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Your Guide to Vegan Grilling

From corn to mushrooms to tempeh, check out these grill-friendly vegan favorites that are smoky, savory, and satisfying.

Image of veggies on a grill

Sure, some people think grilling is typically associated with meat, but there’s no reason why vegan dishes can’t be invited to the party. In fact, grilling vegan-friendly foods is super simple. So, what exactly can you grill? From eggplant to stone fruit to tempeh, the options are endless. Use our simple guide and tips to get started.

How to Grill Vegetables

Grilling vegetables adds a deliciously smoky char to them. What are the best vegetables to grill? While there isn't exactly a right answer, some veggies are easier to grill than others. Grilling a whole ear of corn is inevitably going to be a bit easier than grilling romaine, which can wilt quickly if you aren't paying attention. Start with this list:

  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Artichokes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Romaine

Prep work

Lightly brush oil on veggies to prevent sticking. A nonstick grate or grilling basket can also help. Don’t worry about peeling veggies. You’ll save time and keep beneficial nutrients like fiber found in the peels. Also, leave the husk on corn for grilling to keep the steam in and prevent the corn from drying out.

Precooking

Veggies like eggplant, fennel, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, sweet potatoes, summer squash and tomatoes should be uncooked when placed on the grill. However, artichokes, beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and winter squash can be precooked to shorten grilling time. Plus, it will help ensure the inside and outside cook evenly. To precook: Steam or blanch until just barely tender. Pat dry, brush lightly with oil, then grill until completely tender and lightly browned.

Grilling Tips

Cook all veggies directly over moderately hot coals or use the indirect heat method. (That’s where you rotate or move them to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as needed so that the outside isn't cooking too quickly.) Once you’ve got the veggies grilled, add oomph by serving them with a sweet, smoky romesco sauce.

Grilled Vegetable Recipes

While you can grill vegetables on their own, there are plenty of ways to dress them up for salads, sandwiches, kabobs, pasta dishes and more. Give these recipes a try:

How to Grill Vegan Alternatives

Don't just stop at grilling vegetables. Besides, everyone wants to eat something satiating at a cookout. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of quality vegan alternatives to grill, from grilled tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, veggie dogs, veggie sausage to veggie burgers.

Tofu

Choose firm or extra firm tofu when grilling, and press it to remove excess moisture. Then, marinate the tofu in the fridge overnight. Forgot? Even 30 minutes will get the job done. Then brush lightly with canola oil to help prevent sticking. A nonstick grate can also help. Grill over a preheated grill (not too hot!) for 5 to 7 minutes per side. Place the tofu directly over moderately hot coals or use the indirect heat method. Rotate or move it to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as necessary to ensure that the outside isn’t cooking too fast. Need a basic recipe? Try this Grilled Teriyaki Tofu.

Tempeh

Tempeh’s firm texture makes it a great choice for grilling. If you find it a little bitter, steam it first for about 10 minutes. Also, consider mixing up a marinade like the one in this Spicy Grilled Tempeh dish. After marinating for a few hours, grill the tempeh until browned on each side. Serve in tacos, grain bowls or alongside grilled veggies.

Mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms are a great burger substitute and white button mushrooms are a match for kabobs. Want to skip the bun or the kabob? That’s cool. Mushrooms hold up on their own too. For a flavor-packed take on a burger, grill up these Portobello and Pineapple Teriyaki Burgers. Topped with our easy homemade teriyaki sauce, it's sure to be a block party fave.

Vegan Meat Alternatives

Last but not least, vegan burger, sausage and hot dog alternatives grill up fairly quickly over indirect heat. Follow instructions on the packaging — ingredients and cooking times may vary.

Explore More

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Our Guide to Starting a Vegan Diet
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