Friday, May 25, 2012

Recipe for World's Easiest Grilled Vegetables (How to Cook Vegetables on the Grill)

World's Easiest Grilled Vegetables
These easy grilled vegetables are something I make all during grilling season!

(For Phase One Fridays I highlight Phase One recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites.  These easy grilled vegetables are something I make at least once a week during grilling season!)

I regularly get comments from people who tell me they are learning to cook from my blog.  Feedback like that is partly what's motivating me to share this simple not-really-even-a-recipe way that I cook grilled vegetables all during the grilling season.  Whenever I'm cooking grilled chicken, meat, or fish, there will usually be one of these grill pans full of vegetables cooking alongside it.  Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of grilling season for many people in the U.S. so I'm sure there will be vegetables on the grill at my house over the weekend!

Through the years I've tried various types of these grilling baskets for vegetables, and currently I have two like this one (although this copper-colored one I bought at a kitchen store in Healdsburg, California is definitely my favorite.)  The other one is just like this but silver metal, and sometimes I do have them both going at once!  These pans are pretty inexpensive, and if you're buying your first one my main advice is to NOT get one with a handle that won't let you close the lid of the grill.  (If you have a hard time finding one where you live, this Weber Grilling Basketfrom is a good choice.)  Whatever kind you buy, put it on the grill to heat up while you cut up the vegetables.  (If anyone follows that link and buys one from, Kalyn's Kitchen does earn a few cents on the dollar, so thanks!)

There are endless variations for vegetables you can cook in a pan like this, but over and over I find myself using this combination of zucchini, sweet Vidalia onions (or other sweet onions), and red bell pepper.  You want to cut the vegetables in same-size pieces, not quite 2 inches in size.  (Check the recipe for other vegetable suggestions.)

Here is the trick that I think takes grilled vegetables from "okay" to "wow."  Put the cut-up veggies into a small Zip-loc bag (or a plastic container with a snap-tight lid) and pour over just enough Italian salad dressing to coat the veggies, then let them marinate in the fridge for 4-6 hours (or longer) before you cook them.   Any dressing that has oil as the first ingredient will work, but I'm partial to Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing for this (and it only has 1 gram of sugar in 2 tablespoons, which keeps the veggies South Beach Diet friendly.)  Sometimes I add a pinch of dried thyme, oregano, or fennel to the dressing, but it's also great plain.)

Be sure to drain the vegetables before you dump them into the grill pan or the oil in the dressing will flame up on the grill. 

You should have your grill pre-heated to medium-high before you start to cook the vegetables.  Then put veggies into the hot pan and spread them around so as many as possible are touching the surface of the pan.  Start to cook the veggies with the lid of the grill closed.

I give my vegetables a stir about every 5 minutes, and cook them 15-20 minutes, depending on what type of vegetables I'm using.  One thing I like about this combination is that they're all very low-glycemic vegetablees and they all cook in about the same amount of time.  I like it when the vegetables get a little charred, but you might prefer yours a little less well-done. 

World's Easiest Grilled Vegetables
(The amount shown in the photos is 2-3 servings of grilled vegetables; this method of grilling vegetables has been used by Kalyn for many years.)

1 medium zucchini
1 large sweet onion (I used Vidalia onion)
1 large red bell pepper
(See below for other vegetable combinations.  You need about 4 cups of cut-up vegetables.)
1/2 cup Italian Salad Dressing (I like Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing for this, be sure to use a dressing with oil as the first ingredient.)
pinch of dried herbs like thyme, oregano, or fennel (optional)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to season vegetables after grilling

Cut ends off the zucchini, then cut in half lengthwise and cut into slices not quite 2 inches thick. Peel onion, cut off ends, cut in half, then break apart into individual layers and cut each one into same-size pieces.  Cut red bell pepper in half, cut out seeds and stem, and cut into pieces the same size as the onion and zucchini.

