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How To Make Pan-Fried Eggplant With Meat Sauce

eggplant and marinara sauce

Pan-fried eggplant with meat sauce is a delicious and healthy option if you’re craving the heartiness of an Italian meat but looking to reduce the carbs you would normally find with pasta as the main ingredient. The fried eggplant slices come to a golden crisp and are topped with our homemade sauce and of course, some cheese. 

Ease of Making: Medium

This eggplant milanese is brought together by dredging your eggplant in a combination of egg wash and seasoned breadcrumbs. You don’t need any flour to fry eggplant in this recipe. If you’re concerned about your eggplant absorbing oil when cooking, you can salt the eggplant or soak it in milk ahead of time to break down the plant and break down the porous structure of the plant. 

Eggplant has many fantastic benefits like increasing brain function, preventing anemia, helping with digestion and improving heart health. It’s high fiber content can lead the way to reducing the cholesterol in your system by binding it to the bile in your digestive system and removing it naturally. 

Preparing Your Eggplant for Cooking

Before you begin your cooking process, you’ll want to remove the stem, leaves and the top and bottom of the plant. You can leave the skin on or remove it, that’s totally up to you. For this recipe it is important to salt the eggplant. Salt helps bring out the extra moisture that can provide a mushy and soggy result when cooked. Slice your eggplant into circles and salt both sides, letting it sit on a kitchen towel or paper towel  for at least twenty minutes. 

Historically, eggplant was actually salted before cooking to reduce some of the bitter flavor that came with the plant. However, the eggplants we have now have mostly bred out the bitterness. 

What are the Different Types of Eggplant

There are countless varieties of eggplant that can vary widely in shape, size and even color. Most common at American grocery stores, is you guessed it, the American eggplant. This eggplant is also known as the globe eggplant and has a tougher, meatier texture than other eggplants. 

Some other varieties of eggplant:

Graffiti Eggplant – Slightly sweeter than the traditional eggplant, the graffiti eggplant is most recognizable by its purple and white striped skin. Which is why it is also known as striped eggplants.  This variation is great for eating pureeing, eating whole or substituting in for traditional eggplant if you need. 

Japanese Eggplant – Both the Japanese and Chinese eggplants vary from traditional varieties in their long, oblong shape. The Japanese variation of eggplant is deep in it’s purple color and has a creamy flesh that works great in stir frys. 

Fairy Tale Eggplant – Similar in color to the graffiti eggplant, the purple and white striped fairy tale eggplant is small and can fit in the palm of your hand. Due to the tender nature of this variety, it is wonderful for grilling. 

White Eggplant – There isn’t a lot of difference between the classic American eggplant or  “Globe Eggplant” other than the color that the plant is wrapped in. Both the  white and American eggplant have a  smooth creamy skin and meaty flesh. These are great for both bread and protein substitutes. 

Indian Eggplant – The Indian Eggplant is a dark, reddish-purple in color and more spherical than other varieties you may come across. The texture in the Indian eggplant is different from other varieties as it is more tender, making it perfect for roasting, soups, stews and more. 

Little Green Eggplant – A fantastic eggplant for baking, the little green eggplant, is a bright green variety of this “fruit” and is most known for being mild and sweet in flavor. 

Thai Eggplant – Thai eggplant is round, small in size, and traditionally hard to find. These miniature eggplants are typically a greenish-white color with a light pink flesh. Most notably, Thai eggplant is more bitter than other varieties, to remove some of the bitterness you can try removing the seeds. If you’re able to score some at your local market, try throwing a few in our recipe for Thai Red Beef Curry.

There are countless other varieties and heirloom versions of each that are available to eggplant lovers across the world. Try experimenting with the various types when you’re making something new and see which you like best!

Eggplant FAQ

What is the best time of year for eggplant?

Eggplant is available year-round but it’s peak season runs from July to October. 

How to store eggplant?

Eggplants can’t withstand temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit so storing in the refrigerator can sometimes be counterproductive. If you choose to do so, store it in the vegetable drawer or the warmest part of your fridge. Eggplants can also be kept out of the fridge, which may actually help increase their lifespan. Store in an area that is cool and away from direct sunlight. 

How to choose an eggplant?

Due to the fact that there are many varieties of eggplants and each is slightly different, a general rule of thumb is to look for a firm, shiny skin. Avoid eggplants that have started to wrinkle or have soft, brown spots on their skin.  Eggplants should feel heavy and not hollow. 

Is eggplant a fruit or vegetable?

Most people are under the assumption that eggplants are vegetables, but in fact they are fruits!

Do I need to peel eggplant before cooking?

Nope! The skin on eggplant is entirely edible and removing it is more of a preference of the person eating it.

Meal prep tips for Pan-Fried Eggplant

  • Salt your eggplant – this will help reduce moisture and prevent a soggy outcome. 
  • When reheating your pan-fried eggplant, toss it in the oven or an air fryer if you have one to crisp it back up.
  • Soak in milk – soak your eggplant for up to an hour before cooking to help reduce oil absorption when frying. 
  • Microwave before cooking – this is another tactic for reducing oil absorption when frying, as pre-cooking helps break down the spongy texture. 
eggplant and marinara

Pan-Fried Eggplant with Meat Sauce

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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2


  • knife
  • cutting board
  • spatula
  • saute pan


Meat Sauce

  • 10 oz lean ground beef
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup white onions (diced)
  • 1/2 each green bell pepper (cubed)
  • 1/2 each red bell pepper (cubed)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper


  • 1/2 each eggplant
  • 1 each large eggs
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil



  • Add olive oil to a saute pan on medium high heat and saute the onions and bell peppers until they soften
  • Add the ground beef and break it into pieces. Saute until it is golden brown and fully cooked (about 5 to 7 minutes)
  • Next, add the marinara sauce and mix it well. Let it simmer on low for 5 to 7 minutes


  • Next, slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds
  • Prepare the egg wash by scrambling the eggs in a bowl large enough to fit the eggplant
  • Prepare the breadcrumbs and seasonings in another large bowl
  • Dip the eggplant slices in the egg wash, then dredge it in the breadcrumbs, making sure all sides are fully coated
  • In another pan, add oil on medium high heat and place the eggplant slices in the pan
  • Cook on each side for about 2 to 3 minutes until it is golden brown all around
  • Top off the eggplant slices with the meat sauce


Optional: Top it off with shredded parmesan cheese

Links to other recipes:

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