Garlic Grilled Eggplant is packed with tons of flavor from an easy garlic marinade and cooks up on the grill in less than 10 minutes.
If you haven’t yet jumped on the grilled eggplant bandwagon, you are missing out. Throwing this often overlooked veggie on the grill gives what can sometimes be a bland vegetable a ton of taste.
The eggplant soaks up the flavor of the simple garlic marinade and then gets some smoke and char from the grill. It's delicious.
It makes a perfect easy summer side dish. Or get creative and use this grilled eggplant in salad salads, stuffed into sandwiches, turned into delicious grilled baba ganoush, or tossed with pasta.
We also love layering it with some fresh summer tomatoes and fresh mozzarella or feta cheese for a delicious appetizer or meal. Drizzled with some balsamic glaze and fresh basil, it’s so good.
Why We Love Grilled Eggplant
Here are a few reasons why we think grilled eggplant is out of this world.
- Fabulous taste: Once you taste grilled eggplant you will agree it tastes amazing.
- Versatile: You can’t go wrong no matter how you season eggplant or how you serve it.
- Quick: No need to marinate for a long time and it cooks up quickly.
Key Ingredients and Easy Swaps
Here are the ingredients you need to make this grilled eggplant recipe and a few alternatives. Try out all your favorite spice blends and herbs to create unique flavor combinations.
- Eggplant: Look for medium eggplant that are firm to the touch with smooth skin. Any type of eggplant can be grilled including the most common globe eggplant (large and dark purple), smaller Italian eggplant, Chinese eggplant, white eggplant, or Japanese eggplant.
- Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil complements the earthy flavor of the eggplant, but you can also use another type of oil if you prefer.
- Worcestershire sauce: Worcestershire adds a nice, rich flavor but you can also use soy sauce or coconut aminos.
- Balsamic vinegar: Balsamic vinegar adds some sweetness to the dish, but you can also use red wine vinegar or white balsamic.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves adds a nice layer of flavor. Swap in garlic powder if you like.
- Parsley: Finishing the dish with some chopped fresh parsley, basil, oregano, or cilantro adds freshness and flavor.
- Salt and pepper: Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Get to Know Your Ingredients: Eggplant
Eggplant isn’t an ingredient many people use often. Other than eggplant parmesan and the occasional stir-fry, many people don’t cook with eggplant often. Here are a few important facts about cooking with eggplant.
- Are eggplants bitter? As eggplants mature and grow large, they become more bitter. They also become more bitter as they age. Therefore the best way to ensure your eggplant isn't bitter is to choose fresh small to medium-sized eggplant.
- Do I need to salt eggplant before cooking it? Salting eggplant is a method that is generally used to help remove bitterness. However, as I mentioned above, as long as you choose small to medium-sized eggplant then you can skip this step.
- Why is my eggplant mushy? One other note about salting the eggplant, if you absolutely hate any mushiness in your eggplant, salting can help. Since it removes some of the moisture, it will result in a less mushy eggplant.
- Staring at a large eggplant? You might want to take the extra step to salt it. Slice it into rounds or planks. Sprinkle it with salt on both sides and let sit for 15 minutes in a colander. Then rinse it off and dry it well before cooking.
How To Cook Eggplant On The Grill
Here’s how you can cook your eggplant on the grill.
- Cut the eggplant: Cut the eggplant into rounds or planks about ¾-1 inch thick.
- Prepare the seasoning: Mix together the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and parsley. Brush or toss the eggplant with this mixture and let it sit for 5 minutes. Eggplant absorbs flavors rapidly so there is no need to marinate it for a long time.
- Prepare the grill: Make sure the grill is cleaned and lightly oil the grill grates if needed. Eggplant can stick to the grill so this step is important. This can be cooked on an outdoor grill or inside a grill pan.
