8 best recipes for smoked vegetables to use at your next barbecue

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  August 16, 2022

Always the latest smoking tips & tricks?

Subscribe to THE ESSENTIAL newsletter for aspiring pitmasters

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

MOST people think of slabs of meat when they hear the words “smoked food.”

But we’re not most and we want some diversity in our smoking. So if you’re as ready as I am, let’s include some of the best smoked vegetables in our smoking arsenal, shall we?

a plate of various grilled vegetables with sauces on the side

This way, you can smoke your food either on your patio smoker or an indoor electric smoker like the one from Masterbuilt.

Tone & Tighten have made a video on how to make healthy smoked vegetables for your diet. Be sure to read my recipes on smoking different vegetables below:

Best vegetables to smoke

What veggies are the best to smoke?

You can smoke anything from:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Corn on the cob
  • Bell peppers
  • Onion
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Eggplant
  • Carrots

Best wood for smoking vegetables

Certain woods work better depending on the type of vegetable you want to smoke.

How to buy a bbq smoker video
How to buy a bbq smoker video

While alder is great for fish and cherry is amazing for meats, the best wood to use for smoking vegetables is maple because of its slightly sweet flavor. However, hickory is perfect for veggies that won’t be in the smoker for more than an hour, like turnips, beets, sweet potatoes, or squash.

Pecan is great for longer-roasted vegetables like asparagus or broccoli. Applewood is ideal for hearty vegetables like winter squash or pumpkin. 

Vegetable smoking wood Wood chunks Wood chips
Best wood with light sweet flavor: Maple
Best wood with light sweet flavor maple chunks

(view more info)

Best wood with light sweet flavor- Maple

(view more info)

Best wood for shorter smoking: Hickory
Best wood for shorter smoking- Hickory chunks

(view more info)

Best wood for shorter smoking- Hickory chips

(view more info)

Best wood for longer-roasted vegetables: Pecan
Best wood for longer-roasted vegetables- Pecan chunks

(view more info)

Best wood for longer-roasted vegetables- Pecan chips

(view more info)

Best wood for hearty vegetables: Applewood
Best wood for hearty vegetables- Applewood chunks

(view more info)

Best wood for hearty vegetables- Applewood chips

(view more info)

Best BBQ vegetable rub

Now, one of the things I like to add to a lot of my smoked vegetable dishes is a quality vegetable rub. My favorite is this Traeger one made especially for veggies and works great with hickory wood:

Best BBQ vegetable rub Traeger

(view more images)

A dry rub (like the best flavors here) is to ensure your veggies won’t burn (andto make them super tasty of course!).

You can make your own with aromatic spices like paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and coriander seeds so that it adds flavor. It also helps keep the vegetables from sticking or burning on contact with direct heat, but getting a pre-made rub is just so easy!

8 best vegetarian smoked vegetable recipes

Here’s how to make smoked vegetables like a pro.

Smoked artichokes with lemon recipe

Smoked artichokes with lemon recipe

Joost Nusselder
Artichokes are actually the flowering buds of a plant in the thistle family. The silymarin, which is a milk thistle in this flower bud, detoxifies the liver and helps cure liver diseases such as chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 251 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 4 whole artichokes
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Water
  • Mesquite wood chips

Instructions
 

Step 1: First steam the artichokes

  • Prepare an electric food steamer and pour 17 ounces (500ml) of water in, then bring it to a boil.
  • While waiting for the steamer to boil, clean and trim your artichokes by removing some of the tough outer leaves near the base of the bud at the stem. Slice 1/4 of the top of the artichoke with a large serrated knife and discard it. Remove the stem too so the chokes can sit flat on the steamer. Clip off the pointy edges of the leaves that are on the outermost layer with cooking shears.
  • Now cut the artichokes in half at the center lengthwise to expose the hairy choke on the stem. Remove the hairy choke with a spoon by scraping it off.
  • Place the artichokes in the steamer with the stem facing downward, cover with a lid, and let them sit for 20 – 25 minutes until they become soft and tender.
  • Take the artichokes out of the food steamer and transfer to a clean plate and let cool.

Step 2: Smoke the artichokes

  • Fire up the smoker and set the temperature to 200° Fahrenheit (93° Celsius).
  • Put the artichokes in aluminum foil packets and place them on the grill in the smoker to be smoked.
  • Pour the rest of the ingredients (EVOO, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper) into the foil packets together with the artichokes and mix well.
  • Now smoke the artichokes for about an hour and serve with melted butter as a dipping sauce or just eat as is.

Notes

Artichokes are also high in dietary fiber, which helps your digestion process, and regulates low-density lipoproteins (LDL or good cholesterol) that are beneficial to your body.
It’s unwise to smoke artichokes right away without steaming them first, as the leaves tend to dry. It’d be like chewing leather!
The cooking instructions above will show you how to steam them first and then smoke them to make them edible and delicious.

