If you ever want to know what to do in order to use up eggplant, you can’t go wrong with making my version of Italian fried eggplant. This crispy fried eggplant recipe is a fun and easy Italian side dish that is full of flavor!
In this post you’ll learn how to make fried eggplant like a pro. I’ll also share lots of first-hand advice to ensure your eggplant slices come out perfect every time.
Make sure to check out my step by step video below where I walk you through the entire process start to finish.
How to Fry Eggplant – an Overview
The process for how to fry eggplant is very similar to frying just about any other vegetable. Yes, I know eggplant is technically a fruit. I’ll give the overview now so you get the general gist, and then break it down into actual steps you can follow.
For this Italian fried eggplant recipe, you’ll need a skillet or frying pan. The higher the sides the better to avoid any oil from splashing out while frying the eggplant slices.
Once you prepare the eggplant by slicing and breading it, you add the slices to the frying pan that has hot oil in it. For this recipe, we’re using olive oil. After frying the eggplant on both sides, you take them out and let them cool a little then serve!
Okay, are you ready to learn how to make fried eggplant Italian style? Let’s first go over each ingredient that you’ll need.
Ingredients for Fried Eggplant Italian-Style
There are many ways to fry eggplant and every Italian will probably have a slightly different process or different ingredients. The recipe I’m sharing is exactly what I use in my Italian fried eggplant recipe as shown in my video.
The best oil for frying eggplant is regular olive oil. You do not need to use extra virgin olive oil, but you do need to make sure it’s olive oil you’re using. Do not use vegetable oil, soybean oil or any other type of oil – just regular olive oil, ideally organic.
You’ll want enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the frying pan by about 1/4”.
Flour is important when frying eggplant because you need it to coat the eggplant slices so the egg can adhere to it. You can use white flour, gluten free flour or even whole wheat flour.
You do not have to use egg when frying eggplant, but I prefer it. It gives extra fullness to the breading, and adds a little flavor. I do not always use egg when I fry foods, such as my Italian chicken cutlets.
In regards to quantity, it depends on the amount of eggplant being used. I recommend at least two to three eggs per medium to large eggplant. Make sure to let any excess egg drip off the eggplant as you only need a light coating.
The Italian cheese is the secret ingredient that turns this into a Italian fried eggplant. It is so much better than plain fried eggplant.
Use Romano or Parmesan grated cheese. You will mix this with the breadcrumbs.
You can use any type of breadcrumbs, Panko or homemade breadcrumbs. You can also use seasoned breadcrumbs. Fried eggplant with Italian breadcrumbs is an easy way to add additional flavor, thanks to the seasonings.
I choose in my recipe to not use Italian breadcrumbs because I prefer keeping the flavor simple and not overly complicated. However, you can add your own herbs such as parsley to the breadcrumbs.Jump to Recipe at bottom and watch the video!
How to Prepare Eggplant for Frying
To prepare your eggplant for frying, you have two options. You can salt the eggplant to drain some of the bitterness out, or you can leave it as is and just get to frying it. I recommend skipping the salting as it’s just not necessary for this recipe, especially if your eggplant is younger and on the smaller side.
Do you peel eggplant before frying?
You do not need to peel eggplant before frying. The outer skin will soften as it fries and will be soft enough to cut with a fork.
If however, you’re using a non-organic eggplant and are concerned about pesticides, then go ahead and peel it. Otherwise, it is not necessary to peel the eggplant.
How to Slice the Eggplant for frying purposes
You don’t want the eggplant slices to be too thin or too thick. The best thickness for fried eggplant slices is about 1/4 inch thick. After slicing the eggplant, lay the slices on a paper towel or strainer.
Prepare the Eggplant Breading
The next step is to make the breading for dipping the eggplant. This is the part of the recipe that makes the fried eggplant crispy and crunchy. The process is very similar to our fried zucchini slices which uses a similar breading.
Remember the ingredient list above? Everything there is what makes the breading for the eggplant.
Place each ingredient in its own dipping bowl, except for the cheese and breadcrumbs. For the cheese and breadcrumbs you will combine them together in their own bowl.
Your order should be as follows: flour, egg, cheese/breadcrumbs.
- Slice the eggplant
- Dip each slice of eggplant into the flour
- Dip into the egg
- Dip into the breadcrumb/cheese mixture and set aside for frying.
About the dipping order
When breading, it’s often asked why do we dip things in flour before the egg? The reason is that the egg needs something to hold on to, otherwise it will just slide off the eggplant.
The flour sticks to the eggplant b/c the eggplant is moist. This provides a sticky coating that the egg can adhere to. Then you dip it into the breadcrumbs which stick to the egg. That’s the proper way for how to fry eggplant. Pretty cool, eh?
A quick note about the Italian cheese I’m using
You might recognize if you read a lot of my Italian recipes, that I use Romano cheese instead of Parmesan cheese. Romano has more flavor and is saltier. I think it is perfect for this Italian fried eggplant.
However, if all you have is Parmesan, feel free to still use that.
How to Fry Eggplant
Now that your eggplant is breaded and ready to fry, I’ll explain how to fry the eggplant in more detail.
Heat the olive oil
Add enough olive oil to a pan or skillet to cover ¼”. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. It’s important that the olive oil is hot so that the eggplant doesn’t absorb the oil while sitting in the oil.
We want the breading to crisp up quickly, and that can only happen when the olive oil is at a hot enough temperature. So that is how you keep eggplant from absorbing the oil when frying.
If the oil is not hot enough, the eggplant will become soggy.
