Eggplant makes a great meat substitute in many dishes. Try these hearty eggplant meatballs for a great vegetarian alternative!

I love growing eggplant in my vegetable garden, and even though it can be a temperamental plant to grow, once it’s established it will keep giving and giving all season long.

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When we have a produce drawer overflowing with eggplant, Polpette di Melanzane is the number one dinner requested by my kids.

Okay, so really they are just baked eggplant meatballs but the Italian name sounds nicer!

If you would like to try making some, here’s what you’ll need:


vegetarian eggplant meatballs text over images of "meat"balls on a plate


How to Make Baked Eggplant Meatballs:


Here’s what you need:

Eggplant- ~ 3 large, ~10 small/medium.

~2 cups bread crumbs (homemade or store bought)

1 egg

2 cloves garlic

1 onion

salt and pepper to taste

A handful of fresh basil and oregano

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

olive oil- for drizzling

Related Reading: How to Store Eggplant for the Best Results


baked eggplant meatballs ingredients

To start, cut then ends off the eggplant and then peel. If you’re using large eggplant, slice into about 1 inch slices. If you’re using the thinner, Chinese eggplant varieties, they don’t need to be sliced before baking.

Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast the eggplant at 350* for 30-45 min (or until soft).

Transfer the eggplant to the bowl of a food processor. Add in the onion, garlic, herbs and spices and blend until smooth.

Pour the eggplant mixture into a large bowl and stir in the egg, Parmesan, and bread crumbs. Your mixture should be soft, but workable. If it is too wet you can add in more breadcrumbs.

Form the mixture into “meatballs” about 1 inch in diameter.

Place on a lightly greases baking sheet and bake at 350* for about 25 minutes, turning once, until they are browned and slightly crusty.

This recipe can be easily altered. You can increase the eggplant/breadcrumbs, or change the garlic and onion to your taste, but shouldn’t need more than one egg no matter the quantity.


eggplant meatballs sprinkled with parmsean cheese on a plate with cucumbers and strawberries


Related Reading: How to Preserve Eggplant


How to Serve Vegetarian Eggplant Meatballs

These eggplant meatballs are very versatile and can be served much like any other meatball. Some of ideas include:

  • With tomato sauce over pasta.
  • Over top of zoodles tossed in garlic and olive oil
  • With added cheese and sauce in an eggplant meat ball casserole
  • In a vegetarian meatball sub
  • PLAIN (this is our favorite way to eat them!)


How to Store Eggplant Meatball

If you have leftovers, you can store your eggplant meatballs in the fridge for 5 days or so.

They also freeze and reheat well, so you can make extra to save for an easy meal!

We make big batches during the summer, when eggplant is plentiful, and freeze them for eating in the winter. 


Like this recipe? Write it down in my Blank Recipe Journal! It’s a great way to keep track of all your favorite recipes- plus you can pass down all those family favorites from generation to generation!


More Eggplant Recipes:

Crispy Baked Eggplant

Eggplant Crisp (for Dessert!)

50+ Eggplant Recipes for All Tastes


Vegetarian Eggplant "Meatballs"

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A vegetarian "meatball" recipe using eggplant and breadcrumbs. *kid and family approved!


  • Eggplant , 3 large or 10 small/medium, or enough to cover 2 baking sheets
  • ~2 cups bread crumbs, homemade or store bought
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful Fresh basil and oregano
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
  • olive oil


  1. Peel and slice the eggplant
  2. Place the slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30-45 min at 350*.
  3. Transfer the eggplant to the bowl of a food processor. Add in the onion and garlic and blend until smooth.
  4. Add the fresh herbs and spices. Pulse to combine.
  5. Stir in the egg, Parmesan and bread crumbs.
  6. Your mixture should be soft, but workable. If it is too wet add in some more bread crumbs. Lightly grease your baking sheet and form the mixture into 1- 1 1/2 in balls.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, turning once, until they are browned and slightly crusty.


*This recipe is easily altered for more or less quantities. You can increase the eggplant/breadcrumbs amount but will need no more than 1 egg for any amount.