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How to Grill Vegetables

Updated May 28, 2019
grilled vegetable kabobs
Learn how to grill your veggies into crisp, tender perfection for the easiest sides, mains and apps of summer! MORE+ LESS-

It doesn’t take much more than a sprinkle of salt and brush of olive oil to make grilled vegetables turn out delectable. The real trick isn’t in the seasoning, it’s in the cooking itself. So follow Betty’s lead to learn about the four most common methods of grilling vegetables, the ideal grilling method for summer’s best veggies and how to grill mixed vegetables to perfection.

Methods for Grilling Vegetables

There are four common methods of grilling vegetables: directly on the grate, in a foil pack, skewered and in a grill basket. Keep reading to learn about these methods, plus learn what you’ll need to grill vegetables. How to prepare the vegetables for grilling—i.e. should you chop the vegetables or leave them whole? Whether to marinate before or toss with a vinaigrette after? What type of skewer is best? What type of aluminum foil is best? How do you fold a foil pack? What tools do you need to grill vegetables? We’ve got answers to all these questions and more.

1. Grill veggies directly on the grate

  • Why this method? For smoky flavor and char marks, cook your vegetables directly on the grate.
  • What do I need? Not much more than your grilling tongs!
  • What vegetables work best? Larger vegetables that won’t slip through the grates, like portabella mushroom caps. Vegetables that can be cut into thick vertical planks, like eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash. Whole vegetables that can be cut up after grilling, like bell peppers.
  • How to do it?
    1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
    2. Wash and chop your vegetables. Keep in mind, it’ll be easier to place and turn zucchini sliced lengthwise than zucchini cut into coins. Toss with just enough vegetable oil to coat, especially when grilling drier vegetables like eggplant and squash. Too much oil can drip through the grates and could cause a flare-up and smoke.
    3. Place vegetables directly on grate and check after about 2 minutes to see if they’re ready to turn. Work quickly because the first vegetable might be perfectly charred and ready to turn by the time you get the final vegetable on the grill. If you’re grilling a vegetable for the first time, try testing one piece first, so you know about how much time is needed before turning.

2. Wrap veggies in a foil pack

  • Why this method? One of the easiest way to grill vegetables is in a foil pack. Vegetables cooked in a foil pack will be steamed, rather than charred, but they’ll still have the smoky taste of the grill about them. Foil packs also don’t require quite as much attention, as they’re less prone to burning than vegetables grilled directly over the grates.
  • What’s the best type of foil to use? What else do I need? Heavy-duty aluminum foil works best on the grill, as it’s stronger and won’t tear as easily, even with rough handling. It will also better protect vegetables from burning. You’ll need a pair of tongs to rotate foil packs.
  • What vegetables work best? Vegetables that are too thin to turn easily, like asparagus or green beans, are much easier to grill in a foil pack. Dense vegetables that need a longer cook time, like potatoes, work well because the foil protects them from burning on the outside, while allowing enough time for them to cook all the way through. Foil packs can also be used to effectively grill a variety of vegetables with similar cook times.
  • How to do it?
    1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
    2. Wash and prepare vegetables. Spray sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place vegetable or vegetables in the center of the foil sheet and season as desired—oil, salt and pepper are fine. Fold the packet around the vegetables leaving space for the steam.
    3. Turn the packet a quarter to half turn periodically while grilling. Cook time will vary by vegetable, so check below for more details.

