The 11 Best Fruits To Grill For The Vegetarian In Your Life

Nothing says summer like grilling. From its ease and simplicity to the wonderful flavors it imparts — incredible smoke, char, and caramelization — it's easy to see why grilling is often considered the most beloved method of cooking, particularly in the warmer months. 

In addition to great flavors, part of the true beauty of grilling is its versatility — especially for individuals who follow a plant-based diet or who are cooking for someone who does. Have you experienced the taste of a wonderfully grilled ear of corn, for example? What about crispy grilled avocado or zesty grilled zucchini? When it comes to savory delicacies, few things can compare to the wonder of a grill-blackened bell pepper.

And when you tire of toasting veggies over open flames and want to see where grilling truly shines, never underestimate just how rewarding it is to grill fresh in-season fruit! Whether you're cooking for yourself or someone who is vegan or vegetarian, grilled fruit can be an incredible treat. It's a bit unusual and unexpected — not everyone thinks to do it — but the results are out of this world. 

When placed on a grill, fruits become bolder, richer, and sweeter. They pick up flavors and textures you may not have previously noticed — and can become even more delectable. Yes, grilled fruit is a thing of joy. But how do you choose which fruits to grill? We've done some legwork — here's 11 of the best fruits to get you started on your fruit-grilling adventure!

Enjoy grilled peaches

One of the most flavorful fruits you can cook on any grill is the peach. These sweet, juicy, fuzzy-skinned summertime staple pairs perfectly with intense heat. Flames bring out the sweetness of the fruit, giving it an almost brown sugar-like intensity. Grilling also heightens the acidic tang of peaches, making their flavor rich and robust.

To grill a peach, first make sure you have the ripest fruit possible. It should be firm yet yield slightly when pressed with your thumb. Next, wash the peaches you want to grill, cut them in half to remove the pit, and brush each half with a little of melted butter. If you want, you can also sprinkle your peaches with a bit of cinnamon or sugar.

And now the fun part — place the peach halves, cut-side down, on a hot grill and cook for three to five minutes. Then, using a pair of grill tongs, turn the peach over and grill the other side for the same amount of time. You'll know the peach is done when its flesh has just begun to darken and soften. Let your grilled peaches cool and then serve. You can eat these delicious treats as is, or work them into an easy side dish. Diced grilled peaches are great in a salad with arugula and burrata cheese. You can also use them to make homemade peach salsa. Or top your still-warm peaches with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an incredible instant dessert.

Try something new and grill up some watermelon

Watermelon isn't a food most of us think about cooking. It's mostly sliced and eaten raw. But there are other ways to enjoy this fruit. You might throw a few cubes into a fruit salad, for example — not to mention watermelon and feta make a great savory salad combo! Few things are more delicious on a hot summer day than a watermelon margarita or watermelon agua fresca.

What about cooked watermelon? If that idea leaves you scratching your head, you're probably not alone. Turns out that grilled watermelon may be your new favorite taste sensation you didn't know you needed.

When you grill watermelon, its texture and juiciness don't really change that significantly. But what does morph is its taste. When exposed to the heat of an open flame, watermelon's flavor becomes deeper and more intense. Some of that sweetness goes away and, in its place, you get a hint of smokiness and a deep flavor of caramelization.

Grilling watermelon couldn't be easier. Just place a slice of the fruit on the grill and cook for three to five minutes per side. Sprinkle the fruit with a dash of salt or a spice rub combining cumin, paprika, chili powder, and cayenne pepper to bring out more of its savory qualities. You'll know the watermelon is done when grill marks form and the fruit starts to caramelize. Remove the watermelon from the grill, let cool, and serve. Feeling fancy? Top each slice with a bit of balsamic glaze before you dig in.

Embrace tartness and grill a lemon

Lemon is an anomaly in many ways. It's an incredible ingredient for adding acid and zest to a dish. But generally you probably don't eat the lemon whole — you use it to flavor other foods. And the same is true with grilled lemon. You can throw a bunch of lemon halves on a grill and char them until they are blistered and glistening and look stunning. But again, you'd never eat a grilled lemon on its own. But it's a wonderful ingredient in any number of other dishes.

When you grill a lemon, you take its existing tart and tang and imbibe that flavor with hints of smoke and caramelization. The heat makes the lemon's flavor more complex and inviting. And when you then use that grilled lemon in other dishes, you pass these richer, bolder lemon flavors on to those foods as well. 

