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 printable recipe below is a fun and easy Italian dish that goes great as a side dish for pasta or as a snack!
How Easy is it to Fry Eggplant?
This recipe doesn’t take much oil, just fill your saucepan with about 1/4″ of oil and you are good to go. Just flip the battered eggplant slices half way through cooking and you end up with a nice crunchy eggplant.
The batter by the way is very easy to make – nothing fancy about it. Some flour, egg (you can even omit this if you are vegan), Italian cheese, preferably Romano (again you can omit if you are vegan), and breadcrumbs.
Ingredients for Frying Eggplant Italian-Style
There are many ways to fry eggplant and every Italian will probably have a different process or different ingredients. Here is what is needed for my fried eggplant recipe.
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.
Flour is important when frying eggplant because you need it to coat the eggplant so the egg can adhere to it. You can use white flour, gluten free flour or even whole wheat flour. I prefer white flour since I don’t want its taste to overpower the Italian seasonings.
If you are vegan, you can omit the eggs. 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 eggs for 2 eggplant. Make sure to let excess egg drip off the eggplant as you only need a light coating.
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 even more flavor. I choose in my recipe to not use Italian breadcrumbs because I prefer keeping the flavor simple and not overly complicated.
You can also add your own herbs such as parsley to the breadcrumbs.
What’s the Order of Coating the Eggplant for Frying?
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.
So 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. Pretty cool eh?
- Step One: Dip each slice of eggplant into the flour
- Step Two: Dip into the egg
- Step Three: Dip into the breadcrumb/cheese mixture
- Step Four: Fry. 🙂
You might recognize if you read a lot of my recipes, that I use Romano cheese instead of Parmesan cheese. Romano has a lot more flavor and is saltier.
Once I started using Romano cheese I never went back to Parmesan.
Well, once I did try to cut back on our grocery bill and all I can say is the $2 savings I thought I would appreciate cost me actually more because the cheese was so bland I had to go back and get the Romano.
So, yes it’s more expensive, but you use less and you get more flavor. You can purchase a block of Romano and use a food processor to grind the cheese. I actually have a video of using my Cuisinart food processor to do just that.
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.
How to Prepare the Italian Fried Eggplant Slices
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. You can choose to salt them which causes them to release some of their bitter taste.
This is not a required step and I often skip it.
Do I Need to use Italian Eggplant?
Eggplant in Italian is melanzana and is used in Italian cuisine in popular recipes such as eggplant parmesan, eggplant lasagna, and eggplant and zucchini with pasta.
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.
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, but eggplant has such a nice flavor. I’ve made this both as a side dish and just for a late night snack.
In regards to the batter it’s the standard mix of ingredients as mentioned earlier and has the flexibility to make adjustments as needed.
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Fried Italian Eggplant
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup Romano Cheese
- 1 cup flour
- 3 eggs beaten
- olive oil enough to fill the frying pan with about 1/4″
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 and drain if you have the time. If draining, just lay slices in a strainer or on a paper towel.
Mix the breadcrumbs and Romano (or Parmesan) cheese in a bowl.
Place the flour in a second bowl and mix the eggs in a third bowl.
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.
Dip the eggplant in the flour (tap off excess), then egg, then breadcrumbs mixture and place in hot oil.
Do this for each of the eggplant slices and cook for about 2 minutes until the bread crumbs are golden brown, and flip.
Cook for about 1 minute more.
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.
TIP #1: The measurements for the coating will vary depending on the size of the eggplant. You want to make sure the eggplant is well coated with the breadcrumbs, and the egg will help make the breadcrumbs stick.
TIP #2: Do not let the oil get too hot where it will burn the eggplant mixture. But a nice medium high heat should be fine. It should only take 2-3 minutes on the first side.
TIP #3: This recipe goes great with pasta, especially with a red sauce because you can dip the eggplant in the sauce. A marinara sauce is perfect. You can also use the sauce alone as a dipping sauce.
TIP #4: You do not have to use extra virgin olive oil for this. Regular olive oil is fine for frying.
TIP #5: As noted by one of our readers in the comments section, you may need more egg as you go along as it gets rather sticky during the battering process. Don’t be shy, use what you need when you need it!
I love Italian food an can’t wait to try some of your recipes
You do use a lot of eggs, since the flour mixture makes dipping the eggplant into the eggs become from glupy. Therefore, you need to keep adding eggs. I would like that being published, since you do need extra eggs to get through your recipe. It is a very delicious dish!!!
Thanks Grace, so glad you like the recipe! I added a Tip #4 that mentions using additional eggs if needed. Thanks for advice!