Grilling Seasonal Vegetables

  • Pin It
  • print
  • email to a friend

Grilling Seasonal Vegetables

By Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Grilling fresh seasonal vegetables is a not only a healthy way to prepare them, it’s also a snap! Why dirty up another bowl, pan or dish after a long day? Not to mention the ease and speediness in which dinner is ready and the cost effectiveness of grilling a side dish. The exclamation points are the appealingly sweet smoky flavor that a grill imparts and the bright colors left behind.

Here are some handy grilling tips for preparing vegetables along with a couple of recipe ideas. We hope the next time you have a chance to pick vegetables fresh from the garden or your local farmers market you use these tips and cook them on the grill.

Vegetable Grilling Tips:

** Spray the grill with non-stick cooking spray prior to heating the grill to help make clean up a snap.

**Make sure your grill is medium hot. One way to test this is to place your hand over the grill. If you can hold it there for 4 seconds, the fire is medium hot.

**Prevent your vegetables from drying out on the grill by soaking them in cold water first. 

**Vegetables should be cut to expose the most surface area to the grill.  This helps them to cook quickly. Also, cut the pieces equal in size so they will cook evenly. For example: Cut your squash and eggplant into strips, not rounds, of the same width. 

**Use kosher salt or sea salt on your vegetables to bring out extra moisture. Seasoning with salt and pepper both before and after grilling helps to make them sweet and full of flavor.

**Someone in the family doesn’t like grilled vegetables? Try this trick. Sprinkle a little sugar on the vegetables half way through the cooking. This gives them a wonderful caramel flavor. 

**Use tongs to turn your vegetables on the grill instead of a fork. You don’t want to puncture them, as it will release the moisture.

**Smaller vegetables such as cherry tomatoes (we’ll just pretend and call this a vegetable) and small mushrooms might fall through the grill and should be skewered first. Thick onion slices should also be skewered all the way through to keep them whole while grilling. I like to use metal skewers instead of bamboo since they don’t burn and I can reuse them.

**Because vegetables lack fat, they need oil or some sort of liquid marinade to prevent them from burning and sticking to the grill. Brush them with a vegetable oil or flavored oil such as a prepared salad dressing prior to placing on the grill. You can also marinate them in a prepared dressing or your own marinade recipe.

Try this sweet simple summer marinade recipe:
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Add sliced vegetables to the bowl, toss to coat and let marinate for 30 minutes. Remove from marinade and place on a medium hot grill to cook.

Or this simple flavored basting oil:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup olive oil
juice and zest from 2 lemons (substitute any citrus you have on hand)
3 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped fine

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes so flavors will infuse. Brush on vegetables and place on grill to cook.

Grill Times and Techniques:

Corn on the cob: Gently pull back the husks but keep them intact. Remove the silks and soak the cobs in cold water for 30 minutes. Dry and brush with butter or make your own compound butter by mixing together 1/4 cup butter (room temperature), 2 teaspoons ground chipotle pepper, and zest of one lime. Fold the husks back down over the kernels, twist the ends and place on the grill for 8-10 minutes, turning every two minutes. Serve with extra Chipotle, Lime Butter or have fun and invent other compound butters.

Asparagus: Cut off ends and soak in water for 30 minutes. Brush with oil. Grill 2-3 minutes, or until tips begin to brown.

Eggplant: Cut lengthwise into 1/2” slices. Brush with oil. Grill 2-3 minutes per side.

Garlic: Cut the root end off of a whole bulb. Brush with oil and place cut side down on the grill. Grill 10 minutes, or until the skin is a dark brown.

Onions: Remove skin and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Run a metal skewer through the entire slice.  Brush with oil. Grill 5 minutes per side.

Bell Peppers: Cut the pepper in half from top to bottom. Remove stems, seeds and ribs. Brush with oil.  Grill 3-4 minutes per side.

Zucchini or Summer Squash: Slice lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick slices. Brush with oil. Grill 4-5 minutes per side.

Cremini or Button Mushrooms: Wipe clean with a dry cloth. Thread on a metal skewer and brush with oil. Grill 8-12 minutes, turning every 2 minutes. 

Romaine Lettuce (for a quick grilled Caesar salad): Cut in half lengthwise. Brush with oil and place cut side down on the grill. Grill 2-3 minutes.

Have fun grilling your vegetables this summer, and never fear… if the weather is bad outside, a great grill pan like Paula’s Cast Iron Double Burner Grill Pan will get you that great grill flavor all year long!

Read More From Holidays and Entertaining.

Read More From Memorial/Labor Day.

Read More From Fourth of July.

Read More From Game Day.

You May Also Like These Articles:

You May Also Like These Recipes:

Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:


Dear paula,love your show, love your recipes. hope all gets better. would surely hate to see your show rnd. Its the highlight of my day.

