5 Tips on Grilling for Vegetarians

by Stacy

Grilling for vegetarians is easy with a few precautions
Photo credit: woodleywonderworks

Is it even legal not to grill for Memorial Day? It may actually be required in some states, but I can’t guarantee it.

Most people think of meat when they think of grilling, and I imagine that’s the reasons many grill owners own grills. And the very thought of a vegetarian or vegan coming over for a holiday cookout strikes terror into their hearts.

My husband is unfazed, having run interference at many a backyard barbecue to prevent a case of “meat-juicing” or inedible charcoal briquettes. And he’s stopping by today to share his top 5 tips for peaceable inter-dietary grilling.

Grilling Tips for Vegetarians

  1. Prevent cross-contamination.
  2. Don’t overcook.
  3. Make homemade veggie burgers or marinate portobello mushrooms.
  4. Inform vegetarians that you’ve taken measures so they can eat without worry.
  5. When in doubt, ask!

Prevent cross-contamination

Bring two plates for finished items, and two spatulas or tongs. Don’t share grill space. If the grill is cleaned off really well and super hot, that should be clean enough. If not, use tinfoil as a buffer. If you have two racks, make sure there isn’t meat dripping on veggie items below. You’d think this is obvious, but I’ve seen it many times.

Don’t overcook

Frozen veggie patties and veggie burgers are pre-cooked; heating them requires less time than their meaty counterparts. Soy patties become crunchy hockey pucks when overcooked that even ketchup can’t save. Veggie dogs get tough and dried out. Make sure you add them to the grill last so they’re done at the same time as everyone else’s food. They may also require a little oil brushed on the grill to prevent sticking since they don’t have the fat that meat does.

Make your own meatless burgers

The store-bought ones are OK, but from my meat-eating husband: “If you want to impress your vegetarian girlfriend or wife, a portobello burger or spicy jalapeno black burger tastes a lot better.” It takes 10 minutes of hands on time. You can also grill veggie kabobs, asparagus, corn, fruit, potatoes, tofu or tempeh.

Keep everyone informed

Make sure vegetarians know you’re cooking something they can eat. I hate being “that girl” checking on everything before I take a bite. I totally appreciate your efforts and am a better guest if I don’t feel like I have to pester the grill master or mistress. I don’t expect it, however, so please let me know so I can bring you a beer of encouragement and thanks.


Never cooked fake meat before? Don’t even know what to buy? Ask a veg guest to BYO-grillables or how to cook something, then you both know they’ll have something to their liking. I’d rather answer a few questions or stop at the store than show up and not be able to eat anything.

Is any of this new to you? Add your own vegetarian grilling tips (and your favorite barbecue dish) in the comments!

Other excellent vegetarian dishes for a barbecue:

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

leanne May 25, 2012 at 11:48 pm

You know what’s hard? Trying not to have dishes that include corn because someone doesn’t like it. Corn is everywhere! Grilled corn, cornbread, creamed corn, corn in cold salads, corn and a shrimp boil… Veggies on the grill is delish! And leftover veggies with some eggs makes a fantastic breakfast the next morning.
leanne recently posted..SHIMBASHI Izakaya – Del MarMy Profile


Stacy May 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm

That does sound like a challenge! The leftover veggie idea sounds delicious.


Sarah, Simply Cooked May 26, 2012 at 12:07 am

How helpful! I wish I was grilling this weekend. Well, maybe I will make do with my indoor grill pan. :)


Stacy May 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I often make veggie and portobello burgers indoors, but it’s more fun when the hubby does the cooking. πŸ˜‰


Liz May 26, 2012 at 6:34 am

Vegetable and haloumi (leave that out if catering for vegans/dairy intolerant) skewer kebabs are a favourite of mine.
Liz recently posted..Challenge – Four UFOs in 4 daysMy Profile


Stacy May 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Yum! And people could substitute tofu for the haloumi, too. Great suggestion!


Lana May 26, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Stacy, your site is gorgeous! I love the colors – they are so up, so fresh, so you!
As for grilling and vegetarians, I come from a country that idolizes meat due to wars and famine every 30 to 40 years:) But we were raised differently and ate meat only twice a week (once a week there was fish, the rest of the meals were meatless).
I make grilled vegetables often – just looking at those charred onions makes me hungry. And don’t even mention grilled (or roasted) red bell peppers and wonderful relishes made from them!
I am going to try that jalapeno black burger as I know my girls would love it:)
Have a great weekend and happy grilling!
Lana recently posted..Verbal EssencesMy Profile


Stacy May 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Thank you, Lana! Happy weekend to you and I hope your girls enjoy the burgers. =)


Birch May 27, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I’d like to ask vegetarians/vegans to share this info with their grilling hosts. Let me know what you need beforehand, I will be a good host. Ask after I’ve cooked meat on all surfaces… I’ll be a lot less gracious. I hate being ignorant.


Stacy May 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm

What if they arrive after grilling has started? It’s not a list of demands. Often I’ll just ask if there’s a clean spot, if not, would they mind putting some tinfoil down. And you’re not ignorant – you read this post. πŸ˜‰


Birch May 27, 2012 at 4:44 pm

If I invite someone and don’t know they have dietary restrictions, I am ignorant. I would like your fabulous readers to remember to inform their hosts in a timely fashion if possible. I would still feel like a bad host (and then be somewhat grumpy because I’m not 100% reasonable yet) if I had to put down makeshift grill cover so a guest wouldn’t get sick.


Stacy May 28, 2012 at 9:29 am

Yes, people with dietary restrictions should inform their hosts before they arrive. I’m often in circumstances where people know that I don’t eat meat, but they haven’t cooked or grilled for me to know these tips. If I’m ever invited to your house again and we grill, I shall remind you, dear sister.


Birch May 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Oh, and our favorite veggies-on-the-grill is root veggies chopped up, in oil, in a tinfoil pouch.


Barbara May 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm

These are fabulous tips! I always try to be cognizant of my veg friends at events where I’m cooking. I haven’t yet done a grill party but am planning on it soon and there are some great ideas here!
Barbara recently posted..Peach Bourbon Barbecue SauceMy Profile


Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence May 20, 2014 at 9:03 am

Great tips! I need to get my hands on one of those grill pans!
Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence recently posted..Cardamom Breakfast Cereal with Fresh RaspberriesMy Profile


Lynn May 20, 2014 at 11:05 pm

I so want to try portabella mushrooms on the grill. And make my own veggie bean burger. Maybe we can do that this upcoming weekend! None of our closer friends are vegetarian but these are great tips to keep in mind anyway!


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: