When you think about grilling, what’s the first thing that springs to mind?
Steaks? Burgers? Chicken wings?
Well, in today’s guide to grilling vegetables, you’ll discover that many veggies work wonderfully, and we’ll show you how to go about cooking them the easy way. All you need to do with most vegetables is slice them, brush them with a light coating of oil, and then grill on medium-high.
Before we dive down into specifics, first some broad pointers about prepping veggies for the grill.
I. How Can I Prepare Veggies on a Grill?
You can achieve maximum flavor when you’re grilling vegetables by exposing them to as much surface area as possible. Not only does this enhance the taste, but it will also make your ingredients easier to shift around on the grill.
Here’s what you need to do to prepare some simple grilled vegetable dishes:
- Onions: Peel then quarter
- Bell peppers: Seed then quarter
- Squash: Cut into long rectangles
- Mushrooms: Remove stems and halve
- Tomatoes: Cook small vine tomatoes whole
- Asparagus: Cut off the woody ends
By ensuring your grill is spotless and by brushing your veggies with some cooking oil after slicing them, you will minimize the chances of food sticking onto the grill. Olive oil works well for veggies, both in terms of taste and color.
II. How Do I Serve Grilled Veggies?
Less is more when you’re grilling vegetables. All you need is a lug of olive oil, a drizzle of salt, crowned with a squeeze of lemon as soon as the ingredients leave the grill.
Herb dressings like pesto also work well with some grilled veg. Be prepared to experiment when you first start out.
If you have any vegetables leftover, these can be chopped and thrown into a pasta salad or a bowl of rice. Grilled vegetables also make great pizza toppings if you’re making your own for movie night. If you end up with any leftover leftovers, be sure to check our guide on reheating pizza safely.
III. Top 10 Vegetable Grilling Guidelines
- Get your veggies from a farmers market
- Always start with a clean grill
- Grill veggies on medium-high
- Leave the cover off the grill
- Stick to using flat metal skewers
- Use both direct and indirect heat when you’re grilling veggies
- Leave grill marks on your vegetables
- Get the char right
- Season your veggies
- Consider serving grilled veggies with a sauce
1) Get your veggies from a farmers market
With summer in full swing, there are many common veggies that flourish, from onions and tomatoes to zucchini and bell peppers.
If you head to a local farmers market, you can dig deeper than these classic vegetables and explore some more exotic options.
Whatever vegetables you choose, they should be extremely fresh if you buy them from a specialty market. Great grilled vegetables need to start with high-quality ingredients.
2) Always start with a clean grill
If your grill is splattered with food residue, this will impart an unwelcome flavor onto your food, and not the kind you achieve using a smoker.
Avoid this by practicing proper grill hygiene and cleaning it after each use.
3) Grill veggies on medium-high
You should grill vegetables between 400F and 425F, the equivalent of medium-high on most traditional grills.
If you’re cooking veggies with a gas grill, simply set the temperature within the above band and you’re good to go. For any purists cooking with a charcoal grill, load of 50 to 75 charcoal briquettes, or use a chimney starter to get things going.
As a rough guideline, if you hold your hand six inches from the grill, it should feel uncomfortable after just 4 or 5 seconds.
4) Leave the cover off the grill
When you’re grilling vegetables, don’t cover them. Any kind of smoke can easily dominate the flavor of grilled veggies, so it almost always work best to grill them uncovered.
This method does not work well when you’re grilling meat or fish, though, so stick to uncovered cooking with vegetables.
5) Stick to using flat metal skewers
While not all veggies on the grill need skewering, for those that do you should use flat metal skewers for best results.
Using this type of skewer will stop your vegetables from rolling around on the grill, and it will also make it easier for you to turn them.
If you only have access to straight bamboo skewers, use two of these at a time to prevent vegetables spinning around.
6) Use both direct and indirect heat when you’re grilling veggies
Soft and mushy vegetables are caused by several factors, including:
- Heat that is not intense enough
- Vegetables cooked too far from the heat
- Vegetables cooked for too long
Always start with a hot grill. Start by grilling your veg on direct heat over the charcoal and then move them to the outside of the grill to finish them with indirect heat.
Pull the veggies away from the heat when they are almost done. The internal heat allows them to finish cooking and you’ll avoid the fate of overdone veggies.
7) Leave grill marks on your vegetables
When you’re grilling vegetables, the grill will leave marks on them. It’s down to you to make those grill marks look striking and attractive rather than an ugly mashup of lines.
Larger vegetables like eggplant and cabbage look great with cross-hatched markings from the grill. Achieve this by rotating the food through 45 degrees midway through cooking that side.
8) Get the char right
If you cook vegetables directly over a large flame, you’ll burn the outside without properly cooking the inside. This is obviously to be avoided.