steps to folding, filling and opening a grilled foil pack

3. Skewer veggies to make kabobs

  • Why this method? If you love your grilled veggies crisp-tender with visible char marks, try cooking them kabob-style on skewers. This is a practical way to grill smaller vegetables. If you’re grilling multiple vegetables, you can ensure vegetables with different cook times get done perfectly, just thread only one type of vegetable per skewer.
  • What’s the best type of skewer to use? What else do I need? Metal skewers help the food cook from the inside, and they’re reusable but remember to handle carefully as they heat up on the grill. Bamboo skewers also work well, but it’s important to soak them first. If the wood is too dry, it can start on fire, so immerse skewers in a shallow dish and cover with cold water for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 30. You’ll also need a pair of grilling tongs.
  • What kind of vegetables work best? Smaller vegetables that are prone to slipping through the grates, like cherry tomatoes or button mushrooms, are perfect candidates for kabob-style grilling. This method also works well if you want to chop up your zucchini into coins, onions into chunks, bell pepper pieces, etc.
  • How to do it?
    1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
    2. Wash and prepare your vegetables. If you are chopping vegetables, cut them into uniform-sized chunks that aren’t too large. Vegetables that are cut too large will burn on the outside before they’ve cooked through. Toss vegetables with oil.
    3. Thread vegetables onto skewers leaving space between each vegetable. If vegetables are too close together, they will steam, which will prevent them from taking on color and grilled flavor. If you’re grilling multiple vegetables, thread only one type of vegetable per skewer, so all mushrooms on one, all zucchini on another. Certain vegetables, like mushroom caps, will turn out better if skewered sideways. Bell peppers will take on more char and flavor, if skewered at a 45-degree angle.
    4. Grill over medium heat and turn after 2 minutes. Cook time will vary by vegetables but most will only take about 5 minutes.

4. Grill veggies in a grill basket

  • Why this method? Grill baskets are sometimes called grill woks, because that’s what they look like, except they have large holes in the bottom that let the heat of the grill through. Use a grill basket to cook mixed vegetables that you might otherwise sauté. It’s easy to get mixed vegetables cooked because you can see how quickly they’re cooking and add longer-cooking vegetables earlier and quicker-cooking vegetables later—something that’s not possible with a foil pack.
  • What do you need? Besides a grill basket, you’ll want metal tongs or a high-heat safe silicone spatula for stirring the vegetables.
  • What kinds of vegetables work best? All types of vegetables work well in a grill basket. Beware of vegetables that are slim enough to slip through the holes—like green beans.
  • How to do it?
    1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
    2. Wash and cut veggies into uniform-sized pieces to ensure they get done at the same time. Lightly coat in vegetable oil.
    3. Spray grill basket and allow to heat for a few minutes before adding vegetables, just like you’d allow your skillet to heat before sautéing vegetables.
    4. After adding the vegetables, stir or shake for even cooking. For cook time of individual vegetables, check out our Fresh Vegetable Grilling Chart below.

Fresh Vegetable Grilling Chart

Times below are for vegetables cooked over medium heat in a grill basket (or grill “wok”)

Vegetable

Form

Minutes

Asparagus Spears

Whole

8 to 10

Bell Peppers

Cut in ½ - inch strips

5 to 10

Baby Carrots

Whole

20 to 25

Cauliflower Florets

Cut in half lengthwise

10 to 15

Cherry Tomatoes

Whole

5 to 10

Green Beans

Whole

10 to 15

White Mushrooms

Whole with stems removed

8 to 10

Portabella Mushrooms

Whole with stems removed

8 to 10

Onions

Cut into ½ -inch slices

10 to 15

Russet or Idaho Potatoes

Cut into quarters lengthwise

15 to 20

Red Potatoes (small)

Cut into quarters

10 to 15

Zucchini (small)

Cut in half lengthwise

10 to 15

How to Grill Vegetables

Learn the best method for grilling some of our favorite summer vegetables below. Or, dive right in with our recipe for grilling Vegetable Kabobs with Mustard Dip.

How to grill vegetable kabobs

Get started grilling vegetables with this recipe, which makes a perfect dinner side or party appetizer. It takes 1 hour and 35 minutes total and serves 9.

What you’ll need:

Ingredients for grilled vegetable kabobs and mustard dipping sauce

1. In small bowl, mix dip ingredients. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Stirring together yogurt, sour cream, mustard, parsley, garlic powder and garlic salt to make dip

2. Heat gas or charcoal grill. On 5 (12-inch) metal skewers, thread one type of vegetables per skewer, so all the tomatoes are on one skewer, zucchini on another, etc. Leave space between each vegetable piece. Note, for 8-oz of mushrooms, you’ll need two skewers. Brush vegetables lightly with oil.

