23 Eggplant Recipes Even Meat Eaters Will Love

Poor old eggplant! A 2019 survey commissioned by plant-based foods company Dr. Praeger's found that this purplish vegetable (which technically counts as a fruit) is far from popular. While it tied for fifth-most hated with the equally unloved artichoke, it may have actually sunk farther down the list since a few other once-unpopular veggies – beets (at No. 2) and brussels sprouts (No. 4) – have since been given trendy makeovers and are in heavy rotation in hipster bistros and on Food Network shows. Will the eggplant stage a similar revival? That may be possible, but only if it's properly prepared.

Eggplant, if cooked right, can work well as a meat substitute, and it plays nicely with other vegetables and aromatics in a variety of dips, sauces, stews, and stir-fries. Try it in pasta dishes or atop pizza or coat it in breadcrumbs to make a crispy snack. Each one of the recipes on this list could go a long way toward rehabilitating the reputation of a sadly underrated vegetable.

1. Easy Ratatouille

When you hear the word "ratatouille," your first thought, unless you work in a French restaurant, is probably of the 2007 animated movie that was a favorite with Anthony Bourdain and even inspired a crowd-sourced TikTok musical. Actually, a classic ratatouille is far simpler than the one cooked by a cartoon rodent as it's a simple dish of chopped eggplant and other vegetables cooked in tomato sauce. Disney, however, went with a fancier dish that's more properly called a confit byaldi. In a byaldi (though not a true ratatouille), the produce is sliced into thin rounds and arranged in a showy spiral atop the sauce. This recipe, which is our best attempt to recreate the movie's meant-to-be eponymous dish, will be fun for film geeks, foodies, and Disney fans alike.

Recipe: Easy Ratatouille To Help You Channel Your Inner Chef Remy

2. Easy Baba Ganoush

Baba ganoush, a dip that's somewhat similar in both flavor and texture to hummus, makes the perfect eggplant dish for beginners. While roast eggplant may be the primary ingredient, tahini lends its support and the flavor comes courtesy of lemon juice, smoked paprika, and cumin. As a finishing touch, we top things off with diced tomatoes and parsley and serve the dip with crostini or pita bread. This makes for an appetizer that any Mediterranean food fan is sure to enjoy.

Recipe: Easy Baba Ganoush

3. Caponata

Caponata could be described as a cross between ratatouille and baba ganoush in that, like the latter, it is often served as a dip or topping for bread. Plus, its main ingredients include eggplant. Like ratatouille, it is also made with tomatoes and includes other vegetables as well (celery, bell peppers, and olives are used here) and is chunky rather than smooth. Caponata's flavor, however, differs slightly from the preceding two dishes. The dish is made with both sugar and vinegar, with these ingredients giving it more of a sweet and tangy profile.

Recipe: Caponata

4. Moussaka

Moussaka is a Greek dish that is often compared to lasagna but is a little bit reminiscent of eggplant parmesan, as well. It consists of layers of thin-sliced eggplant, ground meat (beef or lamb), tomato sauce, various kinds of cheese (feta, ricotta, and parmesan), and a creamy sauce which is often a bechamel. In this recipe, however. we're replacing the white sauce with yogurt, instead. We retain the uniquely Greek seasonings that combine to make moussaka so special: a blend of fresh mint, cinnamon, and nutmeg in addition to the more familiar Mediterranean duo of garlic and oregano.

Recipe: Moussaka

5. Eggplant Parmesan

Speaking of eggplant parmesan, nothing is more reminiscent of this Italian classic than the actual dish itself. Melanzane alla parmigiana is actually the original version of this cooking style, although veal and especially chicken parmesan may now be more popular in American restaurants. While the original eggplant parmesan recipes called for the vegetable to be fried, our leaner, cleaner version uses twice-baked eggplant as a base for the tasty tomato sauce and cheese toppings.

Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

6. 30-Minute Lamb Stew

Lamb and eggplant go quite well together. We've already seen them paired in the traditional Greek dish known as moussaka, and eggplant is often served to accompany lamb in the U.K. as well. In this recipe, the two are combined in a stew with a tomato-based, onion-enhanced broth that is seasoned with cinnamon. Once cooked, this Mediterranean-inspired meal is topped off with fresh basil and feta crumbles. To complete your meal, try accompanying with a loaf of crusty Italian bread.

