Grilled Stuffed Tomatoes

updated Jun 24, 2022
Grilled Stuffed Tomatoes Recipe

Ripe tomatoes filled with gooey cheese and basil pesto, grilled, and finished with toasted pine nuts.

Serves4 to 6

Prep20 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

Once summer arrives, I abandon my oven in favor of the grill. Rain or shine, you’ll find me charring corn and getting grill marks on gnocchi. And don’t forget that cast iron skillets are also great for the grill. That’s what I used to cook these ripe and juicy grilled tomatoes.

I hollowed out the tomatoes, filled them with gooey cheese and summery basil pesto, cooked them in the skillet on the grill, and finished them with crunchy toasted pine nuts. Eat them for a light lunch, serve them with grilled steaks or chicken, or put them out with the rest of the sides at your next cookout and watch them disappear.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

How Do You Cook Stuffed Tomatoes on the Grill?

It’s easy. Just think of the grill as you would your oven, but with more smoke and a better view. I toasted the pine nuts in the skillet on the grill, then dumped those onto a plate and snuggled the stuffed tomatoes in the same skillet. I put the skillet back on the grill and cooked the tomatoes until the pesto-spiked rice filling was hot and the cheese melted. That took all of 15 minutes.

What Tomatoes Are Best for Stuffing?

Large, beefsteak tomatoes are the best choice for stuffing. These varieties have a sturdy shell that can stand up to being hollowed, filled and grilled. Use a spoon to remove the insides of the tomato, making sure to leave the sides and the bottom of the tomato intact. Discard the tomato pulp or use in gazpacho, tomato water, tomato water Popsicles, or tomato water Bloody Mary.

What Is the Best Stuffing for Stuffed and Grilled Tomatoes?

The best stuffed and grilled tomatoes start with cooked rice or cauliflower rice. It’s the perfect way to use up leftovers or to add some extra veggies to your plate. Add a double dose of cheese — shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan. Mix the mozzarella cheese in to the rice or cauliflower rice and reserve the Parmesan for sprinkling on top. Season the filling generously with homemade or store-bought pesto, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. The filling should taste rather salty, but it will season the tomatoes from the inside out and mellow as the tomatoes grill. Buttery pine nuts give the grilled tomatoes a finishing crunch.

Stuffed Tomatoes with an Easy Low-Carb Ingredient Swap

Stuffed veggies like stuffed mushrooms and stuffed bell peppers rely on rice or breadcrumbs for bulk. While those ingredients make them filling and delicious, it also places them squarely out of reach for anyone who feels their best on a low-carb diet. In this recipe, swap out an equal amount of fresh or frozen riced cauliflower for the cooked white rice for the same summery flavors with a fraction of the carbohydrates.

Grilled Stuffed Tomatoes Recipe

Ripe tomatoes filled with gooey cheese and basil pesto, grilled, and finished with toasted pine nuts.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 4

    large or 6 medium beefsteak tomatoes (2 1/2 pounds total)

  • 4 ounces

    low-moisture part-skim or whole milk mozzarella

  • 1/4 ounce

    grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 heaping tablespoon)

  • 2 cups

    cooked white rice or cauliflower rice, thawed if frozen

  • 1/2 cup

    store-bought or homemade basil pesto, plus more for serving

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons

    pine nuts


  1. Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high, direct heat (400 to 450°F). Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes.

  2. Slice the tops off of 4 large or 6 medium beefsteak tomatoes at the shoulder where the tops begin to slope down. Use a paring knife to slice around the edge of the tomato interior and cut away any part of the stem. Scoop out the inside flesh and gel of the tomatoes with a spoon, making sure to leave behind an intact 1/4-inch thick shell. Reserve the tomato tops and pulp for another use or discard.

  3. Grate 4 ounces low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 1 cup). Grate 1/4 ounce Parmesan cheese on the small holes of the grater (about 1 tablespoon).

  4. Place the mozzarella, 2 cups cooked white rice or cauliflower rice, 1/2 cup basil pesto, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a medium bowl and stir to combine.

  5. Divide the filling among the tomato shells, about a heaping 1/2 cup each. Sprinkle the filling with the Parmesan.

  6. Place 2 tablespoons (for 4 tomatoes) to 4 tablespoons (for 6 tomatoes) pine nuts in a dry medium cast iron or other grill-safe skillet. Place the pan on the grill grates, cover, and cook, stirring every minute or so, until light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer the nuts to a plate.

  7. Arrange the tomatoes filling-side up in the same skillet. Return the skillet on the grill, cover, and cook until the filling is hot, the cheese is melted, and tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the grill and sprinkle evenly with the pine nuts. Drizzle with more pesto if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Tomatoes can be assembled and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.