Grilled lemon is amazing squeezed over seafood or muddled in a cocktail shaker as part of many delicious cocktails. It could even be added to a baked potato, pasta dish, or atop freshly cooked asparagus. You can mix grilled lemon juice with butter or yogurt to make an incredible sauce or topping for fresh or grilled veggies. Grilled lemon vinaigrette for green salads is super tasty — combine grilled lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper, and mix well. The options this grilled fruit provides are almost endless!

Mango is sweet on the bbq

Originally believed to have emerged in India and South Asia, mangos are renowned for their sweet and tropical flavor. The fruit is so juicy and delectable, it's often been referred to as the "king of fruits." It has a well-earned reputation. Mangoes are obviously wonderful raw, but they're just as delicious when you plop them on a grill for a few minutes and char them to make that intense sweetness even richer and more robust.

Start by grabbing ripe mango — the mango should be bright yellow, red, or a combo of those colors. The fruit transitions from green as it ripens. And the texture of the fruit should also give slightly when pressed with a finger.

Next, peel the firm yet ripe mango and slice into wedges. Brush each mango slice with a bit of melted butter and then place them on an already toasty grill. Cook the mango slices for two to four minutes per side or until grill marks become noticeable. Then let cool and serve.

Grilled mango is perfect on its own or use it in a salad made with arugula, goat cheese, candied nuts and topped with a citrus vinaigrette. You can also dice grilled mango and mix with rice and coconut flakes to make a quick and easy side. Or go for a hearty mango parfait made with layers of grilled fruit slices, Greek yogurt, granola, and honey. Yum!

Stick with tradition and grill a few bananas

The practice of grilling bananas dates back centuries in regions like Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It's not only an easy way to use up extra bananas before they spoil, but also a means to dramatically enhance their natural flavor and sweetness, making the fruit even more delicious — even you non-banana fans out there might agree!

The process for grilling a banana (or its cousin the plantain) is relatively simple. Just select a ripe yet firm fruit — if the banana is too mushy, it can crumble and fall apart on the grill. Make a large incision in the peel of the banana along the inside curve. Then add any toppings you'd like within that cut. You might sprinkle in some cinnamon, for example, or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, or even a few chocolate chips and a dollop of peanut butter. Be creative and try a few options.

When your bananas are ready, add them to a hot grill and cook for a couple minutes per side. The banana is done when the peel has blackened slightly and the fruit inside is soft and caramelized. Let cool and serve on their own or paired with ice cream, pancakes, waffles, or yogurt.

If you prefer a crispier treat, you can also grill bananas out of the peel on a grill pan or grill sheet. If you go that route, just cut the banana into slices and grill until a nice toasted light brown.

Get fancy and grill apple

Apples are like the Beyonce of the fruit world. They can do almost everything in spectacular fashion. You can make them into a sauce, throw them in a pie, work into a tart or crumble — and, of course, they also taste delicious when cooked on the grill.

While any apple can be grilled, the best options are those that hold their shape when cooked, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Pink Ladies. To prepare any apple for the grill, first wash and core your apples. Then slice them into rounds, wedges, or halves — the choice is yours. Depending on shape you can either brush your apple pieces with melted butter or toss them in a bit of melted butter. Then place the pieces carefully on the grill. Considering their size, there's a chance the apple could fall through the grate on some grills, so you may be better off using a nonstick grill mat to keep your apples safe. Cook your slices for about five minutes per side or until the apple begins to noticeably char and soften.

Eat your grilled apples on their own, mixed into salad, or dipped into a decadent caramel sauce. Grilled apple is also a perfect ingredient in cheddar apple quesadillas, or even served on top of a piece of French bread paired with Brie and a drizzle of honey.

Get exotic and grill up some figs

Aside from the occasional Fig Newton, or perhaps a charcuterie board with a couple prepared figs, most of us don't know much about this spectacular fruit. Truth is fresh figs are a luscious treat with an uber-sweet honey-like taste that also includes notes of berries and even floral qualities. They're great in salads, added to stuffings, or used in baked goods like cakes or cookies. Figs are also ideal for the grill, and perfect for impressing any vegan or vegetarian you might be cooking for.

Figs that are good for grilling should be soft to the touch without feeling mushy and should have a vibrant consistent color. The process for grilling figs is similar to what we've already covered for other fruit. Just cut them in half, brush with butter and add to a hot grill, cut-side down to start. Cook for two to three minutes per side or until soft and then let cool.

You can use grilled figs in a number of ways. Pile grilled fig halves on toasted baguette slices with creamy goat cheese, a drizzle of honey, and a sprinkle of fresh thyme. You can also pair them with mozzarella balls and fresh basil — prosciutto for the non-vegetarians — then top with balsamic dressing. Or make a salad with grilled figs, spinach, candied pecans, crumbled feta cheese, and a light vinaigrette.

