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The Vegetarian Barbecue: Grilling Goodness

Updated on July 21, 2013

What Goes on a Grill Besides Meat?

Ah, summer! It can be fun to cook outside and keep from steaming up the kitchen. You can host so many friends at an outside barbecue.

But it's feeling a little tricky these days. You've become a vegetarian. (Or married one.) Oh, and some of your friends are vegan! And you've just got that one grill.

So how do you host a vegetarian cook out? What veggie burgers (or veggie dogs) should you get? What vegetables cook up sizzling on a grill?

And what do you do if you're holding an outdoor extravaganza for herbivores, omnivores, and those who are somewhere in the middle?

Let's explore!

Image Credit: wwworks, Flickr Creative Commons

Caution: Veggie Burgers Are Not 100% Vegetable!

Vegan Options

Many veggie burgers and veggie burgers are not vegan. Veggie burgers often have a little dairy. Veggie dogs often have a bit of egg white.

But here's a partial list of vegan barbecue options:

Boca Burgers Original Vegan (hamburger-like)

Morningstar Farms Vegan Grillers (hamburger-like)

Dr. Praeger's California Burgers (low sodium, lots of veggies, very different than a hamburger)

Trader Joe's Vegetarian Masala Burgers (potatoes, aromatic spices, not hamburger-like)

Tofu Pups

Smart Dogs

Tofurkey Italian Sausage

Field Roast Grain Meat Sausage

A Well Credentialed Vegan Frankfurter

Tofurky Italian Sausage is, as you can see, a well credentialed veggie sausage. Tofurky is vegan. It has a little kosher symbol that denotes "parve". And just look at its badge -- it's outdoor grill approved!

I am not sure who did the approving. I doubt there is an independent certification agency that approves unlikely candidates for the outdoor barbecue.

However, it looks like it should fit the bill. Two things to keep in mind when you're grilling these: Brush the links with a wee bit of oil and don't cook them too long. (I guess the texture can get a little funny.)

Image Credit: This photo is mine. (So is the vegan sausage.)

Best Veggie Dog? - For Taste? For Texture?

Here we find a number of folks discussing veggie dogs.

In one of the articles below, a recently converted vegetarian discusses five different types of veggie hot dogs. Evidently, she convened her own little taste test panel and had a grilling party. She then ranked the vegetarian hot dogs from worst to best based on taster's comments.

I want to add this disclaimer to her results: I have tasted three or four out of the five veggie dogs reviewed -- possibly everything but the one she ranked number 1. I thought they were all pretty darn good. I don't know how I would rank order them, but I believe that I preferred Tofu Pups, the one her panel placed at the very bottom, over the Smart Dogs.

It's largely a matter of taste. Some of her buds really liked the Tofurky franks; others had a strong dislike.

I had to laugh because I discovered this article after I composed the paragraph about the Tofuky Italian Sausage credentialing, but I see this author is also cracking jokes about... well, who is it that grants that Tofurky "outdoor grill approval" anyway?

Moving on: The Chow Hound forum has also offered up some opinions about veggie dogs. There's just no consensus when it comes to taste!

When it comes to how well veggie products grill, though, there seems to be a bit more agreement. Just because a product tastes good when microwaved or fried, it doesn't mean its texture is well suited to grilling. And with regard to grilling, Tofurky just may be on to something...

The Tofurky Question

A lot of us are wondering: Where is Tofurky getting its "grill approved" status?

Who grants the "outdoor grill approved" credential?

See results

A Separate Grill?

Having a mixed burger/ veggie burger get together? One thing you won't want to do is cook things together in the same space. Even the corn on the cob may not get eaten!

At the very least, you'll want to clean very thoroughly in between, or designate a separate area on a large grill. If you do the latter, cook one after the other, not both at the same time, so things don't sizzle and spatter.

Tin foil can also be your friend!

It might be easier, though, to have a separate grill! Here's a small and inexpensive grill that's well reviewed.

Grilling Vegetables: The Basics

Here are the veggie grilling basics from AllRecipes.com. You can learn how to keep vegetables from sticking and skewer sticks from charring... and how to get those ears of corn to cook evenly. There are several ideas for corn on the cob here.

