To the eggplant hold outs, this Grilled Eggplant is my attempt to seduce you at last. Crisp outside, tender (but NOT mushy) inside, and versatile, eggplant will pair with whatever you are grilling next. Surprisingly satisfying, eggplant is also an excellent base for a hearty vegetarian meal.
I’ve had trauma with a wide assortment of vegetables in the past (Grilled Brussels Sprouts and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms helped me finally overcome the limp, overcooked offenders of the past).
Eggplant is an exception. We’ve only ever been on the best of terms.
My experience of eggplant is of a healthy vegetable that’s versatile, filling, and quick-cooking.
- Eggplant can 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.
- You can season it any which way. It is a hard-working, yummy veggie.
Thus, imagine my surprise when I offered to grill eggplant for my sister—who is not a picky eater—and her response was (direct quote) “Ewww, mushy!”
To the eggplant haters, I am not without empathy.
As with those of you who told me you despised Brussels sprouts prior to trying Roasted Brussels Sprouts, when it comes to making vegetables taste delicious, the cooking method is often everything.
- Grilled eggplant is charred, caramelized, and richly savory.
- It is NOT slimy, bitter, mushy, or bland!
- Grilled eggplant slices take all of 15 minutes from start to finish.
- The leftovers are just waiting to be repurposed for your next healthy meal.
I beg you, let your preconceived notions go and give grilled eggplant a try!
Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, potatoes, and bell 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 not solid evidence.
- For me, the health benefits of eggplant FAR out weigh 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
The trick to great grilled eggplant that will win over skeptics is the preparation.
For the best grilled eggplant, slice the eggplant into rounds.
- Unlike whole grilled eggplant (which has the softer texture that people either adore or despise with no in between), or eggplant “planks,” thinly sliced eggplant is pleasantly crisp and warm.
- It’s a filling vegetable side that is nutritious, without the aggressive crunch of cold, raw veggies.
- Eggplant. Healthy, filling, and quick-cooking, this nutritious vegetable is in prime season during the summer. Cook it alongside your favorite grilled entrees.
- Olive Oil. Don’t skimp! Olive oil helps the eggplant caramelize.
Eggplant drinks up oil quickly. To make sure you don’t overdo it, I recommend brushing on the oil with a washable basting brush like this.
- 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 afterwards to taste.
- Preheat the grill to medium high (400 to 450 degrees F). Cut the eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds.
- Whisk together the oil, garlic, and seasoning.
- Brush over the eggplant.
- Flip and brush the other side.
- Grill the eggplant for 8 to 10 minutes with the lid closed, flipping once halfway through. ENJOY!
What to Serve with Grilled Eggplant
Grilled eggplant is meaty, but mild making it a versatile side.
I like to cook eggplant on the grill at the same time as other entrees.
- Burgers. Keep it classic with Blue Cheese Burgers, change it up with a Shrimp Burger, or keep your meal all-veg with this stuffed Portobello Mushroom Burger.
- Chicken. Both Chicken Kabobs and simple Grilled Chicken Breast or this Tikka Masala recipe hit the spot alongside eggplant.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mediterranean Grilled Eggplant. Sprinkle the cooked eggplant with crumbled feta and chopped fresh parsley and mint.
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover grilled eggplant slices for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a 350 degree F oven until heated through, about 5 minutes.
- To Freeze. I do NOT recommend freezing grilled eggplant, as it will become mushy once thawed.
Leftover grilled eggplant will be your BFF! Here are some tasty ways to use:
- 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 to up your veggie game.
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. Magnetic feature is perfect for drawer organization.
Eggplant excellence achieved!
- 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 degrees 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 degree 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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Weekly Meal Plans
Wow! This was so easy and just delicious! I can’t believe I have been soaking and dredging eggplant for years, when the best way to prepare it was SO much easier and with tastier results! I brushed with olive oil and then sprinkled on Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute. They were tender and yummy (not to mention the pretty grill marks!). Thank you for a recipe I will have on repeat!
Hi Lisa! So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for this kind review!
You do have to salt the eggplant to prevent bitterness. Such a waste of food.
I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the recipe, Shirley. Salt is added to the spice mixture that’s brushed onto the eggplant before grilling. We had no issues with bitterness, so I’m not sure what might’ve gone wrong.