Eggplant Meatballs

Eggplant Meatballs

These hearty eggplant meatballs are the perfect finger food to serve to babies and toddlers, and they’re a healthy dinner menu item for moms and dads too. Serve to the family for a hearty meatless Monday meal or as a unique, vegetarian-friendly appetizer for dinners guests.

Eggplant is the meatiest of vegetables and is the perfect base for meat-less meatballs since it has a similar chewy, bite. This nightshade not only lends well to a vegetarian diet but is a great addition to any diet since it’s an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), B vitamins, folate and vitamin C. Eggplant is also rich in minerals, boasting a large quantity of potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous.

Eggplant "Meatballs"

A few years ago I decided to adopt a more vegetarian-based diet. Although I don’t miss the taste nor texture of meat, I still crave those hearty, filling meals that were once my faves-in this case, meatballs!

I’ve made many variations of meatless meatballs in the past, including quinoa and lentil based ones, however, these are the most similar in texture and consistency to traditional ones.

Eggplant "Meatballs"

Once cooked, these tender meatballs are surprisingly flavorful making it easy to forget that you may normally be eating beef. Not only are these great for vegetarians, but for meat-eaters (who are willing to give vegetarian meals a chance!).

These scrumptious, two-bite eggplant meatballs are a great addition to a hearty plate of pasta, simply smothered in warm, homemade tomato sauce, or stuffed into a meatball sandwich and smothered in melted cheese. Or, you can just eat them by themselves!

Eggplant "Meatballs"

If you try this recipe (and love it!) be sure to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram with #bitesforfoodies so I can see your creation!

Eggplant Meatballs

: about 24
: 20-25 min
: 5 min

These hearty eggplant meatballs are the perfect finger food to serve to babies and toddlers, and they’re a healthy dinner menu item for moms and dads too. Serve to the family for a hearty meatless Monday meal or as a unique, vegetarian-friendly appetizer for dinners guests. Eggplant is the meatiest of vegetables and is the perfect […]


Eggplant Meatballs
    1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 small eggplants, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 tbs. capers, drained and finely minced
  • 2-3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 4-5 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium plum tomato, finely diced
  • 2 cups oil of choice (canola or safflower works best)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and onions and sautee for 5-7 minutes or until translucent. Add the eggplant, capers, and tomatoes and saute for another 10-15 minutes or until the eggplant are fork tender.

Eggplant "Meatballs"

Add the eggplant to a large food processor with the herbs, Parmesan, and 1 cup of breadcrumbs and puree until combined. The eggplant cane be purees until super smooth or left slightly chunky to give the meatballs a bit more texture.

Eggplant "Meatballs"

The mixture should be dry enough to roll into balls without sticking too much to your hands. If it is too wet, mix in more breadcrumbs until you get the desired consistency. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball.

Eggplant "Meatballs"

There are two ways to prepare these, baked or fried however, they taste best and maintain the ideal texture if fried. Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. To ensure the oil is hot enough, stick a toothpick into the oil-if bubbles form around the toothpick, it’s reached the ideal temperature.

Eggplant "Meatballs"

Add the eggplant to the frying pan and cook for about 2 minutes per side or until crispy on the outside. Transfer immediately to a large plate lined with paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Eggplant "Meatballs"

48 thoughts on “Eggplant Meatballs”

  • Patti 3 years ago

    sounds delish… but you mentioned the eggplant meatballs can be baked, but didn’t include baking instructions?

    • Hi Patti, you can bake them in the oven at 350 degrees (turning them once) for 20-25 minutes, or until browned.

  • Prathima Prashad 4 years ago

    I just made these…they are good but mine came out very soft on the inside, while the pics seem to indicate a more crispy outer shell….not sure what I did wrong. In any event they were good.

    • Thanks for the feedback! Is it possible the oil wasn’t warm enough, or you needed to cook them for longer? It could also dependant on the eggplant perhaps, as some varieties could retain more water?!

      • Prathima Prashad 4 years ago

        You mentioned a diced red pepper in the recipe list but I don’t see when that’s added….I added it after the onions were sauteed and wondering if it’s an error it was included in the recipe? My oil was hot, so not sure…next time maybe I’ll leave the red pepper out.

  • I love Eggplants like the next person but never thought about making them in meatballs, these look really delicious

    • Tracey connell 5 years ago

      I’ve just come back from Sicily and had them there for the first time they are absolutely delicious I’m going to try to make them myself

  • rosemary palmer 8 years ago

    Eggplant is OK but maybe I’ll try this with zucchini. Great alternative for those who don’t eat meat, but that’s not me. I do look for veggie ideas though.

  • Terri Lynn Grothe 8 years ago

    they all look great as per usual- to be honest I have never tried egg plant but if you say it is good then I will try it

  • I’m not a huge fan of eggplant, but I am very willing to give this a try since all of your recipes always look and sound delicious and the ones that I HAVE tried were heavenly. 🙂

  • Stephanie 8 years ago

    What an awesome idea! I love fried eggplant. I bet these are amazing! Especially with spaghetti sauce!

  • This is awesome! I think this could be great for trying to be vegetarian people like me.

  • Jeanine @ 8 years ago

    Oh now this different and sounds really interesting. I’ve never tried eggplant before, but this looks really good and like I would probably love it as a meatball!

  • Rebecca Swenor 8 years ago

    I have to admit I have never had eggplant meatballs before but it does sound interesting. I love eggplant so I will have to try these for sure.Thanks for sharing.

  • This is a good one for kids who does not like veggies. The eggplant in the meatball would be healthy for them.

  • Oh swell! Now I’m Hungry and it’s only 1:15 a.m. ~snicker~ Those sound delicious. I have got to pin this recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  • Oh man, I am SO pinning this post! Not only do I love meatless recipes for myself, but I can see how these would be perfect for (my future) kiddos! Thank you;).

  • I love eggplant and what a great way to incorporate them into meatballs! One day soon I would like to try this recipe! I great way to go meatless for the day!

  • Jaime Nicole 8 years ago

    I love eggplant! This look likes a recipe that we could definitely try on our next Meatless Monday – the kids would really enjoy this.

  • April Mims 8 years ago

    Eggplant is one of the few veggies I don’t care for. I’ve tried it so many different ways but haven’t found a way I like it.

    • It does tend to have a bitter taste…I do think the strong flavour is disguised quite well in these. You could also make traditional meatballs and then add just a bit of eggplant too!

  • Jennifer Juro 8 years ago

    These sound so good! My kids decided this weekend they want to make up some meatballs, we may have to try this out!

  • I’d definitely have to try these with a few different pasta recipes. They look really good!

  • This is such a great option for meatballs! I love trying to substitute veggies for meat sometimes for more healthy options!

  • minus the cheese and breadcrumbs, this is totally Paleo friendly!! YUM!!! I could sub the breadcrumbs for almond flour though!

  • Ourfamilyworld 8 years ago

    These meatballs look yummy. My kids don’t like eggplants, but when they’re disguised like these, I’m sure they’ll try the meatballs.

  • chubskulit 8 years ago

    Oh wow, thanks for sharing this. I pinned your post so I can make this later with mthe eggplant I harvested from my garden.

  • Mariamichelle117 8 years ago

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I’m a really strict vegetarian and my husband isn’t, but he loves eggplant!

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