8 Best Vegetables for the Grill: A Grilling Guide

by Ella

Grilling has long been celebrated as a quintessential culinary technique, especially during warmer months when outdoor gatherings abound. While meats often steal the spotlight at barbecues, vegetables are equally worthy contenders for the grill. Not only do they offer a plethora of flavors and textures, but they also provide a healthy and vibrant addition to any meal. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the art of grilling vegetables, from preparation to execution, and unveil a curated selection of vegetables that are particularly well-suited for the grill.

Grilling Vegetables: Techniques and Tips

Before delving into the specific vegetables that shine on the grill, it’s essential to understand the fundamentals of grilling vegetables effectively. While the process shares similarities with grilling meats, there are nuances to be aware of to achieve optimal results.


Preparation is Key: Properly preparing vegetables for grilling is essential for ensuring even cooking and maximizing flavor. Wash and dry vegetables thoroughly, then cut them into uniform pieces to promote consistent cooking. Larger vegetables may benefit from being sliced or halved, while smaller ones can be left whole or skewered for easier handling.


Marination and Seasoning: Marinating vegetables infuses them with flavor and helps prevent them from drying out on the grill. Opt for marinades containing acidic ingredients like vinegar or citrus juices, as they can help tenderize vegetables. Additionally, don’t skimp on seasoning with herbs, spices, and oils to enhance their natural taste.


Mind the Heat: Unlike meats, which often benefit from high heat for searing, vegetables tend to fare better over medium to medium-high heat. Excessive heat can lead to charring on the outside while leaving the interior undercooked. Aim for a moderate, consistent temperature to achieve perfectly grilled vegetables.


Use the Right Equipment: Invest in quality grilling equipment, such as a vegetable grill basket or skewers, to prevent delicate vegetables from falling through the grates. Alternatively, grill mats or foil packets can be used to cook smaller or more delicate vegetables with ease.

Timing is Everything: Keep a close eye on grilling times, as vegetables can quickly transition from perfectly grilled to overcooked. While some vegetables require just a few minutes on the grill, others may need more time to soften and develop caramelization. Test for doneness by piercing vegetables with a fork; they should be tender yet still retain a slight crunch.

8 Best Vegetables for Grilling

With these foundational principles in mind, let’s explore a selection of vegetables that are ideal for grilling, each offering its own unique flavor profile and culinary versatility.

1. Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are a staple in many grilled vegetable medleys, prized for their vibrant colors and sweet, slightly smoky flavor when grilled. To prepare bell peppers for grilling, slice them into quarters or large, flat pieces, removing the seeds and membranes. Marinate the peppers in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and herbs before grilling over medium heat until they are tender and lightly charred. Grilled bell peppers can be enjoyed as a standalone side dish, tossed in salads, or incorporated into sandwiches and wraps for added flavor and texture.

2. Zucchini and Summer Squash

Zucchini and summer squash are summer garden favorites that lend themselves beautifully to grilling. Cut them into thick slices or lengthwise strips, then brush with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and herbs such as thyme or rosemary. Grill the squash over medium heat until they are tender and marked with grill lines, taking care not to overcook them to maintain their natural crispness. Grilled zucchini and summer squash make a delightful addition to pasta dishes, pizzas, or antipasto platters, or can be enjoyed on their own as a light and flavorful side.

3. Eggplant

Eggplant’s meaty texture and mild flavor make it a versatile vegetable for grilling. To prepare eggplant for grilling, slice it into rounds or lengthwise planks and sprinkle with salt to draw out excess moisture. After allowing the salt to sit for 20-30 minutes, rinse the eggplant slices and pat them dry with paper towels. Brush the slices with olive oil and season with your favorite herbs and spices before grilling over medium heat until tender and golden brown. Grilled eggplant can be served as a simple side dish, layered into sandwiches or wraps, or incorporated into Mediterranean-inspired dishes like moussaka or ratatouille for added depth of flavor.

4. Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is a quintessential summer vegetable that takes on a delightful smoky sweetness when grilled. To prepare corn for grilling, remove the husks and silk, then brush the ears with melted butter or olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the corn over medium heat, turning occasionally, until the kernels are tender and lightly charred. Serve grilled corn on the cob with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a squeeze of lime or lemon juice for added brightness, or slathered with flavored butters or aioli for a decadent twist.

5. Asparagus

Asparagus is a beloved spring vegetable that shines when grilled, boasting a delicate flavor and tender texture. To prepare asparagus for grilling, trim the woody ends and toss the spears in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill the asparagus over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until they are tender and slightly charred. Grilled asparagus pairs well with a variety of proteins, from grilled salmon to roasted chicken, or can be incorporated into salads, frittatas, or pasta dishes for a pop of color and flavor.

6. Portobello Mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms are a hearty and flavorful option for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike, offering a satisfyingly meaty texture and earthy taste when grilled. To prepare portobello mushrooms for grilling, remove the stems and gently scrape out the gills with a spoon. Brush the mushrooms with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and minced garlic before grilling over medium heat until they are tender and juicy. Grilled portobello mushrooms can be enjoyed on their own as a hearty main course, stuffed with cheese and herbs for added indulgence, or sliced and used as a topping for burgers, pizzas, or salads.

7. Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are bursting with flavor and sweetness when grilled, making them a delightful addition to any vegetable medley or salad. To prepare cherry tomatoes for grilling, thread them onto skewers or place them in a grill basket to prevent them from rolling around on the grill grates. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs like basil or oregano before grilling over medium heat until they are lightly charred and beginning to burst. Grilled cherry tomatoes can be served alongside grilled meats or seafood, tossed with pasta or couscous, or layered onto crostini with creamy goat cheese for a simple yet elegant appetizer.

8. Onions

Onions are a kitchen staple that take on a rich, caramelized flavor when grilled, adding depth and sweetness to a variety of dishes. To prepare onions for grilling, slice them into thick rounds or wedges, leaving the root intact to hold the layers together. Brush the onion slices with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar for added sweetness before grilling over medium heat until they are tender and golden brown. Grilled onions can be enjoyed as a side dish alongside grilled meats or sandwiches, chopped and stirred into dips or salsas, or used as a topping for pizzas, burgers, or tacos for a burst of flavor.

See Also: 8 Best Grilling Recipes on the Planet


Grilling vegetables is not only a delicious way to elevate your barbecue experience but also a healthy and versatile cooking method that allows you to showcase the natural flavors and textures of seasonal produce. By following proper grilling techniques and experimenting with a variety of vegetables, you can create an array of flavorful dishes that are sure to impress friends and family alike. Whether enjoyed as a standalone side dish, incorporated into salads or main courses, or used as a topping for pizzas or sandwiches, grilled vegetables are a delightful addition to any summer gathering or weeknight meal. So fire up the grill, embrace the bounty of the season, and savor the vibrant flavors of grilled vegetables all summer long.



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