7 Grilled Vegetables To Complete Your Barbecue
Summertime is all about picnics, frozen treats, and of course, barbecues! We take every chance we get to use our grill, especially when we have company over. It’s a great way to get everyone outside in a celebration of warm weather and great food.
While most barbecues center around burgers (or veggie burgers!), hot dogs, and buns, we find that it’s often the humble grilled vegetables that steal the show. And they’re so versatile! You can use grilled vegetables as a delicious side, a filling for tacos, a topping for pizza, or on their own in a grilled vegetable salad.
So gather your farmer’s market bounty, fire up the grill, and get ready to give those veggies their time in the barbecue spotlight. Read on for our favorite grilled vegetables.
We often refer to the warmer months as “peak corn season.” Biting into a cob of sweet, crunchy kernels is the epitome of summer. There’s something extra special about the way grilled corn yields the perfect balance between the juicy kernels and charred grill marks.
There are a few ways to grill the perfect cob of corn—right in the husk, slathered in butter or oil and wrapped in foil, or thrown straight on the grill. After grilling, you can eat straight off the cob, or slice the kernels off into a bowl and top them with your favorite street corn seasonings like cheese, herbs, and spices.
Salad is often the least exciting part of a barbecue, but grilling lettuce totally changes the game. Romaine lettuce holds up best because of its heartier leaves and slightly bitter flavor, which pairs well with the smokiness from charcoal grilling.
To prepare the lettuce for grilling, rinse, trim, and quarter the head lengthwise, and then drizzle each quarter with olive oil. Grill for 15-20 seconds on each side, flipping to make sure the lettuce is browning evenly. Remove from the grill, let cool, and then dress with your favorite salad dressing and toppings. We love using grilled romaine as a base for a slightly non-traditional Caesar salad.
Because of their hearty nature and earthy, almost meaty flavor, grilled portobello caps are a great vegetarian grilling option. We also love slicing grilled portobello caps once they come off the grill to add into a salad or wrap.
Before you get to grilling, you’ll need to clean and prep the mushrooms. Then, marinade your mushrooms in your favorite marinade for 15-20 minutes, and toss them on the grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the caps. They’re done when they have a nice set of char marks on each side and have slightly reduced in size.
The key to delicious, grilled eggplant lies in the thickness of the slices. When sliced to a perfect thickness (around ¼-inch), grilled eggplant manages to be both crispy and velvety smooth. A little seasoning goes a long way—we like to brush each side of the eggplant slice with olive oil, and season simply with salt, black pepper, and a bit of spice (think: red pepper flakes, hot paprika, Aleppo pepper) before grilling. You’ll want to grill the slices for 5-6 minutes on each side, until deep golden brown and able to be pierced with a fork.
If you want to get creative with your newly grilled eggplant, this recipe for Charred Eggplant with Quinoa Tabbouleh calls for roasting the eggplant, but the charred flavor and crispy texture come through even better on the grill.
Pro tip: We recommend preparing grilled eggplant the day you want to eat it, as the flavors and textures don’t keep well in the fridge.
If you love caramelized onions, try the sweet, smoky flavor of grilled onions this summer. While caramelizing on the stovetop works best with sweet yellow onions, we recommend more bitter red onions for grilling.
To grill, remove the outer skin and slice into rings about ½ inch or thicker. Lightly coat with olive oil and season with salt. Arrange the onion rings, cut side down, on the grill, and cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the onions have darkened in color, softened, and are striped with grill marks. Serve on their own, topped with chopped herbs and additional olive oil, salt, and pepper, or sliced further to use as a burger topping!
Bell peppers are a great way to add a burst of color to your barbecue. While some people like to half the peppers when grilling, we prefer to slice and marinate our peppers before we grill them, so they’re ready to eat straight off the grill.
You’ll definitely want to use a grill tray for this one, as the delicate pepper slivers like to escape through the grill grates as you toss them. We love these charred pepper slices on their own, but they also make an amazing addition to a hearty sandwich—like this Italian Sausage Hero with Grilled Bell Peppers.
Asparagus season is technically late spring, early summer, so you’ll want to frontload your grilling with this delicious vegetable if you want to eat it at its prime. Asparagus are best served simply, grilled with salt and pepper and tossed in olive oil.
Pre-grill, just coat each asparagus spear with olive oil and pop on the grill, ensuring that you’re laying the spears perpendicular to the grill grates, so they get a nice char without slipping through the cracks.
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