Sizzling Summer Eats - Tips for Grilling Perfect Vegetables

Shanthi Appelo
Shanthi Appelo

| 2 min read

Grilling meats is a popular summer tradition, often leaving vegetables to take a backseat. However, grilling vegetables is an excellent choice for side dishes as they’re naturally low in calories but rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Grilling is a healthy cooking method that retains nutrients while bringing out rich flavors from the crops. The grilling process caramelizes the natural sugars in veggies, enhancing their flavor. Follow these tips to make your grilled vegetables taste their best:

Preparing vegetables for grilling:

  • Size. Cut veggies into even pieces for uniform cooking.
  • Tools. Make sure small vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, are cooked on skewers or in grilling baskets. Soak wooden skewers for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling to avoid burning.
  • Preheat. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (around 375-450°F or 190-230°C) for most vegetables. Vegetables may lack color and taste steamed if grill isn’t preheated properly.
  • Placement. Direct heat works well for smaller and tender vegetables such as zucchini and tomatoes, while indirect heat is better for larger or denser vegetables such as corn.
  • Marinades. Lightly coat vegetables with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and herbs or a light vinaigrette before grilling. Veggies only need 10-15 minutes to marinate. Marinating high water content veggies like mushrooms for too long can cause the salt in the marinade to draw too much moisture out from the veggies.
  • Flipping. Avoid flipping vegetables too often to achieve grill marks and ensure even cooking.
The amount of time on the grill matters in getting a tasty aftermath. Most veggies need to grill until they’re fork-tender and have a nice golden color. Keep these ideal cooking times in mind. Size, variety of vegetable and grill temperature affect these times.
  • Bell peppers – 8-10 minutes
  • Zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant – 4-6 minutes
  • Tomatoes – 4-6 minutes
  • Mushrooms – 6-8 minutes
  • Asparagus - 4-6 minutes
  • Onions – 4-6 minutes
  • Corn - 10-15 minutes
Grilling vegetables is a versatile and healthy way to enjoy a variety of flavors and textures. Try this recipe, a medley of grilled vegetables topped with a herbaceous and zesty sauce:

Total Time:

35 minutes

Prep Time:

15 minutes

Cooking Difficulty:


Serving Amount
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced longways

  • 1 bell pepper, quartered, seeds removed

  • 12 cup cherry tomatoes, or 1 beefsteak tomato, sliced thick

  • 1 cup Portobello mushrooms

  • 14 cup vinaigrette of choice

  • 13 cup chili-lime chimichurri

  • 1 burrata, quartered

  • Step 1

    Prepare vegetables and place in a container or gallon sized plastic bag. Pour over the vinaigrette and mix. Marinate for 10 minutes.

  • Step 2

    Heat the grill. Once hot, place vegetables on the grill. The bell peppers will require an additional 10 minutes on the grill compared to the other vegetables.

  • Step 3

    Once grill marks appear and desired texture is achieved, remove vegetables and place on a serving plate. Top with a drizzle of chimichurri and torn burrata.

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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