7 Meat-Free Dishes You Can Make on the Grill

Carnivores aren’t the only consumers who like to get down with the grill during the summer season — plant-based eaters want in on the action, too, and there’s no reason to only cook up meat on the hot coals. Fruits, vegetables, meat substitutes, and other vegetarians-friendly foods do well on the grill, and you need to prepare yourself for the non-meat eaters that will inevitably make their way to your summer party. Check out these seven vegetarian grilling recipes you should consider for your next backyard bash. Both carnivores and herbivores will go for these fresh and tasty treats — and they’ll teach everyone that everything that comes off the grill doesn’t need to be meat.

Caprese Salad Skewers

Source: iStock

1. Grilled Caprese Skewers

Caprese salad is a classic summer dish, and it can be easily perfected on the grill. Here’s a recipe from Foodie Crush that proves it. Enlisting sturdy halloumi cheese, cherry tomatoes, and french bread, these Grilled Caprese Skewers are simple and satisfying, and delicious yet nutritious. The skewers are pretty to look at and easy to eat, and with the addition of the balsamic reduction, they truly feel like a sophisticated treat.


  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced into thin pieces
  • 8 ounces good quality french bread, about 5 (1-inch) slices
  • 12 ounces bread cheese (Juustoleipa) or halloumi cheese cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 24 basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Bring balsamic vinegar to medium heat in a small saucepan and cook for 20 minutes or until reduced by half. The vinegar is just right when it coats the back of a spoon. Cover with a lid and keep warm.

In another small saucepan, add the extra-virgin olive oil and the garlic cloves and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the oil becomes fragrant with garlic. Remove from heat and brush both sides of the bread slices with the garlic infused oil. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.

Thread the skewers starting with a cube of bread, then cheese, then tomato and a basil leaf and repeat another time, ending with a cube of bread. Repeat with the rest of the skewers.

Give each skewer another generous dab of the olive oil and then a sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bring grill to high heat. Place skewers on grill rack and cook for 4 minutes or so, turning skewers every 30 seconds to 1 minute as the tomatoes begin to blister and the bread starts to toast and all sides are cooked evenly. Drizzle with reduced balsamic and serve.

Source: iStock

2. Black Bean and Rice Stuffed Peppers

This next recipe from Betty Crocker shows you how to master vegetarian-friendly stuffed peppers on the grill. Packed with protein thanks to rice and black beans, these stuffed peppers are satiating and will satisfy meat-eaters and meat-abstainers, alike. They take only 20 minutes to cook on the grill, and thanks to easy-to-wrap foil packets, the dish is fuss-free and won’t create a mess.


  • 1 can black beans, drained, rinsed
  • ¾ cup cooked white rice
  • 4 medium green onions, sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large bell peppers, cut lengthwise in half, seeds removed
  • 1 plum (Roma) tomato, diced
  • Additional chopped fresh cilantro, if desired

Directions: Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Cut three 18-by-12-inch pieces heavy-duty foil. Spray with cooking spray.

Mix beans, rice, onions, ¼ cup cilantro, the oil, lime juice, garlic, and salt. Place 2 bell pepper halves on one side of each foil piece. Fill with bean mixture.

Fold foil over peppers so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight ½-inch fold; fold again. Allow space on sides for circulation and expansion.

Cover and grill packets over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes or until peppers are tender. Place packets on serving platter. Cut large X across top of each packet; fold back foil. Sprinkle with tomato and additional cilantro.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Grilled Vegetable Kebabs

Next up are Vegetable Kebabs from Damn Delicious: Whether you serve these fresh veggies as an appetizer or side, they’ll please anyone who has one. Thanks to their bright summer colors, the veggies are easy on the eyes, and they’re also easy on the waistline — an added bonus during swimsuit season. Grill up these skewers and watch how fast they go. Marinated, grilled veggies might not sound indulgent, but sometimes, the most guiltless food is still the fastest eaten.