Recipe: 30-Minute Lamb Stew

7. Spicy Chinese Eggplant

While eggplants may never have been heralded as trendy superfoods, they're nevertheless very healthy vegetables. They are high in fiber, full of minerals and vitamins, and rich in antioxidants, to boot. What they don't have is a whole lot of flavor all on their own, but when cooked with ginger, garlic, chiles, and soy sauce as in this Asian-inspired recipe, they can make for a very tasty side dish. While this recipe calls for the smaller Chinese eggplants, you can actually use any variety of this vegetable here.

Recipe: Spicy Chinese Eggplant

8. Baked Breaded Eggplant

Eggplant fries have become popular in recent years as a low-carb alternative to the potato kind, so much so that they've been available in frozen form from vendors such as Aldi. However, our homemade version skips the frying in favor of dipping sliced eggplant into a breadcrumb coating and then baking it in the oven. The result is a healthy snack that is crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and will not blow your entire calorie-slash-carb budget for the day should you wish to indulge. While the eggplant here is cut into rounds, you may also slice it into strips for an even more fry-like experience. Try it with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon to add to the enjoyment.

Recipe: Healthy Baked Breaded Eggplant

9. Creamy Eggplant Dip

A creamy eggplant dip by any other name may well be baba ganoush, and that's exactly what you're getting here. This Middle Eastern classic starts with roasted eggplant, then drizzles it with olive oil before pureeing it with lemon juice, tahini, salt, and garlic. While this dip is plenty flavorful as-is, you could always stir in some parsley, paprika, or even some red chile flakes before serving it with pita chips or crudites.

Recipe: Creamy Eggplant Dip

10. Pasta Alla Norma

In eggplant parmesan, breaded and fried (or baked) eggplant slices are combined with tomato sauce and cheese for a classic Italian dish. A somewhat lesser-known one that also includes eggplant, tomato sauce,  and most likely some cheese as well is pasta alla Norma, a Sicilian dish where sauteed eggplant slices are used to "beef" up a meat-free marinara. Serve this sauce over a chunky pasta such as rigatoni, then sprinkle it with pasta's BFF, parmesan. (Parsley is optional, but it will make the dish look pretty in pictures.)

Recipe: Pasta Alla Norma

11. Authentic Sicilian Caponata

Sicilian cuisine has long embraced the eggplant, and caponata is one dish that presents this vegetable at its finest. The eggplant is sauteed with aromatic onions and garlic along with some celery, then blended with tomatoes, spices, balsamic vinegar, and capers. The resulting mélange can be eaten in a number of different ways – try it as a side dish, use it as a condiment for roast meats or sandwiches, or spoon it onto grilled sliced bread to make bruschetta.

Recipe: Authentic Sicilian Caponata

12. Late Summer Ratatouille

Late summer ... could there be more bittersweet words? The temperature is still nice and warm, but with perhaps a hint of chill sneaking into the air, and while fresh, local produce is more bounteous than ever, you know you need to take advantage of it while it's still ripe. This ratatouille (no relation to the Disney movie of the same name) will allow you to use up your garden's last gifts such as zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes before they wither on the vine.

Recipe: Late Summer Ratatouille

13. Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

The need to reduce food waste is an issue we're all becoming increasingly aware of, especially when soaring food prices have us reluctant to squander our grocery investment. Panzanella, a salad made from stale bread, is a great way to use up a loaf that's past its prime before it starts to grow mold. This recipe will also let you clear all those starting-to-soften vegetables out of your produce bin. While here we're calling for eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and zucchini, you can swap out or add any other vegetables that you need to use up.

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

14. Individual Lasagna Cups

Most lasagnas tend to be rather large. Just the sort of thing you need if you're providing dinner for half-dozen people or so, but not so great if you'll be dining alone. Mini lasagnas baked in muffin cups, however, are something you can toss in the freezer and then just heat up as needed a few at a time. While the sauce for the lasagna is made with ground beef, diced eggplant can be used in addition to or in place of the meat.

Recipe: Best Individual Lasagna Cups

15. Alex Guarnaschelli's Eggplant Parmesan With A Twist

While most eggplant parmesan recipes, including that of celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli, stick pretty closely to the standard breaded, fried eggplant slices topped with marinara and cheese, this particular "twisty" version deviates pretty far from that well-known formula. For one thing, the sauce is made with kale and carrots in addition to tomatoes. The biggest change, however, may be the fact that the traditional parmesan is replaced with goat cheese, thus possibly necessitating a name change to "eggplant caprino" (Italian for "goat" as per Google Translate). Whatever you want to call this dish, though, it makes for an interesting new spin on a classic.

