Sautéed eggplant is the best way to cook eggplants in a pan on the stovetop to make them tender and tasty with simple ingredients in just 20 minutes.
This is a delicious Italian-inspired recipe, and you can eat it as an eggplant side dish, appetizer, or mixed with pasta for a healthy and delicious meal.
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Check out our Best Eggplant Recipes
Our sautéed eggplant recipe is an Italian-inspired side dish you can make with diced eggplants, tomatoes, and a few other simple ingredients.
It’s easy to make in a pan on the stovetop in just 20 minutes, and it’s great as a last-minute dinner because you can serve it on its own as a side dish, for a quick eggplant bruschetta with it, or use it as a delicious pasta sauce.
This way of doing pan-fried eggplant with tomatoes is not only tasty, thanks to the fresh ingredients, but also healthy, as we don’t fry the eggplant in oil.
First, the tomatoes are scorched on a large skillet over medium-high heat with a little oil and garlic. Then we add diced eggplant, which is then sautéed with the other ingredients.
The eggplant dice soak in the tomato juices and garlic aroma, becoming incredibly flavorful, juicy, and tender.
Despite its simplicity, this is a fantastic everyday recipe perfect for the whole family. Let’s see how to make it.
Ps. The Italian name of this dish is “Melanzane a funghetto,” meaning mushroom-shaped eggplant due to the eggplant dice that vaguely recall the shape of mushrooms.
You can make sautéed eggplant with most eggplant varieties. The most common ones in Western supermarkets are globe eggplants, the large ones with an oval shape and dark shiny skin.
Italian eggplants also work as they are very similar to globe American eggplants.
Alternatively, you can use Chinese and Japanese eggplant (long-shaped and thin), fairy tale eggplant (small, purple, and white), graffiti eggplant (speckled with white and purple skin), and white eggplant (the one that looks like an egg).
Tip: We think the best and fastest way to make sautéed eggplant is to cut the eggplant into dice, and not with eggplant slices. This way, you won’t have to arrange the eggplant slices on a single layer on the skillet, and you will be able to make a larger quantity in less time.
We recommend using fresh ripe tomatoes for sautéed eggplant. We prefer cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are also perfect for this recipe.
We use extra virgin olive oil for better flavor and nutrition. Alternatively, regular olive oil is also ok.
To add a mild and pleasant garlic aroma. For this recipe, we prefer fresh garlic to garlic powder.
Red Pepper Flakes
To add some spiciness. You can replace them with chili powder or dried chili.
Salt & Pepper
We use sea salt or kosher salt to season this dish. We add black pepper for a fragrant aroma.
Basil is the main flavoring herb in this sautéed eggplant recipe. However, you can add more herbs and spices if you like. Good options are dried herbs such as Italian seasoning mix, dried oregano, or thyme.
Note: you can make this recipe in a large nonstick skillet, enameled cast iron, or stainless steel skillet.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add halved cherry tomatoes, and season them with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic (you can add it crushed, pressed, minced, or grated).
Fry the tomatoes on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, then crush them with a fork.
In the meantime, wash and dry the eggplant, remove the stem, and slice it into 1-inch cubes (2.5 cm). Add the eggplant to the pan along with one cup of water.
Stir well, cover with a lid, and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the eggplant is thoroughly cooked.
Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves, stirring them in before serving.
This sautéed eggplant recipe was created as a side dish. Serve it in a bowl as a side for one of our easy dinners for a healthy, tasty, and nutritious dinner.
Transform this dish into a delicious main course by using it as a sauce for a tasty and nutritious pasta dish.
All you have to do is cook a short pasta (penne, rotini, rigatoni) al dente, then add it to the pan with the sauteed eggplant, a cup of reserved pasta water, and a handful of black olives (optional).
Toss for a minute on medium heat and serve with plenty of fresh basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Zaalouk (Moroccan eggplant salad)
Change the spices of our Italian-inspired sauteed eggplant recipe to transform it into a south-Mediterranean dish. Add a teaspoon of cumin and paprika to the pan with the tomatoes.
Then substitute chopped fresh parsley for the basil, and you have a delicious Moroccan-inspired eggplant dish.
Check out our zaalouk recipe, a delicious Moroccan eggplant salad.
Sweet and sour eggplant is a delicious sautéed recipe with a soft texture and bold flavor, made with simple ingredients on the stovetop in about 20 minutes.
You can serve them as a side dish or on top of toasted bread, or in a bowl with boiled rice. It’s tender, juicy, and delicious, with a mildly sweet and tangy flavor.
Check out our sweet and sour eggplant.
Make ahead & storage
Make ahead: you can make this recipe ahead and use it for meal prep as it keeps well in the fridge for several days, and it’s easy to reheat. Also, we noticed that the eggplants taste even better the next day, so feel free to make a big batch ahead of time and have it ready for the week.
Refrigerator: store sautéed eggplant in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Heat eggplant in a pan or microwave.
Freezer: we don’t recommend freezing this recipe.
More eggplant recipes
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Or any of our best 35 eggplant recipes, including dinners, lunches, and snacks.
More sautéed vegetable recipes
Don’t want to turn on the oven? Here are some more veggie recipes you can make on the stove-top:
- Sautéed zucchini (lemon juice, red onion, zucchini, garlic, parsley, etc.)
- Easy sautéed asparagus (lemon, asparagus, olive oil, shaved almonds, etc.)
- Pan-fried artichokes (artichokes, garlic, lemon, olive oil, mint, etc.)
- Sautéed mushrooms (parsley, mushrooms, olive oil, garlic, etc.)
For many more side dish ideas, check out our sides category page.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes halved
- 3 cloves garlic pressed, minced, or crushed
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 large eggplant 1½ lb or 680 g
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 15 leaves of basil
- Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a skillet, then add 1 pound cherry tomatoes (halved), season them with ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 3 cloves garlic (crushed or grated).
- Fry the tomatoes on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, then crush them with a fork.
- In the meantime, wash and dry 1 large eggplant, remove the stem, and slice into 1-inch cubes (2.5 cm). Add the eggplant to the pan along with one 1 cup water.
- Stir well, cover with a lid, and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.Remove the lid and cook for 5 to 10 more minutes or until the eggplant is thoroughly cooked.Stir in 15 leaves of basil and serve.
- SIDE DISH: serve it in a bowl as a side next to one of our easy dinners or your favorite main.
- APPETIZER: try it on toasted slices of bread as an appetizer. You can make bruschetta with larger bread slices or crostini with smaller bread slices.
- MAIN COURSE: add pasta cooked al dente to the pan with the sautéed eggplant, then add a cup of reserved pasta water and a handful of black olives (optional).Toss for a minute on medium heat and serve with plenty of fresh basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
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