How to Roast Eggplant

One of the most important fruits in Middle Eastern and Sephardic Jewish cooking is eggplant. Yes, I said fruit– eggplant is technically a large berry, though most cooks generally consider it a vegetable. The eggplant, also known as aubergine, has been cultivated in India for over 4,000 years. The oldest surviving mention of the fruit dates back to the 5th century in a Chinese agricultural work called Ts’i Min Yao Shu. It later made its way to Persia in the 4th century CE, where it eventually became firmly rooted as a major part of the Middle Eastern diet.

Sephardic Jews prize the eggplant as an affordable, healthy dietary staple that can be prepared in numerous ways. In fact, during a second Jewish expulsion from Spain and Portugal in 1580 (when the two countries united under one crown), eggplant became known as the “Jew’s apple” because of its frequent usage in Sephardic Jewish cuisine.

Once you know how to roast an eggplant, there are a number of dishes you can make with it. Today, I’m going to share with you my favorite methods for roasting eggplant, along with some tips for ensuring a tasty result every time you roast.

I prefer roasting eggplants on the gas stove or grill. Roasting on an open flame imparts a delicate smoky flavor into the eggplant flesh. If you do not have a gas stove, you can also roast it in the oven. Both methods are described below.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my recipe for classic baba ghanoush—a delicious dip made from roasted eggplant and tahini.

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How to Roast Eggplant

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant

You will also need

  • Aluminum foil, tongs, fork, knife, bowl, colander, baking sheet, and/or extra virgin olive oil (depending on the roasting method you choose)
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 - 45 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes
Servings: 1 roasted eggplant
Kosher Key: Pareve

Roasting on a Gas Range or Grill (Recommended)

  • Wash and dry eggplant. Pierce it a few times with a fork to vent.
  • Wrap the eggplant generously with aluminum foil—cover completely with at least 3 layers. Make sure all sides are closed tightly.
  • Place foil-covered eggplant on top of the gas range grate or grill over the open flame. On my gas stove, I usually turn the flame a little higher than medium.
  • If using a grill, light gas or coals and preheat the grill before you begin to roast.
  • Allow eggplant to roast over the flame for 15-30 minutes, giving it a quarter every 5 minutes as it cooks. The larger the eggplant, the longer it will take to roast. Smaller eggplants (like Japanese eggplants) will roast more quickly. Don't worry about going too long-- the tough outer skin of the eggplant and the foil will protect the flesh inside from burning.
  • Once the eggplant is very tender and collapsing, remove from heat with tongs and set aside. Careful, the tin foil will be extremely hot! Allow to cool inside the tin foil for a few minutes.
  • Unwrap the eggplant carefully (there will be hot steam inside).
  • Slice the eggplant open.
  • Scoop out the roasted pulpy flesh and place it in a bowl. Discard the charred skin and the foil. There will be some residual smoky juice that collects in the bowl; you can drain it off or blend it into the eggplant, depending on the flavor you want to achieve (see Eggplant Roasting Tips, below).

Roasting in an Oven

  • Preheat your oven broiler on the hottest (maximum) setting. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
  • Wash and dry eggplant, then slice in half lengthwise.
  • Place eggplant halves flesh-side down (so the flat cut side is directly against the baking sheet).
  • Roast under the broiler for 15-30 minutes until the eggplant halves are charred and the halves are beginning to collapse. The larger the eggplant, the longer it will take to roast. Smaller eggplants (like Japanese eggplants) will roast more quickly.
  • Remove from oven. Check the eggplant flesh to make sure it is soft, roasted, and caramelized throughout. If any parts looked light-colored or undercooked, return to the oven to roast for a few minutes longer.
  • Scoop out the roasted pulpy flesh from each half and place it in a bowl. Discard the charred skin. There will be some residual smoky juice that collects in the bowl; you can drain it off or blend it into the eggplant, depending on the flavor you want to achieve (see Eggplant Roasting Tips, below).