Recipe: Alex Guarnaschelli's Eggplant Parmesan With A Twist

16. Air Fryer Baba Ganoush

Baba ganoush is one of the eggplant's greatest hits, and this recipe is a fairly straightforward version of the dish: pureed eggplant flavored with tahini, lemon juice, and spices. Before you can puree an eggplant, though, you've got to skin it, chop it, then cook it. Usually, the eggplant is baked in an oven, but in this case, we're cooking it in an air fryer. The result, however, is the same: soft eggplant suitable for blending with the other ingredients and thus rendered into a dip for crackers, chips, crudites, or pita bread.

Recipe: Air Fryer Baba Ganoush

17. Air Fryer Roasted Vegetables

While we usually think of roasted foods as being those that are cooked in the oven, Merriam-Webster reveals that the word actually has a more expansive definition. Roasting, it says, means "to cook by exposing to dry heat." In addition to an oven, it lists hot embers, stones, and sand as possible roasting methods. In lieu of embers, though, you can always use your air fryer to roast (as opposed to "fry") a selection of vegetables. While this recipe calls for zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms, you can also use the same technique on other vegetables including squash, broccoli, and, yes, eggplant.

Recipe: Air Fryer Roasted Vegetables

18. Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

While most of the classic sandwiches we know and love do contain meat, there are notable exceptions such as the PB&J and grilled cheese. Vegetables and cheese can also be a great meat-free sandwich filling, as it is in the case of this one made from grilled vegetables. This recipe calls for eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and arugula, with the first three being marinated in a balsamic dressing before they are cooked and the last one used raw. The vegetables are piled onto grilled bread and topped with mozzarella cheese before getting a final flavor boost from basil pesto.

Recipe: Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

19. Easy Greek Moussaka

Traditional moussaka, like the lasagna it somewhat resembles, can take a good long while to throw together. This shortcut version, however, can be on the table in under an hour. In addition to the eggplant, it incorporates potatoes and, in a non-traditional twist, the cheeses include cheddar as well as feta. While this recipe calls for ground lamb, feel free to substitute less-expensive ground beef or even turkey for this often-pricey meat.

Recipe: Easy Greek Moussaka

20. Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is often made with fried sliced eggplant as its base. But in this recipe, we're opting for oven-baked eggplant instead. Once the eggplant slices are cooked, you can then top them with the tomato sauce and cheese right there in the pan. Put the eggplant back in the oven to bake until the cheese melts, at which point your (fairly) quick and (relatively) easy entrée is ready to be eaten.

Recipe: Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan

21. Slow Cooker Ratatouille

Want to make an easy-peasy ratatweezy? Okay, that's not an officially recognized nickname for ratatouille just yet, but feel free to make it so. Anyway, the secret to a nearly effort-free French-style vegetable stew is to use your crockpot for cooking a selection of vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and onion in a marinara sauce. Once the cooking is done, don't forget a generous sprinkling of parmesan to make your ratatweezy extra cheesy! (Sorry, we just couldn't resist.)

Recipe: Slow Cooker Ratatouille

22. Simple Garlic Focaccia Pizza

As yeast breads go, focaccia isn't all that difficult to master, particularly as you don't need to futz around shaping the dough – instead, you pretty much just push it into a pan. The focaccia in this recipe is made with garlic baked right in and is then topped with olive oil, sliced tomatoes, and mozzarella to create a sauce-free white pizza. If this pizza sounds a bit plain for your liking, feel free to pile on additional ingredients. While you could stick with well-known pizza toppings like pepperoni or pineapple, you may also wish to consider more unusual options such as avocados or eggplant.

Recipe: Simple Garlic Focaccia Pizza

23. Slow Cooker Beef Sinigang

Sinigang is a Filipino dish of stewed meat, with the meat in this particular recipe being beef. Here we're simmering it in a crockpot in a broth flavored with tamarind seasoning and fish sauce. There are also some vegetables to round out this one-pot meal. While the ones called for here include potatoes, green beans, bok choy, and cabbage, you can swap out or supplement the last three with other vegetables such as eggplant, squash, and or broccoli instead.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Beef Sinigang