Fact: everything tastes better grilled. And when summer rolls around, you know that it’s grilling season. Clear skies, warm weather and bright sunshine makes this time of the year the perfect excuse to take the cooking outdoors. While many think of typical outdoor BBQ fare as burgers, chicken and steak, make some room on the grill for the veggies too. After all, it’ll add some variety and color to your menu and keep things a little healthier. Summer is one of the best seasons for enjoying all the fresh produce that are meant to be grilled. From fresh corn on the cob to crisp zucchini and more, there are plenty of vegetables for grilling to choose from. Grilling is a simple, fun and delicious way to cook them if you can learn the basics.
There are a few ways you can grill vegetables whether it’s directly on the grill, skewered onto kabobs or in a tin foil packet. Whichever method you choose yields different results but we guarantee your vegetables will always come out amazing. While there are many vegetables available, we’ve rounded up 15 of the best ones you should be grilling during summer.
The secret to making asparagus delicious is by cooking it hot and fast. Asparagus can have mild, grassy flavor with earthy undertones. Grilling them makes them beautifully tender and sweet with a slightly charred flavor. When it comes to choosing your asparagus, bigger is better. Big, meaty spears about the size of your finger are less likely to overcook on the grill. From there, just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper is all you need to transform this vegetable into an elegant side even kids will love. You can either grill them directly by placing them perpendicular to the grates or in a grill basket to hold them more securely. Cook them for about 5 to 10 minutes, turning each side over every few minutes.
If you’re craving big, juicy steaks without the extra fat and calories, look no further than grilled cauliflower. Grilled cauliflower can be an excellent meatless substitute for your vegetarian guests. This cruciferous vegetable has a meaty texture that can stand up nicely to the searing hot grates of the grill. Although somewhat bland in raw form, it happens to be excellent at absorbing a variety of flavors. In addition, cauliflower turns beautifully tender with a caramelized, nutty sweetness once grilled or roasted. One large head yields about 2 to 3 steaks, which you can serve as either a main dish or side dish. And don’t forget about the leftover florets! You can still throw them on to the grill in a foil packet as well. Or chop them up to use as cauliflower rice.
If you think zucchini tastes like the summertime, wait till you try it grilled. Like other summer squashes, zucchini makes a simple and delicious addition to your grilling menu. This vegetable can taste mild when raw but throw it on the grill and its flavors become intensely sweet and slightly smokey. The flesh softens on the inside while maintaining its crisp texture on the outside. Furthermore, it adds great color to any veggie platter, especially alongside eggplants and bell peppers. Slicing them into 1/2-inch spears and cooking them over direct heat ensures a quick cooking process with perfect doneness. Grill them for around 6 to 8 minutes on each side.
When it comes to summer grilling, corn is and always will be the undisputed king of all vegetables. After all, there’s nothing like biting into an ear of freshly grilled corn on the cob at an outdoor BBQ or state fair. Corn is extraordinary in so many different ways but grilling helps intensify their sweetness. If you prefer yours sweet and extra smokey-tasting, throw them onto the grill naked for about 30 minutes. It’ll impart a beautiful char and deep flavor you could only get from an open flame. However, if you like your corn plump and fresh with a more mildly smoked flavor, leave the husks on for 20 to 30 minutes. With both methods, make sure to turn them over occasionally so that neither side burns. When they finish cooking, brush them with plenty of garlic chile butter, parmesan or your favorite accompaniments.
Grilled mushrooms are ridiculously easy and we can’t resist including them nearly every time we break out the grill. When we think about grilling mushrooms, we’re thinking about varieties with large caps. Portobellos, shiitakes and king trumpets can all stand up nicely to the heat of a hot grill and can be grilled whole. If you’re looking at smaller varieties like button and enoki mushrooms, thread them onto a skewer instead to keep them from falling into the grates. The savory, earthy umami flavors of the mushrooms intensifies during the cooking process. However, they can also lose their moisture over high, direct heat. The best way to flavor them and keep them from drying out is to continuously baste them with an oil-based marinade. Cook them for around 10 minutes, depending on their size. And if you’re craving extra flavor, feel free to marinate them for up to a day in advance.
Although grilling potatoes may sound like an arduous task, it’s anything but. Grilled potatoes are actually quite easy to do with many different varieties. For more petite sized potatoes such as Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes, Red, White and Blue Medley Potatoes or Fingerling Medley Potatoes, cook them in a packet. First, toss with oil and your choice of seasonings and then wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. Place it directly over a hot grill for 40 minutes, flipping the packet halfway through. This will keep the potatoes moist while gently infusing them with their aromatics and seasoning spices. You can also add onions, shallots, garlic or peppers for extra flavor.
For larger potatoes such as Russets or Yukon Golds, feel free to cook them directly over high heat. You can cut them up into slices, halves or wedges and place them straight onto the grill for around 15 to 20 minutes. Keeping them at a small size will give them an irresistible crispness. Just remember to baste the potatoes with oil and seasonings a couple of times as they cook. You could also cook them whole as you would a baked potato. Get a piece of foil and pour in some oil along with seasonings and herbs. Wrap the potato inside and cook for around 45 minutes to an hour.
When it comes to summer grilling, we can’t forget about eggplant. Grilled eggplant is a true summer treat. This cooking process will make them crispy on its edges and beautifully tender and creamy on the inside. Think of eggplant as sort of a culinary sponge. It can soak up plenty of flavors and seasonings and transform into anything you’d like it to be. Most recipes will work well no matter how you embellish them. Eggplant doesn’t take very long to cook on a grill, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. This Japanese Grilled Miso Eggplant is always a tried-and-true hit at outdoor gatherings.
