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This sauteed eggplant recipe transforms a classic summer veggie into a quick-cooking side dish that goes with so many mains! I have always roasted eggplant or grilled eggplant when I want to cook this veggie, but recently experimented with how to saute eggplant. And you’re going to love it! Pan fried eggplant caramelizes even more than the oven version!
Just like the roasting method, these simple sauteed eggplant slices take a few common kitchen ingredients. The main difference is that pan frying takes even less time — and you don’t have to wait for your oven to heat up! (You can also try air fryer eggplant as another quick — and more hands-off — method.)
Can You Saute Eggplant?
Yes, you absolutely can saute eggplant! It’s quick, easy, and delicious. Similar to sauteed zucchini, it browns perfectly for a flavorful and fast side dish.
Why You’ll Love This Sauteed Eggplant Recipe
- Rich, savory and sweet flavor
- Soft texture with caramelized edges
- Just 5 basic ingredients
- Ready in 20 minutes total
- Easy to pair with lots of dishes
Sauteed Eggplant Ingredients
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for eggplant saute, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Eggplant – Get a firm one, with smooth, shiny skin and no nicks. Cook it as soon as you can for freshest flavor.
- Garlic Powder – Sauteed eggplant with garlic brings out natural flavors in this veggie. You could also use fresh minced garlic, but you’ll want to add it later in the cooking process to avoid burning.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- Olive Oil – Eggplant sauteed in olive oil (especially extra virgin) has so much flavor, but you can also use any cooking oil you have on-hand.
How To Cut Eggplant For Frying
There are a few different ways to cut eggplant for sauteing:
- Slices. Cut the eggplant crosswise into 1/4 inch circles. Start with the end that does not have the stem, so that you have the leafy end to grab onto as you slice.
- Strips. Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices, then stack the slices and cut them into long strips.
- Cubes. Cut the same way as strips, but then cut all the strips in the opposite direction to make cubes.
The last two methods work well in sauces or as a component in other recipes.
For pan fried eggplant, I prefer slices, for several reasons:
- It’s the fastest method.
- You get caramelized edges on each slice.
- It’s easier to get nice browning because you can saute without moving and flip once.
- The ideal thickness is 1/4 inch thick, which allows the eggplant to cook quickly and caramelize well
How To Saute Eggplant
This section shows the best way to saute eggplant with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Season. Sprinkle eggplant with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. If you want more flavor, you can add some Italian seasoning as well.
TIP: No need to pre-salt! This is a common practice with eggplant to remove bitterness, but most eggplants today are bred to avoid this problem. Eggplant cooks up much faster this way, too.
- Saute. Heat oil in a large skillet and add eggplant slices in a single layer. Working in batches, saute the eggplant on both sides, until completely soft and caramelized. Repeat with remaining eggplant, adding oil between batches, until done.
TIP: Don’t move the eggplant around! Unlike some sauteing methods, in this case we want to leave the eggplant untouched except when flipping. This will give us that beautiful, delicious browning.
How Long To Saute Eggplant?
Eggplant slices need to cook for 3-6 minutes per side, assuming you slice them 1/4 inch thick. They’re done cooking when soft, browned, and caramelized on the outside.
Pan Fried Eggplant Variations
- Sauteed eggplant and zucchini – Fry a mix of eggplant and zucchini slices. Both work great using this method, just make sure they are sliced to the same thickness.
- Sauteed eggplant with garlic – If you prefer fresh minced garlic instead of the garlic powder used in this recipe, add the garlic toward the end of cooking so that it doesn’t burn.
- Mediterranean sauteed eggplant – Pan fry the eggplant using the instructions below, then add the toppings from this Mediterranean chicken recipe.
- Pan fried eggplant cubes – Like I’ve explained above, I much prefer to saute eggplant slices, but if you prefer, you can saute cubes instead. Be sure to turn them occasionally so that all sides get browned.
- Eggplant with feta – When the eggplant is almost done, place a cube of feta cheese on each eggplant, cover, and let it soften.
Store eggplant in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Can cooked eggplant be frozen?
Yes! Freeze cooked eggplant slices between layers of parchment in a freezer-safe bag or container. It can store for up to a year in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Heat eggplant in a 350 degree F oven until warmed through. Sauteed eggplant is also delicious cold!
What To Serve With Sauteed Eggplant
Sauteed eggplant recipes pair well with Italian, Greek, and Middle Eastern flavors. It tastes delicious with a variety of meats and hearty pasta dishes, too:
- Chicken – Chicken recipes such as caprese chicken, chicken cacciatore, or bruschetta chicken make a delicious pairing with eggplant.
- Lamb – Serve this eggplant with lamb kofta kebabs or oven roasted lamb chops.
- Sausage – Eggplant would taste delicious alongside sausage stuffed mushrooms, sausage kale soup, or sausage stuffed zucchini boats.
- Veggie pastas – Try eggplant with zucchini roll ups, healthy chicken alfredo, or zucchini spaghetti with meatballs.
More Healthy Eggplant Recipes
- Eggplant Lasagna
- Mini Eggplant Pizzas
- Easy Ratatouille
- Healthy Eggplant Parmesan
- Cold Roast Vegetable Salad
Tools To Make Sauteed Eggplant
- Hard Anodized Skillet – The surface on this one is nonstick, but it’s also on the heavier side for even heating and excellent browning. Plus, the bottom has a large surface area to fit a lot of eggplant slices.
Easy Sauteed Eggplant Recipe
Sauteed Eggplant Recipe
Once you learn how to saute eggplant, you'll pair it with everything! This sauteed eggplant recipe is perfectly caramelized and takes just 20 minutes.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Slice the eggplant crosswise to make circles, about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Cut off the leafy end only after you are done slicing, so that you'll have more to grab onto as you slice. If the slices are damp, pat them dry.
Sprinkle the eggplant slices on both sides with garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low to medium heat. Working in batches, add the eggplant slices in a single layer. Saute eggplant for 3-6 minutes per side, until soft, browned, and caramelized on both sides. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, adding about 1-2 tablespoons of oil per batch.
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Serving size: 4-5 slices, or 1/4 entire recipe
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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