Eggplants are a staple in many cuisines around the world, from Italian to Indian and even American.
They can be cooked in a variety of ways, from frying to baking and grilling.
They’re also incredibly versatile – you can add them to dishes like ratatouille or use them as an alternative for meat!
But what do you do when eggplants aren’t available?
Or perhaps you just don’t like their taste?
Don’t worry – there are plenty of other vegetables that make great substitutes for eggplants.
In this article, I’m going to share with you my top 13 choices for the best substitutes for eggplants so that your recipes still turn out delicious!
What is Eggplant?
Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a species of nightshade grown for its edible fruit.
Eggplants are believed to have originated in India, where they have been cultivated since prehistory.
They are now widely grown and eaten around the world, especially in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines.
The eggplant is a tender perennial plant that grows best in warm climates with plenty of sunlight.
It has large, glossy purple fruits that can be round or elongated depending on the variety.
The flesh inside is white or yellowish-white and spongy, with small edible seeds scattered throughout.
Eggplants can be cooked in many different ways including baking, grilling, frying, sautéing and steaming.
They are often used as an ingredient in dishes such as ratatouille and moussaka but can also be enjoyed on their own as part of salads or side dishes.
Eggplants contain vitamins A and C as well as dietary fiber which makes them a healthy addition to any diet!
The 13 Best Substitutes For Eggplants
Eggplants are a versatile and flavorful vegetable, but they aren’t always readily available.
If you’re looking for an alternative, here are thirteen substitutes that can be used in place of eggplants:
1 – Zucchini
Zucchini is a great substitute for eggplant in many recipes.
It has a similar texture and flavor, but it’s much more mild.
To use zucchini instead of eggplant, you’ll want to make sure that the zucchini is cut into small cubes or slices so that it cooks evenly.
You may also need to adjust the cooking time since zucchini cooks faster than eggplant.
Additionally, if your recipe calls for salting the eggplant before cooking, you can do the same with the zucchini to help draw out some of its moisture and prevent it from becoming soggy.
2 – Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the same family as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts.
It has a white head (called the “curd”) made up of undeveloped flower buds surrounded by thick green leaves.
The florets are typically creamy white in color but can also be found in purple, orange, or green varieties.
- How To Replace Eggplants With Cauliflower: Cauliflower can be used as a substitute for eggplant in dishes like ratatouille and moussaka. To make cauliflower taste more like eggplant, roast it with olive oil until slightly browned and tender before adding it to your dish. This will help bring out its nutty flavor and give it an eggplant-like texture. You can also add spices such as cumin, coriander, garlic powder, oregano or thyme to enhance the flavor even further.
- Examples: Roasted cauliflower makes a great addition to salads or grain bowls. It’s also delicious served with dips such as hummus or tzatziki sauce. For an easy side dish try roasting cauliflower with olive oil and sea salt then topping with fresh herbs like parsley or mint for extra flavor. You can also use cauliflower instead of eggplant when making traditional Italian dishes like caponata or parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant Parmesan).
3 – Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is a type of winter squash, which is an edible fruit that grows on vines.
It has an oblong shape with tan skin and yellow-orange flesh.
Its flavor is sweet and nutty, similar to pumpkin or sweet potato but more mellow in taste.
- How To Replace Eggplant With Butternut Squash: When replacing eggplant with butternut squash, it’s important to remember that the cooking times may be different since butternut squash takes longer to cook than eggplant. If you are baking dishes such as lasagna or moussaka, you can use cubed butternut squash instead of eggplant slices. The cubes should be cooked until tender before adding them to the dish. For stir-fries or curries, cut the butternut squash into thin slices and cook for about 5 minutes before adding other ingredients.
- Examples: Butternut squash can be used in many dishes where eggplants would usually be used, such as ratatouille, stuffed vegetables, casseroles, gratins and stews. You can also roast it whole or diced and serve it as a side dish or add it to salads for extra flavor and nutrition!
4 – Carrots
Carrots are a root vegetable that is typically orange in color, but can also be purple, yellow, red and white.
They have a crunchy texture and sweet flavor when cooked.
- How To Replace Eggplants With Carrots: When replacing eggplant with carrots in recipes like ratatouille or lasagna, it’s important to remember that the cooking time for carrots will be much shorter than for eggplant. To make up for this difference in cooking times, you should pre-cook the carrots before adding them to the dish. This can be done by steaming or boiling them until they are just tender.
- Examples: One example of where you might use carrots instead of eggplant is in a vegetarian lasagna recipe. Instead of layering slices of roasted eggplant between layers of cheese and sauce like traditional lasagna recipes call for, you could layer thinly sliced boiled or steamed carrots instead. You could also use grated carrot instead of diced eggplant in ratatouille dishes or other vegetable stews.
5 – Beets
Beets are root vegetables that come in a variety of colors, including red, yellow and white.
They have an earthy flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked.
