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Eggplant meatballs «

Eggplant meatballs

August 3, 2011 | 36 Comments »



I’ve been meaning to try making my own meatballs using eggplant ever since I heard about it on America’s Next Great Restaurant from Joey ‘Saucy Balls’. Have any of you seen that? I thought it was pretty interesting. Anyway, after making the eggplant burgers I figured it couldn’t be that hard to finally whip up some saucy balls of my own. So I got to it.

Before getting started I drained the eggplant for about an hour. To do this I placed the diced eggplant and 1 tsp salt in a strainer and placed the strainer in a large pot to catch the liquid that dripped through. Before sautéing I squeezed out even more liquid with my hands and tossed the eggplant into the pan. I’m not sure if this step is even necessary, but I didn’t want to end up with mushy meatballs. If you choose to do this, you might not want add the salt to the breadcrumb mixture.


  • 1 medium sized eggplant, peeled, diced
  • 2 tbsp onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp vegan parmesan (or you can use nutritional yeast)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer for 1 egg


  1. Combine the panko, parmesan, oregano, parsley, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until fine and well combined. Dump into a medium-large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large non-stick skillet saute the onion for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and continue to cook for about 15 minutes or until eggplant is soft and gray in color. Allow to cool.
  3. Dump the eggplant mixture into food processor and process until smooth and sort of pasty. Add to breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Add the egg replacer and mix well. Form meatballs using a measured tablespoon and roll into balls.
  5. Place meatballs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper lightly sprayed with cooking spray. I sprayed the tops of the meatballs as well. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375° flipping half way through to ensure even browning.

This recipe makes about 17 meatballs and comfortably serves 4. I served these with my quick and easy sauce. Here’s the recipe for that.


  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • dash crushed red pepper

Just combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook until heated through. Pour over eggplant meatballs and serve with pasta or on a roll. Yum!

A few notes here. These are nothing like the other vegan meatballs I’ve tried. Some vegan meatballs tend to dry out when you bake them. I found no difference in taste or texture when I baked and pan fried them. They’re not mushy, but they’re not exactly firm either. It has a nice light chewy texture. They’re pretty moist too. They sort of reminded me of eggplant parmesan, but in meatball form. These are definitely my new go-to meatball. They’re even a hit with my super picky six year old.

I’m going to try using gluten free breadcrumbs next time for a gluten free version. I’ve been trying to eat more gluten free foods and have been experimenting with substitutions here and there. I bet you wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference.

Also, I found that these tasted way better and had a firmer texture the next day. After forming the meatballs I placed them on the baking sheet, covered them and refrigerated them over night. The next day I popped them in the oven and smothered them in sauce. Delish!


You outdid yourself girl! These look awesome, but now I can’t wait to see your recipe for your corn tamales! :D

Yum! Those look so good! In June I saw a meatball truck at a music festival – the veg option was eggplant-based, but I didn’t get to try them. I’ve been thinking about it since then though, so I can’t wait to try out your recipe!

Yum…saucy balls. :)

These are going on my list of food to make – heck, maybe I will give them a try tonight! I bet the leftovers would make a mean meatball sub!

These look really tasty! I love eggplant

@Noelle: Thank you! I’ll be posting that one next! :)

@Leinana: Oh a meatball truck! Sounds awesome! I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do!

@Kierstan: Meatball sub… now you’re speaking my language lol. :)

@Stephanie: Thank you!

Hi Lisa Marie,
This is my first time visiting your blog. I found it through a photo of these awesome eggplant meatballs on pinterest.
I am a life long vegetarian also from the midwest! I am usually willing to try eggplant in a new way, cause I want to like eggplant. Being veg, aren`t we `supposed`to like it? Well, I’ve never met an eggplant dish that I was crazy about. That was till tonight! After see the photo and reading the ingredients, I made them for dinner tonight! Everyone LOVED them, even my decidedly not veg husband, and my very picky 4 year old. So much so that they requested we make a big batch and freeze them. I am seriously impressed. Thanks for sharing your skills with us! I’ll be sharing your recipe on my blog for sure!

@Katrina: Thank you so much! I’m so glad you and your family loved them as much as me and my family have. And thank you for taking the time to try my recipe. It means a lot! I know what you mean about the not liking eggplant though. I’m the same when it comes to tofu. I feel like as a vegan it’s something I’m supposed to like, but I’ve yet to come across a recipe that changed that for me.

Hmmm, I may have a recipe for baked tofu that could change your mind! Maybe you could even put your own delightful spin on it?

These are really delicious! Next time I’ll make double and freeze some. I didn’t have panko so I used toasted bread and pretzel crumbs. Thank you for this recipe!

Reply to this comment Mariah     March 26, 2012

Thank you! Tonight was my very first eggplant experience and it was compeletly awesome. I have been searching for a recipe like this because my daughter has PKU and can’t eat meat. These will definitely be a forever staple in my house from now on. Thank you. I still can’t believe how good they were!

Reply to this comment Caitlin     March 28, 2012

These were absolutely amazing! I was sick of buying the “iffy” meatless meatballs from the store so I tried this recipe and it was a total success. I have a feeling i will be making these a lot!

Reply to this comment OliviaRose     October 25, 2012

Great idea using eggplant! Eggplants release liquid I can see how they’d stay moist. Can’t wait to try!

Reply to this comment florence     October 26, 2012

Love eggplant, looks great, can;t wait to try this!

Reply to this comment OliviaRose     December 23, 2012

I am making these for Christmas dinner. We love this recipe! Thank you!!

LOVED these! They’re way better than the eggplant meatballs that Whole Foods makes. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

Reply to this comment Bethann     August 02, 2013

Made these without my husband knowing eggplant was in meatball because he doesn’t like eggplant. He loved them! We will make these again! Thanks! :)

Reply to this comment Jennifer     August 03, 2013

OMG! These were perfect!

Reply to this comment karen     November 28, 2013

These were delicious!!
i used real parmesan and one real egg, (i’m vegetarian, not yet vegan) and they really were a hit. and not difficult to make! very excited about this recipe. Thank you for posting it!!

Reply to this comment Melissa     December 19, 2013

These eggplant “meatballs ” were great! Thanks for sharing this recipe :)

Reply to this comment Rachel     May 13, 2014

Was a great recipe! Just altered a bit. I found I didn’t need to use eggs at all and instead just baked the eggplant for around 10 minutes. Otherwise, all the same as the recipe as written and was delicious! Thank you!

Reply to this comment kim     June 20, 2014

Don’t forget to make yourself available to Pinterest!! It is circulating there as the “best recipe for eggplant meatballs”. Making it this weekend. Thanks!

Reply to this comment Erica     July 02, 2014

Just wanted to let you know that I made this tonight for myself and my boyfriend (who, while isn’t a picky dude by any means, and is also a vegetarian, has always HATED eggplant). He LOVED this recipe, I LOVED this recipe, and I honestly think that this has got to be quite possibly the best meatless meatball on the planet. Thank you so much for sharing! Definitely adding this into the recipe rotation! xo

Reply to this comment Martha     August 09, 2014

Has anyone tried making this with a flax egg instead of Ener-G?

Reply to this comment rachel     January 07, 2015

would a flax egg do the trick?

Reply to this comment Terri Waller     February 08, 2015

these were delish! next time I go grocery shopping I’m going to pick up another eggplant and make a batch to freeze. and the best part is how the colour works out too cuz the cooked eggplant is that nice browny grey like real meatballs ^^


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