To the eggplant holdouts, this Grilled Eggplant is my attempt to seduce you at last. Crisp and lightly charred outside, tender (but NOT mushy) inside, and versatile, eggplant will pair with whatever you are grilling next. Surprisingly satisfying, bbq eggplant is also an excellent base for a hearty vegetarian meal.
Why You’ll Love This Grilled Veggie
- It’s Hearty. Thanks to fiber, eggplant is a filling vegetable. It can even work as a meat stand-in, as it does in Eggplant Pasta. Heck, it can even BE the “pasta,” as it is in this popular Eggplant Lasagna.
- Unbeatable Texture. No, eggplant is NOT slimy, bitter, mushy, or bland! When prepared and cooked properly, grilled eggplant is charred, caramelized, and richly savory (same with Grilled Brussels Sprouts and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms).
- Ready in a Flash. Need to make dinner quickly? Grilled eggplant slices take all of 15 minutes from start to finish. This makes it the perfect side dish to serve any night of the week. (No grill? No problem with Roasted Eggplant.)
- Top-Notch Leftovers. Leftover grilled eggplant is a hot commodity in our refrigerator. Not only can you enjoy it as is, but it also pairs well with everything from a Turkey Burger to Broccoli Tofu Stir Fry.
5 Star Review
“Wow! This was so easy and just delicious! They were tender and yummy (not to mention the pretty grill marks!).”— Lisa —
Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers.
It offers fiber and potassium, vitamins A and C, and eggplant calories clock in at just 25 calories per serving, making eggplant a healthy choice.
Some (ahem, Tom Brady) consider eggplant bad for you because it contains a chemical called solanine. Some will claim this chemical adds to inflammation but (per WebMD), there’s no solid evidence.
- For me, the health benefits of eggplant FAR outweigh any negative risks. I have zero side effects from eating eggplant, other than feeling full and happy.
- Of course, if you notice that your joints flare up when you eat eggplant, this is something to be mindful of (disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist—please contact your doctor for more).
How to Make Grilled Eggplant
- Eggplant. Healthy, filling, and quick-cooking, this nutritious vegetable is in prime season during the summer. Cook it alongside your favorite grilled dishes.
- Olive Oil. Don’t skimp! Just like with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, olive oil helps the eggplant caramelize.
- Garlic. Eggplant is popular throughout Provence, France, where it is seasoned liberally with garlic. The French are onto something, because the two are fantastic together.
- Herbs. I like to use a combination of dried herbs prior to grilling (oregano is my go-to dried herb), then finish with basil or parsley from my garden for color and freshness.
- SALT. To avoid bland grilled eggplant, be sure to season it generously with kosher salt prior to cooking, then again afterward to taste.
- Cut the Eggplant. Now is a great time to preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- Prepare the Oil Mixture. This is what gives the eggplant stellar flavor!
- Brush on the Oil Mixture. A basting brush like this one works well.
- Flip and Brush Again. We want both sides to be well-coated.
- Grill the Eggplant. It will take about 8 to 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through. ENJOY!
- Grilled Eggplant Parmesan. Sprinkle your grilled eggplant slices liberally with freshly grated Parmesan cheese (be sure to check out the Baked Cauliflower Parmesan in my cookbook also!). To make it a main meal, add some pasta and marinara sauce.
- Balsamic Grilled Eggplant. Drizzle your grilled eggplant with a good quality aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze. For a more pronounced flavor, brush a little balsamic vinegar onto the eggplant prior to grilling.
- Lemon Grilled Eggplant. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the eggplant prior to serving. I also love to add basil and Parmesan to this variation. (I suggest pairing this one with Lemon Rice.)
- Mediterranean Grilled Eggplant. Sprinkle the cooked eggplant with crumbled feta cheese and chopped fresh parsley and mint.
- Spicy Grilled Eggplant. Add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to your grilled eggplant for a kick.
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover grilled eggplant slices for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a 350 degrees F oven until heated through, about 5 minutes.
- I do not recommend freezing eggplant; its texture does not hold up well.
Leftover grilled eggplant will be your BFF! Here are some tasty ways to use it:
- Air Fryer Grilled Cheese. Layer eggplant slices into your next sandwich for a hearty vegetarian main (or go for a BLT with grilled eggplant!).
- Pasta. Dice it up and stir it into your next batch of pasta. Chicken Pesto Pasta or Avocado Pesto Pasta would be especially summery.
