcook russets in the microwave then cut them in half and prick and sprinkle the skins with seasoned vinegar. kosher salt and pepper, then grill on a grill tray or on the George Foreman (this works best for me, as there's no "dropping through the grates" issue.

                                1. My vote is for any of the numerous versions of Hasselback potatoes. I like using just rosemary flavored butter, but here's one that uses garlic and olive oil.


                                  Personally, I usually do these unwrapped in a toaster oven, but I'm sure that if you want to do them on a grill (as others have said) wrapping in foil and then opening up the foil towards the end would work fine.

                                  Just a general tip for however you decide to cook them - I've found that keeping the knife from cutting all the way through the potatoes is really easy if you hold the potato up against the shaft of a wooden spoon or a small wooden dowel and use it to stop your knife.

                                  1. I often just slice potatoes into 1/4 inch thick rounds, toss with evoo, s and p or other herbs and spices you fancy and toss on the grill. Just a flip once they get some good grill marks and your done. They cook through, get some grill flavor, take very little time on the grill.

                                    1. If you add onions and a generous amount of oil/butter to your foil packets, you can put them directly on the coals so that the onions and potatoes get a bit browned/carmelized. Very tasty.

                                      1. Perhaps if you cooked them in a cast iron skillet on the grill? That way you're only using one heat source and you have a lot more control.

                                        1. I have a grill basket of perforated enamelled steel, a square thing in the shape of a truncated pyramid with the small end down. My pa-in-law gave it to me many years ago, but I think they're still available, and not expensive (or he wouldn't have bought it!). I do potatoes on the grill exactly as I usually do them in the oven: clean and trim small ones and cut to size, usually in half, and precook by bringing them to the boil, then cooking five or ten minutes until they're just tender, then draining and drying. Then I toss them in a bowl with oil, salt, pepper and whatever herbs I want, usually either rosemary or herbes de Provence, and leave at room temperature until it's cookin' time. On the grill, I have the basket good and hot and the meat is done and just removed. The potatoes go in the basket and get cooked and stirred around with a wooden or silicone paddle. Sometimes for an extra treat I'll throw a bunch of blanched and seasoned green beans, too - new potatoes and green beans cooked together are a favorite Southern summer treat, and they're especially good done this way.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            Yeah, those are definitely pretty handy. It's called a Grill Wok, in case anybody wants to get their hands on one, and definitely still available. I use one about a third of the time (when I feel like cleaning it), another third I go for the foil packet, and the other third the potatoes are parcooked in the microwave- ever changing moods, and all that...

                                            I like onions and bell pepper, myself, but green beans also sound like a good idea.

                                          2. I love grilled sweet potatoes. i nuke them whole (skin on)for maybe a minute (be sure to poke holes) and then slice them on an angle so I get large pieces. brush them with evoo & put them on the grill along with whole scallions. turn potatoes & scallions once they get grill marks & toss them together in a bowl with a lime vinagrette. or you could just do the sweet potatoes & toss with crunchy salt & a little chipotle powder.

                                            1. i don't have a grill at my house but my mother has been making awesome potatoes on the grill for years. she uses a small black cast-iron pan (looks almost like a grill pan) and places it directly onto the grill. it's good because it's separate from the meat so as not to cross-contaminate. she uses the pan to cook potatoes and veggies.

                                              my favorite potatoes she makes are colorful fingerlings. she just tosses them with olive oil, sliced onion, a few cloves of garlic, and lots of salt and pepper. she doesn't parboil them but instead covers them with aluminum foil and then removes it when they're almost done and tosses them in the pan so they get crispy on the outsides. they are soooo good! i will literally eat about 20 of them. sometimes she'll add sweet mini peppers, chopped bell pepper, or other veggies to the mix.

                                              i'd look into some kind of bbq-safe pan or dish for the potatoes. i used to slice russets the long way into thin slices and stick 'em right on a greased grill but it was a huge pain.