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How to host a BBQ for vegetarian friends

Updated on July 18, 2010

Most people usually associate BBQ’s with large chunks of marinated meat being cooked onto a hot barbecue. So, when you hear you have a vegetarian coming along to your next barbecue, what do you do? Stay calm, don’t panic, breathe in… and out. With the tips below, you can be assured they’ll be licking their fingers and singing your praise as enthusiastically as your steak-loving friends !

Foodnetwork's Vegan BBQ tips

So... what kind of vegetarian is coming ?

In order to be a good host, it’s good to know what kind of vegetarian is coming. Some of them don’t eat meat but do eat fish, which will give you some more menu options. While knowing that someone is a vegetarian, it would be a bit thoughtless not to consider their dietary requirements.

  • Vegetarian is a blanket term for people who consume grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds but no animal products. There are various sub-groups within this:
  • Lacto vegetarian - Same as vegetarian but will have dairy food
  • Ovo-lacto vegetarian - Same as vegetarian but will have dairy and eggs. This is the most common form of vegetarianism in the Western world.
  • Pescetarian - Same as vegetarian but will consume fish. Also called "part-time vegetarians" and debate rages over whether this is vegetarianism.
  • Vegan - Avoids all food and clothing products derived from animals, including honey.
  • Raw food vegan - Same as vegan but only eats raw food.
  • Fruitarian - Same as vegan, so long as the plant is not destroyed in the process of farming.

Tips on how to be a good host

  1. Don’t make your vegetarian guests having to pick and choose among the sides to make their meals. Do offer at least one meat-free main dish. Although it’s tempting and easy to choose a few meat substitutions, remember that most vegetarians don’t even like those substitutions. By now you’re probably thinking how much work it’ll be to serve some good vegetarian barbecue recipes, but a quick search on the internet will reveal literally hundreds of recipes for preparing veggies on the grill. Below you can find some of my recipe suggestions.
  2. When making barbecue recipes for vegetarians remember that your veggie friends will probably appreciate it if you clean off any meat fat on the part of the BBQ that you are going to cook their food on. If you are using more than one grill, you could even give them a separate grill with some separate cooking implements and make sure your meat-loving guests don't plonk their meat on it. Maybe write a colorful label that says 'vegetarian' on it.
  3. To oil the grill for them you can put some olive oil, or vegetarian cooking oil, on a kitchen towel and wipe it over the grill. You can also buy sprays of olive oil and mist that across the grill.
  4. If you don't want to much fuss, you can always serve your vegetarian guests some tofu. But make sure it's the 'firm' variety and well-pressed. Don't get 'silken' or 'soft' tofu as it will fall apart and will fall through the grill. You can use the same marinade as the chicken for the tofu.
  5. Vegetables can be wrapped in foil and cooked on the barbecue, they really only have to be reheated.

There you have it! Take these tips with you while going BBQ shopping and I have no doubt your barbecue will be a big hit—for everyone!

Minted potato salad


  • 1 kg new potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp capers, chopped (optional)
  • Sprig of parsley and mint, chopped
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preparation method

Wash the potatoes and cut into similar sized pieces. Put into a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Add the salt and sprig of mint and simmer until just tender. Drain and refresh under cold water. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add the warm potatoes and fold together. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding extra oil and vinegar if needed. Variation: for a creamy dressing replace the oil and vinegar with 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt and 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise.

Barbecued Zucchini Mini Pizzas


  • 1 large zucchini (or eggplant)
  • 110g butter, melted
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 60g mozzarella cheese
  • 250g pizza sauce base or tomato puree

Preparation method

  1. Slice the zucchini into thick rounds.
  2. Combine the melted butter and crushed garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Brush the zucchini slices with the butter mixture and cook over a low heat for three to five minutes.
  4. Turn over and brush the butter mixture the other side of the slices and cook for three to five minutes more.
  5. 5. Turn the slices one more time and cover them with pizza sauce and cheese and cook until the cheese melts.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers


  • 1x400g tin black beans, red kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 green capsicum, quartered
  • 1/2 onion, halved 
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 
  • 90g (3/4 cup) dried breadcrumbs  

Preparation method

  1. Rinse black beans off and dry them. In a medium bowl, mash choice of beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
  2. In a food processor, finely chop green pepper, onion and garlic. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer to remove any excess water. Stir into mashed beans.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chilli powder, cumin and hot pepper sauce. 
  4. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in breadcrumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. 
  5. Divide mixture into four burgers. 
  6. Place on BBQ and bake for about 10 minutes on each side.  

Tequila Flavored Portobella Mushrooms


  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 portobella mushrooms, stems removed

Preparation method

  1. Whisk together the tequila, margarine, olive oil, lime juice and garlic. Allow to sit for at least ten minutes.
  2. Baste the mushrooms with the tequila mixture, then place on grill.
  3. Allow to cook for 3 to 5 minutes, then turn and baste with more of the tequila mix and cook for another minute or two. Top with additional tequila mixture if desired before serving.

Parmesan Corn on the Cob

Preparation method

  1. Spread each ear of corn evenly with butter or margarine
  2.  Sprinkle each ear with 6 g of the cheese
  3. Squeeze a lime wedge over each ear of corn

Tandoori Seitan


  • 6 mini bamboo skewers
  • 1 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp tandoori spice mix
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup soy yogurt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp tandoori spice mix (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup water

Preparation method

  1. Put your skewers in a pan of water and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, and spice mixture together. In a separate small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, oil, and water.
  3. Add wet to dry and mix well. This will result in a pretty tough and rubbery seitan. If everything isn't perfectly mixed and the seitan looks marbled, don't sweat it it will still taste good.
  4. Mix together yogurt, oil, and spice mix in a bowl. Cut seitan into 24 chunks and add to bowl. Coat well to keep the seitan chunks from bonding with one another in the bowl. Let marinate for 30 mins in the fridge (unless if you are in a hurry). Remove seitan from bowl and put four pieces on each skewer. Add 1/2 cup of water to the marinade left behind and mix well.
  5. Oil the grill and place skewers on bbq, cook for 3-4 mins. Flip skewers over, lightly baste, and cook for another 3-4 mins. Keep going like this until you run out of marinade. The seitan should cook for about 20 to 25 mins, and you may not need to baste each time you turn. Just make sure it looks hydrated.

Barbecued Pineapple


  • 1 medium pineapple
  • 4 tablespoons rum
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Preparation method
  1. Peel the pineapple, slice into 8 rings, and remove the centre core from each ring while leaving it whole.
  2. Place the rings in a shallow glass dish.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Pour mixture over the pineapple, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or it can be left overnight.
  4. Preheat barbecue to high.
  5. Barbecue pineapple rings for 15 minutes, turning once, until outside is dry and chargrilled.

Barbequed Spiced Bananas


  • 4 medium bananas
  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preparation method
  1. Peel then quarter the bananas.
  2. Place on heavy-duty foil.
  3. Dab with margarine  and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  Wrap tightly in foil.
  4. Place on barbeque 10-15cms above flames for 6-8 minutes, turning twice until heated through. Serve with ice cream.


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