To get consistently cooked vegetables every time, wait until the charcoal burns down into coals that are glowing red hot. When you start grilling your vegetables, resist the temptation to keep poking them. As soon as they become charred, remove from the direct heat and cook indirectly, as outlined above.
9) Season your veggies
Seasoning grilled vegetable is simple. Use any of the following for lip-smacking results:
- Sea salt
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Lime juice
The taste sensation alone of succulent grilled vegetables means you don’t need to go overboard with the seasoning, so rein in your excesses and keep it simple.
10) Consider serving grilled veggies with a sauce
Chimichurri sauce freshly made is an ideal accompaniment to all mixed veggies. It couldn’t be easier to make either:
- Chop some parsley and cilantro
- Add some chopped lemon peel and grated garlic
- Season with a lug of olive oil, some salt and black pepper
- Marinade your veggies overnight and then grill them using the tips in today’s guide
IV. Our 3 Favorite Grilled Veggies
Eggplant works wonderfully grilled, whether served as part of a mixed platter of veg or even as a substitute burger patty.
Get this dish wrong on the grill, though, and it will easily end up lifeless and overcooked or spongy and underdone, both equally unappetizing.
Nail grilled eggplant by soaking the slices in some saltwater before grilling. This will ensure the eggplant goes crispy brown outside while remaining flavor-packed and creamily sweet inside.
Imparting a charred and smoky flavor to asparagus adds to the experience.
Look for fat and meaty spears so they are easier to manage when you’re grilling. Brush with oil, season with some sea salt, and then grill your asparagus until it’s tender and seared with grill marks. This should take from 8 to 10 minutes.
Grilling potatoes leaves the insides soft and fluffy while imparting a delicious crust outside.
Yellow Finns and Yukon Golds are both great choices if you’re planning to grill potatoes. They have plenty of flavor packed in and they’re sweet, too.
The quickest and arguably the best way to grill potatoes is to hack them into wedges and then toss them in a simple Italian vinaigrette. Grill on medium heat for 20 minutes. Coat them with more dressing as they cook to avoid the potatoes drying out.
V. How to Grill More Great Veggies The Easy Way
- Squash and zucchini
- Bell peppers
- Green beans
Squash and zucchini
Squashes are great for grilling as the texture is neither too soft nor too hard. Your best options are yellow summer squash or baby zucchini. All you need to do with these is cut them in half lengthwise.
If you opt for medium-sized squash, slice these into long diagonal strips. Brush them lightly with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice, or use some teriyaki marinade. You should grill them for 7 to 10 minutes, until each side is gently char-spotted.
Cut broccoli into large florets. Steam until bright green and between crisp and tender.
Rinse the broccoli under some cold water and then brush with olive oil/lemon or teriyaki marinade as above.
Broccoli needs grilling for 6 to 8 minutes, until lightly touched with char spots.
Bell peppers are a classic kebab ingredient and they couldn’t be easier to prepare.
Cut your peppers into 1 inch and 1.5-inch squares. Skewer these through the center. You can use the same marinade as above for peppers on skewers.
When you grill peppers like this, they typically stay quite crisp, as very little of the surface area gets exposed to heat during the grilling process. Many other skewered veggies come out quite tender, so the added bite from your peppers provides a great contrast to your kebabs.
Grilled mushrooms work well on their own or when used as part of a kebab.
Look for larger mushrooms like Portobellos. Wipe them clean and then trim off the rough ends. Brush lightly with the marinade described above and grill for 5 to 6 minutes. You should turn your mushrooms and add some extra marinade as they will otherwise dry out.
First peel and husk your corn. Soak for 1 hour in some cold water.
All you need to do to grill your corn is wrap it in some aluminum foil and grill for 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure to turn the corn every few minutes. You can also jumpstart the corn in the microwave before finishing it off on the grill if you’re crunched for time.
Carrots might not be the first vegetable you think of grilling, but they are delightful when properly done.
Peel your carrots then cut them in half lengthwise. Brush with the marinade above. Grill both sides of the carrots, which should take from 7 to 10 minutes all-in.
Grilling some green beans is a great way to liven up your salad this summer. Avoid beans that are too thin, and also avoid those that are too tough and gnarled.
Use the same simple olive oil and lemon juice marinade, or opt for some teriyaki marinade for a sweeter Asian infusion.
Grill beans using a screen or grill basket. Expose all sides of the beans using some tongs as you are grilling them. Total cooking time is 5 to 8 minutes.
If you peel some onions then hack them into half-inch slices, all you need to do is lightly brush them with the above marinade and then grill both sides until tender and gently charred. This should take 10 minutes in total.
Well, we hope today’s guide to grilling vegetables has given you plenty of inspiration, and the assurance you can cook much more than steaks, hot dogs, and burgers when you’re grilling out.
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