If there’s one thing we look forward to in the summer, it would be chile roasting season. With such a wide variety of chiles to choose from, it’s hard to just choose one. Some prefer the mild taste of Anaheim chiles and shishitos while others are more partial to the heat found in some jalapenos and Hatch chiles. Roasting chiles over the grill is the easiest way in the summertime to transform them into an ingredient you can use for the rest of the year. All you have to do after roasting them is peel off their blackened, charred skin and remove the seeds, piths and stems. From there, use them in your favorite recipes such as stews, enchiladas, quesadillas and more. Any leftover roasted chiles, you can store in the freezer. From classic grilled jalapeno poppers to shrimp Hatch chile jalapeno poppers and even simple grilled shishito peppers, there are so many chiles recipes to enjoy during outdoor season, so little time.
Jicama is one of those underrated vegetables that you may not necessarily think about first for outdoor grilling. However, just because it flies under the radar doesn’t mean that it isn’t delicious. This root vegetable has a delectable crunch, nutty sweetness and is great at absorbing many seasonings. Grilling the jicama will give it a light smokey char. However, it will still retain its crisp, water chestnut-like texture. You can grill it in whole slices as you would with mushrooms or pineapples. 3 minutes on each side is all you need. Add a light dusting of Hatch Chile powder for a hint of Southwestern flavor. Or after you grill the jicama slices, cut them up into matchsticks and enjoy it with a cool and refreshing Greek Yogurt Salsa Dip.
If hot dogs and burgers are considered grilled meat staples, then peppers are the grilled vegetable staple. Grilled sweet peppers are one of the easiest veggies to grill and most versatile too! If you’ve ever tried roasted red peppers, you’ll know that they taste amazing in just about anything, from hummus to sandwiches to soup. Cook them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper for 4 to 5 minutes on one side and 3 to 4 on the other until slightly charred. Sweet bell peppers vary in colors and flavors and are excellent for adding to your grilling menu. Veggie Sweet Mini Peppers also make a great option and have a look and taste similar to bell peppers but are smaller and more concentrated in flavor. And if you’re looking for a really fun variety, give Enjoya Peppers a try! Their gorgeous coloring and pleasantly sweet, juicy flavor makes them an impressive ingredient for roasting on the grill whole.
Grilled bok choy is super easy to make and even easier to eat. This Asian vegetable is one of the most nutrient-dense you can find, second only to watercress. It’s available year-round and incredibly easy to cook in a variety of ways. Many people typically associate bok choy with either steaming, braising or stir frying but grilling them is the way to go during those warm summer months. It has a mild flavor that becomes even sweeter once cooked. Charring them over the grill imparts the leaves with a hint of smokiness and the stalks crispy and caramelized. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side over medium high heat, turning each side over once.
Baby Vegetable Basket
When it comes to outdoor grilling, there’s something special about baby vegetables. Think of them as the youngsters of the produce world. The baby vegetables category can include both ripe, cultivated miniature versions of vegetables or vegetables picked before they’ve fully matured. They are smaller and can sometimes have a more delicate, milder flavor. This summer (or any time of the year), add our Baby Vegetable Basket to your grilling lineup. The seasonality of different baby vegetables can vary from season to season. This basket may include baby versions of artichokes, squash, carrots, potatoes, radishes and other delicious veggies. The charming, rustic presentation of the basket also makes it an excellent gift for your family, friends or party hosts.
Are you a fan of onions? Then you’re going to love boiler onions. Boiler onions are petite and have a sweet, pungent flavor not too far off from regular-sized onions. Typically, many associate boiler onions with stewing, pickling and creaming. However, the size of these tiny onions make them the perfect ingredient for grilling! Grilling them will give them that irresistible rich, caramelized onion flavor we’re all obsessed with. Because of their small size, it’s best to cook them in either an aluminum foil packet for 30 to 45 minutes or threaded as part of shish kabobs. To kick things off for summer, try these delectable Grilled Beer Buttered Boilers for your next cookout.
Baby Summer Squash
Saucer-shaped Baby Summer Squash are simply adorable and remind us of toy tops or UFOs. They also look similar in color to their mature counterparts. However, baby summer squash are named for their tender, immature skins and peak season of availability, although they are available year-round. They are entirely edible and have a mild, delicate flavor that shines through even more on the grill. It doesn’t take a whole lot of dressing up to turn them into an outdoor grilling treasure. Just a little oil along with fresh herbs like basil, dill or oregano will do the trick. If you’re looking for a fun way to impress at an outdoor BBQ, skewer them whole onto kebabs along with other vegetables or meats and grill.
Tomatoes are the true taste of the summertime. Or better yet, make that heirloom tomatoes. Although technically considered a fruit, heirloom tomatoes have earned their spot on our list for their unique flavor and unusual appearance. Plump, juicy jewels with variations in colors, shapes and taste, what’s not to love? Plus, they can hold their own in a vegetable platter or summer salad any day. The secret to perfectly grilled tomatoes is to cook them at a large size. Slicing them too small will make them mushy and evaporate most of their natural juices. Instead, cut the tomatoes in half and dress with your favorite herbs and seasonings. Place them side down on the grill under low heat for around 3 minutes. Then turn them over and cook for another 3 minutes. The tomatoes will shrink and end up with a light char on the edges while still retaining their moisture. From there, add them to a warm Caprese salad, burger or sandwich. Or serve with a bit of fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese for a simple summer side dish.
What are your favorite vegetables for grilling? Make sure to share with us your best grilling recipes!