How to Grill Vegetables

No matter what kind of vegggies you're grilling, get tender, perfectly charred bites every time with these tips.

While grilling is traditionally considered a meat-lover's domain, there's good reason to add vegetables to the mix. Subtle charring and a touch of smoke bring out the best in summer's bounty. But to get them just right, different veggies require slightly different methods. Most vegetables are suited for high, direct-heat cooking, while dense or larger veggies may require par-cooking or a lower temperature.

For Tender Vegetables

Tender veggies — like asparagus, broccolini, mushrooms, leeks and scallions — cook quickly over high, direct heat within about 5 minutes.

These vegetables also cook quickly:

  • Broccoli
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Green beans
  • Eggplant
  • Radicchio
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Sliced peppers
  • Avocado

For Hard Vegetables

Crunchy, dense veggies — like carrots, butternut squash and potatoes — should be par-cooked before grilling over high heat. After that, they'll be ready in 5 to 10 minutes.

For Most Other Vegetables

Grill veggies that fall somewhere in between tender and hard — like zucchini, onions, whole peppers, corn and Brussels sprouts — over medium-high heat with a closed lid. At this lower temperature, they'll take 10 to 20 minutes to become tender.

How to Grill

Always start with a clean grill. While it's still cold, brush any food residue from the grates, then lightly coat a bunched-up paper towel with olive oil. Using tongs, wipe the oil onto the grill grates.

Don't overdo it — dripping oil can cause flare-ups and excessive smoke.

For a gas grill, turn the burners to high. For a charcoal grill, spread the hot coals evenly in the cook box. Close the lid and preheat for 15 minutes. This will burn off the oil and make the grill nonstick and very hot, about 500 degrees F. For charcoal grills, keep the lid vents open for air circulation.

While the grill preheats, prepare the vegetables. As we mentioned, vegetables like asparagus cook quickly. Toss them with a little olive oil, plus kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the asparagus on the grill perpendicular to the grates so they don't fall through.

Grill for about 4 minutes, occasionally rolling them across the grill with a metal spatula to brown on all sides. When the spears are lightly charred, tender and bright green, remove them from the grill. If they're cooking too quickly, move to a cooler area.

Using a Grill Basket

Some vegetables that are small or thin will inevitably fall between the grates, like cherry tomatoes, green beans, diced zucchini and sliced peppers. This is the time to use a grill basket. The grill basket should be preheated for at least 15 minutes before adding any food to prevent sticking and encourage browning.

Cut larger vegetables like zucchini and red pepper into a similar-sized dice so they cook evenly. Add some green beans and cherry tomatoes, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and any other seasonings like garlic powder or herbs.

Place the vegetables into the hot grill basket. Close the lid and grill over high heat until browned and tender, tossing occasionally.

Follow these basic steps to enjoy the smoky flavor of tender grilled vegetables all summer long!

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