These delicious eggplant meatballs are the perfect “meatless” version of an Italian classic. Instead of meat, they are filled with roasted eggplant, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and fresh basil.
This vegetarian meatball is a must for eggplant lovers! Throughout my blog, you’ll notice I use a lot of eggplants – especially in Italian dishes. It’s a very “meaty” tasting vegetable and is incredibly versatile to cook with!
To prepare the eggplant for this dish, I went with oven-roasting. This method is no-fuss and really helps draws out a lot of flavor from the eggplant itself.
When the meatballs are prepared and baked, the finished product is moist and full of fresh herbs and garlic-y flavor. When paired with rich marinara and pasta noodles, it’s oh-so-delicious – even for meat-lovers!
Ingredients – What You Need
For this recipe you’ll need just 7 simple ingredients (not including salt & pepper). See below for the full list.
Eggplant: you’ll need around one pound of ripe purple eggplant.
Breadcrumbs: use homemade or your favorite store-bought. Use gluten-free breadcrumbs if needed.
Garlic: to add lots of flavor. Fresh garlic is best or you can swap for garlic powder.
Basil: you’ll need a handful of fresh basil – dried herbs won’t add as much flavor.
Parmesan: I recommend using freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano.
Egg: only one egg is used to help bind the ingredients together.
Oil: for roasting the eggplant.
Step by Step Recipe Instructions
Preheat oven to 400F and roast diced eggplant for 18-20 minutes or until edges are browned. Flip halfway through.
Then add diced roasted eggplant to a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse together until smooth. Let pureed eggplant cool while you prepare additional ingredients.
Then add pureed eggplant and rest of ingredients into a large bowl. Stir together.
Then use a small cookie scoop to measure meatballs, gently form with hands, then arrange on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Lower oven to 375F and bake meatballs for 20-25 minutes. Then when finished add to a sauce pan with marinara and heat in sauce for 5 minutes before serving.
Tips for Success
Use a cookie scoop to measure – this cookie scooper is a super-easy way to get the perfect meatball size. An ice cream scoop would be far too big, but this size is perfect!
What to serve eggplant meatballs with – my favorite way to serve these up is with chickpea pasta, regular wheat pasta, or gluten-free noodles. You can also serve them with zucchini or vegetable noodles!
Add extra herbs – for more fresh flavor, you can also add chopped fresh oregano or parsley to these meatballs.
Do I need to peel the eggplant? You do not need to peel the eggplant before roasting. The skin will add meaty texture and flavor to the meatball!
How to Store Leftovers and Freeze
Refrigerate leftovers: store meatballs in an airtight container or ziplock bag, refrigerate for 3-4 days.
Freezing & reheating tips: bake meatballs, and skip simmering in the sauce. Add to a freezer-friendly bag and lay flat, freeze for 1-2 months. When ready to serve, thaw at room temperature and simmer in tomato sauce until warm.
More Italian Eggplant Recipes to Try
Roasted Eggplant Meatballs
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Roasted eggplant: on a sheet pan, arrange cubed eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle of salt. Toss in oil and bake for 20 minutes, flip halfway through.
- Puree eggplant: in a large food processor, add eggplant and pulse until it's pureed. Let cool.
- Mix meatball ingredients: in a large bowl, mix together pureed eggplant, minced garlic, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, salt & pepper, and chopped basil.
- Form meatballs: use a cookie scoop or measure out 3 tablespoons of meatball and gently used hands to form into ball. Arrange on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake: lower oven temperature to 375F and bake meatballs for 20-25 minutes.
- Simmer in sauce: when meatballs are finished, add to a sauce pan with marinara and simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve right away with additional chopped fresh basil and parmesan cheese!