This Balsamic Marinade for Grilled Vegetables is the perfect way to make flavor-packed veggies on the grill all summer long. In less than 15 minutes, make this healthy and light summer side dish.
It's no secret that we love grilled veggies around here but recently I discovered the ultimate secret for making seriously delicious grilled vegetables. It's all about the balsamic marinade.
But there is a trick! Unlike proteins, the best time to add marinade to grilled vegetables is after they are cooked. That's right! When the veggies come off the grill, they are in the perfect state to soak up all the yummy flavors in the marinade.
Another great thing about this balsamic grilled vegetable marinade is that you can use it for your vegetables and protein. Make up a double batch of the marinade and use half to marinate chicken, pork, or steak. It also can double as a quick dressing for an easy salad or pasta salad.
Looking for the complete recipe with the vegetables and marinade together? Try these Marinated Grilled Vegetables.
How to make marinade for grilled vegetables?
When making any marinade, you want a combination of fat, acid, and seasoning. Here is what you need for this balsamic vegetable marinade.
- Olive oil: The flavor of the olive oil adds a touch of earthiness and richness to the vegetables. Choose one with a good flavor.
- Balsamic vinegar: The sweetness of balsamic vinegar brings out the natural sweetness in the vegetables. Swap in red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or flavored vinegar if you like.
- Lemon juice: To add brightness, fresh lemon juice is the perfect addition to the marinade. Add lemon zest for even more lemon flavor.
- Dijon mustard: Mustard is a great option for adding depth of flavor without needing lots of different ingredients. Use Dijon or whole grain mustard for best results. Yellow mustard shouldn't be used.
- Garlic: Garlic makes everything better. Fresh garlic is best but garlic powder or minced garlic can also be used.
- Italian seasoning: This combination of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme is an easy way to add lots of herbs to the dish with a single product. Swap in any fresh herbs or dried herbs you like.
- Salt and pepper: For the best results use kosher salt or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
What vegetables can be cooked on the grill?
Almost any vegetable can be cooked on the grill, although vegetables that cook quickly are more grill friendly than others. Here are the most popular vegetables to make on the grill. Always keep the pieces large when grilling vegetables so they don't fall through the grill grates.
- Zucchini and yellow squash: Make sure to cut them in long planks or large circles (on the diagonal) so they don't fall through the grill grates.
- Asparagus: Always trim the woody ends off the asparagus. Place them in the opposite direction as the grill grates and flip with tongs.
- Eggplant: Eggplant comes out best on the grill with the skin on. If you don't like the skin, use a vegetable peeler to make "stripes" down the eggplant, removing some of the skin. The skin holds the eggplant together as it grills and can always be removed after cooking. Cut it large circles.
- Onions: To keep onions from falling apart on the grill, keep the root end intact. Cut wedges through the root end and the onions won't fall apart on the grill.
- Bell peppers: Cut the "walls" (or sides) of the bell peppers. These can be left whole or cut in half. Red, yellow, and orange peppers get nice and sweet on the grill. If the skin burns at all, you can peel it after grilling.
- Green beans: Green beans are delicious on the gill but can be tricky to keep from falling through the grates. Either grill them on a piece of foil or in a grill basket. They can also be skewered.
- Cabbage: Cut the cabbage into large "steaks" through the core. Carefully flip with tongs.
- Mushrooms: Larger mushrooms, like portobello, are the easiest to grill since they won't fall through the grill grates. Medium-size mushrooms also work, just halve them before grilling.
When to Marinate Vegetables (Hint: It's After!)
Unlike proteins, vegetables do not soak up marinade well in their raw form. Instead, they need to be cooked so that they can absorb and soak up all that yummy flavor.
More specifically, some vegetables like bell peppers, onions, carrots, or green beans are not very porous in their raw form and the marinade basically slips off the vegetables. In others, like mushrooms or eggplant, the marinade will actually make the veggies soggy and soft. They lose all that delicious crunch that they should have coming off the grill.
Grilled Vegetable Marinade Variations
Today I am sharing a delicious balsamic marinade with lemon juice, garlic, dried herbs, and a touch of honey. However, vegetables can be marinated in all different styles of marinade. Here are some to consider:
- Vegetable Marinade Basics: 1/4 cup oil + 2-4 tablespoons acid (citrus, vinegar, etc) + seasoning (garlic, shallot, mustard, herbs, spices, chili flakes) + salt (kosher salt, soy sauce, miso) + a touch of sweetener (honey, sugar, maple syrup, agave)
- Balsamic marinade: This is the one I am sharing today. It has olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Asian marinade: Sesame oil, rice vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame seeds, garlic, ginger, honey, and red chili flakes
- Lemon garlic: Olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, dried basil, dried rosemary, salt, pepper, and honey
- Barbecue: Olive oil, barbecue sauce (it has acid and sweetness), chili powder, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper
Does this marinade work on proteins?
This balsamic vegetable marinade is also great with proteins. For every pound of protein (chicken, pork, steak, etc), plan on about 1/2 cup of marinade.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions about making this grilled vegetable marinade.
Absolutely! Much like grilled vegetables, roasted vegetables soak up more flavor after being cooked. Once the vegetables have been roasted, simply toss with the marinade for a delicious oven-baked dish.
Grill baskets are a great way to prepare vegetables on the grill. Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add to the grill basket and cook for 8-12 minutes until the vegetables are tender-crisp. Shake the basket a few times during cooking. Then toss with the balsamic vegetable marinade.
When vegetables are done on the grill they should have a nice char on the outside and be tender-crisp with some texture.
Balsamic Marinade for Grilled Vegetables
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- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey (or maple syrup, optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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