- Cook the eggplant: Preheat the grill over medium-high heat. Once the grill is hot, place the eggplant on the grill and cook for about 4 minutes per side. It should flip easily. The eggplant is done when the flesh is tender and soft. The outside should have nice grill marks.
- Reapply the marinade: Once finished cooking, toss the eggplant back into the bowl with the oil mixture so it can soak up some more flavor. Season with salt and pepper as needed and sprinkle with herbs.
- Switch out the Seasoning: Once you start grilling eggplant, you will quickly learn that it is a sponge when it comes to flavor. Try out all your favorite spice blends and herbs to create unique flavor combinations. It's delicious with red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, Middle Eastern spice blends like Zataar or Harissa, or Indian flavors like curry powder.
- Add fresh herbs and dressing: Another yummy option is to add fresh herbs and vinaigrettes to the eggplant when it comes off the grill. The eggplant soaks up the flavor and the herbs add brightness. Try fresh mint, basil, cilantro,
- Top with Cheese: Eggplant pairs great with cheese. Try it with some crumbled feta, goat cheese, Parmesan, or fresh mozzarella.
- Garnish: Finish the grilled eggplant with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, nuts, seeds, fresh herbs, or vinaigrette.
How to Serve Grilled Eggplant
Here are a few ways you can serve grilled eggplant.
- Make Grilled Eggplant Parmesan: One of my favorite things to do with grilled eggplant is to make eggplant parmesan. Once the eggplant comes off the grill just add marinara sauce and cheese. Place it on some foil and return to a hot grill for 1-2 minutes until the cheese melts. Top with breadcrumbs if desired for some crunch.
- Use it for sandwich buns: Low carb, Paleo, Keto, and Whole30 folks or anyone looking for a light burger bun. Use grilled eggplant slices instead of bread. Just make sure to cut them thick enough that they are sturdy.
- Serve as a side dish: Add fresh herbs and dressing to the eggplant when it comes off the grill and pair it with your favorite grilled protein; grilled chicken, grilled pork, grilled fish, or grilled tofu.
- Make mini pizzas: Top the eggplant slices with cheese and your favorite pizza toppings for eggplant pizza bites.
- Turn it into a dip: Take the grilled eggplant and make baba ganoush out of it.
- Make eggplant sandwiches: Take inspiration from Middle Eastern Sabich sandwiches and serve the gilled eggplant in a pita with hummus, Israeli salad, pickles, and hard boiled eggs. Or use the eggplant instead of a burger patty.
- Grilled vegetable salad: Toss the grilled eggplant with vegetables and greens. Add feta cheese or goat cheese and some sliced almonds. Top with vinaigrette for a delicious summer salad.
How To Store Leftover Grilled Eggplant
If you happen to have leftovers, here’s what you should do with them.
- Fridge: Leftover grilled eggplant will keep for 3 days in the fridge though it may become soggy.
- Freezer: You can freeze grilled eggplant for up to 3 months.
- Thaw: Thaw it in the fridge overnight.
- Reheat: Reheat the eggplant in the oven or under the broiler to crisp it up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about grilling eggplant.
Generally speaking, you want to look for an eggplant that is firm, smooth, and doesn't have any brown spots or blemishes. Smaller eggplants tend to be sweeter and have less bitterness than larger eggplant. Normally I recommend choosing small to medium sized eggplants for this reason.
Additionally, you can look at the eggplant stem to test freshness. It should be green and shouldn't have any mushiness or signs of mold.
Once you have grilled the eggplant, it will keep in your fridge for 4-5 days. It can be eaten cold or you can reheat it in a hot skillet or in the microwave.
If you haven't cooked the eggplant yet, they generally last for 2-3 weeks when kept whole in the fridge. On the counter, they will last 4-5 days. It is generally not recommended to freeze raw eggplant, but you can freeze cooked eggplant.
Garlic Grilled Eggplant
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- 1 lb eggplant
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce or coconut aminos)
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp parsley
- Salt and pepper
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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