After years of practice on the grill, these are my tips for the best easy grilled vegetables, enhancing the natural sweetness of summer’s favorite vegetables with each smoky bite.
Adding more plants to meals is always at the top of my menu planning, and summer’s bounty makes it even easier to do. With a hot grill already fired up for grilled chicken, fish, or kebabs, I love slicing up whatever fresh vegetables I have in the fridge and tossing them on the grill for a simple mezze-ish platter side.
Even more, grilled vegetables are a healthy vegetarian main when chopped and added to this favorite healthy pasta salad (with avocado!), or added to healthy Mediterranean grain bowls, or made into one of my favorite easy grilled veggie sandwiches slathered with ricotta cheese.
Grilling coaxes out every bit of deep, roasted, sweetness from any plain old veg, softening and flavoring and bringing a lush, smoky char to each deliciously addicting bite.
This grilled vegetable recipe is another that isn’t so much of a recipe but a method to master, and easy to master it is. These grilled vegetables skip the marinade and the skewers, and there’s no need for a grilled vegetable grilling basket either.
Summer eats are meant to be simple, and these grilled vegetables are falling right in line.
Are Grilled Vegetables Healthy?
Sure, antioxidant-rich veggies are good for you, but what about when they’re grilled? The question sometimes arises: Can grilling be bad for you?
After digging around the internets, the answer is clear: Grilled vegetables are the best, healthiest way to grill.
According to WebMD, grilled vegetables are safe to grill because risk-potential PAHs and HCAs don’t form on grilled fruits and vegetables. Vegetables don’t have fat to render and drip onto the grilling element to cause the flare-ups to flap back these compounds back onto the food.
So put your mind at ease, and get grilling your veg.
Vegetables That Are Good for Grilling
Because vegetables take relatively little time to cook, they’re the perfect candidate for cooking on the grill, and the veggie options that cook well on the grill are pretty much endless. And if you have veggies that have languished too long that don’t look so appealing to eat raw, don’t throw them out! Toss them on the grill instead.
Grilling vegetables adds a smoky flavor to their bite, and like roasted vegetables, grilling caramelizes the vegetable’s sweetness by bringing out their natural sugars. If you have a non-veggie liker, try serving them grilled veggies. They’re bound to become converted.
The best vegetables for grilling:
- Zucchini — green or yellow work perfectly, cut into 1/3″ to 1/2″ slices before grilling—cut too thin and they’ll fall apart.
- Bell peppers, poblano peppers, jalapeño peppers sweet baby peppers, shishito peppers — slice bell peppers and remove seeds of the bell peppers before grilling for easiest eating.
- Portabello mushrooms or large brown mushrooms — no need to slice the mushrooms, grill them whole. Start the mushrooms gill side down then finish cap side down to hold in moisture.
- Eggplant — grilled is my favorite way to eat eggplant, where it becomes tender, creamy, and smoky
- Carrots — grilling quickly softens carrots and makes a pretty tiger-striped presentation
- Onions — any variety including green onions become oh so sweet when grilled
- Asparagus — fatter asparagus cooks more evenly than skinny and won’t fall through the grates
- Corn — cooking corn doesn’t get easier than this…see my complete grilled corn tutorial here.
- Artichokes — these grilled artichokes are my fave
- Cauliflower — slice as steaks so they hold together
- Broccoli — slice as steaks or grill in florets
- Romaine lettuce — this recipe is totally unique but oh so good
- Tomatoes — best grilled only if halved or grilled whole, watch them as they tend to explode and leak
5 Tips for the Best Grilled Vegetables
In my effort to keep things simple and my eating clean, I skip the marinade and the skewers and simply slice and season.
- Slice the vegetables the same thickness so they cook at the same rate. I use a handheld mandoline to make my zucchini, eggplant, and onion slices perfectly coordinate. I aim for slices that fall somewhere between 1/3″ and 1/2″ — I can’t do math so I eyeball it. Slicing the veggies too thin will make them too tender as and disintegrate on the grill.
- Give your veggies an oil down. Follow the golden rule of grilling: oil what you grill, not the grill itself. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil then spread it evenly with your fingers. The mushrooms will absorb the oil quickly so work fast but don’t fret too much about them, they’ll produce plenty of their own juice.
- Season simply. Sprinkle the vegetables somewhat generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. They will absorb the salt as they cook, enhancing their inherent sweetness. Feel free to add dried herbs such as oregano, mint, tarragon, or basil if you’d like.
- Grill ’em up hot. Start your veggies over medium heat, about 350°F to 450°F. Lay long slices and asparagus or carrots crosswise over the grates so they don’t fall through. Close the grill lid and cook the vegetables undisturbed, flipping after 3-5 minutes.
- Close the lid. Closing the lid of your grill creates the same environment as an oven, baking the vegetables as they lightly char. Check their progress every
Cooking Times for Grilled Vegetables
Cooking times for grilled vegetables will vary depending on the thickness of your slices. Grill with the lid down to create an oven environment and check the progress of your cooking half-way through cook times.
- Artichokes: Boil for 10-12 minutes then quarter and cook 4-6 minutes
- Asparagus: 6-8 minutes
- Bell pepper: Whole for 10-12 minutes; halved for 8-10 minutes
- Carrot: Boil for 4-6 minutes, then grill 3-5 minutes
- Corn: 15-20 minutes in husk
- Eggplant: 5-7 minutes (thicker slices will take longer)
- Portabello mushroom: 8-10 minutes
- Onion: sliced 8-10 minutes; halved 35-40 minutes
- Green onion: 3-4 minutes
- Tomato: 6-8 minutes halved
- Zucchini: 5-7 minutes
The veggies may look a little dry as they come off the heat, but will begin to sweat and deflate as they rest.
Serving Suggestions for Grilled Vegetables
Because they are just as delicious served warm or at room temperature, grilled veggies are an entertainer’s dream dish. Serve the grilled vegetables along any side just as they are, or consider adding a simple topping or sauce, like:
- Sprinkle veggies with shredded parmesan cheese or crumbled feta or goat cheese
- Drizzle with garlicky chimichurri sauce, creamy avocado salsa verde, or balsamic glaze
- Add a dollop of homemade basil pesto or arugula pesto
The Best Easy Grilled Vegetables
Zucchini, bell pepper, onions, asparagus, and mushrooms become sweet and savory when cooked on the grill. With just a brushing of olive oil and sprinkling of salt and pepper, this cooking method is simple and lets the vegetables natural goodness shine through.
- 2 portabello mushrooms
- 1 eggplant
- 1 zucchini
- 1 yellow squash
- 1 onion
- 1 bunch thick asparagus
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the grill with clean grates and preheat to medium heat, 350°F to 450°F.
Trim the ends of the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and onion and cut into 1/3" to 1/2" slices. Seed the red bell pepper and cut into quarters. Trim the ends of the asparagus.
Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables with the lid closed until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers, onion, and mushroom; 5-7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, and eggplant and asparagus.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
More Recipes with Grilled Vegetables
- Grilled Corn Salad with Tomato and Avocado
- Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Herbed Ricotta — such a great way to use leftovers
- Grilled Teriyaki Cauliflower Steaks With Asian Gremolata
- Grilled Romaine Salad with Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp
- Grilled Zucchini With Feta and Pine Nuts — one of my faves to use up all that zucchini
- Chopped Grilled Vegetable Bowl with Farro
- Creamy Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables
Do you have a favorite grilled veg recipe or tip to share? We’d all love to know! Leave a comment below or email me so I can share.
Craving more life balance, less stress, and better health? Check out my Nourished Planner, the daily planner to help create simplicity and under-schedule your life.
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