Grilled zucchini is so tasty when you use fresh, firm, in-season zucchinis! The olive oil and balsamic vinegar marinade is superb.
Zucchini is such a wonderful summer staple. I get so excited in June when the local farmer's market starts carrying young, firm zucchinis! Here in California, I can find this tasty vegetable year-round, so I do indulge in one of my favorite zucchini recipes - baked zucchini fritters - quite often.
But when it comes to grilled zucchini, where the vegetable itself is the star of the show, you really want those fresh, firm zucchinis that you can only get in-season.
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty side dish. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Fresh zucchini: Try to find firm zucchinis with smooth dark-green skin.
Olive oil: I love using this flavorful oil. But if you'd rather use an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Balsamic vinegar: This is the secret ingredient in this recipe! It adds wonderful flavor and promotes caramelizing.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should probably use less of it, or the dish could end up too salty.
Garlic powder: You can also use a teaspoon of fresh minced garlic. Although I find that garlic powder actually works better in this recipe - it more uniformly distributes and it doesn't burn on the grill as easily as minced garlic.
How to grill zucchini
This is a very simple recipe. The detailed instructions are in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
Slice the zucchini. The secret is to slice it thickly – ½-inch thick – and grill just until fork-tender but not mushy.
Brush it with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic.
Then grill until just tender, and not a second too long.
You want your zucchinis nice and firm, not limp and mushy. The best way to make them crispy on the grill is to get the grill hot (but not too hot) and to avoid overcooking the vegetables.
What seasoning to use?
You really don't need a lot of seasonings when grilling young, fresh zucchini. As you can see in the recipe card below, I like to use olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic.
Do you leave the skin on?
Yes! The skin is edible and tasty. There are two exceptions though. If you can tell that the skin has been waxed (i.e. it's unnaturally shiny), then it's best to peel it off.
You might also want to peel the skin off very large zucchinis because it can be bitter.
What to serve with grilled zucchini?
Tips for grilling
The main issue with grilled food is that we should be minimizing the consumption of charred food. So I try my best to grill food without charring it. As you can see in the photos, the zucchini is nicely cooked, but it is not burned.
The best way to prevent charring is to avoid grilling on very high heat and to turn the food frequently instead of just midway through cooking. Certainly, keep a close eye on it and don't overcook it.
What about leftovers?
If you have leftovers, you can keep them in the fridge in a sealed container for 2-3 days. It's best to use them cold, as you would antipasti.
I like to make myself a lunch platter with cold grilled zucchini, feta cheese cubes, salami chips, black olives, and tomato salad.
If you'd rather reheat the leftovers, do so very gently, in the microwave on 50% power.
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Balsamic Grilled Zucchini
- 2 large zucchinis unpeeled (about 1 lb.)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat grill, or a grill pan, over medium-high heat. I like to use my George Foreman Grill.
- Trim the zucchini edges and slice it crosswise into ½-inch-thick rounds.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, black pepper and garlic powder.
- Brush the zucchini rounds with the mixture, on both sides. Set aside any remaining marinade.
- Grill the zucchini slices until just tender, 3-4 minutes on each side. In my dual contact George Foreman grill, I grill 3 minutes on the first side, then 2 more minutes on the second side.
- Brush the grilled zucchini slices with the remaining marinade and serve.