For a more refined taste, consider grilled plums

Like figs, plums are another vastly underutilized fruit. And they are also perfect for the grill. As always, make sure any plums you grill are as ripe as possible. Underripe fruit tends to be hard and less flavorful, and no matter how much you "baby" it on the grill, it will never taste as good as ripe grilled fruits.

To spot a ripe plum that's ideal for grilling, look for firm, fragrant fruit that yields slightly to gentle pressure. The plum shouldn't be too soft or mushy. By now we're guessing you know the grilling routine. Cut the plums in half, brush with butter and grill cut-side down for several minutes per side.

Like figs, grilled plums are excellent with bread. Top a slice of toasted baguette with grilled plum, Brie and a drizzle of honey. Or make plum and ricotta toast, topping the fruit and cheese pairing on the bread with chopped pistachios or basil for a quick on-the-go breakfast or snack. You can also used grilled plums in a sweet and savory side dish. Just slice them and toss with cooked quinoa, diced cucumber, chopped mint, and crumbled feta. Add a bit of lemon and olive oil dressing and you got the perfect light summer side salad.

Channel the Mediterranean with a few grilled pears

While pears are great on their own, they're even better when charred to perfection on a hot grill! To find the best ripe pear for grilling, ignore the fruit's color. With pears, the shade of the skin is not always the best indicator of ripeness. Instead, press gently near the pear's stem at the top of the fruit. The pear should yield slightly to pressure without feeling overly hard or soft. Ripe pears also tend to have a beautiful, fragrant aroma. If the pear you are considering grilling has no scent, it likely needs a few more days of ripening.

You can go the traditional route and halve the fruit before grilling. Or cut the pear into three or four thinner slices. Whichever way you go, brush the prepared fruit with butter and cook until grill marks appear — generally a couple minutes per side.

Grilled pears have infinite uses. Toss them with cooked pasta, toasted walnuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil for a light summer entree. Or throw together an impressive flatbread pear pizza. Just spread grilled pear slices, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, caramelized onions, and fresh thyme on top of some premade flatbread and bake until the cheese is melted and the flatbread is golden. To eat the pears on their own, just add a bit of your favorite cheese, some nuts, and a drizzle of honey. Easy and delicious!

Try grilled oranges

Moving to a fruit every home chef generally has on hand, oranges are also an ideal option for tossing on the grill — and they aren't something you see cooked often, so they're impressive to any potential dinner guests.

The process for grilling an orange is exactly the same as with grilling a lemon. Halve the fruit and place it cut-side down on the grill where you'll let it char for around three to five minutes. Then flip it and repeat. When the orange is done, let it cool. Squeeze the juice from a grilled orange into any of your favorite cocktail recipes, add it to a fresh salad (just mix with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard), or use it to bring flavor and acid to cooked fish or seafood.

You can also peel the grilled orange and use the slices whole. They're delicious tossed with cooked couscous, fresh chopped mint or parsley, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, and a drizzle of olive oil. Or make a quick orange salad by combining grilled orange slices, baby spinach, crumbled goat cheese, toasted walnuts or almonds, and a shot of balsamic vinaigrette.

For dessert, consider topping a slice of pound cake with grilled orange plus a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Or just thread grilled orange segments onto small skewers and dip them into melted chocolate for a surefire crowd pleaser.

Get your mouth watering over grilled pineapple

Of all the fruits out there, perhaps none is better suited to the heat and char of a hot grill than fresh pineapple. Grilling concentrates and enhances the natural sweetness of pineapple. It gives the fruit a softer and juicier texture, and adds complex flavor notes like smoke and caramelization to that existing tropical tang. This gives grilled pineapple the ideal pairing of sweet and savory that most of us crave in the foods we eat.

To prep fresh pineapple for grilling, cut off the top and bottom of the fruit and then slice off the outer peel. Cut the pineapple into slices and remove the inner core from each. Brush slices with melted butter and toss onto a hot grill, cooking each side for several minutes.

Grilled pineapple can be enjoyed in many ways — including on its own. Or toss grilled pineapple slices with grilled halloumi cheese and a mixture of fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, and avocado for a quick and hearty salad. Add a thin slice of grilled pineapple on top of your favorite burger (it tastes great with both beef and veggie patties). Or use it to make a grilled pineapple quesadilla. Just fill the quesadilla with some diced grilled pineapple, black beans, shredded cheese and chopped jalapeños — toast until the cheese has melted and the tortilla has begun to crisp. Delicious!