Eggplant Roasting Tips

  • Depending on where you live and what kind of eggplants you are cooking, you may from time to time encounter a bitter tasting eggplant. This is because as eggplants mature, they become richer in alkaloids, which cause a bitter flavor. Some people don’t mind this bitter flavor; others dislike it. If you are concerned about bitterness, there are a few ways to combat the issue:
  • 1) Choose smaller, younger eggplants for roasting. The younger and more slender the eggplant is (ex. Japanese eggplant), the less bitter and stringy it will be.
  • 2) If you slice the eggplant in half prior to roasting, you can salt each half to combat bitterness. Sprinkle an even layer of salt across the white flesh. Let the eggplant sit for 30 minutes. Liquid droplets will form on top of the flesh. Rinse off this liquid, which can contain bitterness. Pat dry. Proceed with roasting.
  • 3) If you slice the eggplant in half prior to roasting, there may be some large visible seeds inside. You can scrape out the largest ones using a small spoon; these larger seeds tend to hold bitterness.
  • 4) After roasting, remove the eggplant pulp and let it rest in a bowl for at least 30 minutes. A smoky liquid will collect in the bowl. Taste the liquid; if it has a bitter taste to it, drain the liquid and discard before proceeding with your recipe.
  • Personally, I very rarely encounter the bitterness issue. I prefer to keep some of the smoky juice from the roasting and add it to whatever dish I’m making—it imparts a lovely, smoky flavor to dips like baba ghanoush.
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Category: Cooking Tutorials, Gluten Free, Healthy, How To, In the Kitchen, Nut Free, Pareve, Passover - Ashkenazi, Passover - Gluten Free Ashkenazi, Passover - Gluten Free Sephardic, Passover - Sephardic, Passover - Vegan Ashkenazi, Passover - Vegan Sephardic, Passover - Vegetarian Ashkenazi, Passover - Vegetarian Sephardic, Recipes, Slide Show, Tomato Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Comments (59)Post a Comment

  1. Jeani Thompson says:

    Thank you so much…now all I need is a recipe to use the eggplant in.

  2. I struggle with trying to achieve the smoky flavor. I’ve tried oil, no oil, hot, cool, split in two, whole. I’ve tried indoors and on a wood grill. Occasionally I get that deep smoky flavor, but usually I get a tender and pleasant eggplant but lacking in smoky flavor. Any idea about what helps the smoke flavor to develop?

    • Chris says:

      I find that the smoky flavor comes from the charred outer skin. If you like the smoky flavor which i Do for my Bahba Ganoosh . Make sure the skin chars a little or alot….
      good luck.

    • Mayush says:

      Loose the foil for a beautiful smoky flavor and extremely dirty range

  3. Tori Avey says:

    Hi Greg– try roasting it a little longer than you normally do. I’ve found that the smoky flavor tends to develop over time, so the longer you roast it the smokier it will be. Let it roast 5-10 minutes longer than you normally do and see if that helps. :)

    • Israel says:

      Adding a few cloves of crushed garlic does wonders for this dish. We have it regularly with bread or pittot.

  4. Betty Anastas says:

    well how unique..I never knew to do this….great

  5. Victoria says:

    Wonderful. Then what do you do with it?

  6. Nancy says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’ve roasted it directly on the gas flame before with ok results, but I’m going to be sure to wrap in tin foil from now on in because I’m looking forward to that smoky flavor mine has lacked so far. I’m also looking forward to tomorrow’s recipe. Thanks!

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Nancy– my Moroccan Jewish friend taught me the trick of wrapping it in foil, it seems to trap the heat and smoke inside which helps develop that smoky flavor. I would say to let it roast longer than you normally do, and reserve the brown smoky liquid which has a lot of flavor in it. Good luck!

  7. Karin says:

    I roast an eggplant or 2 approximately every other week. I share some with my parents after chopping it up with a touch of olive oil if it’s on the dry side. It makes a great salad dressing and has a lot fewer calories and is much healthier than the store’s bottled dressings.

    • Tori Avey says:

      We roast it weekly here on the home front. My husband likes it as a light meal with a bit of salt and sriracha chili sauce. Super spicy, but oh so good!

    • Paula says:

      Hi Karin — could you elaborate a little on how you make the roasted eggplant into a salad dressing? I’m winging it right now. Creaming it up in my bullet and about to add some garlic and a teeny amount of olive oil. Any other seasoning? THis sounds intriguing. Thank you in advance.

  8. Limner says:

    So that’s the secret! Now I can try eggplant casserole. The only times I ever had it was in a cafeteria back in Colorado. That’s just too long!

    Thanks!

  9. Aaron R from Boston says:

    Good morning. Thank you for the recipe, it sounds so simple. Now, let me ask you:

    I used to be able to get a roasted eggplant dip with a tomato-based sauce, not baba ganoush, at Pesach time. Do you have any good recipes for that ?

    thanks,
    Aaron

    • Tori Avey says:

      There are many tomato-eggplant dips, I actually have a few recipes. I’d need more details– was it on the sweet side, salty, or spicy? Did it have bell peppers in it?

    • aaronr says:

      well, that figures lol it’s been a couple of years since I was able to find it, but I remember it being on the sweeter side, large chunks, but no peppers in it. perfect on Tam Tams.

      I would welcome any recipes you have, including spicy and salty. I have eggplant growing in the garden and would love to have a variety of recipes of a warm weather treat.

