I recently found myself rushing out the door to a friend’s barbecue, wishing I had planned ahead enough to make a strawberry loaf cake or a batch of spiced cashews to tote along. In a flash of inspiration, I scooped some chili crisp from my refrigerator into a tiny jar and ran to the grocery store for a bag of frozen edamame.

While the grill was still just slightly too hot to cook meat on, I tossed the frozen (well, semi-thawed by this point) edamame pods directly onto a sheet of foil on the grill and spread them out so that each little bump could blister and char. After a few tosses and about four minutes total of cooking time, they were ready to be pulled off the grill, drizzled with chili crisp, and set out as a smoky finger food to snack on between sips of beer.

It might sound crazy, in the heat of grilling season, when there’s a whole world of fresh corn, zucchini, and apricots for the taking, to point you toward the frozen food aisle. But this move has myriad advantages. The frozen edamame will help keep your beer cold in a tote bag on the way to a friend’s party (or in your cooler on the way to go camping). Since the edamame only take about four minutes total to cook, they won’t monopolize the grill while raw chicken sits by waiting its turn. And in a matter of moments, you’ll be serving a snack that will help keep everyone fed while the rest of the meal cooks.

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Susan Kim

How to grill edamame, step-by-step

Just start with a 14-oz. bag of frozen edamame in the pods (either salted or lightly salted is fine). Pull them out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you decide to cook them so that any big ice crystals can thaw and none of the pods stick together.

Spread an 18" sheet of foil on the grill and scatter the pods over this (you can also use a grill basket if you have one). Since the edamame are already technically fully cooked, you don’t have to be too precise with heat level—this will take under five minutes on a scorching-hot grill; you may need to give the edamame a few more minutes if you’re cooking over the embers of a campfire.

Keep tossing the pods with a pair of tongs while they cook, and once each pod has a few charred spots, remove them from the heat and sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice. This could be as simple as a few spoonfuls of Fly By Jing chili crisp or Zhong Sauce, or you could squeeze half of a lime over the batch and sprinkle with Tajin. A spray of lemon juice and a shake of Old Bay! Garlic butter warmed in a little pot right on the grill!

The near-instant gratification made my mind reel with possibilities. This could easily be a campfire accompaniment to a round of hot dogs, or a side dish to make in an under-stocked rental house. In the meantime, the next time you find yourself perusing the aisles of the grocery store for a six-pack and a bag of chips to take to a friend’s barbecue, add a bag of frozen edamame and a jar of chili crisp to your basket.