(A note that I want to add: If you use the aluminum foil method, you can also use the foil to keep the corn from touching the grill. But you should probably unwrap the package before serving -- it will be contaminated.)

Grill Pan - For Grilling Veggies

Another (partial) option for keeping things separate is to use a grill pan. (You'll still want to designate separate areas and watch out for spatters -- this pan isn't exactly a "meat-proof vest".)

The pan is a good option, though, for grilling veggies that otherwise... well, might get away.

How to Feed a Veggie Burger to a Meat Eater - The more condiments you have, the more tastes and textures, the less likely folks are to feel something is missing

How about a little table spread with some of these gourmet treats:

Sliced tomato

Sliced avocado

Herb salad mix

Dill pickles

Tahini salad dressing

Sun dried tomatoes

Alfalfa sprouts

Image Credit: mlinksva, Flickr Creative Commons

Best Veggie Burger for Grilling?

Here are the results of another taste test. This time the subject is veggie burgers. The article is a good resource. They note not only which burgers are most meat-like but which are most veggie-like! Yes, some veggie burgers are nifty while doing their own thing. Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala burgers are not hamburger wanna-be's. They taste more like a samosa... but why not?

Once again I personally would do those rankings differently. I like Garden Burger, which the panel has placed near the bottom. I'd say it's one of the best non-vegan veggie burgers out there.

Ah, but at number one, they have placed Boca Boog... Boca Burger. I have been vegetarian since my late teens, and I like the flavor of just about every other veggie burger I've ever tried, including the low-sodium Dr. Praeger's burgers. Boca Burger, though... If it was the only veggie option I would eat it and be grateful, but I always did have my little pet name for that burger. Yet it's not the first time I've seen it at the top of the list. I've gotten the sense that Boca Burgers may be the burger of choice for those who don't like veggie burgers.

Part of the moral, I guess,is to try out a few different products -- even you don't like the best, you might like the rest! Chances are your vegan and vegetarian friends will be grateful for any food they can eat (and prefer your company to those burgers, anyway). But if you're hosting multiple vegetarian friends, or having an all-veggie gathering, it can be good to offer a couple choices.

Grilling Portobellos

You don't have to used burgers. Portobello mushrooms have that umami taste naturally. This is another good step-to step. The chef even explains how to get nice grill marks on the portobello.

More Vegetarian Grilling Options

Here are two more recipes for the vegetarian grill. They take a little more work than just tossing something onto the grill, but aren't difficult. In the first, we learn how to make veggie barbecue skewers using either seitan or tempeh. In the second, it's a veggie polenta dish.

The chef makes a very good point about the ease of vegetarian barbecue options: You don't have to cook veggie proteins as long as meat. You need to add a bit of fat to get them to baste and grill better, but they can still be quicker and easier than the traditional fare.

Totally Vegetarian Cookbook

You'll find the barbecued tempeh/ seitan recipe above (and some veggie burgers and dogs, too) in the Totally Vegetarian cookbook.

You can also learn to make a number of other alternatives to traditional fare.

Will You be Vegging Out?

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    • hazeltos profile image

      Susan Hazelton 4 years ago from Summerfield, Florida

      I actually like veggie burgers. They're great grilled. We also grill yellow squash, onions, and green peppers to eat on the side.

    • Mary Stephenson profile image

      Mary Stephenson 4 years ago from California

      I am not a vegetarian but my friend is. There are times I think it would be a good idea. Actually if I had to go out and kill it, I would be a vegetarian. Maybe I could catch a fish, that would not bother me as much. My friend doesn't like eggs, but will eat them if they are not visible in the recipe. She loves cheese, just doesn't care to eat creatures.

    • profile image

      jacob-dreger-5 4 years ago

      Im not a vegitarian but this is great, really heathly looking dishes that ill def try to make in the kitchen but probably wont turn up the way it should lol! looks like ill have to get trained by someone on one of those sites like 5spot.ca haha!

      BTW im suprised this isnt on www.5spot.ca? whats up with that!?

    • profile image

      Shadrosky 4 years ago

      Absolutely!

