do you have to salt eggplant?
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Salting eggplants is a common kitchen practice, but do you really need to salt eggplants before cooking them?

Only if the eggplant is old. Although, this meaty vegetable—which is actually a huge berry—has crazy huge pores that soak up oil like no other.

Why Salt Eggplant?

A lot of recipes tell you to salt sliced eggplant and let it sit for up to half an hour before cooking, to draw out bitterness. But Chowhounds think that, while large globe eggplants don’t seem as bitter as they used to be, and smaller Italian and Asian eggplants rarely are anyway, there are other reasons to salt.

grilled eggplant

Chowhound

Salting causes the eggplant to absorb less oil when you cook it and the final result is a firmer bite (no soggy, floppy eggplant). So you may want to salt it for a tighter texture.

Older globe eggplants can still taste bitter, too. Your frist clue will be their extremely large size and spongy texture, but you can also check if the eggplant is old by looking at the seeds. If the seeds are dark when you cut the eggplant, then it’s an older specimen, so salt it to draw out any bitter juice. If the seeds are light, you can skip the salting if you want.

Eggplant Recipes

With that in mind, check out these 19 eggplant recipes that prove you can eat it at every meal (yes, even dessert), and learn how to grow eggplant in your garden.

And try these eggplant recipes (heavy on the eggplant Parm side) to test our to-salt-or-not-to-salt theories.

Eggplant Parmesan

eggplant parm recipe

Chowhound

In our classic rendition, we suggest salting the eggplant slices and letting it drain in a colander for five minutes. Panko breadcrumbs give the dish an extra crunch, and after frying the slices are drained on a paper towel lined baking sheet to further fight any soggy or greasy notions. Then melty mozzarella, fresh basil, and tomato sauce join the party. Get our Eggplant Parmesan recipe.

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Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Salad

grilled eggplant parmesan salad recipe

Chowhound

You might not be in the mood for something heavy like eggplant Parmesan. It’s too muggy out, or whatever. We’ve got the solution: a bread salad. It’s kinda like bruschetta, but heartier. We don’t salt the eggplant chunks, but if yours look older, you may want to. Get our Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Salad recipe.

Related Reading: More Grilled Bread Recipes

Pickled Eggplant

pickled eggplant recipe

Chowhound

Yep, you can pickle that. We salt the raw eggplant cubes and press them underneath a weighted plate to get as much moisture out as possible so they soak up the tangy marinade. The longer it sits in the fridge, the better. Get our Pickled Eggplant recipe.

Moussaka

moussaka recipe

Chowhound

Almost every Greek swears that his or her mother or grandmother’s moussaka is the best. You be the judge. It’s packed full of eggplant, zucchini, and ground beef and topped with a rich béchamel sauce. Let your eggplant’s age be your guide when it comes to salting. Get our Moussaka recipe.

Eggplant and Mushroom Polenta Bake

Eggplant and Mushroom Polenta Bake

Chowhound

This is like an Italian take on vegetarian shepherd’s pie, with the two namesake vegetables providing meatiness and the polenta substituting for mashed potatoes. With onions, crushed tomatoes, and olives, it’s a chunky, hearty vegetable filling. Get our Eggplant and Mushroom Polenta Bake recipe.

Stir-Fried Tamarind Eggplant

stir fried tamanrind eggplant recipe

Chowhound

To keep the eggplant from soaking up all the pan’s oil, you just put a little bit of fat in there and then stir-fry it until it’s crispy and the cut sides effectively seal up. Using slender Japanese or Chinese eggplant is best. Red bell peppers, Thai chiles, garlic, Thai basil, fish sauce, soy sauce, and tamarind paste add an assertive flavor. Get our Stir-Fried Tamarind Eggplant recipe.

More Ways to Get Your Fill

19 Eggplant Recipes That Prove You Can Eat It at Every Meal

The original version of this story was by Caitlin McGrath in 2012.

Header image by Chowhound

Amy Sowder is a writer and editor based in NYC, covering food and wellness in publications such as Bon Appétit, Women's Health, Eat This, Not That!, Upworthy/GOOD, Brooklyn Magazine, and Westchester Magazine. She loves to run races, but her favorite finish lines are gelato shops. Learn more at AmySowder.com.
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