The moment the weather turns warmer, we've got grilling on the brain. The only problem? For many, cookouts immediately call to mind hot dogs and hamburgers, and without a bit of advance planning, vegans can be left holding a sad, frozen veggie burger – a real shame when you consider all the delicious options vegan grilling provides.
The good news is that most people are ready and willing for this unfortunate situation to be relegated to the past: plant-based diets are rapidly growing in popularity, and even omnivores are excited to see (and taste!) delicious grilled vegetables, veggie burgers, and more.
So if you're ready to make your next vegan cookout a success, look no further: the guide below has everything you need.
Best Homemade Veggie Burgers
Burgers are a staple of barbecues, and vegans need not feel left out. While there are tons of store-bought options to choose from (check out our favorites below!) homemade veggie burgers are even more delicious, and they're surprisingly simple to prepare. Here are just a few we love:
- These sun-dried tomato and lentil burgers are both vegan and gluten-free, and they're full of flavorful ingredients like sweet potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, lentils, soy sauce, and garlic.
- This green pea burger offers a completely different flavor profile, with a combination of green peas, green bell pepper, spinach, and spices.
- If simplicity is all you're looking for, a portobello mushroom cap, marinated in your favorite marinade or simply seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper, can be a great burger stand-in.
Best Meat Alternatives
Meat alternatives or mock meats are a terrific choice for a quick vegan barbecue main. Tempeh and tofu require minimal prep, and mock dogs and veggie burgers are even easier – just throw them on the grill!
3 Steps to Grill Tempeh to Perfection
This guide to grilled tempeh lays out the ideal steps for grilling the fermented soy product: pre-cook, marinate, and grill.
The pre-cooking step is essential for softening the naturally chewy texture of tempeh and allows the marinade to penetrate more thoroughly, rendering the result even more flavorful. We've included one marinade option here, but you can marinate your tempeh with whatever flavors you like best.
Grilling Tofu: It's All About the Marinade
Once you've selected the right tofu for grilling (hint: it's not silken), grilling tofu is all about adding flavor. First, prep the tofu to soak up as much of your chosen marinade as possible by drying it well. Then, just marinate the tofu until you're ready to cook it up.
This guide to grilling tofu will ensure that you've covered all of these steps, plus a few others, to make your grilled tofu experience as delicious as possible.
Choosing the Best Store-Bought Mock Meats
If you're looking for a truly no-fuss option, store-bought burgers and mock dogs will become your new go-to.
- For mock dogs, we love SoyBoy Not Dogs, which have a relatively short ingredients list including organic soy and excluding wheat. As the package says, "no nitrates and nothing phony." If you want to peruse even more choices, here's an excellent guide to some tasty veggie dogs.
- For veggie burgers, we still love the classic Amy's California veggie burger, made with organic vegetables. Amy's even makes a gluten-free version of the veggie burger, so everyone can partake.
Top 10 Vegan Grilling Veggie Marinades
Grilled veggies make the perfect main or side for omnivorous and vegan grilling parties alike. The secret is finding the perfect flavors to really make those veggies sing.
Marinate your vegetables for as little as 10 minutes when they are particularly porous, like mushrooms, or for up to a few hours when they're a bit more solid, like carrots and peppers, and be sure to remove any fresh herbs or garlic from the vegetables before grilling them to avoid burning.
Here are 10 of our absolute favorite combos:
- Mushrooms with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
- Carrots with fresh lime juice, ginger, coconut oil, cilantro, and salt.
- Corn on the cob with fresh lime juice, cayenne pepper, olive oil, and salt.
- Red bell peppers with pomegranate molasses, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, and salt.
- Shishito peppers with soy sauce or tamari, grapeseed oil, a touch of sesame oil, and black vinegar.
- Zucchini with fresh lime juice, olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper.
- Cauliflower steaks with olive brine, olive oil, a touch of agave syrup, and shallots.
- Salsify with red wine, black pepper, grapeseed oil, salt, and pepper.
- Artichokes with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, shallots, salt, and pepper.
- Eggplant with garlic, mint, fresh oregano, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Gourmet Vegan Grilling: 5 Recipes
If burgers and not-dogs aren't your style, take a gander at some of our favorite vegan grilling recipes that are more on the gourmet side. These recipes are sure to impress, but they're still easy enough to prepare so that you won't end up chained to the grill all night long.
Image via Karissa Bowers
1. Grilled Asparagus with Lemon White Wine Fettuccine
This vegan asparagus and lemon white wine fettuccine is a delicious way to use your grill to serve up a more gourmet meal. Pencil-thin asparagus are great for grilling, as you can get them nice and charred on the outside and cook them all the way through in a relatively short amount of time.
Grilled romaine image via Another Pint Please
2. Grilled Romaine
For a more interesting play on a typical summer salad, this grilled romaine recipe is a nice trick to have up your sleeve. You can either serve the lettuce with your favorite vegan dressing or alongside a homemade hummus for dipping.
Photograph © 2015 by Rodale Inc.
3. Vegan Tacos with Salted Grilled Plantains
This tasty taco recipe features hearty grilled plantains, which are cooked until they're nicely caramelized. The result is a taco that perfectly blends the natural sweetness of plantains and the savory flavors of salsa verde, pepitas, and a shredded red cabbage slaw.
Photographs by Erin Kunkel
4. Grilled Vegetable Gyros
Gyros may more traditionally be made with some sort of roasted meat, but this vegan version of the Greek dish uses the flavorful spice blend typical of the recipe on a combination of peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and onion. In place of the yogurt sauce, this vegan ranch is an excellent accompaniment.
Photo by Ally-Jane
5. Grilled Shishito Peppers
Alone, grilled shishito peppers make the perfect appetizer, but combined with a grilled mock meat of your choice or other grilled vegetables, they can be a great element of a complete vegan grilled meal.
5 Must-Have Grilling Tools for the Perfect Vegan Barbecue
Make grilling a breeze by ensuring you have the tools you need. Here are five of our favorites.
1. Nesting Grill Trays
How often have you marinated your vegetables and brought them out to grill, only to find that the only place to put the cooked veggies is back on that slick prep plate? These grill prep trays are the perfect solution: carry the veggies out to the grill on the top tray, then swap it out and use the clean one to bring your cooked veggies back inside to serve.
2. Veggie Grill Basket
If you're sick and tired of your veggies falling through the barbecue grates, a grill basket is the ideal tool for you. This nearly 14 by nine-inch basket allows you to line up your veggies for even cooking and flip them all at once with ease.
3. Grilling Tongs
Some veggies, like corn on the cob, can go straight on the grill – no basket required. But using regular kitchen tongs to turn them can leave you with uncomfortably warm (and even burned) hands. These easy-to-use, 16-inch, stainless steel grilling tongs are long enough to keep your fingers out of the fire.
4. Basting Brush
Add even more flavor to your veggies by basting them with marinade as they cook; this stainless steel basting brush makes the task easy. It boasts a 15-inch handle to keep your hands from growing too hot as you brush on the flavor. The silicone head is removable for easy cleaning in the dishwasher.
5. Grill Pan
Just because you don't have an outdoor grill doesn't mean you can't take full advantage of these techniques and recipes. This cast-iron grill pan from fan-favorite Lodge can become a workhorse for your kitchen grilling all your faves on a 16 x 9- inch surface with raised ridges to sear foods. This pan is even reversible with a flat side that's perfect for weekend brunch faves like pancakes, French toast or even sandwiches and ready to use right away. This pan is also oven and broiler safe.
Vegan grilling image via Shutterstock
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