By alice on July 18, 2013


Here's another reciepe for grilling corn-on-the-cob. Pull down husks and remove silks from ear or corn, leaving husks on the cob. Wrap the corn with a strip of bacon and pull husks back up around to cover bacon & corn. Tie husks around corn with string that has been soaking in cold water. Cook on grill until corn is fork tender. Take off grill, remove string, husks & bacon. Butter, salt & pepper to taste. Tasty Morsels! P.S. Has anyone grilled any vegetables (like corn-on-the-cobb) on an electric grill inside the house?

By Sharon Hines on July 12, 2013


When I grill corn, I pull the husks down and pull the silks off. Then wrap the corn with a slice of bacon. Pull the husks back up and tie them with string that has been soaking in cold water. Cook corn until tender. When you take off the grill, pull off husks and discard bacon. Put butter, salt & pepper to taste. Tasty Morsels!

By Sharon Hines on July 12, 2013


I want to grill corn do you have a good way to fix it?

By Darlene Lindsay on July 12, 2013


Great job keep up all you do Was at your lady & sons had a great time can wate to get back I tell evry one how hot it was wateing to get in and when we did we had some great food and the coolist beer ever so good thank you for that Dont change a thing Bob

By Robert Nardone on July 12, 2013


we also like grilled vegetables heres a trick with corn on the cob I saw on the internet, after its grilled I grill mine in the husks cut the end off then holding the top of the husk and silks the ear will slide out silk free

By Linda on June 05, 2012


We grill veggies several times a week and LOVE the grilled flavor! But we learned a new one this past winter. GRILLED COLLARDS!! Yes! Brush the leaves with oil and quickly grill each side. It makes a crispy and tasty 'underlay' for all of the other grilled veggies and meats on your plate. Even quests who would not eat collards enjoyed the idea.

By Steven Boyce on June 05, 2012


PAULA WHEN MY DAD WAS ALIVE HE LOVED TO GRILL, HE WOULD TAKE VEGGIES OUT OF HIS GARDEN AND CLEAN THE THEN THROW THEM ON THE GRILL. HE USE TO MAKE THIS TOMATO W/ PEPPERS AND THEY WERE DELICIOUS. INGS.: Tomatoes (ripe or semi-ripe which ever you perfer) Butter (squeeze) Pickeled Peppers (any brand, he would use the ones that us would use the juice for turnip greens) Salt Black Pepper Take the tomatoes and cut a star in the end (not the end where the stem was) and then place a pickeled pepper into it sprinkle with salt and black pepper and then add butter, place on grill and cook till the tenderness that you like. Try this I beleive that you will ENJOY it.

By Marie Scroggins on July 12, 2011


Love squash, onions and tomatoes on the grill with garlic, pepper and salt.

By Naomi McCracken on July 11, 2011


I don't consider corn a veggie, it is in the starch family, the same as bread...

By Anonymous on July 11, 2011


Christine, they are referring to the charring of the food, that would include any food that has black on it. All you have to do it cut the black off and eat the rest.

By Anonymous on July 11, 2011


We love to grill all the summer vegetables but last weekend we had a few leftover sliced squash, purple bell pepper and carrots. We grilled them in our grilling pan and they were delicious.

By Dianne Lawing on July 11, 2011


My favorite grilled vegetable is cabbage wrapped in Bacon with butter and seasonings inside. Yummy, hmmm might just do that tonight. LOL .

By carmen on July 11, 2011


i love to grill corn on grill but now i saw online about not doing it b/c its not good for you did you hear anything about that ?

By christine xander on June 29, 2011

Could have been more specific in amounts of ingredients to use - otherwise pretty good.

By joe howell on July 01, 2010

I was told when using bamboo skewers the trick was to soak them in water before using on the grill because they would less likely burn

By Marilyn Davis on June 22, 2010

In your resturant you serve a red pepper salsa on your fried green tomotaoes that was fabulous.Is it possible to get that receipe. Thanks

By Vicki Sterkenburg on June 22, 2010

My Recipe Box |

Paula's Upcoming Schedule

  • September 20: Booksigning in Waco, TX

    Join Paula at DuBois Furniture in Waco, TX for a book signing and meet and greet from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm.

  • September 24: Paula Deen Live! in Charlotte

    Come see Paula’s live show at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC and get a heaping helping of Paula’s recipes, and some good old-fashioned fun and laughter!
    Tickets available from Blumenthal Performing Arts Center here!

    Starts at 5:30 PM. Light hors d’oeuvres and beer & wine will be served, including a meet and greet with Paula Deen! 

    Sponsored by Springer Mountain Farms.

  • October 24: Deen Family Book Signing

    Join the Deen Family for a Book Signing at The Lady & Sons from 10 am to 12 pm.
    The event is free; 350 wristbands to be distributed starting at 9 am.

  • View Paula's Full Schedule