Perfect Grilled Eggplant

Perfect grilled eggplant recipe

The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Brining Time: 30 mins
  • Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
97 Calories
9g Fat
4g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 97
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1746mg 76%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 1g
Calcium 7mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Grilled eggplant can be one of the great treats of summer—lusciously tender eggplant, with bits of crispy charred edges here and there. It works on its own, as part of a grilled vegetable platter, or even as a stand-in for a meat patty in burgers. Sadly, it is more commonly either overcooked and flavorless or undercooked and spongy. Luckily, there is a way to grill tender, flavorful eggplant.

This easy recipe uses the power of salted water (or brining) to guarantee great grilled eggplant. It's easy and adds 30 minutes to this otherwise quick recipe, but it's worth it. Every time you pop a few slices of this brilliantly flexible vegetable on a hot grill, it will come off crispy brown on the outside, creamy sweet on the inside, and full of flavor.

Feel free to embellish with spices and other flavors. Serve it with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a dollop of pesto, a spoonful of romesco, or a scattering of crumbled feta cheese and make this simple technique a recipe of your own. Grilled eggplant is also particularly yummy with a few grilled tomatoes at its side.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fine sea salt (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 6 to 8 cups cold water
  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (approximately)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for making grilled eggplant
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve the 2 tablespoons of salt in 1 cup warm water; stir until the salt is fully dissolved. Add 6 to 8 cups cold water. Set the brine aside.

    Glass bowl with water and salt
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  3. Cut off and discard the stem end of the eggplant.

    Stem ends trimmed off the eggplant
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  4. Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch thick slices (either diagonal, crosswise, or lengthwise).

    Cut eggplant into 3/4-inch slices
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  5. Place the slices in the saltwater brine.

    Place slices in saltwater brine
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  6. Weigh the eggplant slices down with an upside-down plate; let soak for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.

    Weight down eggplant with a plate
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  7. Meanwhile, heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat. You should be able to hold your hand about an inch above the cooking grate for 3 to 4 seconds before pulling it away from the heat.

  8. Drain the eggplant and pat it dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

    Patting dry the drained eggplant
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  9. Lay the slices on a large baking sheet or tray. Brush one side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

    Lay eggplant on baking sheet
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  10. Place the slices with the oiled side on the grill. Close the lid if using a gas or electric grill and cook until grill marks appear; about 5 minutes.

    Lay slices oiled-side down
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  11. Brush the top sides of the slices with oil and sprinkle them with salt. Turn the slices over, close the lid of the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the other side and the eggplant is very tender; about 5 more minutes.

    Grilled eggplant
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt 
  12. Serve hot or at room temperature.

    A plate of grilled eggplant with oil and salt
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

Tips

  • Depending on the size of your grill, you may need to cook the eggplant in two batches.
  • Be sure to use a heat-resistant basting brush when grilling.

Why Is Brining Eggplant so Important?

Raw eggplant has a slightly bitter taste, and it's full of moisture. Brining helps lock in that moisture through osmosis, so the fruit's flesh holds together on the grill. It also transforms the raw taste into a delicious sweetness, and the salt enhances the eggplant's flavor.

Should Eggplant Be Peeled Before Grilling?

Some people find eggplant skin difficult to digest. However, leaving the skin on for grilling helps the eggplant slices keep their shape on the grill and makes them easier to handle. Diners don't need to eat the skin.

Recipe Variations

  • For more flavor, sprinkle dried or fresh oregano and parsley on the eggplant along with the salt or use an Italian seasoning mix. You can also stir minced garlic into the olive oil.
  • Some grilled eggplant fans enjoy brushing Italian dressing onto the slices. It's an oil-heavy dressing, so no extra oil is required.