Put the vegetables into Ziploc bag or plastic container with tight-fitting lid, choosing the smallest size you can to fit all the vegetables so they get well coated with the marinade.  Pour in enough dressing to coat the vegetables, about 1/2 cup.  Add dried herbs if desired, then close the bag or container and marinate in the fridge for 4-6 hours (or all day is fine if you're at work.)

When you're ready to cook vegetables, put the grill pan on the grill grate and preheat grill (and pan) to medium-high heat.  (You can only hold your hand there for a few seconds at that heat.)  Drain vegetables into a colander placed in the sink and let dressing drain off while you preheat the grill.  (This is very important to prevent flare-ups when you add the vegetables to the grill pan.)

When grill and pan are hot, pour in the vegetables and spread them around so as many as possible are touching the surface of the pan.  Cook with grill lid closed, stirring the vegetables every 5 minutes or so to insure that they get lightly browned on all sides.  Cook about 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked but still slightly crisp and starting to char on the edges.  (I don't mind if mine get a bit charred, but keep an eye on them if you'd like them less browned.)  Serve hot, with salt and fresh ground pepper to season.  (If you have some good balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of that is good on these too.)

Other Vegetable Combinations I like for Grilling: 
--Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Sweet Onions
--Sugar Snap Peas, Red Bell Pepper, Sweet Onions
--Sugar Snap Peas, Par-boiled Carrots, Sweet Onion (boil the carrots for 2-3 minutes and drain before you marinate)
--Sweet Potato, Zucchini, Sweet Onion (marinate sweet potato separately and cook it about 5 minutes before adding other vegetables to the pan)
--Asparagus, Red Bell Pepper, Sweet Onion (cut asparagus into fairly short pieces, cut on the diagonal)
--Eggplant, Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper
--Eggplant, Red Bell Pepper, Sweet Onion

If you have leftover grilled vegetables, they're best reheated for a few minutes in a very hot frying pan.

South Beach Suggestions:
Vegetables grilled like this are a wonderful side dish for the  South Beach Diet.  Look for a dressing not more than 3 grams of sugar per serving if you're making this for South Beach.  If you use the combination of  low-glycemic vegetables show in the photos, this would be approved for any phase of the diet.  (The vegetable combinations are all phase one except for the ones with sweet potatoes or carrots, which would be phase two.)

Recipe for World's Easiest Grilled Vegetables (How to Cook Vegetables on the Grill)

More Tasty Ideas with Grilled Vegetables:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Grilled Eggplant with Garlic-Cumin Vinaigrette, Feta, and Herbs from Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Vegetables with Piment d' Espelette Sauce from The Perfect Pantry

Grilled Sausage and Summer Squash with Herbs, Capers, and Kalamata Olives from Kalyn's Kitchen

Farinata with Grilled Vegetables from eCurry 

Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan from Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Skewered Vegetables with Quick Polenta from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

 Grilled Mushrooms from Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Veggie Kabobs on Dirty Rice from Gluten-Free Goddess
Foil-Wrapped Grilled Butternut Squash with Sage from Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad from Cookin' Canuck

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
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  1. I'll have to try the Newman's Own dressing. It doesn't get much easier than this. I need to step it up.

  2. Asparagus would also be great with any of the combos you list. Bermuda onions also work. And portabello (?) mushrooms are great. I use the leftover atop a luncheon salad the next day, or chopped smaller & put in a great South Beach omelet!

  3. Kalyn you are the BEST!!! You are so kind to share all your wonderful recipes and techniques
    ! I use your recipes and suggestions so much that my kids ask me "Is this one of Kalyn's recipes". We never met you but you are a very important part of our family!! Thanks so, so much... :0)

  4. Barbara, this is SO easy and still delish. (My kind of recipe!)

    Nancy, asparagus is good with everything, don't you agree? I'll have to try portobello mushrooms. I like regular mushrooms cooked separately because they seem to cook more quickly than other veggies.

    Anon- Wow, what a nice comment. You are so welcome, and it makes me very happy that your kids are enjoying the food!