Add the slices to the hot oil
Once the olive oil is hot, you can gently place the eggplant slices in the pan making sure they don’t overlap. You’ll know when the oil is ready for the eggplant when it sizzles a little when you add a drop of water or breadcrumbs to it to test. If it sizzles, it’s ready.
Use a pair of tongs, or a fork to add the eggplant slices, not your hands, so you will not get burnt.
How long to fry eggplant in a skillet?
Knowing how to long to fry the eggplant in the frying pan or skillet is never a set amount of time, due to a variety of factors such as heat, thickness of slices, etc. However, the average time is 2 minutes per side.
You will want to keep a close eye on the eggplant the entire time to make sure neither side starts to burn.
Note: Some of my eggplant slices didn’t fry evenly because my frying pan was too large for the induction burner I was using. I should have used the regular stove top. But they still were crunchy and delicious!
When the eggplant breading is a nice golden brown color and getting hard – like a shell, gently turn them over and repeat the process for the second side. When the second side of the eggplant is also crispy, remove them from the pan using a fork or tongs.
Place them on a plate or cookie sheet covered with some paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
How to Fry Eggplant without Egg
Egg is not required when making Italian fried eggplant. The good news is that to fry eggplant without egg all you do is just remove it from the process.
I’d recommend frying the eggplant without the flour and egg and just rely on the cheese and breadcrumb mixture to stick to the moist eggplant.
Another option, if you want to keep the flour is to replace the egg with milk. So, dip the eggplant into the flour, the milk, and then the breading, and fry as described above.
What Makes this Fried Eggplant Italian
In this fried Italian eggplant recipe, we combine Italian cheese in with the breadcrumbs. This is the secret to turning this into an Italian-style recipe.
Yes, it will still taste great with the breadcrumbs alone (especially if you’re vegan), but the cheese is what gives it that distinct Italian flavor.
What kind of eggplant to use for Italian fried eggplant?
However, any type of eggplant will work whether your using regular fried eggplant or Italian-style. Here are some common eggplant types.
Globe eggplant (American eggplant)
Although there are many varieties of eggplant, the most common (at least here in the States) is Globe Eggplant. This is the classic large purple-skin eggplant we see at grocery stores. I’ve used these for frying eggplant many times.
However there is an eggplant that is literally called, Italian eggplant. They are very similar to Globe Eggplant but are slightly smaller, sweeter, and shaped more like a tear drop. If you can find these, buy some for this recipe.
They make a good choice since the sliced rounds will be smaller making them easier to fry, and the extra slight sweetness is a nice addition to the flavor.
There are a good number of other types of eggplant that vary in shape and size. I recommend only using the varieties that can be easily sliced into small to medium rounds no more than 4 inches in diameter.
Can You Freeze Fried Eggplant?
If you don’t eat all the fried eggplant slices, what do you do with the leftovers? You can either freeze or refrigerate any leftover fried eggplant. However, it will not be as crispy when you try to reheat it. I would not recommend freezing fried eggplant if you don’t have to.
How to Reheat Fried Eggplant
I’ve reheated my Italian fried eggplant slices with success up to two days after making. The key is to place it in an oven proof baking dish and bake at 350F for 10 to 13 minutes or until crispy. The olive oil will begin to bubble as it heats up and this is how you know the eggplant is ready or close to being ready.
Do not expect the fried eggplant slices to be as firm and crunchy as when they were freshly fried over the stove. They will not hold their shape as well and the texture will be softer. However, they still taste amazing and I’ve eaten my fried Italian eggplant as leftovers with much enjoyment. 🙂
Does this Recipe Work Only with Eggplant?
You can use other vegetables instead of just eggplant. For example you can make fried zucchini or squash. I’ve used this recipe for fried eggplant as both a side dish and just for a late night snack.
What Goes with Fried Eggplant
Fried eggplant goes great with chicken dishes, Italian summer salads, and Italian pizzas. Here are some recipes you can try.
Our spinach and ricotta stuffed shells complements the Italian fried eggplant perfectly.
My fried eggplant goes great with our pasta with asparagus and lemon recipe!
Similar Fried Recipes
If you love fried recipes, you will really like these other recipes too!
Have fresh zucchini in your garden? Why not pan fry the zucchini blossoms?
Looking for something meatier to add? Try our fried Italian chicken cutlets!
Take your fried eggplant to the next level with these stacked eggplant slices and mozzarella.
If hope enjoy my recipe below for fried eggplant – Italian style. If so, follow us on social and join our email list for recipes to your inbox!
- 1 medium eggplant sliced crosswise into 1/4" rounds salt and drain if you prefer
- olive oil enough to fill the frying pan with about 1/4″
- 1 cup flour
- 3 eggs beaten
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup Romano Cheese
- Wash your eggplant, and remove skin if concerned over the use of pesticides. If organic, there is no need to peel.
- Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch round slices.
- Place the flour in a dipping bowl or plate.
- Beat the eggs in a second bowl.
- Mix the breadcrumbs and Romano (or Parmesan) cheese in the third bowl.
- Dip the eggplant in the flour (tap off excess), then egg, then breadcrumbs mixture and set aside until all are breaded.
- Pour in enough olive oil in a frying pan so there is about 1/4 inch of olive oil in the pan. Heat to medium-high heat.
- Fry the eggplant on each side for about 2 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown on both sides. Use a long handled tongs or fork to avoid oil from splattering on you.
- Remove each slice from the pan and place on a paper towel (on a plate) to let the oil drain.
- Continue the process until all slices are used. Add more oil if needed during the process.
- Serve warm.