  10. Pingback: Classic Baba Ghanoush - Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip

  11. Pingback: The Shiksa Picks - June 24, 2011

  12. Natalie says:

    I found a Lebanese restaurant near where we live and it does the best Baba I’ve ever tasted! I’m so excited I’m going back for dinner tonight, I want to try everything on the menu! I can never get that smokey flavour at home but I have an electric hob (yuck) and I don’t have a grill. I’ve tried the broiler oven but it’s not the same.Guess I will have to just eat out more often, yay!

  13. Diana J says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. I’ve roasted peppers on the stove (without foil) and never thought of using the technique with eggplant. This is perfect because I did not want to turn on the oven, and the result was a fantastic, very smokey eggplant. You actually sent me into a foil packet frenzy, because I also tried cherry tomatoes (about 7 minutes was great for them) and pepitas (5 minutes was too long and they charred).

  14. jeff says:

    HI, One way to avoid bitterness is remove all the seed pods after roasting. The bitterness is in the seed. Also, choose male eggplants instead of females. Finally, I find the best flavor comes from the long slender Japanese style eggplant, they have less seed and tend to be less bitter. Master this roasting , smoky technique to make Ajvar, and other Pepper/Eggplant blends. Enjoy.

  15. TJ says:

    Do you broil with the oven door open or closed? It looks like your eggplant is about 4 inches from the broiler – is that about correct? Does this method tend to smoke up the kitchen?

    My gas grill tends to cook at about 550 degrees F with the lid closed and all 4 burners on high – do you leave your lid open or closed?

  16. Thank you so much for sharing your gas-range roasting method!

  17. Maureen says:

    Thank you. I love eggplant but knew the smokiness needed to come from roasting. I will be trying this tonight on the grill. Do you have any recipes with curry?

  18. Nate the skate says:

    Excellent tips!! thank you

  19. Lisa says:

    Can you eat the eggplant plain after roasting or do you have to make something else out I it?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Lisa, you can eat the eggplant plain– my husband and I sometimes make a main course out of simple roasted eggplant when we want a dinner that is light on calories. It’s pretty boring all on its own, though, and the texture after roasting is somewhat mushy (it doesn’t bother us, but others may object). I would suggest dressing it up with some sort of sauce, at the very least. We like ours with sriracha (spicy) sauce, or tahini sauce with fresh chopped cilantro or parsley.

  20. Lisa says:

    Thanks! Will try that

  21. sELMA says:

    Thanks my mother made the eggplant with chopped green peppers and olive oil and a little vinigar. It was used as a dip. I would like a recipe with tomatoes if you have one.

  22. Joy says:

    I would like to roast the eggplant as you suggested. My challenge is that I am allergic to tomatoes and sesame. Any other options for its use? I will try the dressing idea. I cannot eat dressings either that are bottled or vinagrettes, yep, allergic. Thanks for any additional ideas to use the roasted eggplant. I have an organic garden and grow lots of eggplant. Appreciate any great uses.

    • Tori Avey says:

      I wish I had an organic garden! One of my dreams for the future. I love the roasted eggplant on its own, topped with sauce or spicy sriracha sauce, on top of brown rice for a light meal. You can also try roasting it like this:

      link to theshiksa.com

      Either fully peeled or partially peeled (if simmering in sauce for a long time, leave a little peel on it- otherwise peel them). I love these little roasted cubes added to salads or tossed with pasta and any kind of sauce, like pesto. You could also use my baba ganoush recipe, subbing another nut butter (like peanut butter or cashew) for the sesame tahini, or even Greek yogurt if all seeds and nuts are a problem for you:

      link to theshiksa.com

      Good luck! If you try any of the recipes, please report back and let me know how you liked them. :)

  23. Joy says:

    I made the roasted eggplant. It was smooth and sweet. My hubby loved it too! That’s an accomplishment! Thank you!

  24. Roberta says:

    Hi Tori…I love your recipes with pictures which helps! I’ve tried quite a bit to make “smokey” baba ghanoush, never had it done right. Then I tried using aluminum foil like you suggested, wrapped around eggplants and set it on the gas stove…then the foil went on fire, so I never finished it on the gas stove (roasted in oven which isn’t the same). Is there a specific kind of foil? Looks like no one seems to have a problem with foil, so I’m kind of puzzled about this. I used regular foil, should I get the heavy duty kind?
    Also when you take pictures of your recipes, do you use flash? If not, what setting do you use as your pictures came out perfect while mine changed colors? I also have Canon camera. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply and posting all the yummies!! Keep on cooking! :-D

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Roberta, I think you had your flame on too high. Try roasting on a lower heat setting next time. Also, try heavy duty aluminum foil (it’s a bit thicker than the regular kind). The foil may burn/char a little in hot spots, but it shouldn’t catch fire. You’ll have multiple layers around the eggplant, so even if one layer chars through you’ll have a couple more protective layers in place. Turn it more often to be extra careful, so it doesn’t get too hot in any one area. Re: photos, I don’t use flash, and I try to use natural light whenever possible.

