How to Cook Eggplant
Because eggplant is so hearty, it makes an ideal meat substitute or side dish. Learn how to cook eggplant a variety of ways, including how to grill, roast, saute, and microwave. We'll teach you how to prepare eggplant, too. Then try our eggplant recipes to see how delicious eggplant can be!
- When you think of eggplant, you probably envision the large pear-shape or cylindrical eggplant with shiny purple skin. Though this is the most common variety in the United States, eggplant does vary in shape and size, from a couple of inches to a foot long. The color varies with variety, including white, green, reddish-orange, and striated hues.
- Eggplant is available year-round but peaks in late summer. Look for a firm, glossy-skin eggplant that is heavy for its size with a bright, mold-free top. Younger, smaller eggplants are usually less bitter than larger or older ones.
- Since eggplants are quite perishable, store them whole in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days.
How to Prep Eggplant
- Wash the eggplant before using.
- While the skin of a small young eggplant is edible, the skin becomes bitter on larger or older eggplants and should be peeled. When in doubt, the answer to do you peel eggplant is yes—peel it. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the skin. The flesh discolors soon after peeling, so peel eggplant right before using.
- Cut off the top and blossom ends, and cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch slices or 3/4-inch cubes, unless a cooking method states otherwise. A 1-pound eggplant equals 5 cups cubed.
- You may have heard of salting eggplants before using. While this isn't essential, it does help tame the bitter taste, especially of older eggplants, by bringing out the juices and letting them drain. Lay the slices or cubes on layered paper towels and sprinkle all sides with salt. Top with more paper towels and a plate or something to weight them down. Let stand about 20 minutes, then rinse, pat dry, and use as desired.
How to Make Eggplant ParmesanGet our Eggplant Parmesan recipe
Get the complete ingredient list and methods for our baked Eggplant Parmesan below. To make Eggplant Parmesan:
- Slice eggplant
- Dip in egg wash
- Dip in desired breading mixture
- Place breaded eggplant slices on a greased baking sheet
- Bake about 30 to 45 minutes at 375°F, turning once
- While the eggplant slices bake, mix up a ricotta and herb mixture and grease a 3-quart baking pan
- Spread pasta sauce onto bottom of baking dish
- Add baked eggplant slices
- Add additional pasta sauce on top of eggplant slices
- Dollop with ricotta mixture and a sprinkling of mozzarella
- Repeat eggplant, sauce, ricotta, and mozzarella layers
- Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes at 375°F
- Remove foil, add additional mozzarella, and bake 5 minutes more
How to Stuff Eggplant
Stuffed eggplant recipes look extra special, but they're simple to make. Plus, you can stuff it with just about anything you like.
To stuff an eggplant, start by halving the eggplant lengthwise. Scoop out most of the eggplant, leaving a 1/4- to 1/2-inch shell. Chop the pulp to add to the filling. Add the desired filling, then cook as desired.
- To bake stuffed eggplant, place filled eggplant halves in a baking dish and bake at 350°F for 25 to 35 minutes or until heated through and eggplant shells are just tender.
- To grill stuffed eggplant, place eggplant halves in a foil pack and grill, covered, 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender.
Try our stuffed eggplant recipes:
How to Grill Eggplant
Eggplant is a natural for the grill because of its dense interior, which acts like a sponge and soaks up marinade, oil or butter, and smoky flavor. It is also quick to prep since it requires no precooking.
- Cut off top and blossom ends. Peel, if desired, and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch slices. (You can halve small eggplants lengthwise instead of slicing.) Generously brush slices on all sides with olive oil, melted butter, or cooking oil (or use an oil-base marinade). This adds flavor and keeps the slices from sticking to the grill rack. Season as desired with herbs, salt, and black pepper.
- Place eggplant on a piece of heavy foil or directly on the grill rack.
- For a charcoal grill, place the eggplant on rack directly over medium coals. Grill, uncovered, about 8 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally.
- For a gas grill, preheat the grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place the eggplant on the grill rack directly over heat. Cover and grill about 8 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally.
Try our grilled eggplant recipes:
How to Roast Eggplant
Roasted eggplant is a great base for dips and spreads, and a filling addition to side dishes. To roast eggplant:
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil or lightly grease pan.
- Peel eggplant, if desired, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a large bowl. For 6 cups eggplant (1 medium), in a small bowl combine 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 1/2 teaspoon salt; and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss eggplant with oil mixture and transfer to prepared pan.
- Roast eggplant about 20 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
Roasted eggplant recipes:
How to Saute Eggplant
- Brush slices of eggplant with olive oil on all sides and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place about 1/3 cup seasoned fine dry bread crumbs in a shallow dish. If desired, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese. Dip each slice of eggplant into the crumbs, coating thoroughly.
- In a large heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the coated eggplant slices to the hot skillet; cook about 5 minutes per side or until golden.
How to Cook Eggplant in the Microwave
- Peel eggplant, if desired, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Place cubes in a microwave-safe casserole or dish along with 2 tablespoons water.
- Microwave, covered, on 100 percent power (high) for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender, stirring once.
Our Favorite Eggplant Recipes
Whether you're looking for healthy eggplant recipes, Baked Eggplant Parmesan, grilled eggplant recipes, or Italian eggplant recipes, we have a collection to get you started.