Grilled Eggplant

published Jun 27, 2023
summer
Grilled Eggplant Recipe

This is the only way to grill eggplant. The slices are perfect for salads, sandwiches, as a pizza topping, and more.

Serves4 to 6

Prep15 minutes

Cook10 minutes

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overhead shot of grilled eggplant with sauce on white plate that's placed on a wooden surface
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

Grilling is far and away my favorite way to cook eggplant. The sturdy vegetable is naturally well-suited to the grill, as it doesn’t run the risk of falling through the grates and becomes even meatier in flavor after taking on grill marks. Plus, eggplant’s mild flavor means it takes well to just about any seasoning you throw at it. 

Here’s the simplest way to grill eggplant to enjoy as a quick summer side dish and beyond (think: sandwiches, pastas, or even as the main affair with creamy burrata and crusty bread). 

What to Season Eggplant with for Grilling

I keep it simple with salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, and finely chopped fresh oregano, whose earthy flavor pairs excellently with eggplant, but feel free to lean into your own taste. 

If you don’t want a spicy kick, leave out the red pepper flakes. Swap oregano for another hardy herb like rosemary, thyme, or sage, or leave it out completely and try a teaspoon of a dried spice instead, like smoked paprika, garam masala, ground cumin, or za’atar. If you’re out of fresh garlic, replace it with a 1/2 teaspoon garlic or onion powder.

One thing I don’t recommend skipping completely is the finishing drizzle of vinegar. A splash of balsamic over the tender eggplant brightens it and ties all the flavors together. You have flexibility here, too, though. Try sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, or lemon or lime juice instead.

How to Grill Eggplant

There’s one secret to grilling eggplant that’s important to remember: Use more oil than you might think. 

While a light drizzle of olive oil is all you need when grilling other vegetables like asparagus or broccoli, eggplant requires more in order for it to become silky in texture and wonderfully charred. One-third cup olive oil is just the right amount to generously coat a medium, sliced eggplant without making it become greasy. 

Read more: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Eggplant

How to Enjoy Grilled Eggplant

This is a simple summer side dish I will happily turn to again and again, but eggplant’s versatility means that it’s only the start. 

  • Shingle it with slices of tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for a heartier take on caprese salad.
  • Chop it and toss with your favorite pasta shape and pesto sauce.
  • Slide it into a split pita with hummus, chopped cucumber, and tomato.
  • Serve it with burrata or a big scoop of ricotta, drizzle it with hot honey, and serve with crusty bread.
  • Use it as a pizza topping.
  • Chop it finely and toss with finely chopped olives, roasted peppers, and parsley for a salsa of sorts.

Grilled Eggplant Recipe

This is the only way to grill eggplant. The slices are perfect for salads, sandwiches, as a pizza topping, and more.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 4 sprigs

    fresh oregano

  • 1/3 cup

    olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    globe eggplant (about 2 small or 1 medium)

  • 1 tablespoon

    balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Heat an outdoor grill for medium-high, direct heat (about 425ºF).

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the following, adding each to the same small bowl as you complete it: Mince 2 garlic cloves. Pick the leaves from 4 sprigs fresh oregano and finely chop until you have 1 tablespoon. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.

  3. Trim 1 1/2 pounds eggplant and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the olive oil mixture onto both sides of the slices.

  4. ​​When the grill is ready, scrape the grill grates clean if needed. Place the eggplant on the grill in a single layer. Cover and cook until grill marks form on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the eggplant, cover, and grill until grill marks form on the second side and the eggplant is very tender, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.