What to Grill When You’re Not Grilling Meat

By Published On: 19 May 2023Last Updated: 19 May 2023

From veggie burgers to fruit, there’s no shortage of choices for your next plant-powered cookout.

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While most people associate the backyard ritual of grilling with foods like meat or fish, a growing number of people are leaving meat off of their grills in favor of plant-based alternatives. If you aren’t familiar with plant-based cooking, it might be challenging to know what to grill when you’re not grilling meat.

Do you need help navigating a meatless grilling season? Here are a few unique ideas to keep the meat off your grill.

Avocado halves on a girll / Source


Avocados are a fantastic choice for grilling, transforming into a delectable treat when placed on the grill. The creamy texture of avocados becomes even more indulgent when heated, offering an incredibly satisfying buttery consistency. Grilling also brings out the natural flavors of avocados, unveiling their nutty and subtly smoky undertones.

These fruits are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which promote heart health and are a good source of dietary fiber, aiding digestion and promoting a healthy gut.

To grill, cut the avocados in half and remove the seed. Brush each half with olive oil and grill face down for two to three minutes on each side until lightly charred. Top with salsa, enjoy with tortilla chips, use them in guacamole, stuff them with a salad or grilled vegetables, or eat them with a spoon. You can also enjoy them as a side dish, topping for burgers, or incorporated into wraps and tacos; grilled avocados elevate the culinary experience with their enticing flavors and wholesome properties.

Raw celery root / Source

Celery root

Celery root, also known as celeriac, offers a unique and earthy flavor that becomes even more pronounced when grilled. Grilling celery root enhances its flavors and adds a subtle smoky note and a pleasant charred texture while preserving its nutritional value.

And speaking of nutrition, celery root is a low-calorie and low-fat vegetable, making it a healthy choice for grilling. A one-cup (156 grams) serving of raw celery root contains approximately 66 calories and only 0.6 grams of fat. Additionally, it is a good source of dietary fiber, providing around 3.8 grams per cup.

Peel and slice the celery root into thick rounds or wedges to prepare it for grilling. Brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings before placing them on a preheated grill. The grilled celery root can be enjoyed as a delicious side dish, topped with herbs and spices, or incorporated into salads and other recipes for added depth and complexity.

Grilled vegetable pizza / Source


Grilling pizza is a fantastic way to create a delectable, smoky flavor profile that adds a delightful twist to this beloved dish. Whether you prefer a classic veggie extravaganza or a deluxe vegan meat pizza, the grill offers a unique cooking method that enhances the taste and texture of your favorite pie.

When it comes to nutrition, grilling pizza can have some advantages. You can achieve a crispy crust by grilling the pizza dough while using minimal oil compared to traditional oven-baked pizzas. This can help reduce the pizza’s overall calorie and fat content, making it a healthier option. Additionally, grilling allows the toppings to meld together, intensifying their flavors without excessive use of vegan cheese or oils.

Start by brushing the grill with a bit of oil. Roll or stretch the dough on the grill and brush the top with more oil. Grill for a few minutes, then flip the dough. Load your pizza with fresh vegetables, such as juicy tomatoes, vibrant bell peppers, and tender mushrooms. Add some fragrant herbs, like basil or oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil for a burst of flavor. Then continue to grill until the crust and toppings are fully cooked.

Grilled vegan pizzas can be a nutrient-rich option, packed with vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber while satisfying your cravings for a satisfying meal.

Grilled polenta rounds / Source


Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, grilled polenta is super tasty, and using pre-made polenta can help save time in the kitchen. Grilling adds a delightful smoky flavor and a satisfying crunch to the polenta. It creates a golden, crispy exterior that contrasts with the creamy interior, resulting in a mouthwatering texture combination.

From a nutritional standpoint, polenta is naturally gluten-free and a good source of complex carbohydrates. It provides dietary fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and helps maintain steady blood sugar levels. Additionally, it contains essential minerals like iron and magnesium. Polenta is also low in fat and cholesterol-free, making it a heart-healthy choice.

Grilled polenta can be enjoyed in various ways. To make, cut pre-made polenta into rounds. Brush both sides with olive oil, dust with salt and pepper, and grill for 5 – 10 minutes or until a golden crust forms. Serve it as a side dish, cut into wedges, or as a base for a flavorful vegan entrée. It pairs well with roasted vegetables or even topped with fresh herbs.

Grilled polenta offers a delicious and nutritious option that will satisfy your taste buds and dietary needs.

