Our fried eggplant recipe is super crunchy outside and tender inside; we make it without eggs, and it’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

It’s an easy recipe to make, with six simple ingredients. Serve it with our delicious homemade marinara sauce on top of a delicious Italian salad for a tasty family dinner.

fried eggplant serve with salad and marinara sauce

Check out our Best Eggplant Recipes

Fried eggplant is a delicious treat! This recipe gets so crispy that you’ll be surprised by the loud crunch when you bite into it. On the inside, the eggplant flesh is tender and melts in your mouth.

This dish is simple, and we serve it with a pinch of salt on top and homemade marinara sauce.

The combination of crispy, soft, salt, and saucy makes this one of the best ways to enjoy eggplants.

And yes, you’ll have to fry this in oil to make it taste so good. But by following our simple tips, and thanks to our choice of ingredients, the eggplant won’t absorb much oil.

Also, since we substitute chickpea flour for eggs, this recipe is healthier than you might think.

To make it vegan, you can easily substitute the parmesan cheese for a vegan cheese alternative.

fried eggplant on a platter

Ingredients

Ingredients for fried eggplant
Ingredients for fried eggplant: eggplant, chickpea flour, water, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese or vegan alternative, salt, pepper, and oil for frying.

Eggplants

We recommend using globe eggplant (the large ones with dark shiny skin) or zebra eggplants (the light purple ones with white stripes). They are easy to work with, and you can cut nice round slices that almost look like cutlets.

Chickpea Flour

Sometimes known as garbanzo bean flour, chickpea flour is incredible! It’s a perfect egg replacement for this recipe, and mixed with water creates the perfect batter to coat the eggplant in.

Chickpea flour is also healthy and nutritious, with virtually no saturated fats and fewer calories than eggs. Also, we find that chickpea flour absorbs less oil and helps develop a super crispy coating.

If you don’t feel ready to try our chickpea flour batter, you can use a large egg beaten in a shallow bowl with a pinch of salt and a touch of black pepper.

Breadcrumbs

Any breadcrumbs will do. You can make them yourself with stale bread in a food processor or get them at the store. Opt for panko breadcrumbs for a super crunchy coating that turns heads. They are crunchier than regular ones because they are pre-baked and absorb less oil.

To make the recipe gluten-free, you can use gluten-free panko crumbs.

Cheese

We mix the cheese with the breadcrumbs to make a tasty breading that sticks together.

You can use grated parmesan cheese or grated pecorino romano for an even tastier coating, or you can easily replace the cheese with a vegan alternative.

Tip for vegans: if you find a finely grated vegan parmesan alternative go for it, it’s going to work great.

If you can’t find that, choose one of those shredded generic vegan cheeses that look like grated mozzarella cheese, they are everywhere these days. Then, put it in a food processor with a pinch of salt and pulse a few times until it looks like it’s been finely grated.

Salt and Pepper

We use sea salt or kosher salt and black pepper to season the batter and to sprinkle on top of the fried eggplant slices once they are fried.

Oil for frying

You can use canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, or any vegetable oil made for frying with a high smoke point.

fried eggplant with marinara sauce

Instructions

Step 1: Prep the Ingredients

Wash and dry the eggplant, remove the stem, and cut it into 1/5 to 1/4-Inch eggplant slices (0.5 cm). Peeling the eggplant is not necessary.

eggplant slices

To a container with low edges, mix together breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese (or vegan alternative), a pinch of salt, and a few twists of black pepper.

TIP: the bread crumbs and the cheese must be perfectly mixed, and there should be no lumps of cheese.

If this happens, blend the breadcrumb cheese mixture in a food processor for a few seconds. This step might be necessary for vegan cheese, as it tends to clump up.

breadcrumbs cheese mixture

To a bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, and salt, until you get a smooth, lump-free batter. We use this instead of an egg mixture.

chickpea batter

Step 2: Bread the Eggplants

Dip the eggplant slices in the chickpea batter first, let excess batter drip off, then dredge in the breadcrumbs-cheese mixture.

breaded eggplant slices before frying

Ensure the eggplant slice is fully coated in breadcrumbs, patting it with your hands to make the mixture stick. Set breaded eggplant slices aside on a platter.

breaded eggplant slices before frying

Step 3: Fry the Eggplants

In a large skillet that can fit 3 to 4 eggplant slices, warm up the frying oil to 320°F or 160°C. Use a kitchen thermometer to check oil temperature before and during frying.

Add at least 1 and 1/4 inches of oil (3 cm) to the pan. It’s counterintuitive, but adding more oil will not result in fatter eggplants.