- How To Replace Eggplants With Beets: When replacing eggplant with beets, the texture will not be quite the same since beets have a much firmer texture than eggplants do. However, they can still work as a good substitute if you adjust your recipe accordingly. Roast or sauté the beets until they are tender before adding them to your dish. You may also want to add more liquid to compensate for the difference in texture between the two vegetables.
- Examples of Recipes Using Beets: There are many recipes that use both eggplant and beets interchangeably such as ratatouille, curries or stews; just make sure to adjust cooking times for each vegetable accordingly depending on how firm you prefer them to be when cooked through. You can also roast or steam whole baby beetroots for salads or side dishes; top with feta cheese for extra flavor! Grated raw beetroot is also great added into smoothies for an extra nutritional boost – try it blended with banana and almond milk!
6 – Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello mushrooms are large, mature cremini mushrooms with a meaty texture and an earthy flavor.
They have dark brown caps ranging from five to six inches in diameter.
The caps are often used as an alternative to meat because of their robust flavor and hearty texture.
- How To Replace Eggplants With Portobello Mushrooms: When substituting portobello mushrooms for eggplant in recipes, it is important to consider the size and water content of each ingredient. While some recipes may call for slices or cubes of eggplant, portobellos can be sliced into thick steaks or quartered for smaller pieces. Since they contain more moisture than eggplant does, it is best to cook them over high heat so that the excess liquid evaporates quickly. Additionally, adding a bit of oil will help them brown nicely and add extra flavor to your dish.
- Examples: Portobello mushrooms can be used as a replacement for eggplant in many dishes such as lasagna, ratatouille, stir-fries, curries, sandwiches and wraps. They also make a great topping for pizzas and flatbreads when grilled or roasted with herbs and spices like garlic powder or smoked paprika. For a simple side dish try sautéing them with onions and bell peppers until tender then serve with rice or quinoa – delicious!
7 – Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are an edible mushroom native to East Asia, and they have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries.
They are widely available in grocery stores and can be found fresh or dried.
The caps of the mushrooms range from tan to dark brown, with a slightly curved shape.
The stems are white and tough, so they should be removed before cooking.
- How To Replace Eggplants With Shiitake Mushrooms: When replacing eggplant with shiitake mushrooms, it is important to note that the texture will not be the same as eggplant. However, the flavor of shiitake mushrooms can help to enhance a dish in much the same way as eggplant does. Before using shiitake mushrooms, it is best to soak them in warm water for 15-20 minutes until softened. This helps to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on them during storage or shipping. Once softened, they can then be sliced and cooked like any other vegetable or added whole into soups and stews for extra flavor and texture.
- Examples: Shiitake mushrooms can be used as a substitute for eggplant in many dishes such as ratatouille, stir-fries, casseroles and curries. They also work well when added into pastas dishes such as lasagna or stuffed shells. For a vegan option, try adding some chopped shiitakes into your favorite marinara sauce instead of ground beef or sausage for an extra boost of umami flavor!
8 – Green Tomatoes
Green tomatoes are unripe tomatoes that have not yet turned red.
They’re usually picked before they’ve had a chance to fully ripen on the vine, and can be eaten raw or cooked.
Green tomatoes have a slightly tart flavor and a firm texture, making them ideal for frying or pickling.
- How To Replace Eggplants With Green Tomatoes: Green tomatoes are often used as an eggplant substitute in recipes such as ratatouille, moussaka, and other dishes calling for eggplant. The main difference between green tomatoes and eggplants is that green tomatoes are firmer than eggplants when cooked, so they don’t break down as easily during cooking. To compensate for this difference when using green tomatoes in place of eggplant, it’s best to slice them into smaller pieces before adding them to the dish.
- Examples: Fried green tomato sandwiches are popular in the southern United States; slices of fried green tomato can be layered with cheese and condiments on bread or buns like any other sandwich filling. Pickled green tomato relish is also a favorite accompaniment to grilled meats and fish dishes around the world. For something more savory, try sautéing diced green tomato with onion, garlic, herbs, spices, and your choice of vegetables for an easy side dish that pairs well with almost any entrée.
9 – Yellow Squash
Yellow squash is a type of summer squash, which is harvested when immature and edible in both its seed and skin.
It has a mild taste similar to that of zucchini, but with a slightly sweeter flavor.
The yellow variety of this vegetable can be found in many shapes, including round or cylindrical, and sizes ranging from small to large.
- How To Replace Eggplants With Yellow Squash: Yellow squash can easily replace eggplant in recipes as it has the same texture and flavor profile as eggplant. When substituting for eggplant, use the same amount of yellow squash as you would eggplant; however, since yellow squash cooks faster than eggplants, reduce the cooking time by about half. If you are making a dish that calls for roasted or grilled eggplant slices then slice the yellow squash into thin rounds before roasting or grilling them.
