13 Grilled Vegetarian Mains for Your Next Cookout

J. Kenji López-Alt

We have no shortage of recipes for grilled vegetables, but they tend to be side dishes. While grilled asparagus with aioli and elotes are guaranteed crowd-pleasers, they don't make much of a meal on their own. Vegetarians shouldn't have to be stuck with sides at every cookout, because there are plenty of heartier options out there. From the best black bean burgers you've ever had, to grilled pizza, to a summery take on eggplant Parmesan, we've rounded up 13 of our favorite grilled vegetarian mains to help you eat a little less meat during cookout season.


Really Awesome Black Bean Burgers

J. Kenji López-Alt

These black bean burgers are packed with flavors and textures thanks to partially dehydrated black beans, chopped cashews, feta cheese, onions, poblano peppers, and garlic. Be careful with how you cook the patties—while we grill beef burgers on the hottest part of the grill, these need more moderate heat to cook evenly.

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Homemade Vegan Burgers That Don't Suck

J. Kenji López-Alt

Our black bean burgers are made with mayo and cheese—for a vegan alternative, give this recipe a try. The burgers are based on a mixture of lentils, barley, nuts, and beans and flavored with vegetables like mushrooms, eggplant, and leeks. A teaspoon of marmite gives the patties the savoriness that a good burger demands.

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Balsamic-Marinated Portobello Burgers

Joshua Bousel

A portobello mushroom cap will never fool anyone into thinking they're eating a hamburger, but these sandwiches are plenty satisfying in their own right. For extra flavor we marinate the mushrooms in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, and salt before grilling.

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Grilled Lemongrass- and Coriander-Marinated Tofu Vietnamese Sandwiches

J. Kenji López-Alt

Slowly grilling tofu crisps it up beautifully, making a perfect filling for a vegan take on the banh mi. Here we marinate the tofu with garlic, coriander root, and lemongrass before stuffing it into crusty Vietnamese-style baguettes with pickled carrots and daikon and vegan mayo.

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Grilled Halloumi Pita Sandwiches

Joshua Bousel

Salty halloumi has a high melting point, which means that when you grill it the inside softens and the exterior browns without the whole thing melting into the fire. One of our favorite ways to use it is in a simple pita sandwich with tomato, red onion, lettuce, and creamy tzatziki.

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Grilled Eggplant, Broccoli Rabe, and Mozzarella Sandwich

Nick Kindelsperger

If vegetables are going to be the star of the sandwich, you need to cook them right. We use different techniques to get the best flavor out of the eggplant and broccoli rabe for this simple sandwich. The eggplant takes well to grilling, becoming charred and tender. For the broccoli rabe, on the other hand, we start with a sauté and finish with a braise to fully cook the stalks. Creamy fresh mozzarella brings the sandwich together.

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Grilled Pizza With Grilled Tomatoes, Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Marcona Almonds

J. Kenji López-Alt

Making restaurant-quality pizza requires more heat than you can get out of a home oven, but a grill does the job nicely. These recipes make full use of the grill by using it to cook both crust and toppings—in this case we grill cherry tomatoes until lightly softened and asparagus until charred, then load them onto a crust with goat cheese, Marcona almonds, and fresh basil.

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Grilled Pizza With Grilled Broccolini, Chilies, and Garlic

J. Kenji López-Alt

For this pizza we toss broccolini with olive oil and garlic before grilling it until charred and tender. We then pair the broccolini with fresh mozzarella and red chilies. Charring the dough before loading it up with toppings helps it cook fully.

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The Rest

Grilled Tofu With Chipotle-Miso Sauce

Shao Z.

We use the same technique here as with our vegan banh mi, marinating the tofu before cooking it slowly on the cool side of the grill. The marinade (and sauce) is made with miso and chipotles in adobo—the two ingredients are from opposite sides of the world, but the salty, fermented soybean paste and spicy, smoky peppers complement each other wonderfully.

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Halloumi and Vegetable Skewers

Joshua Bousel

Pita sandwiches aren't the only use for grilled halloumi—here we skewer the cheese with red onion, tomato, and zucchini. Before skewering, we toss all the ingredients in a Greek-inspired vinaigrette flavored with oregano and mint. Don't be surprised when people fight each other for the cheese, which upstages the vegetables.

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Grilled Eggplant Rollatini

Joshua Bousel

These eggplant rollatini are cooked on the grill in two stages. We start by charring eggplant slices, softening them enough to roll them up. The filling is similar to traditional rollatini with ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan, but we add sharp provolone, fresh basil, and an egg to serve as a binder. Once the eggplant slices are stuffed, we put them back on the grill in a pan with marinara sauce and more cheese.

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Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

Lauren Rothman

Like with our rollatini, this recipe takes a dish that is normally fried and grills it instead. The smoky grilled eggplant is a lighter alternative to fried eggplant, and using a bruschetta-like topping of fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic sticks with the summery theme.

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Smoky Lentil Salad With Zucchini and Poblano Peppers

Vicky Wasik

Salad isn't always the best choice for a full meal, but this one is plenty filling thanks to the lentils. We make it with grilled zucchini and poblanos—the peppers add a subtle, unexpected heat. Lentils need to be well-seasoned, so don't shy away from the salt with this recipe.

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