Fry in batches, 3 to 4 slices at a time, for 6 minutes; flipping them once after 3 minutes. They should be crisp and golden brown.

TIP: oil temperature should not go below 300°F or 150°C, or the eggplant will absorb the oil.

Also, the oil temperature should not go above 340°F or 170°C, or the breadcrumbs might burn before the eggplant is cooked.

frying the eggplant

Take the eggplant slices out of the oil and arrange them on a cooling rack lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with salt or salt flakes.

fried eggplant on kitchen paper

Serving Suggestions

You can serve fried eggplant as a starter or side dish on a platter, with finely chopped parsley on top, salt, and lemon wedges.

They are delicious dipped in our vegan mayo or homemade marinara sauce.

fried eggplant on a platter

To add some greens, we recommend combining them with our simple and crunchy side salad, or if you want to turn them into a light dinner, you can serve them with our Italian salad.

fried eggplant slices on side salad

Finally, fried eggplants are also delicious on pasta with plenty of marinara sauce, fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil.

This way, they will taste very similar to eggplant parmesan, thanks to the tomato and basil, and they are perfect as a main.

breaded eggplant on spaghetti with marinara sauce

Variation

Air-Fried Eggplant

If you are not into deep frying foods, you can make this recipe in the air fryer. To do so, we recommend you replace the chickpea flour batter with unsweetened plant milk.

Then follow the same steps, coating the eggplants with the breadcrumb mixture.

Finally, place the breaded eggplant slices in the air fryer basket without overlapping, drizzle with olive oil, and air fry for about 13 to 15 minutes at 390°F or 200°C.

Check out our full recipe e how to make air fryer eggplants, where we show several air-frying techniques.

air fried eggplants

Should I salt eggplant before frying it?

It depends. Some people salt their eggplants; some people don’t. We don’t, but you certainly can. But what is the purpose of salting eggplants anyway?

What is the purpose of salting eggplants?

Most people salt or soak eggplants out of habit. In the past, eggplants used to be bitter, and putting them under salt would reduce bitterness as the salt pulls out some of their water.

However, in the last couple of decades, eggplants have been bread not to be bitter.

This means that eggplants that you buy today in the supermarkets don’t need to be salted before being cooked. There’s no bitterness to remove.

There is one case, though, when salting eggplants might still make sense. And that’s with fried eggplants.

When deep frying, the water contained in the eggplant is trapped inside by the hot oil, and it won’t escape (as opposed to when you roast, grill, or sautée eggplants).

The water trapped inside can make the eggplant a little moist and juicy; some people might not like that.

We personally love a fried eggplant that is crunchy outside while tender and juicy on the inside; therefore, we do not salt them before frying them.

But if you’d like a firmer, dryer, and less moist fried eggplant, you should probably salt it before frying.

How do you salt eggplant?

First, cut the eggplant into slices as described in the recipe.

Arrange the eggplant slices on a cooling rack or a baking grid, placing a baking tray underneath to catch the liquid.

Alternatively, you can arrange eggplant slices on a cutting board or baking tray on top of paper towels.

Sprinkle the eggplant slices with coarse salt. The salt must be coarse because fine salt will penetrate the eggplant, making it too salty.

salted eggplant draining the liquid

How long should you salt and drain eggplant?

Let the salt do its magic for about 1 to 1.5 hours max. That’s the ideal time. Don’t let the salt sit on the eggplant for more than 1.5 hours, or they’ll get too salty.

As time passes, you’ll see the eggplant release some water.

eggplants releasing their water

Next, rinse the eggplants under tap water, then dry each slice well with kitchen paper before proceeding with your recipe.

And that’s how you salt eggplants to remove some of their liquid.

drying each eggplant slice

Storage

Fried eggplants don’t store well, and you should eat them soon after they are fried because they lose their crunch if stored in the fridge.

If you have any leftovers, keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days, then use them to make a delicious pasta dish.

Warm them up in the microwave for a couple of minutes, then chop them up, and add them to a short pasta cooked al dente (penne, rotini, fusilli, or farfalle), halved cherry tomatoes, chopped fresh parsley and basil, a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and black pepper.

Toss the pasta well and enjoy it as a delicious eggplant pasta salad.

pasta with leftover eggplants

More Eggplant Recipes

If you love cooking with eggplant, see these aromatic eggplant recipes that can help you decide on your next dinner:

Or get even more ideas with our 35 best eggplant recipes, including salads, pasta dishes, and healthy sides.