  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thick rounds
  • 1 yellow zucchini, sliced into thick rounds


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, and basil; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Thread mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, and zucchini onto skewers. Place skewers onto a baking sheet. Brush olive oil mixture onto the skewers and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Place into oven and roast until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Grilled Zucchini

Source: iStock

4. Grilled Zucchini Subs with Mozzarella and Olivada

And if you still think your vegetarian guests want to sink their teeth into a sandwich or burger, serve them these sophisticated Grilled Zucchini subs from Food & Wine. Filled with fresh mozzarella, grilled zucchini, and fresh basil, these sandwiches are both delicious and nutritious, and they’ll prove to be a satisfying bite that can rival any hot dog or hamburger.


  • 1½ cups pitted green olives, such as Spanish olives
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 hero rolls, split
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ¾ pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced
  • 32 small basil leaves

Directions: In a food processor, pulse the olives with the garlic and lemon zest until the olives are finely chopped. Add ¼ cup of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the olivada on the cut sides of the rolls.

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with the oregano and ½ cup of the olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.

Preheat a grill pan. In a large bowl, toss the zucchini with the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the zucchini slices over high heat for about 5 minutes, turning once, until tender and lightly charred.

Mound the zucchini onto the rolls and drizzle with a little of the dressing. Top with the mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil and drizzle with more of the dressing. Close the subs and serve right away.

Turkey Vegetarian Burger

Source: iStock

5. Grilled Bean Burgers

Speaking of burgers, you can still make those for your vegetarian friends, too — just make sure they’re bean based. This recipe from Taste of Home is a great one to follow if you’re new to the bean burger game. Black beans and pinto beans make up the base of these burgers, while cumin and chili powder are responsible for their robust flavor. Top these burgers with a dressing made from ketchup, mustard, and soy sauce, and don’t be surprised if even your carnivores reach for these protein-packed patties.


  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1½ cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 8 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
  • 8 lettuce leaves
  • 8 tablespoons salsa

Directions: In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute onion in oil for 2 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in the carrot, chili powder, and cumin; cook 2 minutes longer or until carrot is tender. Remove from the heat; set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the pinto beans and black beans. Stir in oats. Add the mustard, soy sauce, ketchup, pepper, and carrot mixture; mix well. Shape into eight 3½-inch patties.

Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, rub on grill rack to coat lightly. Grill patties, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 inches from the heat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until heated through. Serve on buns with lettuce and salsa.


Source: iStock

6. Tomato-and-Olive Stuffed Portobello Caps

In addition, instead of stuffing your peppers to put on the grill, you can also stuff your portobello mushroom caps if you’re really trying to impress your guests with a sophisticated supper. You can find the recipe for Tomato-and-Olive Stuffed Portobello Caps on Eating Well, and there you’ll find that the fool-proof food formula is surprisingly simple to follow. Just stuff your caps with tomatoes, cheese, olives, garlic, and seasoning, and preheat the grill. The nutrient-packed dish will be ready in no time.


  • ⅔ cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • ½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, or ⅛ teaspoon dried
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, 5 inches wide
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

Directions: Combine tomatoes, cheese, olives, garlic, 1 teaspoon oil, rosemary, and pepper in a small bowl.

Preheat grill to medium. Discard mushroom stems. Remove brown gills from the undersides of the caps using a spoon; discard gills. Mix the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, lemon juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over both sides of the caps.

Oil a grill rack. Place the caps on the rack, stem sides down, cover and grill until soft, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and fill with the tomato mixture. Return to the grill, cover, and cook until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes more.

Source: iStock

7. Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu

Last but not least is a recipe for Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu, featured on AllRecipes.com. This creative food formula might be the ticket to getting your friends to try the classic meat substitute: tofu. Because as long as you like cilantro, you can’t really go wrong with grilled tofu dressed in a cilantro lime marinade, and while it’s unlikely you’ll be able to trick your guests into trying tofu, one look at this pretty dish and you might not even need to.


  • 1 package firm tofu
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions: Place the block of tofu onto a plate and place another plate on top. Set a 3 to 5 pound weight on top. Press the tofu for 20 to 30 minutes, then drain off and discard the accumulated liquid. Slice the tofu lengthwise into 4 thick slabs or cut into cubes and thread on skewers. Place tofu pieces or skewers on a plate.

Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Brush the tofu with the marinade. Cover the plate with plastic wrap, and marinate tofu in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate. Grill the tofu until almost blackened in spots, brushing occasionally with the marinade, about 10 to 15 minutes.

More from Life Cheat Sheet: