10 Surprising Grill-Friendly Sweet Veggies That You Must Try

We will explore grill-friendly sweet veggies that can add an unexpected burst of flavor to an otherwise bland diet. Our list includes classics like corn on the cob and bell peppers, along with some unexpected gems.

What Makes a Vegetable Sweet?

Sweet veggies? No way! Trust me on this one. The sweetness you taste in certain vegetables is mainly attributed to the presence of natural sugars and flavor compounds. Vegetables contain different types and levels of natural sugars like glucose, sucrose, and fructose.

These sugars develop as a result of the photosynthesis process. The sugar levels vary depending on the type of vegetable, its maturity, and ripeness. The higher the sugar content and the more mature the vegetable is, the sweeter it will taste.

The stage of ripeness also affects the sugar content level. As the vegetables ripen, they become sweeter. If you aren’t a veggie lover yet, all the information I am about to share might be enough to change your mind. 

In addition to natural sugars, some sweet veggies contain volatile compounds such as esters and aldehydes. These volatile compounds add a sweet aroma and flavor that complements the sweetness of the natural sugars and provide a well-rounded flavor you will absolutely love.

The cooking method also contributes to the sweetness. For instance, grilling caramelizes the natural sugars resulting in a sweeter and richer flavor for your veggies.

Are Sweet Veggies Still Healthy?

Ready for this? Yes, sweet veggies are not only a delight, but they also provide a good amount of nutritional benefits. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.

For example, sweet potatoes and carrots are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene. Vitamin A improves immune function, promotes healthy skin, and enhances vision. Beta-carotene is also a potent antioxidant that supports immune function and has even been linked to a reduced risk of cancer.

Purple sweet vegetables like red onions, beetroots, and purple sweet potatoes contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that offer protection against heart disease and other chronic conditions.

10 Surprising Grill-Friendly Sweet Veggies

Now that we know more about the nutritional content, let’s take a bite out of these grill-friendly sweet veggies:

1: Corn

Corn on the cob on a white background

Corn is the epitome of grill-friendly sweetness. Although naturally sweet, grilling unlocks the next level of its natural sweetness. Grilling transforms corn into a succulent and smoky delight your tastebuds will love.

The different corn varieties provide unique flavors. Yellow corn is the most commonly grilled variety and has a sweeter flavor. However, white corn and multi-colored corn are also great options for grilling. White corn has mild and slightly sweet notes, while multi-color corn has a sweet, nutty taste.

You can also use different grilling techniques to unlock the full flavor of your fresh-picked corn. You can grill the corn with the husk on or husk off. Husk-on grilling delivers tender and succulent corn, while husk-off grilling achieves a bolder, charred flavor.

You can further elevate the taste of grilled corn by experimenting with different seasonings. For a kick of heat, sprinkle a pinch of chili powder. To add a tangy zest, squeeze some lemon juice or dust the charred corn with crumbled Cotija cheese. Yum! You may also add depth to the corn with roasted garlic butter.

2: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a versatile root vegetable that delivers a delectable natural sweetness and smoky goodness when grilled. They are also a nutritional powerhouse packed with essential nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. As such, they are a must-have on your grill.

Sweet potatoes are easy to grill and hold on well to the heat. You can grill them whole or cut them into wedges or round shapes. Slicing them results in a shorter cooking time and even grilling.

You can place them directly onto the grate to achieve distinct grill marks or wrap them with foil for a softer texture. Both methods achieve perfectly caramelized sweet potatoes that will leave your mouth watering.

When it comes to seasoning, sweet potatoes offer the perfect canvas for a wide range of flavors. For added sweetness, slather on some maple syrup or honey. You can also infuse earthy notes with herbs like thyme and rosemary.

3: Bell Peppers

Colored bell peppers

Bell peppers are sweet and add a burst of color to your grill and plate. They come in different varieties. Each variety has a unique color, flavor, and texture profile.