More Eggless Recipes

Chickpea flour is a great way to replace eggs, but there are numerous ways to cook tasty and eggless meals. Check out these family favorites:

Frittata muffins with veggies
Frittata muffins with chickpea flour

You can also see our best 25 chickpea recipes and get more inspiration for cooking without eggs.

For many more side dish ideas, check out our sides category page.

fried eggplant

Fried Eggplant

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 5 votes
Our fried eggplant recipe is super crunchy outside and tender inside; we make it without eggs, and it's suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
It's an easy recipe to make, with six simple ingredients. Serve it with our delicious homemade marinara sauce on top of a delicious Italian salad for a tasty family dinner.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side dish
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant
  • ½ cup chickpea flour
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

FOR THE BREADCRUMBS MIX

  • ¾ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese or vegan alternative
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 twists black pepper
  • ¼ to ½ gallon frying oil

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Instructions 

STEP 1: PREP THE INGREDIENTS

  • Wash and dry the eggplant, remove the stem, and cut it into ⅕ to ¼-Inch slices (0.5 cm). Peeling the eggplant is not necessary.
    eggplant slices
  • To a container with low edges, mix together breadcrumbsgrated parmesan cheese (or vegan alternative), a pinch of salt, and a few twists of black pepper.
    TIP: the bread crumbs and the cheese must be perfectly mixed, and there should be no lumps of cheese.
    If cheese clumps up, blend the breadcrumb cheese mixture in a food processor for a few seconds. This step might be necessary for vegan cheese, as it tends to clump up.
    breadcrumbs cheese mixture
  • To a bowl, whisk together the chickpea flourwater, and salt, until you get a smooth, lump-free batter. We use this instead of an egg mixture.
    chickpea batter

STEP 2: BREAD THE EGGPLANTS

  • Dip the eggplant slices in the chickpea batter first, let excess batter drip off, then dredge in the breadcrumbs-cheese mixture.
    breaded eggplant slices before frying
  • Ensure the eggplant slice is fully coated in breadcrumbs, patting it with your hands to make the mixture stick. Set breaded eggplant slices aside on a platter.
    breaded eggplant slices before frying

STEP 3: FRY THE EGGPLANTS

  • In a large skillet that can fit 3 to 4 eggplant slices, warm up the frying oil to 320°F or 160°C. Use a kitchen thermometer to check oil temperature before and during frying.
    Add at least 1 and ¼ inches of oil (3 cm) to the pan.
    Fry in batches, 3 to 4 slices at a time, for 6 minutesflipping them once after 3 minutes. They should be crisp and golden brown.
    frying the eggplant
  • Take the eggplant slices out of the oil and arrange them on a cooling rack lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with salt or salt flakes.
    fried eggplant on kitchen paper

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • You can serve fried eggplant as a starter or side dish on a platter, with finely chopped parsley on top, salt, and lemon wedges.
    They are delicious dipped in our vegan mayo or homemade marinara sauce.
    fried eggplant on a platter
  • To add some greens, we recommend combining them with our simple and crunchy side salad, or if you want to turn them into a light dinner, you can serve them with our Italian salad.
    fried eggplant slices on side salad
  • Finally, fried eggplants are also delicious on pasta with plenty of marinara sauce, fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil.
    This way, they will taste very similar to eggplant parm, thanks to the tomato and basil, and they are perfect as a main.
    breaded eggplant on spaghetti with marinara sauce

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 portion of fried eggplant out of 4.

Nutrition

Calories: 345kcal, Carbohydrates: 38g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Potassium: 570mg, Dietary Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 142IU, Vitamin B6: 0.3mg, Vitamin C: 4mg, Vitamin E: 2mg, Vitamin K: 30µg, Calcium: 168mg, Folate: 129µg, Iron: 2mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 63mg, Zinc: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Leave a comment below or mention @theplantbasedschool on Instagram. We are also on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok.

If you like this fried eggplant recipe, you might also like:


Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

Easy right?

5 from 5 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Resulted in ‘perfect’ breaded eggplant …

    One moot minor recipe spelling correction … under:
    “WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF SALTING EGGPLANTS’
    … last line … amend ‘bread’ to ‘bred’ …

    Thanks much for the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I was part if a fund raiser for our church making a 5 course vegan black tie dinner last night. I used this recipe for the appetizer. It was the top favorite of the dinner. I used Japanese egg plant as they are sweeter and cook faster. I topped with your marinara sauce and a pesto aioli sauce.
    So many want your recipe.

    1. Hi Kim,
      That sounds amazing, I’m very happy the eggplant was a crowd-pleaser – what a wonderful cause you’ve been cooking for.
      Thank you very much for sharing, and have a great rest of your week!
      Kindest,
      Louise