These easy Eggplant Meatballs/Polpette without the meat, are a fast, easy and tasty way to use eggplant. Make them as a main dish or appetizer. Make lots because they go quick!
If you have a veggie garden or just love eggplant, there are so many delicious recipes you can make with it including:
- Simple Bucatini and Eggplant
- Italian Grilled Eggplant
- Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- Italian Breaded Eggplant
I have been wanting to share these Eggplant Meatballs / Polpette for a couple of summers now, but I never had the chance. They always went too quickly and I could never get the photos done.
But this time I made them when no one was home! And yes I did save a few to share.
I am convinced that these Eggplant Meatballs are, what started the Italian saying “Una tira l’altra” (one leads to another), because believe me you can’t stop at one.
And trust me you aren’t even going to miss the meat. The perfect vegetarian dinner or even appetizer idea.
How to make them
- Bake the whole eggplant for about an hour.
- Let it cool enough to handle and then remove the outer skin.
- Remove the pulp and place in a sieve, with a fork gently press on the pulp to remove excess liquid.
- Place the pulp in a bowl and add the egg, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, garlic clove, salt, pepper, oregano and fresh chopped parsley.
- Mix together and form into about 14 balls.
- Roll the polpette in bread crumbs then,
- Bake or fry and eat!
How to Bake them
The Eggplant Meatballs or Polpette which is what they are called in Italian, are equally delicious whether you fry or bake them. Baking of course has fewer calories and is a healthier version.
Lightly drizzle a little olive oil on a non stick baking sheet, place the meatballs on top sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese drizzle a little olive oil on top and bake.
They should be baked in a hot 400F (200C) oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden.
How to Fry the Meatballs
To Fry the Eggplant Meatballs they should be cooked in hot 340-350F (170-175C) vegetable oil. Turn the polpette a couple of times while frying so they brown evenly. They should cook in about 2-3 minutes.
How to store them
The baked or fried eggplant meatballs should be eaten immediately, although if you have leftovers they should be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated.
They will keep for a couple of daysin the fridge. You can reheat them in the microwave or oven.
Can the Eggplant Meatballs be frozen?
You can freeze the raw eggplant balls, place the polpette on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, then place them in an airtight container or freezer bag.
Then you can remove as many as you want, whenever you have a craving for something tasty.
However you decide to make these Eggplant Meatballs, whether fried or baked I hope you enjoy them. Buon Appetito!
Italian Eggplant Meatballs / Polpette
- 2 medium globe eggplants (28 ounces) (800 grams)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (50 grams)
- 1/2 breadcrumbs (60 grams)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 dashes pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 2-3 tablespoons bread crumbs (for rolling)
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C). If Baking then lightly drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a small non-stick cookie sheet.
- Bake the whole eggplants in the oven for about 45-60 minutes or until tender and cooked. Remove (if baking do not turn off the oven) them from the oven and let cool just enough to handle or use a fork and knife to remove the skin. Place the pulp in a sieve and gently squish with a fork to remove excess moisture. Let cool the pulp cool if very hot.
- In a medium bowl place the pulp, egg, parmesan, breadcrumbs, minced garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and oregano and mix together. Form into about 14 balls, roll the balls in the 2-3 tablespoons of bread crumbs and either bake - place on the prepared cookie sheet, sprinkle with the extra parmesan cheese and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes (halfway through turn the meatballs) or until golden brown. Sprinkle with a little salt before serving if desired. Enjoy.
- If frying, then place 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a medium pot, heat the oil until it reaches 340-350F (170-175C), then carefully place 2 or 3 balls at a time in the hot oil (keep the temperature at as close to this temperature as possible). Turn the meatballs a couple of times while frying so they brown evenly. They should cook in about 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined plate, sprinkle with a little salt if desired and serve. Enjoy!
Hello! If I make these tonight to take to a luncheon tomorrow, will they get mushy? I can reheat them in the morning, or do you suggest I cook them in the morning?
Hi Kathleen, I would probably cook them in the morning. Let me know how it goes. Take care!
Debbie M says
Can these be put in the air fryer?
Hi Debbie, I really don’t know, I have never used an air fryer. You can try and let me know if you do. Take care.
Diane B says
Can I freeze them after they are cooked? Will they keep if they are in sauce
Hi Diane, yes you can freeze them either baked or unbaked, if unbaked freeze until firm on a cookie sheet then move to a freezer safe container. They will last 1-2 months in the freezer. I have never made them in sauce, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t keep. Hope that helps.
Oosha Rao says
Sounds delicious to this eggplant lover.
Will try for sure. Also the pol-Estes.
Hi Oosha Rao, thanks so much, let me know if you try it. Have a great week.
Wow! These are so delicious. I only wish I made more…thank you, thank you…
Hi Anthony, thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed them.
I have made the baked eggplant polpette a number of times to have as cicchetti with Prosecco andbthey are always a hit.
Hi Lyn, thanks so much, glad they are enjoyed. Take care.
When I was growing up my Mother made these but made them with the meatball recipe & added it to the eggplant. Then fried them & put in small roaster & poured sauce on them & cooked for 1 hr with morzella cheese over them& they tased like stuffed eggplants.
Thanks for this recipe, I am going to try it! Have you tried to steam it instead of bake it for 1 hour? Since we need the flesh I wonder if it tastes the same.
Hi Shien, roasting and steaming give two difference tastes in my opinion, steaming is a lot more bland than roasting. If you try steaming let me know how it goes.
I made these slightly bigger and they resembled normal size meatballs. To kick it up a notch I added homemade sauce for a topping , with a generous sprinkle of parmigiana cheese and I tell you it made your mouth water. These a great if you have friends that do not eat meat. I will definitely make these again.
Thanks for sharing and Buon Anno.
Hi Anna, thanks so much so glad you enjoyed them. Happy New Year to you too!
If you make them these double the size how long would you bake them for ? Maybe double the time?
Hi Toni, I would probably add on 10 more minutes, everything is cooked already in the them so you really just want them to brown all over. Let me know how it goes.
I would like to make these ahead of time, I am planning a party. I would like to make and freeze. Please explain how far ahead they can be made. How Please provide directions for reheating from frozen. Thank you
Hi Diane, yes they can be frozen, be sure to freeze first on a cookie sheet, then when they are firm, move them to a freezer container or freezer bag. Thaw them in the fridge then heat in the oven on low heat for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
Hi EM thanks, so glad you liked them.
If baking the temperature is the same as when baking the eggplants, right?
Hi Monica, yes it’s the same temperature. So you can leave the oven on. Let me know how it goes.
They came out good! They definitely really make a pasta dish more filling. Thanks so much!
Hi Monica, thanks, great glad you like them. Have a great week.
I’ve always had a weak spot for polpette, and since I just loooooove eggplants, I really need to try this!
Thank you for sharing the recipe!
Hi Lithenna, thanks I hope you try them and let me know how you like them. Have a great weekend.
Joan Dudko says
Hi Rosemary, I’m a big fan of yours. A lot of the recipes you feature are so much like ones my mom made. I can’t wait to try these eggplant meatballs. I’m invited to a cookout next month. Do you think these would be appropriate for an outdoor party, and if so, do you serve or would you serve with a dip like maybe marinara?
Looking forward to your reply. Ciao, Joan
Hi Joan, thanks, glad you enjoy the recipes. I think they would be great for an outdoor party. And yes you could serve them with a sauce, I think a marinara sauce would probably be the best choice. Let me know how it works out.
Hi Rachel, thanks.