Threading red pepper pieces onto skewers to make vegetable kabobs

3. Place skewers of bell pepper and zucchini on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 2 minutes. Add skewers of mushrooms and tomatoes. Cover grill; cook 4 to 5 minutes, carefully turning skewers every 2 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Remove vegetables from skewers to serving plate. Serve with dip.

turning vegetable kabobs on the grill

How to grill corn on the cob

It’s not news that there are many ways to grill corn, but what’s the best way? We think it’s in a foil pack. Protecting your cob with heavy-duty foil allows you to slather your corn in butter and still give it plenty of time to cook until tender. Here’s how to grill corn on the cob in a foil pack.

  1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Shuck corn and remove silk. Pour melted butter over corn and make sure it’s completely coated. If desired, add seasonings like salt, fresh or dried herbs. Wrap each ear in heavy-duty aluminum foil allowing room for steam.
  3. Cook corn on grill for 10-12 minutes, rotating foil pack occasionally.

How to grill onions

Charred onions turn sweet and beautifully charred when grilled directly on the grates. Avoid grilling in a foil pack as onions will just steam.

  1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Slice large onion or onions into thick slabs and keep as intact as possible for direct grilling. Coat lightly in oil.
  3. Place onions on grill. After about 2 minutes, check to see if ready to turn. When charred on one side, use a metal spatula to gently flip. Continue to cook to desired doneness.

How to grill garlic

Whole heads of garlic turn out magnificently sweet and smoky when grilled in a foil pack. We love squeezing grilled garlic cloves into sour cream for a simple dip that’s great with grilled vegetables. Or, make garlic bread by mashing with butter and spreading on crusty grilled baguette. Here’s how to grill garlic.

  1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Cut the top off a head of garlic so individual cloves are exposed. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap head in foil.
  3. Cover grill to cook. Check garlic after 30 minutes by squeezing with tongs—softness is an indication garlic is done. It may take up to 15 minutes longer, depending on the size of the head of garlic.

How to grill mushrooms

The beautiful thing about grilled mushrooms is that they taste great as a main, side or condiment. Portabellas make for a wonderful sandwich or “burger,” while button mushrooms are a veggie kabob staple and chopped up they’re a topping for your mushroom-swiss burger! Whatever you decide to do, the first step is learning how to grill mushrooms perfectly.

How to grill portabella mushrooms

Portabella mushrooms are large, meaty and super flavorful. They’re often eaten on a bun, as a vegetarian alternative to a hamburger. Here’s how to grill portabella mushrooms.

  1. Before grilling a portabella mushroom, clean and remove the stem.
  2. Marinate portabella caps for about an hour, so they absorb the marinade.
  3. Grill over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.

How to grill button mushrooms

Like portabellas, button mushrooms have a meaty texture and deeply savory flavor. They turn out delicious when cooked over the grill. Because of their smaller size, it’s easiest to grill them on kabobs. Give it a try with the method below.

  1. To prepare button mushrooms for grilling, clean and trim stems. Alternately, you can remove stems completely and freeze them until you’re ready to make a broth.
  2. String mushrooms onto skewers sideways for maximum browning and flavor. Leave space between each mushroom. Brush skewered mushrooms with oil to prevent burning.
  3. Grill mushroom kabobs over medium heat turning every two minutes. They should be tender and ready to eat after 4-5 minutes.

How to grill potatoes

Just because the weather is warm doesn’t mean we stop craving comfort food. With these methods for “baked,” “roasted” and cheesy foil pack potatoes, you can have your side of spuds without ever turning on the oven.

How to grill “baked” potatoes

Russets or Idaho potatoes are ideal for this method because they “bake” up fluffy, soft and are ready to soak up a pat of butter or dollop of sour cream! Before grilling, scrub potatoes and pierce with fork, so steam can escape.

  • Method 1: Brush with butter and microwave 6 to 8 minutes. Then grill over medium heat for 8 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally.
  • Method 2: Pour 1 inch of kosher salt into an aluminum loaf pan, add two potatoes and cover with salt. Grill potatoes over medium heat 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until potatoes feel tender.

How to grill foil-pack potatoes

Any variety of potato will cook up well in a foil pack, from Yukon Golds to russets. However, we don’t recommend mixing sweet potatoes in with white, red and yellow potatoes, as they cook up differently—save the sweets for a separate foil pack. Here’s how to grill foil-pack potatoes.

