Snapshot Cooking

These Easy Foil Packets Make Weeknight Grilling a Breeze

updated Jun 21, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Welcome to Snapshot Cooking, the home of Kitchn’s easiest recipes. These mini recipes are so simple you can practically cook from the before-and-after snapshot itself.

Packet cooking is a dream for anyone feeding a family — individual servings can be cooked up as needed, and there’s virtually no cleanup for you to do. Even better? The packets can be cooked outside on the grill, meaning you won’t be heating up the whole kitchen during the summer.

Foil packets are my go-to for quick weeknight dinners and entertaining alike. These recipes will show you how you can use your grill every night of the week for complete and easy meals.

Foil Packet Grilling 101

A few helpful pointers before you dive in.

  • Preheat the grill to 400 to 425°F: This will be medium or medium-high depending on your grill. If you’re cooking these packets in the oven instead, preheat to 425°F.
  • Cut the foil packets before you start: Prepare 8 (8-inch long) sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil and set aside. You’ll use two per packet — when grilling, a double layer of foil ensures the food is properly insulated and that it won’t cook too quickly. It also prevents leaks.
  • Tightly seal your packets: Packet cooking utilizes steam to cook the food, so tightly seal each packet by folding the seam tightly to completely seal.

5 Easy Foil Packet Meals for the Grill

  • The grains: You can (and should!) cook pasta, rice, and grains in foil packets. Just make sure they are small, quick-cooking shapes and that they are first in the packet and therefore closest to the grill grates.
  • The proteins: The recipes below call for a variety of protein — some are sliced, some are kept whole. Consider the other ingredients in the packet when choosing which proteins to use and how to prepare them. For example, whole chicken breasts should be paired with long-cooking potatoes, while quick-cooking shrimp is best paired with quick-cooking orzo and asparagus.
  • Cooking liquids: Packets with grains like rice require more liquid — such as water and broth — while vegetable and protein-only packets just need a simple sauce like pesto or salsa. For the shrimp packet, the shrimp and asparagus let off enough liquid to cook the orzo pasta.
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp and Asparagus Packets

Whisk together 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, 4 cloves minced garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (peeled and deveined) and toss to coat.

Divide 1 cup dried orzo between the four packets, then top with the shrimp and any liquid left in the bowl. Divide 1 pound trimmed asparagus and 6 tablespoons cubed unsalted butter between the packets. Tightly seal the packets. Grill or roast until the orzo is cooked and the shrimp are opaque, 18 to 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Cheesy Ranch Chicken and Bacon Packets

Toss together 1 pound halved small potatoes, 8 ounces broccoli florets, 1/2 (1.83-ounce) envelope ranch powder, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl. Divide between the packets. Top with 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts and season the chicken with the remaining ranch powder. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cooked, chopped bacon and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Tightly seal each packet. Grill or roast until the chicken is cooked through, 22 to 25 minutes.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Steak Fajita Packets

Thinly slice 1 pound flank steak across the grain. Toss with 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. Divide 1 cup long-grain white rice between the 4 packets. Top with 1 small sliced red or yellow onion, 1 sliced red bell pepper, 1 sliced green bell pepper, and the sliced steak.

Whisk together 2 cups water with 1/4 cup lime juice. Pour over the steak and rice. Tightly seal each packet. Grill or roast until the rice is cooked and the steak is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with sour cream and avocado.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Caprese Chicken and Zucchini Packets

Toss together 1 pound sliced zucchini and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl. Divide between packets. Top with 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Top each with 2 tablespoons pesto, 1 slice fresh tomato, and 2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese. Tightly seal each packet. Grill or roast until chicken is cooked through, 22 to 25 minutes.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Southwest Veggie Packets

Toss together 2 peeled, diced sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total), 1 cup frozen corn kernels, 1 can drained black beans, and 1 cup jarred salsa in a large bowl. Divide the mixture between the packets and tightly seal. Grill or roast until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Serve with tortillas, avocado, and sour cream.