A simple yet delicious marinade of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic makes for a very flavorful and easy-to-make grilled eggplant that's ready in just 20 minutes.
It's wonderful when served warm right off the grill. It's also excellent when served as cold leftovers, antipasti-style.
I love eggplant! It's probably one of those foods that people feel quite strongly about - either really like or deeply dislike - and I definitely fall on the side of love. It has this unique taste and texture. It's almost "meaty." 🍆
This eggplant casserole, for example, is so substantial and filling that it can easily serve as the main course, and it often does in our house. But when I want to prepare this tasty vegetable as a side dish, I often simply grill it. It's fast, easy, and delicious.
You'll only need six simple ingredients to make this grilled eggplant recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Fresh eggplant: You don't need to peel it, but you can if you wish. Try to find a firm eggplant with smooth, blemish-free skin.
Olive oil: If you prefer an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocadi oil instead.
Balsamic vinegar: Adds a wonderful flavor and helps boost caramelization.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Garlic powder: I actually prefer garlic powder to fresh minced garlic. I feel that it better coats the eggplant.
This simple recipe relies on the flavor of the vegetable itself. The marinade - olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic - merely highlights its wonderful flavor.
The detailed instructions for making this recipe are listed in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is slicing the eggplant into rounds. Try to keep them about the same thickness.
Now, brush the slices with a tasty mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices.
Grill the eggplant slices until tender, about 5 minutes per side.
After you brush the slices with the marinade, you will have leftover marinade. Keep it, and brush it on the cooked slices.
When using the grill to cook eggplant, you'll walk a fine line between having it undercooked and having it overcooked and mushy.
While ideally, you want it just right, if you must err, err on the side of slightly overcooking it.
Undercooked eggplant is bitter, while overcooked one is delicious, even if its texture is not ideal.
Frequently asked questions
It's better to slightly overcook it than to undercook it. Though of course, you don't want it to become mushy either!
In my dual-contact grill, I find that 5 minutes on the first side, then 2 more minutes on the second side are ideal. In a regular, non-dual-contact grill, you'll probably need to grill for about 5 minutes on each side.
Yes. If you'd rather use the oven, you can bake the eggplant for 10 minutes per side in a 450°F oven.
I don't. I realize that the peel of mature eggplants can be slightly bitter. But I find that the marinade and the grilling take care of that. And leaving the skin on is so pretty! However, if you prefer, by all means, go ahead and peel it.
Variations and substitutions
The best way to vary this recipe is to use different spices. Spices that go well with eggplant include cumin, paprika, and onion powder.
Dried herbs such as oregano and thyme are also good, but they might burn in the hot grill, so I prefer not to use them in this recipe.
Grilled and broiled meats go really well with this tasty side dish. I often serve it with one of the following main dishes:
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for about 3 days. I don't reheat them. I enjoy them cold, just as I would enjoy antipasti. But if you prefer to reheat the leftovers, do so gently, in the microwave on 50% power.
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Balsamic Grilled Eggplant
- 1 large eggplant unpeeled (about 1 lb.)*
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat grill, or a grill pan, over medium-high heat. I like to use my George Foreman Grill when making this recipe.
- Trim the eggplant edges and slice crosswise into ½-inch-thick rounds. You should get about 12 rounds out of a large eggplant.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Brush the eggplant rounds with the mixture, on both sides. Set aside any remaining sauce.
- Grill the eggplant slices until golden brown and fork-tender, about 5 minutes on each side. In my George Foreman grill, I grill 5 minutes on one side, then 2 minutes on the second side.
- Brush the eggplant slices with the remaining marinade and serve.