  1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Cut potatoes into uniform pieces of about ¾- to 1-inch.
  3. Toss the potatoes with seasonings of your choice. A combination of oil, salt, pepper and herbs works well.
  4. Cut a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil large enough to contain the potatoes and fold up sides into a packet. Spray aluminum foil, add potatoes and seal.
  5. Grill potatoes over medium heat, rotating packet a quarter turn periodically. Potatoes will cook longer or shorter depending on their size, variety and the quantity in the packet.

How to grill potatoes in a grill basket

If you love crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside roasted potatoes, it’s time to learn how to make your potatoes in a grill basket. Waxy potatoes, like baby reds or new potatoes, work well in a grill basket because they hold up better to movement.

  1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Clean potatoes and cut into uniform pieces ¾- to 1-inch in size. Season potatoes as you desire, it can be as simple as oil, herbs, salt and pepper.
  3. Add potatoes to grill basket and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally. Check potatoes after 10 to 15 minutes by poking them with a paring knife or skewer to gauge tenderness. Total cook time will depend on the size and type of potato.

How to grill summer squash

Grilling is an easy way to turn excess squash into a side that’ll round out your grilled dinner. Summer squash has softer edible skin—as opposed to the hard skin of winter squash, like butternut or spaghetti. Common varieties of summer squash include pattypan, crookneck and of course, zucchini. Learn two easy methods for grilling zucchini below.

How to grill zucchini

  • Method 1: Prepare to grill zucchini directly on the grate by slicing it lengthwise into slices. Season as desired, some variation on oil, herb, salt and pepper always tastes great. Put zucchini directly on grill grate over medium-high heat, turn after two minutes. Zucchini should be cooked in 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Method 2: Prepare to grill zucchini kabobs by slicing crosswise into coins. Thread onto skewers leaving space between each piece. Brush kabobs lightly with oil. Grill over medium heat and turn after two minutes. Zucchini should be cooked after about 7 minutes total.

How to grill cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes grill up sweet when threaded onto a skewer. Here’s how we recommend grilling cherry tomatoes.

  1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Wash tomatoes and thread onto skewers leaving space between tomatoes. Brush with oil.
  3. Grill cherry tomato skewers over medium heat, turning gently. Tomatoes should be done in 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Serve with a dipping sauce or toss with a vinaigrette for added flavor.

How to grill asparagus

This thin vegetable loves to slide in between the grates, especially when it’s been marinated, so make it easy on yourself by learning how to grill asparagus foil packs.

  1. Clean grates, if needed. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Wash asparagus and snap off woody ends as far down the stalk as easily snaps.
  3. Cut a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and place asparagus in the center. Top asparagus with butter, salt and pepper or season as you desire. Bring up two sides of foil over asparagus so edges meet. Seal edges making tight ½-inch fold. Fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.
  4. Place packet on grill over low heat. Rotate packet ½ turn after 4 minutes. Asparagus should be tender after 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. To serve, cut large “x” across the top of the packet. Carefully fold back foil to allow steam to escape.

How to Grill Vegetable Medleys

A grill basket is the ideal way to grill a vegetable medley, because it’s easy to cook vegetables to perfect crisp-tender doneness. You simply add the longer-cooking vegetables first and quicker-cooking vegetables later. There’s no need to fuss with threading individual pieces onto skewers or keeping an eagle eye on vegetables that are cooking directly on the grate.

grilled potatoes and asparagus spears

How to grill vegetables in a grill basket

Get started with our recipe for Grilled Asparagus and New Potatoes. This recipe serves 4. The total cook time is 30 minutes.

What you’ll need:

ingredients for grilled asparagus and new potatoes

1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. In large shallow bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the lemon-pepper seasoning. Add potatoes; toss to coat. Place in grill basket.

tossing new potatoes with oil and seasonings

2. Place grill basket on grill over medium heat. Cook 15 minutes, shaking grill basket occasionally to turn and mix potatoes.

shaking grill basket with new potatoes inside

3. Meanwhile, place asparagus spears in same shallow bowl. Add remaining tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning; toss to coat.

tossing asparagus with oil and seasonings

4. Add asparagus to potatoes in grill basket. Cook about 10 minutes longer or until potatoes and asparagus are tender, shaking basket occasionally to turn and mix vegetables.

Mixing new potatoes and asparagus spears in grill basket


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