A simple yet delicious marinade of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic makes for a flavorful and easy-to-make grilled eggplant, 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.
Eggplant is a delicacy. It has a unique taste and texture. It's almost "meaty." This eggplant casserole, for example, is so substantial and filling that I often serve it as a meatless main course.
But when preparing this vegetable as a side dish, I often make this grilled eggplant recipe. 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. Try to find a firm eggplant with smooth, blemish-free skin.
- Olive oil: If you prefer an oil with a higher smoke point, use avocado oil.
- Balsamic vinegar: Adds a wonderful flavor and helps boost caramelization.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use by half, or the eggplant could become too salty.
- Garlic powder: I prefer garlic powder to fresh minced garlic. It better coats the eggplant.
American vs. Japanese Eggplant
American eggplants are large and oval-shaped. Their skin is relatively thick, and they are slightly bitter. Japanese eggplants are smaller and more elongated. They have thinner skin, a sweeter and milder flavor, and fewer seeds.
It's possible to use Japanese eggplants in this recipe, but I prefer to use American ones.
Unlike eggplant chips, where you want the eggplant rounds to be small, in this recipe, it's easier to grill them if they are large. You don't want to deal with turning lots of tiny slices on the grill.
The best way to vary this recipe is to use different spices. Spices that go well with eggplant include cumin, paprika, and onion powder. You can add a generous pinch of each of these spices.
Dried herbs such as oregano and thyme are also good but can quickly burn on the hot grill, so I prefer not to use them in this recipe.
Grilled Eggplant Instructions
This simple recipe relies on the flavor of the eggplant. 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. (Photo 1).
- Now, brush the slices with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices. (Photos 2-3).
- Grill the eggplant slices until tender, about 5 minutes per side. (Photos 4-5).
- After you brush the slices with the marinade, you will have leftover marinade. Keep it, and brush it on the cooked slices. (Photo 6).
When making this recipe, you'll walk a fine line between having the eggplant turn out undercooked and having it turn out overcooked and mushy.
While ideally, you want it just right, it's better to err on the side of slightly overcooking it.
Undercooked eggplant is bitter, while overcooked one is delicious, even if its texture is not ideal.
It's better to slightly overcook it than to undercook it. Though you don't want it to become mushy either!
In my dual-contact grill, 5 minutes on the first side and 2 more minutes on the second side are ideal. You'll need to grill it for about 5 minutes on each side in a regular, non-dual-contact grill.
Yes. You can bake the eggplant in a 450°F oven until tender and browned, for about 10 minutes per side.
No. The peel can be slightly bitter, but the marinade and grilling remove bitterness. Leaving the skin on is pretty! However, if you prefer, you can go ahead and peel it.
Since I use the grill to make this recipe, I like to serve it with a main course that I can also prepare on the grill, such as:
- Grilled shrimp
- Grilled halibut
- Grilled salmon
- Grilled hamburgers
- Grilled chicken skewers
- Grilled chicken breast
- Grilled chicken tenders
- Grilled skirt steak
Sometimes I serve it with grilled halloumi for a delicious and filling meatless dinner.
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 at 50% power.
More Eggplant Recipes
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Grilled Eggplant Recipe
- 1 large eggplant unpeeled (about 1 pound)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil extra-virgin
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ¼ teaspoon of any other salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat a grill, a grill pan, or a dual-contact electric grill over medium-high heat.
- Trim the eggplant's edges and slice it crosswise into ½-inch-thick rounds. You should get about 12 slices.
- In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Brush the eggplant slices with the mixture on both sides. Set aside any remaining marinade.
- Grill the eggplant slices until golden brown and fork-tender, about 5 minutes on each side. In my dual-contact electric grill, I grill for 5 minutes on one side, then 2 minutes on the second side.
- Brush the eggplant slices with the remaining marinade and serve.
- The peel of mature eggplants can be slightly bitter, but the marinade and grilling take care of that. Leaving the skin on is pretty! However, if you prefer, go ahead and peel the eggplant.
- When making this recipe, you'll walk a fine line between having the eggplant turn out undercooked or overcooked and mushy. While ideally, you want it just right, it's better to err on the side of slightly overcooking it. Undercooked eggplant is bitter, while overcooked one is delicious, even if its texture is not ideal.
- You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. I don't reheat them. I enjoy them cold, like antipasti. But if you prefer to reheat the leftovers, do so gently in the microwave at 50% power.