Green peppers taste tangy, while the more colorful varieties like red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are sweeter. Sweetness levels also depend on the maturity and ripeness of the bell peppers.

There are different ways to grill your bell peppers. You may half them and place them directly onto the grilling grates or slice them into quarters and thread them onto skewers on their own or with other veggies.

Veggies that would be great on a skewer with your bell peppers are zucchini and cherry tomatoes. The skewers also help you maintain a good handle on your veggies while they grill. You won’t have to chase down smaller pieces that may roll off or fall through the grill grates.

Another option is to make grilled stuffed peppers. Cut the peppers into halves and remove the seeds and membranes. Fill them with your preferred stuffing, like cooked rice, cheese, vegetables, and herbs. Place the filled peppers on the grill and cook until tender and the stuffing is heated evenly.

4: Carrots


Carrots have a natural sweetness and earthy undertone. When grilled, they become tender, and the natural sugars caramelize, bursting with flavor.

You can grill carrots whole, halved, or cut into sticks. Select fresh medium-sized carrots for grilling. Wash them and trim off the tops. If you are grilling the carrots whole or halved, leave the skin intact for a rustic appearance and to retain moisture. If cutting them up into sticks, remove the skin and cut the carrots into uniform-sized sticks.

You may opt to blanch or parboil whole carrots to ensure quick and even cooking. However, if you want a smoky flavor, firmer texture, and conspicuous char, don’t pre-cook them.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, oil the carrots, and arrange them on the grill. Carrot sticks take about 8-10 minutes to grill, while whole carrots can take up to 20 minutes. Occasionally turn the carrots to ensure even cooking and to achieve a nicely charred exterior.

There is a wide range of creative flavor combinations to complement the natural sweetness of the carrots. For example, you can marinate them with balsamic vinegar and honey to enhance the sweetness. Or sprinkle cumin and paprika for a sweet and smoky twist.

Melted butter and cinnamon sprinkled on top are great for a delightful touch of warmth. Glazed carrots on the grill are perfect for someone with a sweet tooth and a craving.

5: Beets

Fresh beetroot

Beets have a rich earthy sweetness. Grilling is a fantastic way to enhance their natural flavors and add some smokiness.

Start by selecting firm and medium-sized beets. Remove the greens and scrub them to remove dirt. However, be careful to leave the skin intact. It helps retain moisture during grilling. Preheat the grill to medium-high. In the meantime, oil and season the beets.

You can grill them directly or wrap them with aluminum foil. The aluminum foil helps the beets to steam, ensuring even cooking. Place the beets directly onto the grates if you want to achieve grill marks.

Another grilling technique is using skewers. Cut the beets into 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes. Oil, season, and thread them onto skewers and then arrange the skewers on the grates to achieve a light char.

Grilled beets can be used in tons of recipes, including salads, grilled vegetable platters, and side dishes. Need a few delicious examples of how to use grilled beets? Well, use them to make grilled beet and citrus salads, incorporate them into quinoa salads, or make avocado salads. You may also serve them on their own with your favorite dip.

6: Onions

Close-up of onions

When grilled, the natural sugars in onions caramelize, resulting in a rich, sweet flavor with a hint of smokiness. To grill onions, cut them into thick rounds or wedges. The thickness helps them hold up better in the heat.

Brush the onions with oil to prevent them from sticking to the grates and for added flavor. Place your onions onto the preheated grill and cook each side for about 5-7 minutes over medium heat until nicely charred. Remove from the grill and serve.

You can add them to burgers, sandwiches, or hotdogs. They are also fantastic for salads, pizzas, and pasta dishes. The best onions to grill are Vidalias.

They have a milder flavor but add a touch of sweetness. Red onions also have a subtle sweetness and will hold their own when cooked. They are also great for adding some vibrant color to your yummy dish.

7: Zucchini

Fresh zucchini for grilling

Grilled zucchini is a must-try and is sure to impress your taste buds. To bring out the sweet flavor of zucchini, cut them into halves or quarters, then apply olive oil and seasoning.

