Grilled Eggplant

Here’s how to make perfectly grilled eggplant! These tricks make it come out tender every time. Top with sauce as a summer side dish or appetizer.

Grilled eggplant

Eggplant can be under appreciated, but this Mediterranean-style vegetable is one of the tastiest around. You’ve got to try this grilled eggplant: it comes out smoky and tender, lightly charred and full of flavor. Top it with a sauce and you’ve got a killer summer side dish or appetizer! We went for two different sauces: a fresh tomato salsa fresca, and a creamy, lightly spicy white BBQ sauce. The combination of the two is spot on. You’ll need to know a few tricks for grilled eggplant to get it just right: here’s what to know!

Ingredients for grilled eggplant

You don’t even need to top this eggplant with sauces: especially if you’re serving as part of a sandwich or part of a grilled veggie platter. But they’re extra festive, so feel free to add them if you like. Otherwise, the ingredients for grilled eggplant are very basic:

  • Globe eggplant
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Grilled eggplant

Trick 1: make 1/2-inch rounds!

There are two tricks you need to know for grilled eggplant. First: slice it into 1/2-inch slices! Any thicker and the eggplant comes out charred on the outside, but tough on the inside. Trust us: we tried it (not delicious). You can place half-inch slices right on the grates and they come out perfectly tender.

Trick 2: add olive oil right before grilling!

The other tip for grilled eggplant: add the olive oil right before you cook it! Here’s the thing about eggplant: it sucks up oil like a sponge. If you add the oil too soon, the eggplant sucks it all up and then becomes dry. But if you add it right before grilling, it will stay oiled enough for the grill.

Grilled eggplant

Salt to taste, until the flavor pops

Another thing to note about this recipe: typically we specify exactly how much salt to use. For this recipe, you’ll salt the eggplant afterwards (so salt doesn’t fall off on the grill). Because the size of eggplants can vary, the recipe below indicates simply to add salt to taste. Give it a good sprinkling of kosher salt, then taste and see if the flavor pops. If not, add a little more and taste until it tastes delicious but not salty.

How to grill eggplant: time and temperature

All you really need to know about grilled eggplant, besides those two tips, is the grill temperature and timing. Memorize those few things, and then make this recipe on repeat all summer! Here are the basic steps for how to grill eggplant (or jump to the recipe):

  • Preheat a grill to medium high heat (that’s 375 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Thinly slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds.
  • Directly before grilling, rub with olive oil.
  • Grill 4 to 5 minutes per side, until tender and charred. Add salt to taste and enjoy!
Grilled eggplant

Sauces for grilled eggplant

Here’s the fun part: serving your eggplant! Eggplant works with lots of different flavors, from American to Mediterranean. Here’s what we used, and then a few more ideas:

  • Fresh tomato sauce: We went with a salsa fresca to bring in bright tomato flavor; you could also use pico de gallo.
  • White BBQ sauce: Ever tried this? White BBQ sauce is unique and great for drizzling on grilled veggies.
  • Tahini sauce: Eggplant is great with Mediterranean flavors. Try this Tahini Sauce and top with chopped parsley and pomegranate seeds.
  • Pesto: Spoon over Basil Pesto and top with sliced cherry tomatoes. Perfection!
Grilled Eggplant & Tomato Stacked Sandwiches

Or, serve it as a sandwich!

Another great way to serve grilled eggplant: as a sandwich! This Eggplant Sandwich with Pesto is one of our favorite summer grilled meals, inspired by a stop in a hidden sandwich shop on a trip to Italy. It layers up some tasty Italian ingredients like:

  • Grilled eggplant
  • Ripe, juicy tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Basil pesto Make your own if you have basil or get your favorite store bought jar.
  • Kalamata olive spread Full of big flavor! Buy store bought tapenade or make your own.

This grilled eggplant recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Print
Grilled eggplant

Grilled Eggplant (Perfect Every Time!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 4.67 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make perfectly grilled eggplant! These tricks make it come out tender every time. Top with sauce as a summer side dish or appetizer.


Scale

Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (375 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Directly before grilling (not in advance), slice the eggplant into thin rounds about 1/2” thick (size is important!). Place the slices on a baking sheet and rub both sides with the olive oil. Don’t do this step in advance: the eggplant soaks up lots of the olive oil, so make sure to do it right before grilling.
  3. Place the eggplant directly on the grill grates and grill for about 4 to 5 minutes per side (8 to 10 minutes total), until charred and tender.
  4. Remove from the grill and season generously with kosher salt to taste, until the flavor pops. Serve topped with salsa fresca or pico de gallo and/or white BBQ sauce.

  • Category: Side Dish / Appetizer
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: Grilled eggplant, How to grill eggplant

More eggplant recipes

Eggplant is one of our favorites because it’s so versatile! There are so many ways to use this nutritious veggie. Here are some of our top eggplant recipes for serving it:

  • Oven Roasted Eggplant Baking until it’s tender makes for unreal flavor. Serve it as a side dish, or toss with pasta!
  • Eggplant Pizzas Eggplant makes the crust of these mini pizzas, covered in garlicky sauce and gooey cheese.
  • Roasted Eggplant Pasta Flavor-packed with roasted eggplant & zesty marinara sauce!
  • Eggplant Caponata Eggplant and Mediterranean vegetables make a tangy, garlicky spread that’s perfect over crusty bread.
  • Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Smoky breaded and grilled eggplant, doused in warm marinara sauce.
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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