How to Cook Eggplant Article -
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How to Cook Eggplant

Tips for choosing, preparing, and cooking this versatile veggie.

Choosing Eggplants

You can find fresh eggplants in the grocery store year-round, but they’re at their peak in late summer.

The most common variety is the large, dark-purple globe eggplant. Look for smooth, shiny skins with fresh-looking stems and no blemishes. The fruit itself (eggplant is actually a berry!) should feel weighty in your hand. And when you press on the skin, it should be firm but give slightly, and then bounce back. If you’re not preparing your eggplants right away, store them in the crisper of your fridge up to five days--any longer, and eggplant can become bitter.

Preparing Eggplants

The skin is entirely edible, though with larger eggplants it can be a little tough. If your eggplant is young, tender, and on the small side, the skin can probably be left on for skillet frying or braising. Otherwise, peel the skin and then slice or cube the flesh.

The flesh should be pale and creamy and free of blemishes. Remove dark or bruised portions and seeds that are turning brown, as they can have a bitter taste and an unpleasant texture.

If you’re roasting the eggplant whole in the oven or on the grill, leave the skin on; then after roasting, let it cool, and scoop out the flesh.

    To Salt or Not to Salt

    This is a much debated topic. Salting your eggplant slices or cubes does have a few things going for it. First, it draws out juices, which, particularly for older eggplants, can be bitter. It also tightens and firms up the flesh, making the eggplant less likely to soak up as much oil. And salt adds flavor.

    However, many cooks point out that modern varieties are not the bitter fruits of the past and that salting them makes little difference. Varieties like Japanese and Chinese eggplant should be fine without salting. With globe eggplants, experiment for yourself.

    If you choose to salt your eggplant, first slice or cube it, and then salt generously, allowing the fruit to sit in a colander for at least an hour, preferably longer. Salted eggplant can sit purging for hours without harming the taste or texture. But before cooking the eggplant, be sure to rinse the salt off well. Then place the slices between sheets of paper towel and press gently to remove juices and firm the flesh. This is particularly important when frying your eggplant slices or cubes.

      Frying Eggplant

      Eggplant slices act like oil-slurping sponges. Even salted, gently hand-pressed slices will soak up plenty of oil. To reduce the amount of oil you’ll need, try brushing olive oil onto one side of eggplant slices; then lay them oil-side down in a hot skillet without crowding (a crowded pan will cause the slices to steam rather than fry). Brush the up-side only just before turning. If you brush both sides at the start, the oil will simply soak into the flesh. Fry until the slices are nice and brown.

      You can also deep-fry eggplant slices and cubes. The super-hot oil immediately surrounds the flesh and seals in the moisture as it quickly browns the surface, leaving slices that are not noticeably greasier than the pan-fried kind.

      Roasting or Grilling Eggplant

      You can also brush slices of eggplant with olive oil and roast them in the oven or toss them onto a hot grill. 

      To roast whole eggplants in the oven or on the grill, leave the skin on and roast at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) until the skin gets wrinkly and begins to collapse in on the softened fruit. This method will produce a velvety smooth dip or spread.