Grilled portobello mushroom caps / Source

Portobello mushrooms

Grilling portobello mushroom caps is a delightful way to elevate your meal. These meaty and flavorful mushrooms become even more savory and satisfying when cooked on the grill.

From a health perspective, portobello mushrooms provide several benefits. They are low in calories and fat, making them a nutritious addition to any diet. Additionally, they offer a good amount of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes satiety. Portobello mushrooms are also a natural source of B vitamins, such as riboflavin and niacin, which support energy production and contribute to overall well-being.

To make, soak them in one of these marinades for grilled vegetables or a marinade of your choice for 30 minutes. Lightly score the top of each cap before grilling. This allows the steam inside the portobello to escape, which helps mushrooms to cook evenly, creating a lovely sear.

Grilled portobello mushroom caps can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. They make an excellent burger substitute, providing a hearty and flavorful base for toppings. Alternatively, they can be sliced and used in wraps, salads, or as a side dish.

Grilled romaine lettuce / Source

Romaine lettuce

Grilling romaine lettuce is a beautiful way to transform this leafy green into a mouthwatering dish. The grill’s heat imparts a smoky flavor and adds a delightful charred texture, taking the humble lettuce to new heights.

Regarding nutrition, romaine lettuce is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, providing essential nutrients for healthy vision and immune function. Romaine lettuce is also rich in vitamin K, which supports bone health and plays a role in blood clotting.

Wash a head of romaine lettuce and slice it down the center to create two halves. Place each half face down and grill for 5 minutes, then flip and grill for 5 minutes. Top with a creamy dressing like this Creamy Sesame Dressing or other creamy dressing of your choice, grilled vegetables, and big, crunchy toasted croutons. It’s salad, elevated.

Grilled vegetable skewers / Source

Skewers & kabobs

Vegetable skewers are a delightful way to showcase various vegetables’ vibrant flavors and solid nutritional benefits. Grilling vegetables brings out the natural sweetness and smoky undertones of the vegetables.

Vegetable skewers provide a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. The assortment of vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and onions, offer a range of nutrients. They are rich in vitamins A and C, which support immune function and provide antioxidant properties. Additionally, the fiber promotes healthy digestion and helps maintain a feeling of fullness.

Choose a mix of fruits and vegetables like zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, or slices of corn on the cob. Layer between cubes of seitan, tofu, tempeh, or fruits like grapes, peaches, or pineapple. For a citrus twist, add lemon or lime quarters to the skewers. Grilling will soften the tartness of the fruit and add a great citrus flavor to the skewers.

It’s a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish alongside grilled plant proteins or grains. These skewers satisfy the taste buds and nourish the body, making them a delicious and nutritious choice for a well-rounded meal.

Grilling Beyond Burgers / Source

Veggie burgers

Veggie burgers have a bit of a bad reputation because of their beginnings as being quite terrible-tasting, but that’s a thing of the past. No meatless grill would be complete without this plant-based staple. With endless combinations of ingredients and spices, there’s a veggie burger to please every palate. You can make your veggie burger or find one pre-made in the grocery store’s freezer section.

RELATED READING: Vegan burgers, hotdogs, ribs, and sausages

From a health perspective, veggie burgers can provide numerous benefits. They are typically lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than meat-based burgers, which can support heart health. Additionally, veggie burgers often contain a good amount of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps promote a feeling of fullness. Pair them with whole-grain buns and colorful toppings for a well-rounded and nutritious experience.

BBQ sauce for your grilled favorites

Since barbequing is a big part of grilling season, I can’t give you a grill post without offering you a good sauce to slather all over your favorite foods. I’m not that mean!

Here is a basic barbecue sauce recipe you can tailor to suit your tastes. Don’t worry if you’ve never made your own sauce at home before; the recipe will walk you step-by-step and give you everything you need to know.

So, what’s going on your vegan grills this season? I want to know! Tell me in the comments below!

Grilled vegetables / Thinkstock
Avocado halves on a grill / Thinkstock
Raw celery root / Thinkstock
Grilled vegetable pizza / Thinkstock
Grilled polenta rounds / Thinkstock
Portobello mushroom caps / Thinkstock
Grilled romaine lettuce / Thinkstock
Vegetable skewers / Thinkstock
Grilling Beyond Burgers / Courtesy of Beyond Meat

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HELLO! I'm KD Angle-Traegner.

Writer, activist, and founder of Four Urban Paws Sanctuary. I’m on a mission to help people live a vegan life. Read more about KD…