  5. I have a grill basket and I LOVE it! It makes vegetables taste incredible.
    Sometimes I'll finish the dish with fresh herbs, chopped kalamata olves or a little feta cheese, but that's not necessary. The vegetables stand alone in flavor. Good warm or room temp. Fantastic as an antipasto.

    Hooray that grilling season is in full swing.

  6. CJ, sounds like a lot of good grilled veggies at your house. And hooray that it's finally grilling weather!

  7. We do exactly the same thing! Exactly!! It's amazing what a little fire can do for a veggie. Yum. --Cindy

  8. Thanks for the tip about the Italian dressing. We grill veggies all the time. Our favorite is grilled red bell peppers. When we serve them to guests, I'm amazed by the number of people who say they don't like red peppers but love them when they are grilled.

  9. Cindy, agreed!

    Susie, I think red peppers really get a lot sweeter when they're grilled. Lucky you, grilling all year!

  10. I never thought about using Italian dressing! Lately I've been on a brussel sprout kick. They taste so delicious when grilled or roasted! I usually just use some non-stick spray on them and season it up a bit before grilling! I love them charred them a nuttiness! I will have to try the Italian dressing trick! Sounds yummy!

  11. Not sure why, but I've never grilled brussels sprouts. Love that idea, sounds fantastic!

  12. I also use Newman's Own dressing for marinating veggies (and chicken breasts) for the grill, though I'm partial to the light balsamic variety. Lately I've been trying to broaden my veggie grilling horizons, by grilling things I haven't done often before (broccoli, potatoes, eggplant), because everything seems to taste better on the grill.

  13. Lydia, grilled broccoli! I MUST try that soon.

  14. I adore vegetables done this way!! (We like to add a few parboiled potatoes and button mushrooms then garnish with as many fresh herbs as we can find.)

    Like you, we have two barbecue woks. Neither is that lovely copper colour though; they're both black enamel. But they're the best utensils, aren't they?

    We love green beans cooked in the barbecue wok. And asparagus with baby onions is pretty brilliant as well.

    But I'd never thought of cooking broccoli in the barbecue wok. Good idea, Lydia!

  15. Elizabeth, I must try green beans as well! I agree, these pans that cook on the grill are just the greatest!

  16. Anything that says "World's Easiest" I'm game for, Kalyn, and roasted veggies are my favorite. Even hubby can't resist them when roasted. I'm definitely getting one of these grill pans. We can use it all the time, but it will come in handy when we go camping the most as that's where most of our grilling takes place. ;-) Oh, and I agree on using Italian dressing. It's also great for meat marinades. One can find one a ready-made on they like or mix up a few ingredients on their own to have the same effect. Really great post, Kalyn--thanks! :-)


  17. cmanwarren@comcast.comMay 26, 2011 at 6:20 AM

    Great suggestions! Grilled vegetables will be on our holiday menu for this weekend!

  18. Shirley for camping I take the veggies already cut up in the ziploc bag and then pour the dressing on the morning of the day I want to cook them. You must get a pan like this; you'll love it!

    Cmanwarren, glad I an inspiring you to put veggies on the menu!

  19. I love seeing posts like these because they remind me how delicious simply grilled veggies are! No need for fuss!

  20. Joanne, I agree! It's not a showy dish, but they're delicious!

  21. Grilled veggies are my absolute favorite!

  22. Looks like a great pan! And grilled vegetables make a perfect side to any grilled meat without messing up the kitchen.

  23. We love grilling veggies -- and this does sound like the easiest way to do it!

  24. I promise you, this could not be easier!

  25. Some of tonight's comments:
    "When 'grilled veggies' are on a restaurant menu, THIS is how they're supposed to taste!"
    "There's bell peppers and zucchini in this?! I wouldn't have been scared of them my whole life if they had been served to me like this before!"

    There wasn't even the tiniest scrap of onion left! Thank you so much for sharing, Kalyn! I've just started learning how to grill and made this with your Cuban Flank Steak tonight. Definitely a hit!