Alternatively, marinate them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to infuse extra flavor. For added sweetness, use sweet seasonings such as honey or maple syrup.

Grill the zucchini directly on high heat. You can use grilled zucchini in different recipes, such as assorted vegetable skewers or stuffed zucchini boats.

8: Eggplant

Sliced eggplant for grilling

Eggplant has a flavor that is very similar to that of a summer squash or zucchini. This veggie is mild and tender and has a touch of bitterness. To develop the sweet and smoky flavor of the eggplant, cut the eggplant into ¼-inch thick pieces.

Preheat the grill and cook the eggplant at medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes per side. However, monitor the grilling process closely as eggplants are prone to overcooking and becoming mushy.

You can use grilled eggplants in recipes like eggplant steaks, baba ganoush, or grilled eggplant sandwiches.

9: Brussels Sprouts

Pile of Brussels sprouts

Surprising, right? Grilling transforms the taste of Brussels sprouts, making them sweeter and more flavorful.

To prepare Brussels sprouts, trim the ends, and remove loose outer leaves. You can grill them whole or cut the larger ones into halves. Toss them with oil and seasonings to enhance their flavor. Using something acidic like lemon juice or balsamic vinegar helps cut down on the bitterness and brings out the veggie’s natural sweetness.

Place them on a preheated grill and cook on medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes. Occasionally turn them to achieve even cooking until they become tender and slightly charred.

Since they do take a bit to cook, it is good to pre-cook them. Steam or boil them in salted water until they are fork tender. This takes about five minutes. You can then season them how you want and toss them onto your grill.

Cooking your Brussels sprouts over a higher heat also helps caramelize them and cut down on their bitterness even more. It gives them a sweet and nutty flavor. Serve alone, as a side dish, or incorporate them into other recipes.

10: Asparagus

Green asparagus

The right grilling techniques help retain the natural sweetness and crispness of asparagus. Start by selecting fresh asparagus bunches. Then, trim tough ends by snapping them. The next steps are washing and pat drying. Drizzle with olive oil and add your preferred seasoning.

Preheat the grill to medium heat and place the asparagus spears directly on the grates or use a grilling basket to prevent them from falling through. Cooking time ranges between 4-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus spears.

When done and for an added twist, try drizzling a citrusy lemon vinaigrette over your grilled asparagus. For a sweet and smoky flavor, season your spears with extra virgin olive oil, traditional balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and a bit of smoked steak seasoning.

Three Tips for Grilling Sweet Veggies

I have already offered a ton of tips on how to best grill your veggies to bring out their natural sweetness, but let’s go a few steps further.

  1. Add some seasoning to enhance the sweetness of the vegetables. Seasoning options range from sweet with honey and a balsamic vinegar glaze, citrusy like lemon juice, to tangy-sweet, maple, and mustard marinades.
  2. Use the appropriate grilling method. Direct grilling is the best method for achieving great caramelization. The right heat levels vary for different sweet veggies. Firmer and larger vegetables require higher temperatures, while smaller and delicate vegetables require medium heat.
  3. Have and use the right grilling accessories like grill baskets or skewers to make grilling sweet veggies easier.


There is an unlimited variety of naturally-sweet vegetables, including corn, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplants, onions, carrots, and winter squash.

Some vegetables that have strong flavors include radishes, fennel, and dandelion greens.

After reading our article on sweet veggies, you may wonder if you can take your love of veggies even further and make a tasty dessert. Well, yes, you can! If you have a sweet tooth and want some yummy dessert after your meal, add potatoes to cupcakes, zucchini to brownie batter, corn into ice cream, and stir some carrots into your cookies.


Your options for surprisingly grill-friendly sweet veggies are unlimited. As discussed above, they include corn, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, carrots, beets, onions, zucchini, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus. Explore and experiment with grilling different sweet vegetables to unlock new sweetness levels.

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