      Jun. 30, 2011 3:51 pm
      No print or save to recipe box buttons on this article. Shame too, as this is the type of article people would like to save as well as recipes.
      Cascade Lady 
      Jul. 22, 2011 4:30 pm
      I have never cooked an eggplant so all these recipes in here is a little overwhelming. I wish the article could be printed and/or saved as it is very informative for me. I look forward to trying some of these great sounding recipes for eggplant.
      Aug. 14, 2011 6:15 am
      No print or save to recipe box buttons on this article. This is ashame too, as this is the type of article people would like to save as well as add to recipes and shopping list.
      Sep. 5, 2011 3:49 pm
      Just copy & paste the article into a Word document & print that way.
      Sep. 12, 2011 6:56 pm
      Oh but you can save to your recipe box. Step 1- highlight and copy the site from your browser. Example- how to... Step 2 in the upper right side of the page where it shows your recipe box, click on View All My Recipes Step 3 once on the page you'll see Options. Click Options and a dropbox will appear Step 4 click Add A Weblink Step 5 Paste the site you copied into the URL box. Then you can click on all the other informationals. Final Step-IMPORTANT !!! Click the Save Weblink button when done Hope I didn't leave any steps out and I apologize in advance if I did. Very easy once you get the jest of it, then you'll never have to miss out on another article.
      Sep. 12, 2011 7:03 pm
      Forgot to add- after Step 5 hit the preview button. Then on the next page you'll press Add To Weblink
      Sep. 21, 2011 11:38 am
      What about White Eggplants.....?
      Oct. 5, 2011 3:38 am
      Try grillin the eggplant instead of frying it! Saves on the calories!
      Oct. 5, 2011 6:03 pm
      I am actually doing a color diet just to cleanse right now after being sick and purchased some white eggplant so I am going to try it with the olive oil, garlic and lemon...:) Good cleansing ingredients all around! Thank you!
      Oct. 6, 2011 12:59 pm
      Thanks for the help Andrea! I like the weblink feature. I'm looking forward to trying more recipes with eggplant. I never tried cooking them other than grilling before coming to Italy. They are so cheap and plentiful here, especially at the local market, that I'd like to learn some great recipes.
      Oct. 8, 2011 12:33 pm
      I can't find the video of the Grilled Eggplant Salad. There was no recipe. Can't anybody tell me how to find it?
      Oct. 9, 2011 9:27 am
      It's easy to print. Just highlight and print selection.
      Jan. 21, 2012 6:31 pm
      Interesting article! I have a question about "sweating" the eggplant with salt. Does it make the eggplant more salty when you cook it? We lowered out salt levels and are sensitive to it, now. Even rinsed off, some of it will be absorbed, I'm sure, so I'm wondering if it's salty. Thanks!
      Betsy Cameron 
      Apr. 17, 2012 12:55 pm
      My daughter not an experienced cook, roasted an eggplant whole, as per the instructions. When she took it out of the oven it exploded all over the room and both she and her fella had minor burns. She said, it didn't say, prick holes in it first.... so that should be part of the directions...
      May 14, 2012 4:37 pm
      Andrea, thank you for sharing on how to save web links. That works and is very handy!!
      Jun. 23, 2012 10:13 am
      copy and paste. You can highlight it and then copy it to another file. I assume this site will let you copy.
      Old Desert Ratt 
      Jun. 26, 2012 12:52 pm
      My wife has defeated the attack of cancer twice and one of the changes her victory has brought us is we now grow a pretty big garden and supplement our menus with straight out of the garden fresh foods!This site has been a blessing. Thanks for helping us keep it fresh and tasty!
      Aug. 9, 2012 9:45 am
      Rolinda, just type Grilled Eggplant Salad into the search engine? and hit search? it will pull up the vdieo. I just tried it and it worked for me.
      Aug. 9, 2012 7:45 pm
      I love eggplant, but I tried to cook it a few years ago and was disgusting. I now see where I went wrong after reading this article. I will try again!
      Aug. 11, 2012 10:24 am
      Great info. I like to make grilled eggplant parm. Grill,then grill sliced tomatoes,seasoned with s n p,and oregano. then cover with slced fresh moz. or shredded will work. sprinkle oregano,parm and fresh basil shut the lid until chease melts. I seve it over angel hair
      Aug. 11, 2012 10:25 am
      I meant to say to stack them after grilling
      Aug. 12, 2012 10:18 am
      The best way I have made this is to slice it, dip in egg (season with hot sauce and any herb) dip in dry mashed potato flakes. Lightly put melted butter on both sides and roast in a 450 deg oven for 25 min (flip once) So Good ;-)
      Sep. 1, 2012 6:18 am
      Please ADD a "Save Recipe" to this article. I'd really like to save it to my Recipe box!!!
      Feb. 19, 2013 1:48 pm
      just right click and mail it to your self then you can copy it.
      Dahlia Walsh 
      Mar. 15, 2013 12:25 pm
      If you want a recipe of anything just click on it and when the recipe is on the screen you can save it to the recipe box.
      Mar. 20, 2013 5:16 am
      FYI--This article may be saved to your recipe box as a link.
      Jul. 9, 2013 7:12 am
      I love eggplant. I've found a low-fat way to make something similar to to fried eggplant. I peel and slice the eggplant into about 1/4 inch slices, dip in fat free italian dressing, then dredge in a mixture of cornmeal, grated parmesan, a little flower and some seasonings (whatever I grab that day). Put on a sprayed foil-lined baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes. Much better for me than frying in a pan of oil and just as tasty, especially when served with a side of marinara for dipping. Yum!
      Aug. 19, 2014 1:30 pm
      Thank you Andrea :)
      Nov. 17, 2014 9:21 am
      Although I never cooked it before thinking about pan searing it in sautéed green rest yellow an orange bell peppers tomatoes with garlic an then trying as suggested in comments deep fried thanks for ideas just brought one today's an may add shredded chz after I sautee just maybe
      Apr. 15, 2015 6:44 am
      Copy and paste ! Or right-click and print or save as a PDF. I save all my recipes to Pinterest and then I know exactly where to find them.
      9 Iron Chef 
      Apr. 27, 2015 6:06 pm
      What about baking? No tips on how to bake properly? I'm going to try baking some sliced eggplant now. Going to first coat it with egg and bread crumbs then top with tomato sauce, cheese, oregano, basil, etc. Maybe I'll try not "salting" this time, we'll see..
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