Everything You Need to Know About Grilling Vegetables

picture of peppers and mushrooms on grill
You can use your barbecue for so much more than just grilling meat. Just like you can cook fruit on your grill, you can also cook vegetables — and it will be the easiest thing you do.

Grilled vegetables are low maintenance, and are the perfect healthy addition to any meal. They can be integrated into breakfast with eggs, into your lunch sandwich, or make the perfect side to any entree.

The best part about grilling vegetables, other than the obvious health benefits, is that it’s a lot harder to mess up vegetables than it is to mess up meat. Meat can be under and overcooked — both of which are undesirable for taste and health reasons. 

Especially when armed with one of the best charcoal grills, your vegetable grilling options will be endless. We’re here to break down the best vegetables to grill, how to prepare them, and the best ways to cook them.
picture of fresh vegetables in grocery store

Picking the Right Vegetable 


What veggies can you BBQ? The short answer is most of them — that said, the firmer the vegetable, the better they are to grill. The best vegetables to grill are:

  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Asparagus
  •  Mushrooms
  • Squash
  • Cabbage
  • & More 
picture of grilling chicken and vegetables on bbq

How to Grill Your Vegetables 


Every vegetable requires different preparation and grill time. Get to know the different vegetables that belong on your bbq, and how to grill them to their full potential. 

Preparing your Vegetables:


Cutting & Slicing:  Most vegetables need to be cut before they touch the grill so that they can be evenly cooked. That said, vegetables come in different shapes, sizes and textures. 

This means that every vegetable needs to be cut and cleaned differently to be ready for grilling. Here are the best ways to cut vegetables for grilling:

  • Corn: Cook full with or without the husk (can also be cut into half).
  • Bell Peppers: Cut into 4 and remove any seeds.
  • Mushrooms: Remove stem, and cut in half if a bigger mushroom.
  • Tomatoes: The trick to removing grilled tomatoes from your bbq is to keep them on the vine so you can use your tongs to pull the vine off the grill.
  • Onions: Peel and cut into chunky slices.
  • Lengthy Vegetables (Zucchini, Eggplant, Squash): Larger vegetables can be cut lengthwise to cook the insides.
  • Asparagus: Remove the woody ends (they are tough, and not pleasant to the taste).
  • Fennel: Cut lengthwise.
  • Cauliflower: Cut into florets.

Add olive oil, salt & pepper before they touch the grill


The nice thing about vegetables is that they tend to have a strong taste on their own. They don’t really require a marinate like a piece of meat would. Just drizzle on some olive oil and salt, and your vegetable will be ready to go on the grill! The salt will help draw out any excess water and the oil will provide it with that little bit of fat needed. 

Be Conscious of the Time


You can’t really undercook vegetables — after all, you can eat them raw. Still, vegetables have varying textures and sizes, which means they all cook at different rates. Be sure to approach each vegetable differently to prevent burning and ensure even cooking. 

According to the Food Network, these are the time’s different vegetables need to grill: 

  • Bell Peppers: 8 - 10 minutes
  • Zucchini: 7 minutes
  • Mushrooms: 7 minutes
  • Squash: 7 minutes
  • Asparagus: 4 minutes
  • Onions: 8-10 minutes
  • Green onions: 4 minutes
  • Eggplant: 7 -8 minutes
  • Tomatoes: 4-6 minutes

The Temperature 

Cook vegetables at medium-high heat to ensure they are cooked through and take on that desired charred taste.

Flip Once

Cooking your vegetables on the BBQ  gives them those aesthetic grill marks. To maintain the appearance, only  flip your vegetables once and refrain from moving them around too much. 

Additions

After your vegetables are done on the grill, take them to the next level by garnishing them with additional ingredients. Things you can add to your grilled vegetables include: 

  • Garlic
  • Lemon Juice
  • Olive Oil
  • Basil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
picture of grilled vegetables plated for serving

What Grilling Does for Vegetables


It should come as little surprise that when you grill a vegetable, it takes on a slightly different taste. That said,  grilling does something different for every vegetable.

Cabbage: Takes on a sweet taste and brings a softness to its naturally crunchy texture.

Corn: Becomes smokey.

Eggplant: when grilled properly, the eggplant should take on a crispy exterior and maintain a sweet flavour inside.