- Examples: Grilled Vegetable Skewers – Substitute diced yellow squash for diced eggplant on these skewers with bell peppers and onions. Ratatouille – This classic French stew usually contains tomatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini and eggplant; substitute diced yellow squash for the diced eggplant instead! Eggplant Parmesan – Layer sliced yellow squash instead of sliced eggplants between tomato sauce layers topped off with cheese for an equally delicious version of this Italian favorite!
10 – Rutabagas
Rutabagas, also known as swedes or Swedish turnips, are root vegetables that look like a cross between a turnip and a potato.
They have a light yellow-orange color on the outside and creamy white flesh on the inside.
The flavor is slightly sweet with notes of nuttiness and earthiness.
- How to Replace Eggplants With Rutabagas: Since rutabagas are denser than eggplants, they will need to be cooked longer in order to soften them up. You can slice them into thin rounds or cubes for roasting, sautéing, or stir-frying. If you want to make something similar to eggplant parmesan, try layering slices of rutabaga with tomato sauce and cheese before baking it in the oven until browned and bubbly.
- Examples: There are many ways you can use rutabagas instead of eggplant in recipes. Try using mashed rutabaga instead of mashed potatoes for shepherd’s pie, adding diced pieces of cooked rutabaga to soups and stews, substituting roasted cubes of rutabaga in place of eggplant in ratatouille recipes, or making fries out of thinly sliced pieces by tossing them with oil before baking them in the oven until crisp and golden brown.
11 – Turnips
Turnips are a root vegetable that looks like a white or purple onion, with white flesh and a mild flavor.
They can be eaten raw or cooked, and are often used in soups and stews.
- How to Replace Eggplants With Turnips: When replacing eggplant with turnips, it is important to consider the texture of the two vegetables. Eggplants have an almost spongy texture when cooked, while turnips are much firmer. To make up for this difference in texture, you may need to add more liquid than usual when cooking with turnips instead of eggplant. Additionally, you may want to reduce the cooking time slightly as turnips cook faster than eggplants.
- Examples: Turnips can be used in many dishes that would typically call for eggplant such as ratatouille and moussaka. You can also use turnip slices as an alternative to fried eggplant slices in sandwiches or wraps. Finally, mashed turnip makes a great topping for pizza instead of roasted eggplant slices or other vegetables such as mushrooms or peppers.
12 – Tofu
Tofu is a plant-based food made from soybeans.
It is also known as bean curd and has a soft, custard-like texture. It is high in protein and low in fat, making it an excellent alternative to animal proteins like beef or pork.
- How To Replace Eggplant With Tofu: When replacing eggplant with tofu, consider the texture of the dish you are making. For dishes that require a firmer texture such as lasagna or moussaka, use extra firm tofu that has been pressed for at least 30 minutes before cooking to remove excess moisture. If you’re looking for something softer, try silken or soft tofu which can be used in soups and sauces. You may want to season the tofu with salt and spices before cooking to give it more flavor.
- Examples: There are many ways you can use tofu instead of eggplant in your favorite recipes! Try using cubes of extra firm tofu instead of eggplant slices when baking ratatouille or veggie parmesan casserole. Soft or silken tofu can be blended into creamy sauces for pasta dishes such as macaroni and cheese or lasagna Bolognese. You could also replace fried eggplant slices with cubes of marinated and baked extra firm tofu for vegan “chicken” Parmesan sandwiches!
13 – Okra
Okra is a vegetable that is native to Africa and has many uses in cooking.
It is also known as lady’s fingers or gumbo, and has a mild flavor with a slight nuttiness.
Okra pods are usually green but can be found in other colors such as purple and white.
- How To Replace Eggplant With Okra: When replacing eggplant with okra, it helps to understand the texture of both vegetables. Eggplant has a meaty texture while okra tends to be more slimy when cooked. This means that okra may not work well in dishes where eggplant would be used for its texture, like lasagna or ratatouille. However, if you want the flavor of eggplant without the texture, okra can be substituted quite easily for eggplant in most dishes.
- Examples of Using Okra Instead of Eggplants: One way to use okra instead of eggplants is by roasting it with other vegetables like tomatoes, onions and garlic for an easy side dish or appetizer. You can also sauté slices of okra with spices such as cumin and coriander for an Indian-inspired dish served over rice or quinoa. Finally, you can use sliced okra in place of eggplants when making stir-fries or curries; just make sure to cook them until they are tender before adding any additional ingredients so they don’t become slimy during cooking!
In conclusion, eggplants are a versatile and flavorful vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes.
If you don’t have eggplant on hand, there are several other vegetables that can be used as a great substitute.
The best substitutes for eggplants are zucchini, cauliflower, butternut squash, carrots, beets, portobello mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, green tomatoes, yellow squash, and rutabagas and turnips.
Each of these vegetables has its own unique flavor and texture that can be used to create delicious and nutritious dishes.
So, the next time you’re in a pinch and need a substitute for eggplants, reach for one of these vegetables and get creative in the kitchen.
The 13 Best Substitutes For Eggplants
- Butternut Squash
- Portobello Mushrooms
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Green Tomatoes
- Yellow Squash
- Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
- Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.