    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 4 years ago

      I especially liked "How to Feed a Veggie Burger to a Meat Eater", since I am a meat eater who wants to eat more vegetables and less meat. You have given me lots of ideas and inspiration. Thank you for that!

    • NuttSoRuff profile image

      NuttSoRuff 4 years ago

      I wouldn't call myself a vegetarian because I do eat meat...just not a lot of it.

    • NuttSoRuff profile image

      NuttSoRuff 4 years ago

      I wouldn't call myself a vegetarian because I do eat meat...just not a lot of it.

    • mcsburlea profile image

      mcsburlea 4 years ago

      I am not a vegetarian but I do love veggies, raw or cooked. these are some great ideas, thanks

    • profile image

      A-TeamBartending 5 years ago

      Mmmm... I love veggies on the grill!

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 5 years ago from WNY

      I am a vegetarian and I LOVE grilled veggies. I could eat them every day! Thanks for sharing these tips. :)

    • medassistant85 profile image

      medassistant85 5 years ago

      I like veggie burgers even though I am not a vegetarian. Sometimes you just need a change! Great lens.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I love grilled vegetables and seitan. You've created a superb guide here with stunning photos.

    • robertzimmerman2 profile image

      Robert Zimmerman 5 years ago from SE Florida, USA

      Even though I'm not a vegetarian, these are great ideas, thanks!

    • profile image

      Retirements 5 years ago

      Lots to consider, I have been a bigtime meat eater. Veggies sound good.

    • esvoytko lm profile image

      esvoytko lm 5 years ago

      Looks delicious!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love lenses that teach me something I didn't know. Some nice new grilling ideas here. Gotta run now - the coals are just about ready.

    • victoriuh profile image

      victoriuh 5 years ago

      I am not a vegetarian, but I loved grilled veggies. Great photos!

    • SueMarchant profile image

      SueMarchant 5 years ago

      We used to have a lot of Quorn burgers and sausages (is that available over your way?). It's a fungus, and while the burgers etc.hold together very well, they can get a bit dry and bland. But I do love the smell of a good BBq, so I just bought this marvellous book by Joni-Marie Newman. It's called The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet, and features 101 tasty vegan burgers and patties. Should have bought this much sooner...her ideas are great!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      Wonderful job on this great lens. Happy July 4th!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm not a fan of tofu, seitan or tempeh, so finding a vegetarian protein option is always a bit of a challenge. I rely a lot on beans and cheese for that, but if I were going to a barbecue today (the 4th of July), I'd sure want something that would give me all the things I loved about grilled hot dogs and burgers as a kid: the buns, condiments, and toppings. Your links to the taste tests will be very helpful with that.

      Thank you for compiling all this information. I have found meat eating grill-tenders to be a little, um, careless about keeping the veggie options separate from the meat, so we usually do the veggie burgers indoors in a frying pan. I like your idea of setting up a separate little grill.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens with yummy grilled veggies :)

    • profile image

      JCS2003 5 years ago

      Wow!!! That made me really hungry. I am a meat eater but really trying to load up on the Veggies at all corners. You have done a great job and it really gave me a few items of encouragement to add more to our chow line!

      Thanks and nice work.

    • profile image

      siltfence 5 years ago

      Grilled vegetables are gooooooddd!!!!!!!! love it!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I look forward to trying many of the products you have featured here. The only boog... burger I have tried in the past is the Boca. Time to branch out. Grilling veggies really appeals to me. I need to be doing more of that this summer. Too hot to be cooking indoors with this massive heat wave. Sure appreciate the tips and resources. Thanks!

    • SailingPassion LM profile image

      SailingPassion LM 5 years ago

      great ideas for those of us who aren't fussed about meat

    • squidoogiftsfor profile image

      squidoogiftsfor 5 years ago

      Excellent lens, I haven't heard of Foturkey, probably similar to Quorn in the UK

    • PastorCher profile image

      Pastor Cher 5 years ago from United States

      Not a Boca fan myself, but Morning Star veggie burgers. I haven't tried them on an outdoor grill, but the Foreman grill works fine.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      I can offer one tiny suggestion: Check the veggie burgers for their integrity while being cooked. I've had a few that became a loose hash in the frying pan. I expect these products would drop into the coals on a grill.

