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Oil-free Grilled Zucchini For a Whole Food, Plant-based Cookout

It's a beautiful Memorial Day weekend and that means grilling season has begun!

When people first transition to the plant-based diet, too often the focus is on not having meat. Since animal flesh in it's many forms is what fills most grills, they think smokey cookouts are just another pastime they'll have to let go of.

However, that couldn't be further from the truth!

Grilling may not be the healthiest way to cook our veggies, but that doesn't mean it can't be done in a healthy and delicious way!

Even the experienced plant-based loves, can get hung up on how to grill without using oil. It's actually really simple to do once you know how to.

This recipe for grilled zucchini is one of the easiest ways to get started. Unfortunately, I can't have a grill at my place, so I use a grill pan here. I love this one from Scanpan because it's free from Teflon and other contaminants that are in most non-stick cookware.

The yummy news is that this grill pan makes it ridiculously easy-peasy, so I actually love it for making grilled veg, tempeh skewers, and plant-strong burgers!

Follow my instructions and try oil-free grilling for yourself!

Oil-free Grilled Zucchini

By Chef Katie Mae

Makes 1–2 servings | Ready in 10 minutes | Stores 3 days in the fridge



  • 2 medium zucchini
  • black pepper to taste


  1. Cut off the tops of the zucchini and then slice them lengthwise into slabs that are ¼ to ½-inch-thick. You can slice the zucchini into any shape, but it’s easiest to work with larger pieces.
  2. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat, or fire up your grill. The zucchini can cook at lover lower heat, but you won’t get the grill marks unless the heat is higher.
  3. After just 1 to 2 minutes of turning the heat, lay the sliced zucchini on the grill or grill pan. Start with the flesh-side down. Do not add any oil to the zucchini or the pan.
  4. After two minutes, use tongs or a spatula to carefully flip the zucchini. The browning that’s created from the grill marks allows the zucchini to separate easily from the pan. If you try to remove the slices to soon, they will stick to the pan, so if the first one doesn’t come up easily, let them cook for another 60 seconds or so.
  5. Let the second side cook for a couple of minutes. Note, this side won’t take as long to cook because the pan will be hotter and the zucchini is already warmed.
  6. While they cook, sprinkle the slices with a bit of black pepper, but not too much that you overpower the natural flavor of the zucchini.
  7. Once the second side is marked, transfer the zucchini to a plate. Enjoy warm.



If you want a little more seasoning, you can add other herbs or spices during step 6. Lately, I’ve been enjoying a combination of black pepper, sesame seeds, seaweed flakes, and nutritional yeast. With the neutral flavor of zucchini, you really can’t go wrong if you want to try out new seasoning combos.


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