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Our Best Ideas for Vegan Grilling without Oil (+ 5 Recipes for your Plant-Based Cookout)

Written by Ali Donahue
Our Best Ideas for Vegan Grilling without Oil (+ 5 Recipes for your Plant-Based Cookout)

Quick Take

Cookouts and whole food plant-based living aren’t mutually exclusive! There’s a whole wide world of healthy vegan grilling out there. Remain the reigning Grill Master this summer with our best vegan grill recipes and ideas for grilling veggies without oil.

Before we begin: Make going vegan easy with the MamaSezz Get Me Started Bundle

You get 8 delicious ready-made whole food plant-based dishes (28 servings), including our popular MamaSezz High Protein Burger! A delicious vegan burger that's hearty enough to toss on the grill.

Order your MamaSezz Get Me Started bundle now. 

On this page

Can I still grill on an oil-free whole food plant-based diet

How to grill veggies without oil

Easy oil-free vegan grilling recipes

What about fake meat?

Key takeaways

Can I still grill on an oil-free whole food plant-based diet?

As grilling season approaches you may be wondering how your whole food plant-based lifestyle is going to mesh with your summer cookout plans. What’s a cookout look like without meat? And can you even grill veggies without oil? Well, breath easy Grill Masters: you don’t need meat OR oil to grill up some scrumptious cookout grub. Vegan grilling isn’t just doable, it’s easy and we’re here to show you just that with our guide to grilling veggies without oil. And don’t miss our picks for the best vegan grill recipes so you can get this summer’s party started right.

How to grill veggies without oil

1. Make Foil Packets

A camping classic, quick and easy foil packets can be used at home on the grill, too.


Cut veggies into even sized chunks and toss with a little bit of water (or veggie broth or low-salt tamari), plus our MamaSezz Grill Rub. Make a foil pouch with heavy duty foil and seal up your veggies of choice inside. Pinch with your fingers to keep it closed and secure for flipping. Feel free to add some plant-based protein like beans or tempeh to the packet, or some citrus juice and zest or herbs and spices you love.

Grill packet on each side for about 10-15 minutes. Note that the cooking time will vary depending on the size and density of your veggies.

Try this with:

  • Chopped potatoes (add a little liquid so they don’t dry out)
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped zucchini
  • Chopped bell pepper
  • Asparagus (we like to add a spritz of lemon and garlic powder to these before grilling!)

2. Non-stick grill mat

Prevent your chopped veggies from falling through the grates of your grill by using a grill mat! A grill mat also keeps overzealous flames from burning your veggies.


Just place your grill mat on top of your grill grates and add your veggies, veggie burgers, whatever you want on top. Flip occasionally as you would if you were grilling directly on the grates. (And you still get grill marks!)

Try this with:

  • Marinated veggies (the liquid won’t go through the grates!)
  • Avocados
  • Veggie burgers
  • Carrot dogs (recipe below!)  

3. Grill basket

A grill basket is similar to a grill mat in that it prevents veggies from falling through the grates. Plus, it’s a great option if you’re grilling up a TON of veggies at once as it holds quite a bit! Perfect for a big group.


Chop veggies of choice. Make sure they’re similarly sized and of similar density, so they cook at the same rate. Marinate your veggies first (if you want) with oil-free options like balsamic vinegar, low salt tamari, your favorite herbs and seasonings, our oil-free sauces and rubs, or lemon juice and zest. Add veggies to grill basket on preheated grill and toss every 3-5 minutes until done.

Try this with:

  • Eggplant
  • Summer Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Bell peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli

4. Dry grill

Ok, here’s a secret - most of the time veggies won’t actually stick to your grates without oil. Dry grilling is nothing to fear! Your vegetables will become delightfully charred WITHOUT oil when you dry grill them. Even better? They won’t wind up soggy or greasy in the end.


Rinse your veggies of choice, pat dry, season, and toss those babies on the grill. Rotate often then marinate when done.

Try this with:

  • Zucchini (halved)
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches
  • Kabobs (make sure you soak wooden skewers first to prevent burning)

Now that you know HOW to grill veggies without oil...

Grab these (easy!) oil-free vegan grilling recipes

1. Grilled avocados

grilled avocado

Yep, you can grill avocados, and once you do you’re going to kick yourself for not realizing it earlier. Halve the avocado lengthwise and take out the pit. Brush with lime juice and a little garlic powder. Place on grill mat and grill for 4-5 minutes, until warm and char marks appear. The char brings out the creamy dreamy sweetness. Then you can stuff it with roasted chickpeas or pair with grilled corn in a taco.

2. Corn in the husk

corn on the cob oil free grilling

A great one to just toss on the grill dry, place corn on a heated grill (in the husk) and cover for 15-20 minutes. Flip every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning. Dress it up with your favorite grill rubs and seasonings and chomp down (after husking, of course). Or slice right off the cob and add to veggie tacos for a fresh summer recipe.

Pro tip: blend dairy-free MamaSezz Mama's Mac Sauce, chopped cilantro, and lime juice then drizzle on your corn for a vegan take on Mexican street corn.

3. Grilled Portobellos

grilled portobellos

A vegan grill recipe with some meat on it. Ok, well not meat (obviously) but Portobellos are hearty as heck which makes them the perfect grilled main at your next cookout. Marinate in MamaSezz refined sugar-free Mama’s Original BBQ Sauce and plop directly on the grill or your grill mat for a cholesterol-free meat alternative.

4. MamaSezz High Protein Burgers

A veggie burger that’s actually grillable? It’s true! MamaSezz High Protein Burger is 100% whole food plant-based and absolutely delicious (seriously, read the reviews). Grill each side for 4-5 minutes then dress it up with our favorite veggie burger toppings

5. Carrot dogs

carrot dogs

You read that right: carrot dogs. The whole food plant-based answer to hot dogs, thanks to an ingenious oil-free and smoky marinade, this kid-friendly recipe from Brand New Vegan is sure to become your family’s cookout staple. 

What about fake meat?

Seeing more and more plant-based options in the meat section at your grocery store and wondering if they're actually good for you or not? Although many imitation meats are often healthier than their animal protein counterparts, you still want to be particular when it comes to choosing your brand. Here's how to determine if fake meats are a good option for you in your plant-based journey. 

Key takeaways

Grilling isn’t reserved for meat and oil! There’s a whole wide world of oil-free vegan grilling out there for you to discover. But we like to K.I.S.S. - keep it simple, sweetie - so we suggest sticking with these four oil-free grilling methods as you get started with your vegan cookouts:

  • Foil packets for uniformly chopped and seasoned veggies
  • Grill mats for anything marinated and veggie burgers
  • Grill baskets for lots of veggies at once
  • Dry grilling for nearly any veggie, kabob recipe, or fruit

Updated 5/21/21


By Ali Brown

Ali is a mom, wife, and nutrition and lifestyle writer and editor. She has her Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

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