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Plant-Based Recipes for Your Summer Barbecue

6 min read

By Clarissa Vanner

Medically Reviewed by Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Nothing quite beats warm summer days and backyard barbecues! Unfortunately, most summer barbecues are laden with meaty mains and dairy-rich sides, all of which are not plant-based friendly. Luckily vegan dieters have more options than ever!

Whether you follow a strict vegan diet or like to add lighter plant-based options to your rotation, be sure to consider these 12 plant-based recipes for your next summer barbecue! We’ll be sure to include a range of savory mains and delicious sides. Let’s dig in!

Black Bean Burgers

Every barbecue needs burgers. This time though, skip the meat and serve up black bean burgers — they’re sure to be a hit!

Plant-based burgers are easily accessible at the grocery store and there are tons to choose from but you can also never go wrong with a homemade burger. Homemade burgers can also be healthier since you know exactly what ingredients go into making them. If you’re not sure where to start, give this recipe a try! As a bonus, this recipe also shares instructions for an avocado whip that pairs perfectly with the burger.

Grilled Greek Chickpea Foil Packets

Foil pack dinners are not only delicious but they’re easy to throw together too! This recipe combines protein-rich chickpeas with Greek seasonings and fresh lemon to make one tasty meal that even carnivores will enjoy.

To really round out this dish, combine the chickpeas with fresh veggies like sliced zucchini, red onion, and peppers. Once cooked, remove from the barbecue and serve in a hot pita or over a bed of rice — your choice!

Photo Credit: Forkly

Jackfruit Pulled Sandwiches

Jackfruit is chock full of vitamins and minerals that are good for you and it’s low in calories. While this large, bumpy rind fruit might intimidate you, many grocery stores carry peeled and cut portions in cans that are ready to eat or cook. It also happens to be an excellent substitute for meat due to its stringy texture. That said, if you plan on using it in a savory dish, it’s important that you opt for unripe jackfruit and look for terms like “young” or “packed in brine” on the packaging. This will ensure the fruit has a neutral flavor.

This recipe shows how you can turn jackfruit into the most savory jackfruit pulled sandwiches. They’re sure to impress both meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike! The secret is to combine the fruit with spices and barbecue sauce. Serve the delicious pulled fruit on a soft bun and you’ll be craving this sandwich all summer long!

Grilled Chili Corn

Every barbecue needs delicious sides to complement the mains and you can never go wrong with corn on the cob! But before you rush to boil a pot of water, this recipe suggests grilling the corn instead. To kick up the flavor, the recipe also recommends brushing melted vegan butter and chili powder on the corn while it’s cooking.

What sets this corn recipe over the top is the coconut lime cream sauce! But don’t worry it is vegan-friendly too, made from coconut milk, jalapeno juice, lime juice, and a dash of seasoning. You’ll never want to eat corn any other way once you try this!

Grilled Tofu

Tofu is another great alternative to meat as it’s low in calories but high in protein. It’s also chock full of vitamins and minerals that are good for you. Better yet, tofu has a fairly neutral flavor which makes it a versatile ingredient. You can use a variety of marinades and spices to give the tofu a flavor you love.

When grilling tofu, it’s very important to use extra firm tofu to ensure it holds together. Medium to soft tofu will likely fall apart. This recipe provides step-by-step instructions on how to grill tofu directly on your barbecue as well as 4 flavor variations you can try.

Grilled Veggie Skewers

Skewers are always a hit at cookouts! They’re easy to throw together and there are tons of ingredients you can use too. This recipe shows how you can make deliciously grilled veggie skewers on your barbecue.

These skewers combine red onion, zucchini, and bell peppers, however, you can really throw in whatever veggies you like. While plain grilled veggies can be quite boring, this recipe recommends brushing the skewers with a light and fresh garlic herb sauce for extra flavor!

Grilled Stuffed Zucchini Boats

If you’re looking to impress your guests, be sure to add these grilled stuffed zucchini boats to your menu! They do require a bit of prep work but the finished product is well worth the effort.

For starters, you’ll need to roast cherry tomatoes in the oven and boil lentils and rice on the stovetop. Once cooked, you’ll grill your zucchini and then assemble the boats. Not only are they impressive, but they’re chock full of nutrients and flavor.

Vegan Potato Salad

You can never go wrong with a classic summer dish like potato salad. Unfortunately, a lot of ready-made potato salads from the grocery store are made with eggs and other ingredients that aren’t plant-based. Luckily, making a vegan-friendly potato salad is easy!

The Minimalist Baker shows how you can swap a few ingredients to make a creamy, savory, and vegan-approved potato salad. For starters, the recipe recommends using red potatoes as yellow potatoes tend to get too soft. This recipe also calls for a few chopped veggies for extra crunch and a delicious cashew garlic-herb dressing that perfectly combines everything together.

Vegan Ribs

Who says you have to give up ribs when you go vegan! This recipe ditches the meat and replaces it with sliced tempeh to make finger-lickin’ ribs — perfect for your summer cookout! In case you didn’t know, tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans.

Tempeh has a natural earthy and nutty flavor but it still pairs perfectly with your favorite barbecue sauce. This recipe says you can cook the ribs in the oven, slow cooker, or on the grill — your choice! Serve the ribs in a bun or with your favorite sides.

Grilled Eggplant

If you haven’t fallen in love with eggplant yet, you’ll need to give this smoky grilled eggplant recipe a try! It’s sure to be a hit at your summer barbecue.

This recipe comes together in just 20-minutes and requires only 9 ingredients. You’ll start by covering the eggplant in coconut aminos and oil to help infuse flavor and prevent it from sticking to the grill. Next, to give this veggie a perfect smoky flavor you’ll use a spice blend of cumin, paprika, cayenne, coriander, garlic, and salt. Finally, grill the eggplant slices to perfection and serve with your favorite mains.

Vegan Pasta Salad

Pasta salads make another great addition to summer cookouts. They’re light yet filling, and there are so many different types you can make. This recipe puts a Mediterranean spin on pasta salad by combining pasta with quinoa, olives, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and cucumber.

To give this salad extra protein, the recipe suggests adding chickpeas. Finally, to marry all the ingredients together, the salad is complete with a vegan-friendly garlic yogurt dressing.


Julie Ching is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles. She decided to become a Dietitian after traveling through Europe, South America, and Asia and discovered a passion for food. She now works with people of all ages and varying disease states to improve their health. She is passionate about teaching people about nutrition so they can live their best life while still considering their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

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