  25. Roberta says:

    Thanks Tori for your reply, it is very much appreciated!! Will give it a try with heavier foil. I love love smoked eggplant, especially having baba ghanoush, it’s got heavenly taste! Middle Eastern food is my very favorite food!

  26. nimisha says:

    hi..i was thinking of one can roast potatoes similarly on the open gas in the same way like eggplants.
    do advice

    • Tori Avey says:

      I’ve tried whole potatoes on an open firepit, which works great, but never on the stovetop. If you’re using whole potatoes on a gas stovetop it will take a long, long time to get them cooked. I’ve never tried it so I can’t really advise you, sorry!

  27. Illy Mooncat says:

    Just roasted an eggplant this way. I put it into the broiler for 30 mins and then turned off the oven and let it sit in there while fiance and I watched Hercules (The Disney one. :) ). I found that worked really well because a) it continued to roast but didn’t burn and b) by the time I got to it it was still pretty warm but I could handle it without burning myself. I made babba ganoush but with white canallini (spelling?) beans to bluk it out. So it’s like an eggplant flavored white hummus. IT’S AMAZING. :D

  28. Betty says:

    I’m wondering if the eggplant can be wrapped in foil when roasting in the oven on very high heat, instead of on the stove top. Have you tried it that way and had it not turn out well? I’m assuming there’s a reason you cut it in half and don’t wrap it in foil when roasting in the oven. I’d rather wrap it in foil to retain all the juices and not dry out when in the oven, if that wouldn’t adversely affect the results.

    Thanks for your feedback!

  29. Liz says:

    Thank you for this instruction. I’ve only baked eggplant, but now will do the on-the-burner method. Here is another amazing eggplant dip, from Julia Child: it combines eggplant, walnuts, garlic, ginger, and a couple of other ingredients. Guests go crazy over it!
    link to jhv.blogs.com

  30. Sethan says:

    Thanks for the tips. I moved for a while in an apartment and wanted to make some. But the only way I knew it was involving my yard and a stove-grill. And now….now I’m just trying not to set the smoke detectors on :)

  31. Debbie says:

    If you like your eggplant to taste a little smokier, add a couple of drops of liquid smoke (purchased at most decent grocery stores)

  32. Sandra Danby says:

    I wish I’d read this before I tried toasting it over a gas burner! Thanks. SD

  33. Cat says:

    Thanks for this! I love roasted eggplants and here in the Philippines, we mix it in beaten egg then fry (eggplant torta). Or I chop it up then scramble together with eggs, tomatoes and red onions. :)

  34. Louise-Jayne Haddaway says:

    ummm…. wait, how do you know if it is a male or female eggplant?

  35. Cathy says:

    Hi Tori,

    In our little Jerusalem apartment we have no gas grill and no oven. Could we use the layered foil wrapped eggplant on an electric hot plate or in our crockpot? Thanks for any suggestions.

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Cathy, I don’t think a crockpot will work, I’m not sure it would get hot enough to really “roast” the eggplant (though you could try it on high for a couple of hours as an experiment!). A hotplate might work, but I can’t say for sure… I haven’t used a hot plate since college and I would be a bit worried about the fire hazard of putting the eggplant in foil directly on top. Do you have access to an outdoor grill? That would work best if your apartment complex has one!

  36. Monalisa says:

    Hello Tori,
    Thank you for the step-by-step description. I had previously roasted the eggplant without wrapping and it was a bit messy. I find that when I go to take the skin off – its a bit challenging to detach and also that at that point, the eggplant is so mushy/soft that its hard to cut into cubes as suggested. Any suggestions?
    Thanks

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Monalisa- this method for roasting eggplant will produce soft eggplant that is “scoopable” out of the flesh. If you’re looking to roast cubes, here is a tutorial: link to theshiksa.com

      Note that if you need cubes that are both skinned and roasted, you should peel the entire eggplant before cubing and roasting. Hope that helps!

  37. Sarah says:

    Thanks for this great breakdown. I wanted to make baba ghanoush but too late remembered that I have no gas range, only an electric oven! Very handy technique, and a good flavour (if not as good as doing it properly over fire). Thanks!

  38. Miriam Green says:

    Dear Tori,

    I enjoyed reading about how you roast eggplants. I just started a blog myself, and last week I also wrote about eggplants. My blog combines cooking elements with stories about how my family is dealing with my mom’s Alzheimer’s. link to miriamsgreen.wix.com

    All the best,
    Miriam Green

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