- Salads. Warm your leftover eggplant in the oven, then stir it into a green salad for lunch, or add it to Italian Chopped Salad or Quinoa Salad to up your veggie game.
- Omelet. Dice up your leftovers for an eggplant omelette or egg scramble with feta cheese.
What to Serve with Grilled Eggplant
- Burgers. Keep it classic with a Blue Cheese Burger or change it up with a Shrimp Burger. This Portobello Mushroom Burger and Vegan Burger would also be delightful.
- Chicken. Both Chicken Kabobs and simple Grilled Chicken Breast or this Chicken Tikka Masala recipe would be tasty.
- Seafood. Fish such as Grilled Salmon in Foil and Grilled Cod both pair well with eggplant, as does Grilled Shrimp Seasoning.
- Pork. Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Grilled Pork Chops make an elegant pairing with eggplant.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Knife Set. Thick stainless steel blades with ergonomic handles.
- Cutting Board. Double-sided, non-porous cutting board with counter grips.
- Measuring Spoons. The magnetic feature is perfect for drawer organization.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Slice the Eggplant into Rounds. How you cut an eggplant for grilling makes all the difference. The secret to cooking eggplant that will win over skeptics is slicing it into rounds first. Thinly sliced eggplant becomes pleasantly crisp and charred on the outside and warm and tender on the inside. I also find rounds cook more quickly and evenly than eggplant “steaks” or “planks.”
- Don’t Freeze It. While grilled eggplant can be frozen, I do NOT recommend freezing it, as it will become mushy once thawed. To find out what to do with leftovers before they go bad, check out the “Leftover Ideas” section above.
- Bring On the Olive Oil. The oil is what helps keep the eggplant from sticking to the grill grates, create crispiness, and add flavor. Eggplant drinks up oil quickly, so make sure you use enough. To avoid overdoing it, I recommend brushing on the oil with a washable basting brush like this (it’s great for Grilled Asparagus too).
- 2 eggplant about 1 pound each (I used globe eggplant, which are the standard variety with dark purple skin you see at most grocery stores)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove minced or grated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Chopped fresh basil or parsley optional, for serving
- Preheat the grill to medium high (400 to 450°F). Make sure the grates are brushed clean.
- Trim off the ends of the eggplant and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or similar platter you can carry easily to the grill.
- In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the oil, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Brush evenly over both sides of the eggplant.
- Brush the seasoning evenly over the eggplant.
- Flip the eggplant and brush the seasoning evenly over the other side.
- Grill the eggplant for 8 to 10 minutes with the lid closed, flipping it 5 minutes into the cook time. It should have nice grill marks on both sides. Transfer to a platter. Serve hot with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and additional salt to taste.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover grilled eggplant slices for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a 350°F oven until heated through, about 5 minutes.
- TO FREEZE: I do not recommend freezing grilled eggplant, as it will become mushy once thawed.
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Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re wondering why your eggplant isn’t crispy, it’s likely because the eggplant was overcooked or you used too much oil. Following the cook times and oil amount listed in this recipe is how you keep grilled eggplant from getting soggy.
No, this is a recipe for how to cook eggplant without salting it first. This grilled eggplant recipe is perfect without the extra step.
When eggplant is brown inside, it has either gone bad, been exposed to air, or has shading (likely caused by the plant experiencing trauma while the eggplant was growing). If the eggplant is brown inside and shows other signs of spoilage, do not eat it. If the eggplant otherwise looks normal, it should be safe to eat.
If the weather isn’t cooperating or you don’t have a grill, you can certainly make grilled eggplant indoors. Use a grill pan on the stovetop instead. Cut the eggplant into the same 1/2-inch-thick slices and cook as directed over medium-high heat. You can grill eggplant in the oven as well. Preheat a grill pan in a 400 degrees F oven until nice and hot. Very carefully place the eggplant slices on the pan and roast for about 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through. (If you’d like to try roasted eggplant instead, check out my Roasted Eggplant with Crispy Chickpea Arugula Salad.)
No, you do not soak eggplant in milk before grilling for this recipe. Some recipes call for eggplant to be soaked prior to cooking as a way of making it less bitter. Personally, I have never, ever had grilled eggplant that turned out bitter, even when grilling large, later-season eggplant. Brining eggplant (soaking in a saltwater solution) is also an idea I’ve seen out there, but I am of the opinion that (unlike Baked Chicken Breast where brining makes a critical difference), eggplant soaking is completely unnecessary and not worth the effort.