  26. Deanna, that's great! So glad the vegetables were a hit.

  27. I am ashamed to admit that our grill has been used only 3 times this summer. It’s a charcoal grill, and I just never think ahead enough to get it pre-heated. The last time I grilled, the grill somehow went out, all of a sudden, and I can’t figure out what went wrong. The coals were hot, I put the lid on and opened the vents for circulation, and then all of a sudden it went cold. Had to finish the salmon in the oven.

    On the upside, forget the meat, I think some of the best things to do on the grill are vegetables. One of our favorites is grilled hearts of palm, and also whole Japanese eggplants, grilled until black on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.

  28. I'm drooling at the thought of grilled hearts of palm!

  29. Now I need a grilling basket! Looking on amazon right now :)

  30. I can't wait for our farmer's markets to carry more vegetables (they just opened two weeks ago) so I can grill some up.

  31. I can't remember where I came across your site, but I visit almost daily. I started on a modified south beach diet last year and have lost 60 lbs! I often visit to look for recipe Ideas. I love the grilled vegetables. Thanks to your recommendation... I have several new grilling pans and plan to cook out a lot this year (with veggies).

  32. One of our fave dishes whether on the grill or under the broiler! I'm wondering if there's a veggie we haven't roasted. This sounds so good right now. I'm starving!

  33. Any tricks for cleaning these grill pans? I've tried using the flat kind for fish or meat, and oiling them befor cooking, and they seem impossible to clean. I don't mind discoloration, just want them useable!

  34. Michelle, do you spray it with non-stick spray before you use it? I use the kind that's made for high heat and it helps so things don't stick to the pan so much. I have washed mine in the dishwasher, but I don't have any tips other than that.

  35. We have two of these barbecue woks as well, Kalyn - like your copper coloured one but ours are black enamel. Like you, we love them and use them often.

    Not long ago, we grilled very lightly olive-oiled asparagus spears and then drizzled them with ginger and garlic that had been caramelized in olive oil on the stove. (We could have put the ginger and garlic in with the asparagus but didn't want any of it to get lost dropping through the holes.)

    Michele, we clean our barbecue wok by hand with a nylon bristle brush. I usually leave it to soak in warm soapy water to help loosen anything that has burned on. I scrub really tough burned on food with baking soda.

  36. I have a silly question: I don't own a grill nor a grill basket thingy, so, can I do this on a cookie sheet in the oven?? I hope you can answer this, thanks!

  37. You can definitely cook this same assortment of vegetables on a baking sheet in the oven. They will be roasted instead of grilled and probably won't get quite as brown, but will still be delicious. I'd use high heat, maybe 400 or 425F.

  38. For me it's always a trade off - the convenience of the basket and serving v how much longer it seems to take.

  39. Maddy I haven't really noticed that it's taking longer in the basket. I would be careful not to fill it too full, and are you preheating the basket before you put the veggies in? That would speed it up a lot.

  40. This is how I've cooked veggies for years! I also love to season with oil and a packet of dry Good Seasons Italian in order to eliminate the chemicals often found in bottled dressings. And in the dead of winter, I'll just dump it them on a biscuit pan and roast in the oven for 30 min at 350 or so. Yum!

  41. Hi Kalyn,
    I want to let you know the link to Newmans does not work since they have reworked their site. You can still view the dressing but you just have to go to the"home page" first and then follow your nose to the dressing. I am working on eliminating soy from my intake so have become an avid reader of labels. It may or may not contain soy and or canola. I have a pretty good homemade version of this using both extra version and light olive oils and champagne vinegar. I got it initially from an American Heart Association cookbook, which had the blend of herbs I use. I don't even measure. It has nutmeg and summer savory in addition to the usual suspects. We love it. My veggies are marinating in it right now but it's very stormy so I may wrap them in foil and pop in the oven.

    1. Thanks Liane, I fixed the links. And definitely homemade dressing would be great for this.


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