I’d like to introduce you to a delicious side dish that is often overlooked. Italian Pickled Eggplant! This unique dish can be enjoyed as an appetizer or side dish. It’s perfect for any occasion and easy to make at home. Pickles are also easy to make and great to pimp up your dishes.
Pickled eggplant is marinated eggplant pickled and kept completely covered under olive oil, flavored with garlic and oregano as is done in Italy.
After making your pickled eggplants, you can use them in many different pickle recipes; pickled eggplant is a vital ingredient in many spicy pickles.
This is one of the authentic Italian dishes made in Argentina through our Italian mother and is a staple in every house; and also one of the most widely known as the eggplant parmigiana.
Pickling eggplant is a great idea to preserve fresh produce for the pickling season, and pickled eggplant is such a versatile pickle ingredient. You can pickle almost anything, but for me, pickled eggplant will remain my favorite pickles throughout the year, and we always have this appetizer readily available in the fridge.
- Coarse kosher salt
- White wine vinegar
- Vegetable oil
- Peppercorns or red pepper flakes
- Bay leaves
- Garlic cloves
- Oregano leaves
- Smoked paprika
- Dry Tomatoes
- Fresh herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, or parsley)
🔪 How to pickle eggplant
It is a straightforward method; it doesn't take much time hands-on.
Salt the eggplant
What takes time is getting rid of the eggplant's excess liquid. After that step, everything unfolds in less than 30 minutes.
It would be best if you started either the day before or 8 hours in advance, so make the best of your time, doubling your quantities, as you should leave it to rest in the fridge for a month before starting to eat it.
I say the day before because you need to salt the eggplants and remove their excess moisture. You can do it 8 hours in advance, which will work well.
Slice the eggplant in your preferred shape. We like cutting them following the eggplant’s length, but feel free to make long strips and even remove their skin.
You can also make discs. We leave the peal, but you can cut it off if you like. Use a mandolin if you have one.
We place something heavy on top of the eggplants, like a pile of heavy books or a dutch oven filled with grains.
Sprinkle coarse salt on the eggplant strips, line a plastic bag, and put something heavy on top; this helps drain more water from the eggplants.
Put them in a place where excess water can drain freely. I put the baking sheet slightly inclined towards the sink overnight.
Sterilize your container
Bring to a boil two liters of water on a large saucepan, and put your mason jar and lid to boil upside down for a minimum of 10 minutes.
Slightly cook eggplant
Using the same boiling water, add the white vinegar and give the eggplant strips or slices a vinegar and water bath to remove the excess salt.
Squeeze out as much liquid as possible by taking a handful of eggplant strips at a time and squeezing them with your hands., removing excess vinegar as well.
Start filling the sterilized jars with layers of squeezed eggplant dried or fresh oregano and herbs. (see video). Depending on your liking, you can use sliced garlic, or you can choose to leave the garlic cloves whole.
Make sure you cover everything completely with enough oil.
Store in a cool dark place or the fridge closed with a lid in an airtight container or mason jar for up to 6 months. They may last even longer; I have just not tried more than that.
Make sure they are always covered with oil. Feel free to add extra oil if the oil in the jar is not enough after consuming a portion.
Like you make your eggplant pickle recipe, you can make pickled vegetables out of other veggies, such as zucchini, onions, and cucumbers. Try eggplants and zucchinis so you can taste the difference and pick your favorite.
📚 Notes on oil
If you want a healthier option to make this eggplant pickle recipe, you could also use Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It will just change the flavor a little bit! Olive oil tastes great! The recipe is traditionally done with neutral vegetable oil so all the rest of the flavors can emerge better.
I like to use olive oil that is not super aromatic, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil (it will turn out greener if you go for this one). These last two options have almost no aroma and are healthier options than mainstream vegetable oil.
We usually can't wait and start munching after 2 or 3 days. That's why we typically fix a second pot which will be optimal in a month. If you munch on your first jar before the month has passed, skip the garlic, as its flavor might still be strong.
🥢 What to do with pickled eggplant
We usually have a Pickled Eggplant jar in the fridge year long since they go well with everything.
Italian pickled eggplant is easy to include in any antipasto platter, as this eggplant recipe is easy to eat as a snack with crackers, Focaccia, or rustic Italian bread (see our simple Italian Pangnotta Recipe).
Add to any pasta, sandwich, or potatoes for a flavor punch.
I also use their oil for additional daily preparations, like simple pasta.
Sometimes we chop one or two eggplant slices and a clove of pickled garlic from the jar and add them to spaghetti or rigati pasta for a lazy pasta night.
We usually have a tapa at the beginning of a meal, like a mini appetizer. Pickles are fantastic hassle-less options.
You can serve these Eggplants on an appetizers table next to Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Olives, assorted nuts, and Roman Style Artichokes (Carchiofi alla Romana)
Sometimes we just have some vegan empanadas, either with lentil filling or mushroom. We then serve these pickles on the same table and use them as a condiment.
Two of our favorite ways to eat eggplant pickles are to dice them and mix them with a nice bowl of pasta for an easy dinner or pair them with plain mashed potatoes.
