How to Grill Your Vegetables Perfectly

Grilled vegetables are one of those sides that taste great but always look a bit complicated to make; they're actually not hard to make at all. They're easy, impressive and taste fantastic.

By now, you know I love the barbeque and will cook as much as possible on it. For awhile I found vegetables a little unnerving. How do you keep it all together? Do they end up tasting funny? I had serious concerns.

Along came my foodie sister who was eager to point out what I was missing. There are some vegetables that just don’t do well on the grill. Most of them are leafy greens and items like cucumbers and celery that have very high water content.

The rest work great, especially corn, peppers, asparagus, and mushrooms.

Size counts

Thinly sliced pieces will cook faster as will smaller pieces. If you intend to cook something for a longer period of time, such as potatoes, corn cobs or whole peppers, then bigger pieces are fine. Otherwise, smaller pieces done in a basket or on a skewer can be better.

This can also be used as a tool when cooking a variety of vegetables. Vary the sizes based on cooking time to help even things up since some vegetables will take longer to be done than others.

Divide your vegetables

grilled corn

You can mix lots of vegetables together in a basket or on a skewer but some vegetables, especially potatoes and corn cobs, can take a lot longer than everything else.

It is much easier to grill them separately and then mix them into the dish once everything is cooked.

Marinating or last minute tossing

When preparing your vegetables for grilling there are a couple of different ways to do it. You can marinade the vegetables in advance or you can toss them with olive oil, fresh herbs and spices just before you cook them.

Experiment with both to find out which you prefer. If you intend to marinade, stick with simple combinations such as olive oil mixed with lemon or lime juice or balsamic vinegar and some herbs. You always want a bit of olive oil since that makes everything stick less to the grill.

Some vegetables such as zucchini, squash, and eggplant do better with a bit of marinade.

Baskets & skewers

grilled vegetables

You can easily slice items like tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, Portobello mushrooms, and other large vegetables in such a way that they can be put directly on the grill.

Smaller items like crimini mushrooms, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and anything that has been cut into smaller pieces tend to be more difficult to manage directly on the grill. A grill basket can be a very useful tool. It will have small enough openings that nothing will fall out.

If it has a lid, you can also shake things around a bit to mix them up as you grill. Skewers will also work well although, personally, I find the basket more versatile.

Cooking potatoes

Potatoes take a long time to cook. To get around this you can partially cook them and then toss them on the grill to add some colour and flavour at the end. You can also cut them into smaller chunks.

You can cook whole baking potatoes, you just need to leave enough time for them to cook all the way through. You can also put the heat on one side of the grill, so that you are indirectly grilling. Add some smoking chips or cubes to the flames for extra flavour.

Rub the potatoes with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and let them cook in the heat and smoke for 45-60 minutes. Test for doneness and enjoy.

Cooking corn on the cob

Some people think you should cook corn on the cob in the husks. You can do this and the results are okay but I like it better if you do the corn directly on the grill. It gets a bit of char that when mixed with a bit of butter, salt and pepper along with fresh corn is simply heavenly.

Like potatoes, corn can be a slow cooking vegetable but it is worth it. Do not precook the corn, let it take its time on the grill.

Basic marinades


Here are a couple of basic marinades, courtesy of All Recipes, to get you going. Play around with the flavours you like. Once the vegetables are cooked, you can also sprinkle with a bit of cheese if desired.

Basic Marinade #1:


  • ½ cup each of olive oil, soy sauce, and lemon juice
  • ½ clove of crushed garlic

Makes enough to marinate about 8 servings of vegetables. Let them marinate for at least a half an hour before cooking.

Basic Marinade #2:


  • ¼ cup each of olive oil, lemon juice and chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

This one makes enough for five servings of vegetables. You should allow the vegetables to marinate for at least an hour before cooking.

Basic Marinade #3


  • 2 TB each of olive oil, chopped fresh parsley, chopped fresh basil, and chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 6 cloves of minced garlic

There is enough marinade to do 6 servings of vegetables. Marinate them for two hours before cooking.

However you choose to make your vegetables, summer is a great time to take advantage of local produce. Fresh and local can be much tastier than something that got trucked in for miles before it reached your local grocer.

Better still, try growing some of your vegetables. A few plants can produce enough for a family and you’ll be enjoying them all season long for a fraction of the price you’d pay at the store.

About the author

Heather B

Heather is an avid traveller, lover of dogs, and baker supreme. She lives in a small town in Ontario, Canada where she raises German Shorthaired Pointers with her family. An explorer at heart, she travels whenever she can, wherever she can.

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