Nutrition

Calories: 251kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 20gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 53mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 6IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Artichokes, Smoked, Vegetables
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

2. Smoked asparagus

Asparagus, although not often used for smoking, is sturdy enough not to melt in the heat inside a smoker, and it has lots of health benefits too!

One recipe that’d be good for smoking asparagus is cutting off the lower stem and mixing the vegetable with salt, pepper, and olive oil. The fresh and thick stalks from early spring work nicely.

smoked asparagus with some salt and pepper in a bowl

Put the asparagus in an aluminum foil packet and smoke at 225° Fahrenheit (107° Celsius) for about 90 minutes or until they become tender, but still crisp to the bite.

Another recipe to try is to wrap individual asparagus spears in bacon strips and then smoke them.

You can smear the asparagus and bacon wrap with butter or some other marinade before smoking. Smoke until the bacon turns brown before serving.

You could also try a recipe where you place the asparagus on top of a bed of sliced onions sprinkled with butter in a baking dish. Smoke it for 2 hours and it should be a great meal!

3. Smoked Brussels sprouts

In order to smoke Brussels sprouts successfully, you need to place them in a container to keep the moisture in. Otherwise, they’ll dry out and won’t be edible.

Create aluminum foil packets for the sprouts, as this will serve as their container to steam the vegetable. Or you can also use a roasting pan or lasagna pan.

smoked brussels sprouts in a bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Rinse the sprouts in cold water, then set in a strainer and allow to drain. Remove the brown parts, as well as the outer leaves that are discolored.
  2. Get a large bowl and transfer the sprouts from the strainer into the bowl. Pour in olive oil and coat it with a brush, add minced garlic, as well as a bit of salt to taste before wrapping them in the foil again.
  3. Use a vertical water smoker (preferably electric smoker) and heat it up to 250° Fahrenheit (121° Celsius) for about 45 minutes until they become soft and tender. You can also replace the water in the water pan with apple cider vinegar for added flavor.

To add flavor to the smoked Brussels sprouts, you can add chopped cooked bacon and sliced cooked sweet onions when you serve them. Also, drizzle a little bit of balsamic vinegar to improve their taste!

You’ll definitely want to take a look at our accessory guide to get the gear you’ll need for these recipes.

4. Smoked cabbage

Despite its impressive nutrient content, cabbage is often overlooked. And that’s such a waste!

Use a classic green cabbage with a small head. You have to remove the first 2 outer leaves and rinse it before smoking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head of green cabbage
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Sea salt and black pepper for the outside
  • Water and naturally sweetened apple juice
  • Hickory or applewood chips

Directions:

  1. Use a vertical water smoker for this recipe and preheat it to 250° Fahrenheit (124° Celsius). Pour 50% water and another 50% apple juice into the water pan for flavoring in the steam when you smoke the cabbage.
  2. Add the charcoal briquettes and the chopped wood in the wood chip tray.
  3. Create a cylindrical cavity in the center of the cabbage by cutting out the core with a small knife. Make the cavity approximately 1.25-inch wide and 3 inches deep, but don’t gouge out the core all the way through the cabbage head.
  4. Pour the vinegar, salt, and pepper into the cavity, then rub the external portion with EVOO. Afterward, coat it with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Create aluminum foil packets to place the cabbage in as you smoke it. Leave extra foil hanging out to close later and envelop the cabbage. Make sure to lay the cabbage in there with the cut end facing upwards when you start smoking.
  6. Smoke the cabbage for about 1 1/2 hours. Add more chopped wood, as well as water and vinegar, and continue smoking for another 45 to 60 minutes.
  7. Close the foil with the extra hanging flaps and wrap it around the cabbage head, then smoke for another 30 minutes.
  8. Cut the cabbage head into wedge designs for added aesthetics. You can also pair it with applesauce and pork chops.

5. Smoked cauliflower

It’s possible to smoke cauliflower in the same way we did with the cabbage head in the previous section, as they do belong in the same genus of Brassica.

However, I like to break up the cauliflower into smaller pieces and remove the core before smoking it.

Smoked cauliflower recipe

Rinse in cold running water and place them in aluminum foil, then pour in the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add some basil and oregano.

Set the temperature to 200° Fahrenheit (93° Celsius) and smoke for 2 hours. Stir the mix at about half-time.

Continually add water and wood chips if needed and serve with a light vinaigrette or aioli once done.

The health benefits of cauliflower include vitamin C (80% of RDA-recommended daily allowance), low calories, and lots of dietary fibers.

6. Smoked cherry tomatoes

Tomatoes consist of 95% water, so they don’t do well in heat. This is why you’ll need an oven pan if you want to smoke them, as they’ll burst when they reach certain temperatures!

The tradeoff is that you’ll get really tasty, but messy juices you’ll only get from roasted, smoky, charred tomatoes. They’ll go great together with pasta and salads, and will make delicious tomato sauce.

