Barbecue Meal Ideas and Meatless Grilling How-tos

Meat isn’t the only thing that works on a barbecue. Full, flavourful vegetarian and vegan meals can be cooked on the outdoor grill. Don’t feel limited to vegetarian burgers and meat substitutes – there are plenty of meatless meals just perfect for outdoor dining.

General Tips for Vegetarian/Vegan Barbecue Meals

  • Reserve a section of the grill clean of any meat and meat products/juices. Vegetables may become non-vegetarian if they’re exposed to non-vegetarian items.
  • Don’t assume vegetarian will be satisfied with grilled vegetables or salad. Cook something filling and hearty for vegetarians too. Need ideas? See the list below.
  • If there are meat and non-meat options offered at a gathering or party, ensure the vegetarians get first dibs on the meatless offerings.
  • When barbecuing both meat and vegetarian meals, plan and choose appropriate foods to avoid cooking entirely separate meals. For example, don’t grill falafel to be served with pita bread and salad if you’re also grilling steak to be served with rice and potatoes.

Tips for Cooking Vegetarian/Vegan Barbecue Foods

  • Vegetarian foods don’t generally need to be cooked to a certain temperature like meats do. It can be difficult to tell when they’re done. Most just need to be heated through and crisped on the outside.
  • Cook dry, hearty or winter vegetables wrapped in tinfoil (e.g. carrots, potatoes)
  • Cook moist, delicate summer vegetables directly on the grill (e.g. eggplant slices, zucchini, mushrooms)

Vegetarian/Vegan Barbecue Meal Ideas

  • Falafel or chickpea patties (homemade or store-bought)
  • Shish kebabs (try the tofu and vegetable shish kebab recipe)
  • Baking potato stuffed with melted cheese and/or refried beans
  • Pizza or other breads with toppings (garlic bread with cheese, bruschetta, flatbread)
  • Stuffed peppers, zucchini or tomatoes (filling is cooked on the stovetop)
  • Marinated, thickly sliced tofu (marinate at least one hour and use firm or extra-firm tofu only)
  • Meat substitutes (veggie burgers, dogs, sausages, faux chicken cutlets, bean patties etc.)
  • Grilled eggplant stacks with portabello mushrooms and ricotta cheese (try the eggplant stacks recipe)
  • Vegetables: sweet potato, potato, carrots, parsnip, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, corn (note: special instructions for grilling corn on the cob)

Vegetable and tofu seasoning ideas:

  • Favourite spice blend
  • Italian or favourite salad dressing
  • Salt and pepper, serve with sauce or dip (try sesame tahini dressing for creaminess and protein)

Barbecue and Outdoor Dining Side Dish and Dessert Ideas

Side Dishes

  • Green salads with fresh, seasonal ingredients
  • Potato salad or pasta salad without tuna or other meat
  • Roasted hot mushroom salad
  • Sliced tomato and bocconcini salad
  • Fresh bread or rice
  • Grilled flatbread or garlic bread
  • Bean salad


  • Grilled fruit (halved peaches, plums, pears or sliced pineapple) with vanilla ice cream or non-dairy cream
  • Seasonal fruit crisp or cobbler
  • Banana boats (grilled bananas stuffed with chocolate chips)