Eggplant Meatballs with Easy Marinara Sauce

eggplant meatballs

When you are in the mood for a good vegetarian meal, eggplant meatballs are sure to fit the bill.

Eggplant is one of my very favorite fruits that mimics being a vegetable; really it’s a fruit! 

With what seems like endless versatility the eggplant can have lots done with it.

In whatever way  you choose to cook eggplant, it is one of those beefy foods that holds its own, and gives a lovely flavor to any dish.

The eggplant is believed to have originated in India, and was brought to Europe by Arab traders

The Europeans are who gave this plant its name due to it originally having fruit the size of a goose egg with a whitish complexion.

The eggplant, also known as aubergine, is part of the nightshade family meaning the leaves and tubers can be poisonous.

So be sure to only eat the fruit!     

Used widely in Middle Eastern cooking, the eggplant is prepared in many different ways, from baba ghanouj to makdous.

Stuffed, pickled, and olive oil cured as part of the many eggplant dishes that are popular in the Middle East.

The first eggplants were cultivated in India, and now have become a staple in many countries around the world.

Thank goodness for this wonder fruit that is so delicious, and so full of goodness.

What are Eggplant Meatballs?

eggplant meatballs

Eggplant meatballs are tasty vegetarian versions of traditional meatballs.

These are made from eggplant (of course), parmesan, garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley and eggs.

Eggplant meatballs are wonderful and tasty ways to use an eggplant to make a unique vegetarian dish.

Not the same as a meatball, but the eggplant has the ‘meatiness’ required to pull off being a good substitute.

Using eggplant and binders like eggs, and bread crumbs with herbs and spices, the balls are shaped and baked.

In this case simply served with a marinara sauce, you can also add rice, spaghetti squash, or pasta.

If you are a fan of eggplant, this recipe is sure to be a staple on your home menu.

Are These Vegetarian?


Very much so, these meatballs are perfect as a substitute for regular meatballs. 

I think sometimes I actually prefer these to actual meatballs.

There’s so much flavor in these little morsels of goodness!

We try to eat vegetarian dishes a few times a week.

Not for the environmental impact but for our health as well.

A vegetarian diet can be a very healthy lifestyle choice that helps reduce obesity, blood pressure and type II diabetes.  

How to Make Eggplant Meatballs

Choose firm eggplants with nice shiny skins, and a deep purple color for making this recipe.

Cut the eggplant into small cubes to allow them to cook through quickly in a saucepan.

I like to use a little water and cover the pan to let the eggplant steam.

Eggplant can suck up a lot of oil so I find this method better in terms of taste.

Mince garlic cloves and saute in olive oil until they become fragrant.

Then add eggplant, mix well, add water and cover. 

Cook until eggplant is just soft, add more water if necessary to make sure steam stays in the saucepan to cook the eggplant.

This should take about 15 minutes or so.

eggplant meatballs

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley and red pepper flakes. 

I like using gluten free bread crumbs so that this can be a gluten free friendly meal.

Once the eggplant mixture is cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add the eggplant to the egg and bread crumb mixture  and mix well; I like using my hands for this.

Make the mixture into meatball shapes, place them on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the eggplant meatballs for about 30 minutes or until they have become slightly brown.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Easy Marinara Sauce

eggplant meatballs

Marinara sauce is a tomato sauce that is flavored with garlic, onion, herbs and olive oil.

Saute garlic and onion in a little olive oil until fragrant and soft, add a large can of diced tomatoes, basil leaves, and dried oregano.

Add salt to taste, along with pepper flakes, cook over medium heat for 20 minutes until tomatoes have softened.

Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend until the sauce is smooth.

It is easy to keep this sauce in an airtight container for the times you want a quick and easy meal.

What if I Don’t Like Eggplant?

I would say that I feel for you, and that you are missing out on one of the tastiest foods out there.

I would encourage you to try it and if you still felt that this is not the food for you then I would suggest using squash instead.

The only thing is that you’d have to drain it after cooking with the garlic at the beginning of the recipe, since squash will be juicier than an eggplant.

Tips for Making

  • Leave the skins on your eggplants for this dish, and every dish you make with eggplant in my opinion. 
  • Be sure that the eggplant is cooked in the pan before adding to your bread crumb mixture.
  • Don’t over bake in the oven, and serve warm.
eggplant meatballs

Eggplant Meatballs Recipe

When you are in the mood for a good vegetarian meal, eggplant meatballs are sure to fit the bill.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: Eggplant, Meatballs, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 189kcal


  • 4 cups Eggplant cubed
  • ½ cup Parmesan Cheese grated
  • 1 cup Parsley chopped
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ cup Bread Crumbs
  • ¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp Water more if necessary


  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan with a lid over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.
  • Stir in the eggplant, and add the water, cover the pan, lower heat to medium low.
  • Stir every once in a while, and add water one tablespoon at a time if necessary.
  • In a separate bowl, using your hands mix all the remaining ingredients.
  • Remove eggplant from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
  • Add the eggplant to the bread crumb mixture and mix together. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC).
  • Shape into round meatball shapes and place on a baking tray.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until starting to brown.
  • Serve warm with marinara sauce.



Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 262mg | Potassium: 241mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1024IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 153mg | Iron: 2mg

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