Smoked cherry tomatoes

Tomatoes have a naturally sweet flavor, so there’s no need for seasoning them or brushing them with vegetable oil before you smoke them.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, or enough to fill the pan
  • Water
  • Mild wood chips

Directions:

  1. Fire up the smoker and set the temperature to 225° Fahrenheit (107° Celsius). Add wood chips on the wood chips tray and water to the water tray to create steam.
  2. Rinse the tomatoes and let them dry on top of paper towels.
  3. Put the tomatoes on the grill rack and smoke them for an hour and a half. Continually add water and wood chips as needed and smoke them again for another 45 minutes to an hour.

7. Smoked corn on the cob

Corn is a nutritious and delicious vegetable. Some vitamins and minerals you’ll get from it include vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, which reduces the risk of anemia.

Corn is also high in carbohydrates, which will give you a boost if you’re working out in the gym. And it helps increase blood flow, lowers cholesterol absorption, and regulates insulin, which is good for diabetic patients.

Getting all these health benefits from smoked corn will make you think that the best things in life are free. Or at least they cost $4 per bushel at the market, that is.

But you rarely get something this delicious and loaded with nutrients when smoked, so it’s like it’s free!

Smoked corn on the cob on a wooden table

Ingredients:

  • 6 to 12 ears of white or sweet corn
  • Butter, kosher salt, & cracked black pepper for serving
  • Water
  • Oak or hickory wood chips

Directions:

  1. Peel back the husks gently, but don’t remove them from the stem (do it like when you peel a banana). Pull out the silks inside and make the corn as free of it as you can. Place the husks back over the ears of corn and soak them in a bucket filled with 5 liters of water for 2 hours.
  2. Fire up the smoker and set the temperature to 225° Fahrenheit (107° Celsius). Add wood chips on the wood chips tray and water to the water tray to create steam.
  3. Place the corn cobs on the grill racks and smoke them for 2 hours.
  4. Rotate them every half hour while making sure there’s always water in the water pan to create steam and plenty of wood chips for added fuel to burn.
  5. Once you’ve smoked them almost 2/3 of the way (1 hour and 30 minutes), check the corn ears and make sure they’re not drying out.
  6. Serve with butter, salt, and pepper.

8. Smoked marinated bell peppers

Oak or hickory is a popular choice to smoke bell peppers with. Other options include mesquite and apple; however, these woods might give your bell peppers an overly strong flavor.

Instructions:

  1. Slice the bell peppers and place them on soaked wood chips. Allow them to smoke for 2 hours at 250° Fahrenheit (124° Celsius) until the peppers have become completely tenderized. The pepper should turn an amber color when finished cooking. At this point, pull them off the heat and let them cool on a rack until they reach room temp.
  2. In a bowl, mix together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, minced garlic, tomato paste, and salt.
  3. Combine the smoked bell peppers and the sauce in a shallow dish and toss until coated.
  4. Allow the peppers to marinate for 1 hour.

These bell peppers are best served at room temperature. If you have any leftovers, store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Smoked vegetables on a Traeger

In this video, Ace Hardware shows exactly how to make smoked vegetables on a Traeger grill with their corn-on-the-cob recipe.

This Traeger smoker is perfect for smoking your vegetables. You can check it out here:

smoked-vegetables-on-a-traeger

(view more images)

Also read: can you use a bbq smoker on your balcony?

Smoked vegetables on a Masterbuilt electric smoker

What better way to compare the 2 than by also taking a corn-on-the-cob recipe and looking at how to prepare it on a Masterbuilt electric smoker?

Bummers-Bar-B-Q has made an excellent video to show you how exactly to make your smoked vegetables on an electric smoker:

Check out my review post on the Masterbuilt indoor smoker if you’re interested in buying one.

Did you know that you can also smoke fruit? Smoked fruit is delicious, I have some great recipes here

FAQs about smoked vegetables

Over time, many of you have asked questions about smoking vegetables. I want to take the time here to answer these in more detail so you can enjoy one (or all) of the above recipes.

How long should you smoke vegetables?

Of course, it depends on the vegetable and the heat you’re using. These are the cooking times and temperatures for the most popular smoked vegetables:

  • Artichokes: 1 hour at 200 F
  • Asparagus: 1.5 hours at 225 F
  • Brussels sprouts: 45 minutes at 250 F
  • Cabbage: 3 hours at 250 F
  • Cauliflower: 2 hours at 200 F
  • Cherry tomatoes: 2.5 hours at 225 F
  • Corn on the cob: 2 hours at 225 F
  • Bell peppers: 2 hours at 250 F
  • Onion: 1.5 hours at 225 F
  • Zucchini: 1 hour at 250 F
  • Yellow squash: 1 hour at 250 F
  • Eggplant: 1 hour at 250 F
  • Carrots: 1.5 hours at 225 F

Are smoked vegetables healthy?

Smoked vegetables are a very healthy alternative to barbecued meat. We always incorporate some vegetable side dishes in our grilled meals!

However, you should avoid eating burnt vegetables because of the carcinogens it releases. So it’s best to grill your vegetables over indirect heat.

If you’d like to learn more about the Traeger mentioned in this article, read our comparison here.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.