    • ae dc profile image

      ae dc 5 years ago

      i think i'm going to be a vegetarian... :)

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Great tips here...I love to grill veggies!

    • profile image

      Green_Sky 5 years ago

      I was just wondering about this the other day and here are some great ideas. Now you got me hughry. I'll definitely read the whole of it later, now I just couldn't help myself and had to peek in.

    • biminibahamas profile image

      biminibahamas 5 years ago

      YUM ... a tasty lens!

    • BikePro profile image

      Graeme 5 years ago

      Yum! Why should we vegetarians miss out on BBQ season? Nice article!

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      Excellent resource for information about a vegetarian bbq! I have one of the grill pans for vegetables and love it.

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 5 years ago

      I'm with you on the Boca Burgers... not my favorite, either. We're going toward vegetarian at my house now and this was a great resource to find for summer cookouts.

    • profile image

      Sundaycoffee 5 years ago

      Good information. I found the 'How to Grill Vegetables' video very useful. We're definitely going to grill some veggies this Sunday. Thanks for sharing.

    • piarejuden profile image

      piarejuden 5 years ago

      Feeding veggies to a meat eater is really tough.. I'm sure these would work great!! Great lens, KarenTBTEN! Cheers!

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 6 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      I love Veggie Burgers. This is a great lens listing other ideas than I knew about. Thanks!

    • vegetablegardenh profile image

      vegetablegardenh 6 years ago

      Good ideas! I usually steam my veggies or eat them raw, but will try some of your ideas here!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 6 years ago from GRENADA

      Great grilled vegetables lenses. I am always looking for new ways to prepare food.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 6 years ago from Maryland

      Excellent! I'm bookmarking and blessing this! ;)

    • AlexandraAdams LM profile image

      AlexandraAdams LM 6 years ago

      Delicious Barbeque! I really love veggies. And now a sizzling barbeque? I am craving now just when I see the photos. Thanks for sharing this lens! Great lens though...

    • xriotdotbiz lm profile image

      xriotdotbiz lm 6 years ago

      I am trying to learn how to grill vegetables. Have some good vegetables by caterers but trying to perfect the process on my own.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 6 years ago

      I like the Gardenburger's Original Veggie Burger - but all your ideas sound absolutely fabulous!! Great job on this article!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love vegetables especially when grilled.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      These ALL look so yummy!

    • profile image

      trendydad 6 years ago

      Great lens still love the beef

    • msnz profile image

      msnz 6 years ago

      Awesome lens... You have provided a new dimension to vegetarian grilling... I will try all of them one by one..

    • PBJasen profile image

      PBJasen 6 years ago

      Shrooms on a grill are awesome, but never tried tofu, generally not really my cup of tea.

    • profile image

      betsy-waldrop-3 6 years ago

      I really don't like the taste of Boca Burgers either, but I too will eat them as a last resort. I really like Quorn burgers and Dr. Praeger's burgers and buffalo chicken patties. Excellent lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Grilling veggies has always scared me. Nice lens about this. Congrats on making the monsterboard.

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Boca Burgers all the way! My kids have loved them since they were little. Yummy lens too and Gratz on making the Monster Boards!

    • profile image

      bossypants 6 years ago

      We are such committed carnivores that our veggie grilling is limited to corn on the cob. But, I know we should have some meatless days (for many reasons) and your lens provides good resources and recommendations to explore!

    • Ninche profile image

      Ninche 6 years ago

      Yes, I love making vegetables on the grill, especially eggplant. Great lens!

    • zentao profile image

      zentao 6 years ago

      The portabello mushroom looks pretty good. I never equated BBQ with vegetarian, but it all looks great..clever idea

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 6 years ago from New Jersey

      Great tips and useful guide. I'm just planning a big party for a few weeks from now, and have some vegetarian friends coming and was looking for a few ideas besides grilled veggie skewers.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      I'll have to keep this in mind for my vegetarian friends - nice lens! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • profile image

      Aboutlowercholesterol 6 years ago

      Some of these look soooo yummy!!!

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