kencko | How to make vegetables the star of your next BBQ

How to make vegetables the star of your next BBQ

It might sound like sacrilege deep in grill country, but we assure you: these 3 easy and delicious barbecued veggie recipes will wow even the most meat-minded cookout attendee.

In the Northern Hemisphere we’ve reached the truly sweltering stages of summer. And perhaps counterintuitively, that means it’s time to laze about in the sun, fire up the grill, consume sizzling foods, and invite some pals over for a good old-fashioned barbecue.

For meat-lovers, that’s cause for burger-fueled celebration. But for vegetarians, vegans, or really anyone looking to prioritize fruits and veggies in their routines, the cookout can be a real bummer. While your peers are noshing on their third or fourth hot dog, you’re relegated to the side dish table, nursing a plate of stale potato chips and shooing gnats away from your wedge of watermelon.

If you fall into that camp, good news: we’re officially declaring this to be the “Hot Veg Summer.” And accordingly, we’ve rounded up some pointers and three delicious recipes for grilling fruits and veggies that’ll propel produce into star status at your next barbeque, and quite possibly convert some of your more carnivorous pals.

The ABCs of BBQing fruits & veggies
Fun fact: just about any fruit or vegetable can go on the grill. Sure, not everything will keep its form and wind up with those highly coveted grill marks, but if you follow a few basic concepts, you can explore all sorts of on-the-fly BBQ fruit and veggie options.

  • Slice selectively: Cut firmer produce thinly (1/4” to 3/4”), and into shapes that allow for more contact with the grill. This helps fruits and veggies cook quicker, and maximizes the char from the grill, which helps pull out richer flavors.
  • Lather on the oil: Don’t be shy about coating things in olive oil or other cooking oil before tossing them onto the grill. This helps keep your fruits or veggies from drying out and sticking – plus, it helps seasonings like salt or pepper better adhere. If you feel so inclined, marinade or salad dressing also work, and pack added flavor.
  • Keep an eye on the grill: There are several schools of thought when it comes to cooking time for fruits and veggies, but all require a bit more attention to the grill than you might be used to. One option is to grill veggies over indirect, moderate heat, turning them regularly, then relocating them to the upper rack or another cooler part of the grill when ready. Another method is to place them right on the hottest part of the grill over medium heat, flipping when charred and tender, which might take anywhere from 4-10 minutes. And if these strategies are already stressing you out, you might want to toss your desired produce into a pouch of aluminum foil with a little oil and salt, and “roast” them that way.
  • Don’t skimp on seasoning: Once off the grill, dress your veggies or fruit in a zesty vinaigrette, a dash of balsamic vinegar, or even a simple olive oil and salt spritz. As a rule of thumb, if something would taste good on a grilled meat, it will also work great on a grilled veggie!

Sources: kitchn, bon appétit

But if improvisation at the grill isn’t really your thing, here are a few tried and true recipes for veggie-and-fruit-forward summer grillables, developed by plant-loving members of our team!

Roasted Peppers Salad
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1 large yellow pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Vinegar


  1. Roast the peppers over the coals (or on the grill). If you roast them on the coals, place them directly on top of them, but without any flames. They are ready when the skin is burned and dark on both sides.
  2. After roasting, place them inside a plastic bag/container and close tight. Leave to cool a bit, until the peppers peel easily, then cut them into strips, removing the stem and seeds.
  3. Season by tossing with chopped garlic, olive oil, vinegar and salt.

Tip: When they are roasted, you can also dip them in cold water, remove the skin, stem and seeds and cut them into strips.

Recipe by Sofia Amaral, Registered Dietitian

Coal Roast Spicy Sweet Potatoes
  • 3-4 sweet potatoes – whatever style you like (orange, yam, purple, etc.)
  • 3.5 oz. Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dried oregano
  • 1 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Maple syrup
  • Dash of salt & pepper
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • Optional: chopped cilantro, mustard, mayonnaise


  1. Fire up the grill, aiming for medium heat.
  2. Leaving the skin on, scrub the potatoes under some water to remove any dirt or debris from the skin.
  3. Cut the potatoes lengthwise, and then slice in half diagonally. Repeat for all potatoes.
  4. Pour the oil into a bowl and add oregano, smoked paprika, maple syrup, a generous helping of salt and pepper, some chilli flakes and mix it all together.
  5. Then toss the potato chunks in the seasoned oil to coat, then wrap them in some tin foil.
  6. When the grill is good and hot just put the all wrapped potatoes directly onto the hottest part or coals.
  7. They should take about twenty minutes to cook, but you can check the largest piece to determine the readiness of the whole batch. You are looking for caramelised sweet potato skin and soft texture!
  8. They're great with chopped cilantro and mustard mayonnaise! Enjoy!

Recipe by: Ezra Brown, R&D

Cajun Portabella Mushrooms
  • 5-6 portabella mushrooms
  • Cajun run/spice blend
  • Sea salt
  • 3.5 oz olive oil
  • Optional: lime zest


  1. Get the grill going, with the goal being a low to medium-low temperature.
  2. In a bowl, combine the olive oil and a generous pour of cajun spice blend.
  3. Lightly salt your mushrooms then brush them with the oil and spice blend, before letting them sit for half an hour so they absorb the oil and spices.
  4. You might want to repeat this step if it seems they aren’t well seasoned yet, or if you just want more flavorful mushrooms.
  5. When the BBQ is at the desired cooking stage, get those shrooms on the grill, gills up, to get nice grill marks on them.
  6. Let them color up and cook 75% through – depending on size, anywhere between 2-5 minutes – and then flip for the final minute or so.
  7. If you’d like, sprinkle them with lime zest for an added punch.

Recipe by: Ezra Brown, R&D

Still hungry?

Our team can’t take credit for this next batch of plant-based BBQ recipes, but we can confirm they all fit the bill as “extremely tasty, easy to prepare, and totally meat-free.”

BBQ Jackfruit “Pulled Pork” Sandwiches: Versatile jackfruit, with its meaty texture and ability to absorb the flavors of a good BBQ sauce, provides the satisfying center in this fantastic veggie version of a smoked staple, courtesy of Minimalist Baker.
Portobello Mushroom Bruschetta: Okay, so bruschetta isn’t typical BBQ fare, but we know that once you try this fantastic recipe, you’ll jump at every opportunity to include it on the menu – check it out, from Contentedness Cooking.
Veggie Skewers: When you think of veggies on the grill, chances are this is what you envision, but for good reason. Simple, delicious, and the perfect accompaniment to whatever else you’re grilling up, you’ll definitely want to add this recipe from The Forked Spoon to your arsenal.