Peppers: Removes tough skin and enhances sweetness. 

Onions: Take on a sweet, creamy taste.

Safety Measures

Just like you want to be safe when grilling your meat, you want to be safe when grilling your vegetables. Make sure your grill is cleaned before you start grilling, avoid cooking on an open fire, and keep your vegetables apart from any raw meat that can cause cross-contamination. It’s also important to take care not to burn your veggies to avoid carcinogens. 

Serving Your Grilled Vegetables:

Grilled vegetables can serve multiple purposes. Consider the different ways you can integrate grilled vegetables into a meal, or try out some of our incredible vegan recipes that make BBQ vegetables the star of a meal.

  • Charcuterie/Platter

When most people think of charcuterie, they think of meat and cheese. The reality is that grilled veggies make the perfect addition to any charcuterie plate. Plus, grilled veggies go great with dips like hummus and tahini. A grilled veggie platter makes for a healthy, delicious appetizer for any get-together!

  • Salad

Warm, savoury vegetables make the perfect addition to any cool and crunchy salad. The contrasting temperatures and texture make grilled veggies and salad an unlikely, but perfect pairing.

  • Side

Of course, grilled veggies are great on their own! Serve them as a side dish alongside steak, or any meat of your choice.

  • Sandwiches

The contrasting texture and temperature of grilled vegetables and cold cuts make for a perfect pairing. They also go well with any grilled meat, whether it be a grilled chicken breast or steak sandwich. You can put grilled vegetables in any sandwich or wrap.

  • Pasta

Grilled veggies make the perfect addition to any pasta dish whether they are a topper or the basis of a pasta sauce. They also pair well with pasta salad!

  • Pizza 

Whether you opt for a white pizza or pizza with tomato sauce, grilled vegetables are a perfect topping. 

picture of grilled vegetables on skewer

Grilled Vegetable Hacks

Skewers


Using skewers to grill your vegetables is a sure-fire way to keep your vegetables together and makes for pretty plating. After all, small vegetables like mushrooms and tomatoes can fall through the grates, and skewers are a perfect way to protect them. It’s mess-free and aesthetically pleasing — it’s a win-win. 

Tin Foil


Make a little tin foil basket for smaller veggies to prevent them from sticking or falling through the grates. 

Skillet


You can always put your medley of vegetables into a skillet and cook it on the barbecue — this is a good way to keep your vegetables separate from your meat.

picture of pepper and squash grilling on bbq

Frequently Asked Questions about Grilling Veggies on the BBQ:

Can you grill frozen veggies on the barbecue?

The reality is that you can, in fact, grill frozen veggies. In fact, it takes less time to cook them on a BQQ then it does to steam them or pan fry them. For what it’s worth, it’s also a lot healthier for you.

Of course, you can’t just toss frozen veggies on the grill as is — if you have peas and small pieces of corn, that will just make a mess of your barbecue. Pack your frozen veggies in a tinfoil pouch and then put them on the grill for cooking. 

Do grilled vegetables lose their nutrients?

As a matter of fact, grilling vegetables does exactly the opposite — grilled vegetables actually retain more of their nutrients. Grilling veggies increases their nutritional content, whereas when you cook them, they lose minerals and vitamins. 

Are grilled vegetables healthy?

Grilling your vegetables doesn’t only retain their nutrients. In fact, grilling your vegetables removes the need for batters or grease — a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and you’re good to get grilling. 

How long should you marinate vegetables before grilling?

Vegetables vary in size and firmness, so they vary in marinade time: 

Potatoes: 30 minutes - overnight

Broccoli: 10 minutes

Carrots: 30 minutes  - overnight

Green Beans: 30 minutes - a few hours

Asparagus: 30 minutes - a few hours

Tomatoes: 10 minutes 

Peppers: 30 minutes - a few hours

How do you cook vegetables on a charcoal grill?

Vegetables need to be cooked on medium-high. To set the temperature, use roughly 7 charcoal briquets or a ¾ full chimney starter. 

How do you cook vegetables on a gas grill?

To cook vegetables at medium-high, set your gas grill to 400 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

About the Author William Clay

William Clay is a BBQ enthusiast dedicated to sharing his grilling (and overall cooking) expertise with FireFoodChef's readers.