Grilled eggplant slices on a grill pan or outdoor grill are a tasty and easy way of enjoying this delicious summer vegetable.
We'll show you how to grill eggplant and season it with different condiments to bring out its best flavor.
Check out our Best Eggplant Recipes
Grilling is one of the best ways to enjoy eggplant (aubergine). The smokey, slightly bitter flavor created during the charring of the eggplant matches the sweet, earthy notes of this spongy vegetable.
Grilled eggplant is unbeatable when combined with a simple condiment of extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt, garlic, and fresh herbs such as basil or mint.
You can serve it as an appetizer or a side dish with other grilled veggies. You can use it as a topping for pizza and focaccia, or as a filling for a sandwich, with a slice of our vegan chickpea frittata and a slick of our creamy vegan pesto.
Like grilled zucchini, you can grill eggplant with a thin coating of olive oil or grill it dry without any oil.
We prefer to grill it dry, without oil, and then season it straight after with an olive oil-based condiment such as chimichurri, Italian salsa verde, chili oil, or other.
The hot spongy eggplant will absorb the smoky flavor from the charring and the aromas from the condiment, becoming tender and tasty. Next, let's see how to cook and season grilled eggplant.
We think the best variety of eggplant to grill are globe American eggplant (short, round shape and a deep purple color), Italian eggplant (similar color and shape to American, but slightly smaller and sweeter), and fairy tale eggplant (light purple and white color with sweet and tender flesh).
However, you can safely grill white eggplant and graffiti or zebra eggplant too.
You don't need any other ingredient for grilling eggplant. Optionally you can brush it with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil. However, we prefer adding the oil later, once grilled.
For the easy marinade
Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is our choice because it has a fruity flavor that complements the bitter and smoky of the charring and the sweet, earthy flavor of the eggplant.
Eggplant and vinegar are a perfect match! You can use red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, and white wine vinegar.
Fresh basil, fresh mint (including Italian mentuccia), and fresh flat-leaf parsley are undoubtedly the best fresh herbs to go with eggplant. Pick one or more for your condiment. Good alternatives are fresh thyme and fresh oregano.
Garlic is another ingredient that marries perfectly with grilled eggplant. We like to slice it thinly, but you can also mince it. Try to go for fresh garlic as opposed to garlic powder. It's fresher and zestier.
Salt and pepper
Sea salt and kosher salt are more flavorful than table salt. A sprinkle after grilling or diluted in the dressing is enough.
If you are on a low sodium diet, you might consider replacing the salt with a potassium chloride salt substitute but talk to your doctor first.
You can also add a twist of black pepper, or if you like things spicy, a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Make the marinade
We start with the marinade so that the oil has time to absorb the flavor from the garlic and herbs.
Add extra virgin olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, chopped basil (or another fresh herb like mint or flat-leaf parsley), vinegar, salt, and black pepper (or red pepper flakes) to a small bowl. Stir it and set it aside.
Grill the eggplant
Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. The temperature should be around 430°F or 220°C. Make sure the grill grates or the pan are clean.
Cast iron is your best bet if you use a grill pan because it distributes the heat evenly and reaches higher temperatures than regular pans. Non-stick also works.
Wash the eggplant, dry it, and remove the stem. Next, slice it into ⅓ of an inch thick discs (about 8mm). You can cut long slices, too, if you prefer. You can use a chef's knife or a mandoline slicer to cut eggplant.
Tip: the peel of the eggplant can be challenging to slice if you don't have a sharp knife. If you are having difficulties, use a serrated bread knife.
When the grill or grill pan is hot, turn the heat a notch down from medium-high to medium.
Place the eggplant discs on it on a single layer. Grill for about 3 minutes on one side, then turn around with tongues and grill for another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer onto a serving platter and keep grilling till you run out of eggplant.
Do not undercook. Grilled eggplant should be well cooked and soft.
Consideration: Less charring is a little healthier, but it's also less flavorful. If you want clear charring marks, do not move the eggplant. Only flip it once. If you wish to have less charring, move the discs around while cooking.
