Fruits and vegetables have just as much of a place on the grill as a steak or a hamburger. In fact, grilling fruits and veggies can actually make preparing a meal easier. Not only will you end up with a delicious dinner, you won’t have to juggle cooking anything else inside on the stove or in the oven. Plus, the grill is versatile. You can vary your method for grilling fruits and vegetables based on your comfort level and personal taste preferences. For grilling times, check out the chart below, and read on to learn more about the best methods for grilling fruits and vegetables.
Cooking directly on the grill grates
For the most grill flavor, your best bet is to cook straight on the grate. This method requires keeping the pieces of food large, so they don’t fall through the grates as you’re cooking. You can keep some things whole, like ears of corn. For veggies like zucchini, try cutting into long planks instead of small rounds. Season lightly with salt and pepper, or with a rub or marinade of your choosing. No matter what, this method is bound to get you some nice char marks and smoky grilled flavor. The main thing to remember is that the density of the item will impact the cook time. For example, potatoes will take longer to cook than sweet peppers. Keep the items in separate rows or sections on the grill while cooking, so you can easily pull off like items when they’re done. Once the produce has been grilled, you can chop it into smaller bite-sized pieces and combine.
How to grill in a foil packet
With this method, you’ll chop the food down into bite-sized pieces from the start. To make a packet, tear a large piece of aluminum foil from the container and group the food in the center of one side. This is your opportunity to season your vegetables. Fold the other side of the aluminum foil over like you’re closing a book. Crimp the 3 open edges together to seal. The foil packet can then go directly on the grates without the worry of food sticking to the grates or falling through. This method traps the heat in, and steams whatever is inside. You won’t get the same char or smoky flavor, but you will end up with a delicious meal or side dish.
How to grill in a pan
With the right cookware, you can place a pan on the grill and use it like a stove. Cast iron is going to give you the best results here. Avoid pans with an enamel coating, plastic handles, or a nonstick surface like teflon. The high heat of the grill can ruin those surfaces. Since this method is similar to cooking on a stovetop, you can sauté, blister, or even caramelize onions. Preheat the grill and the pan with some oil, and then cook away. You might get some smoky essence here, but you’ll likely have to keep the grill lid open for this type of cooking, so it won’t pick up nearly as much flavor as direct grilling.
How to use a grill basket
Working with a grill basket is similar to using a pan on the grill, but grill baskets usually have small perforated holes. These openings are small enough to allow some smoky flavor through without letting food fall out. To use a basket, preheat the grill and the basket and lightly oil the food. Add things with similar cook times and toss or stir occasionally to make sure the heat is distributed evenly. The food will brown a bit as it cooks, but you won’t get the nice char marks you do with direct grilling.
How to grill with skewers
When it comes to grilling with skewers, the most important thing is to keep foods with similar cooking times together; you don’t want to end up with a stick of burnt peppers and raw potatoes. With this method, you’re able to grill bite-sized pieces directly on the grates without worrying about food falling through the grill. Skewers are available in both wood and metal varieties. The main difference is that you need to soak wood skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to help avoid burning. If you find the food is turning or moving too much on a single skewer, simply use a second skewer to secure it. Placing the skewers perpendicular to the grates will make this method even easier. Skewers give you the benefit of the chargrilled flavor, smokiness of the grill, and easy to eat bite-sized pieces.
Once you’ve chosen your technique, try it out on some of the produce below. For all of the items below, first preheat the grill to a temperature of 450-500°F and oil the grill grates.
How to grill pineapple
Peel the pineapple and cut into quarters lengthwise. Remove the core from each quarter, and place directly on the grill. If you prefer rounds, peel the pineapple and slice into 1/2-inch slices. Grill for 6-8 minutes per side. Once your pineapple is nicely caramelized, remove it from the grill, allow to cool, and slice into wedges. These slices will provide a lovely acidic zing in a chicken sandwich, or, if you’re feeling ambitious, use grilled pineapple to add an additional layer of flavor to pineapple upside down cake.
How to grill green cabbage
Cut the cabbage into quarters, keeping the root intact. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of oil on the cut cabbage and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Place the seasoned cabbage wedges cut side down on the hot grill. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally until lightly charred.
How to grill corn
Remove the husk and silk from the corn. Lightly oil the corn cobs and place them directly on the grill. Cook for 18 to 20 minutes, turning the cobs occasionally until the corn is charred and cooked through. Once the corn is cooled, enjoy it as is, or cut it off the cob and mix it into a summer salad.
How long to grill asparagus
Asparagus can vary a lot in size. When it comes to the grill, the bigger the stalk the better. Larger stalks will be easier to maneuver, and will stand up to the heat of the grill better. To make this even easier, consider threading the asparagus stalks onto a skewer. Lightly oil the asparagus and place on a hot grill. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until softened and charred. Once they’re cooked, toss in a light dressing, add to a salad, or just cool and eat.
How to grill scallions
Lightly oil the scallions and place on the grill, making sure to keep them perpendicular to the grill grate. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until softened and charred.
How to grill onions
Peel and cut the onion into 1/2-inch thick rings. Lightly oil the cut onion and place the slices directly on the grill. Cook 8 to 10 minutes per side, or until charred and tender. Once done, these are delicious on top of a burger or steak.
How long to grill zucchini
Halve the zucchini lengthwise. Using the tip of your knife, score the cut sides of the zucchini diagonally to form a cross-hatch pattern, about 1/4-inch deep. Season the cut sides with a big pinch of salt, then place on a paper towel-lined plate, cut side down. Set aside to release the excess liquid, at least 10 minutes. Pat the zucchini dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Lightly oil the slices and place them on the grill cut side down. Cook 3 to 5 minutes per side or until lightly charred and softened. Remove the zucchini from the grill, serve as is, toss in a light dressing, or tuck into zucchini tacos.
Make sure your grill is cleaned, preheated, and oiled before adding anything. This will ensure that your vegetables won’t stick to the grill.
Lightly brush or toss your vegetables in oil before placing on the grill to get better color.
Keep the grill lid down while you cook to keep the temperature high and prevent flare ups.
Season your vegetables with salt and lemon off the grill while they are still hot.
Use sheet trays to organize your vegetables before grilling as an easy way to transfer them to and from the grill.