🍆 More eggplant recipes
- Vegan Eggplant Babaganoush Spread
- Vegan Eggplant Involvitini
- Indian Eggplant Curry
- Vegan Eggplant Pie
- Creamy Eggplant Pasta with Tomato Ricotta Sauce
- Vegan Green Lentil Curry with sweet potatoes and eggplant.
See our eggplant recipe collection.
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Recipe for Pickled Eggplant
- 3 eggplants (large)
- ¼ cup sea salt (coarse)
- ½ liter vinegar (any)
- ½ liter vegetable oil (neutral, or avocado oil for a healthier option)
- 2 tablespoon peppercorns (black or mixed)
- 10 bay leaves (dry or fresh)
- 5 garlic cloves (whole)
- 2 tablespoon oregano leaves (dry)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
Optional (Son's version):
- 5 tomatoes (dry)
- fresh herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, or parsley)
- basil (dry or fresh)
- The night before (or minimum 8 hours): Cut your eggplants the way you like them. We like cutting them following the eggplant’s length, but feel free to cut them transversally (discs) or even strips. We leave the peal, but you can cut it off if you want. Use a mandolin if you have one.
- Place the Eggplants on a tray. Add the salt on top and put another tray on top. Place some heavy stuff on it, such as books. The idea is that the salt dehydrates the eggplants. It will drain water, so make sure you place them somewhere where the water won’t spill overnight, for a minimum of 3 hours.
- Sterilize. You need a sterilized mason jar (glass). Below is how.
- Boil. Bring 2 liters of water to boil on a pot, and put your jar and lid to boil upside down for a minimum of 10 minutes.
- Boil aside. Bring to boil 1 liter of water + ½ liter of vinegar. Boil the eggplant strips for 3 minutes and take them off; let them drain in a colander.
- Start assembling: Start filling the mason jar with layers of all the ingredients (watch the video).
- Fill it with vegetable oil, making sure you cover all the ingredients, and close the lid.
- Store. Put them on the fridge and start craving!
🌡️ Food safety
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking points to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our full Nutritional Disclosure here.
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We call this escabeche in Argentina! How nice, i never knew the ratio of water to vinegar to oil ???? Really need to make this now!
Priya Lakshminarayan says
So glad I found this recipe. My husband loves eggplants and pickles! Making this for him tonight. Thank you.
My Italian mother made something like this but the eggplant was cut into strips. Either way, it's delicious. The eggplant really lends itself to pickling.
I'm always on the lookout for new ways to use eggplant! This pickled version looks simple and delicious. I bet it tastes amazing topped on crusty bread!
I am a pickle addict but haven't pickled eggplant yet. Time to start right now. Yum!
Oh yes! It is a one way journey!
Oh my goodness! How have I never had this before? I love pickled veggies and I'm a huge fan of eggplant. This will be made ASAP!
they are a must-try! and always available at the fridge!
Can you sub the oil for anything?
Not that I know or have tried. Sorry about that.
Amanda Wren-Grimwood says
I've never had pickled eggplant so I can't wait to try this. It's good to know all the different steps for pickling too.
I love eggplant in all forms but I never tried pickling it before! This sounds like such an interesting way to enjoy my favourite vegetable.
I love finding things I can pickle and this is a great way to use eggplant.
Love eggplants! Gotta try this pickled version.
Seema Sriram says
The bread and the lovely eggplant pickle sounds like an amazing combo. I am waiting for my eggplant to bear fruit as it has plenty of flowers. Hoping I will get some gorgeous produce to try this.
Joseph Cennamo says
I have had pickled eggplant in the past and they were very firm I tried this recipe and only boiled it for two minutes and they came out very mushy.
Hi Joseph, pickled eggplants, in general, can be either soft or firm, but most of the ones you will find in Italian restaurants here in Italy and also in Argentina tend to be soft and silky. We like the latter more, as they match very well with crackers and bread. In case you want firmer eggplant, I recommend cutting them into bigger chunks. 🙂
Sara Welch says
I have the perfect eggplants for this growing in my garden! Looking forward to giving this a try; looks too good to pass up, indeed!
I'm new to pickling but this was super easy to do! A great way to use up the eggplants form the garden and keep to add to salads.
Thanks for trying our eggplant pickles Alison, and for rating them so highly! We're glad you found them easy to make and that you'll be able to enjoy them in salads and other dishes.
We love getting feedback like this because it helps us know that we're on the right track with our recipes. Keep letting us know what you think, we love hearing from our customers.
Pickled Eggplant sounds fabulous! I love how versatile it is and that it's easy to make. Can't wait to try it.
I love eggplants, but never knew they can be pickled! This is a great way to use eggplants, and it tastes delicious.
We're so glad you enjoyed the eggplant pickles Anita! We love them too and are happy to know you found a way to enjoy them even more. Thanks for trying them!
Just Made 4 jars and excited to try it! How long will these keep in the oil?
Hey! That's so cool! You can preserve them for up to 6 months in a dark, cool place or the fridge. Thanks for your question; I just added this extra piece of information to the post; thanks to you! 🙂