As you transfer the grilled eggplant from the grill to the serving platter, drizzle with a generous amount of marinade while the eggplant is still smokey and hot.
The warm and spongy eggplant will absorb fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil flavor. In addition, the vinegar and salt will make it extra flavorful. Optionally you can sprinkle additional fresh herbs on top.
Enjoy warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Try substituting fresh mint or flat-leaf parsley for the basil. They are both great with grilled eggplant. If you don't have any, you can opt for thyme and oregano, best if fresh.
Chimichurri is a South American condiment that is delicious with anything grilled. Make with simple ingredients, including olive oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes, parsley, oregano, and plenty of garlic. Check our chimichurri recipe for instructions and ingredients.
Green goddess dressing
This herby and incredibly aromatic sauce has all the herbs that go well with eggplants, so we had to try it with it. And we love it! It's creamy, fresh, and different from your usual grilled vegetable condiment. Check out our recipe for green goddess dressing for the ingredients list and instructions.
Italian salsa verde
Drizzle grilled eggplants with this tangy, herby, parsley-based dressing to have an even bolder flavor. You can make this condiment in a few minutes in a food processor. Check out our Italian salsa verde recipe for the ingredients list and instructions.
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days. Keep them on a plate, covered in aluminum foil, or in an airtight container.
You can freeze grilled eggplants for up to 3 months, but make sure to do so before applying any condiment. To do so, transfer them onto a baking sheet or a platter line with parchment paper.
Arrange them so that they don't overlap. Put the tray in the freezer, then after about 8 hours or more, transfer the frozen eggplant discs into a freezer bag to save space.
Thaw in the fridge overnight, or in the microwave. You can also thaw them on a pan with some olive oil.
Grilled eggplant can be served as an appetizer on a platter with other grilled veggies or as a side dish. It goes particularly well with protein, in salads, and with pasta:
- Serve with tofu such as our 10-min air fryer tofu or easy marinated tofu.
- Serve with pasta as a charred addition, we love it with vegan pasta salad or 15-minute tomato pasta. Simply chop it up, and add it in.
- Serve with bread either on top of focaccia or on our flatbread pizza.
You can also use grilled eggplant in a salad. We made a very quick and simple one by mixing the eggplant with grilled cherry tomatoes, grated carrots, spinach, and arugula, in a large bowl. We then served and drizzled the salad with a tangy and creamy chipotle sauce.
More eggplant recipes
If you love tender and flavor-packed eggplant, check out these delightful aubergine recipes:
Or check out any of our 35 favorite eggplant recipes.
For many more side dishes ideas, check out our sides category page.
- grill or grill pan (ideally cast iron)
- long tongs to turn the eggplant
- 1 large eggplant (about 1½ pounds)
For the marinade
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar any
- 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced or minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt or more to taste
- 2 twists black pepper red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons basil leaves or mint or parsley, finely chopped
- To a bowl, add extra virgin olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, chopped basil, vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Stir it and set it aside.
- Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. The temperature should be around 430F or 220C. Make sure the grill grates or the pan are clean.
- Wash the eggplant, dry it, and remove the stem. Next, slice it into ⅓ of an inch thick discs (about 8mm). You can cut long slices, too, if you prefer. You can use a chef's knife or a mandoline slicer.Tip: the peel of the eggplant can be challenging to slice if you don't have a sharp knife. If you are having difficulties, use a serrated bread knife.
- When the grill or grill pan is hot, turn the heat down from medium-high to medium.Place the eggplant discs on it on a single layer. Grill for about 3 minutes on one side, then turn around with tongues and grill for another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer onto a serving platter and keep grilling till you run out of eggplant.Do not undercook. Grilled eggplant should be well cooked and soft.
- As you transfer the grilled eggplant from the grill to the serving platter, drizzle with a generous amount of marinade while the eggplant is still smokey and hot.The warm and spongy eggplant will absorb fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil flavor. The vinegar and salt will make it tasty. Optionally you can sprinkle extra fresh herbs on top.Enjoy warm, at room temperature, or cold.
You might also like