Eggplant

The Crispy Eggplant Cutlets I Want to Eat With Everything

April  1, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

Chicken cutlets get a lot of credit. They can be turned into a sandwich, chopped up and sprinkled on a salad, or broiled with mozzarella and tomato sauce for a quickie chick-Parm. But what if you don’t eat chicken? Or what if you do eat chicken but don’t want it?

That’s where this crispy eggplant comes in.

Of course, we already know that eggplant loves being breaded and fried. Such is the foundation for classic eggplant Parmesan, where eggplant slices are dredged in flour, egg, and crumbs. But after you do all that work, you have to do a lot more work (simmering tomato sauce, grating cheese, baking, cooling) to complete the casserole. And come dinnertime, that crispy-crunchy eggplant is crispy-crunchy no more.

I thought about this a lot a couple months ago. My husband and I were having some friends over and wanted to make eggplant Parmesan. Which means we spent the whole day, well, making eggplant Parmesan. The end result? Great. But what we couldn’t get over was that the pre-Parm, just-fried eggplant cutlets were even greater.

These eggplant cutlets take a few tips from eggplant Parm (lots of, ahem, Parmesan) and the rest from KFC-style fried chicken (black pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, hot paprika). Salting the eggplant slabs beforehand ensures a creamy interior and panko breadcrumbs keep things extra-crispy.

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Top Comment:
“There's nothing wrong with liking fancy, gourmet stuff, and there's nothing wrong with liking simple, minimalist stuff. There's room for all of it. No need for negativity from either side. ”
— Nancy W.
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Between you and me? I’d eat an eggplant’s worth of these with a glass of red wine and call it dinner. But, just like chicken cutlets, there are a million and one ways to show them off. Here are 12 to get you started:

Sandwiches

  • Sourdough bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo
  • Ciabatta with mozzarella, roasted peppers, and pesto
  • Baguette with spicy mayo, pickled vegetables, and cilantro

Salads

  • Caesar: romaine, white anchovies, capers, topped with chopped cutlets
  • Milanese: arugula, olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan, all piled atop the hot cutlets
  • Cobb: swap out the chicken and use eggplant cutlets instead
  • Ranch: iceberg, carrots, radishes, and celery, topped with chopped cutlets

“Composed” Plates

  • Katsu-style: white rice, tonkatsu sauce, lemon wedges
  • Rigatoni with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs, topped with chopped cutlets
  • Top with tomato sauce and mozzarella, broil, blanket with grated Parm
  • Cover in a mushroom-Marsala sauce and serve atop buttery spaghetti
  • Serve with coleslaw and bacon-sautéed kale or collards

Another Way to Eggplant

How would you want to turn eggplant cutlets into dinner? Share ideas in the comments!

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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter.

45 Comments

Rosie's D. April 29, 2019
My baby sister told me to pick the eggplant with the bottom bulge and to leave the ones with the indentation on the shelf. The indented bottoms are on female fruit which, by nature, are very seed-filled. The bulging bottoms are male, so fewer seeds. (I've reworked this post several times. You need to read it aloud with your sister and a few glasses of wine while tending to 3 skillets spitting oil on the stove. Warning: do not give this advice to your sister while standing in the produce aisle or you both may be escorted out and banned forever from entering again. Just saying.)
 
David B. April 20, 2019
I discovered this about five years ago and it's my favorite invention: Leftover eggplant parmigiana cut into bite-sized pieces then mixed in with zesty pesto. That said, you give me the idea of just using chopped breaded eggplant pieces. Love it!
 
M S. April 20, 2019
These cutlets and all their manifestations with chicken, pork, and veal are among the best things to eat in many cultures. But, WTF with the fat. Have not come across anything that tells me the calories and fat in eggplant-especially because it is absorbant-or any of the fried cutlets. I assume they are a disaster. Would eat fried cutlets like these much more if it was not "deadly" for you. Thanks.
 
marilu April 19, 2019
This was so yummy! Thank you, Emma! Since I’m usually cooking for two, I end up having leftovers to finish up so your different idea takes on using the eggplant cutlets were so helpful to me!
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 22, 2019
Yay, thanks!
 
Leslye B. April 19, 2019
I'd rather bake them in the oven with as little oil as possible. I frequently make eggplant "steaks." I slice eggplant to 3/4 inch thickness, spray with cooking oil, season with salt, pepper, garlic and paprika and bake 20 min on each side at 400 degrees. Delicious and versatile.
 
Kathryn April 19, 2019
I think all of these recipes are great but ... why post about eggplant in April?! It's not in season until late summer for most of your readers, which means what you get in the markets today is shipping from who knows where and will taste like sawdust by the time it gets here. We need to be conscious of eating locally and seasonally whenever possible, plan your meals around your local farmer's market or garden. Let's keep talking about asparagus and artichokes right now.
 
Margaret April 19, 2019
I agree to a point, but a lot of us live in the southern hemisphere where eggplants are now readily available but asparagus is not and I have never seen artichokes in a shop, just in a bottle. The beauty of Food52 is that no matter where you live the recipes are for you. Just copy and paste into your recipes folder and hey presto! they are there for whenever you need them
 
Kathryn April 19, 2019
Trust me, I saved the recipes for August! That's great to hear Food52 reaches all around the world. I'm sorry you've never seen a fresh artichoke, they're nothing like bottled. I grow them in my back yard and they're amazing. I'm sure you have foods that we can only dream of eating fresh here in the states. Here's to eating locally!
 
sunnymother April 25, 2019
Observing Lent is a great reason to discuss eggplants in April! Many folks I know keep a vegan fast at this time of year, and are always on the lookout for hearty veggie dishes that satisfy! Many of us subscribe to Food 52 because of the abundance of adaptable recipes! I used to buy eggplant cutlets frozen in spring, but PANKO is genius and will use less oil. That said, spring veg is a great uplifted for the palette! I’d serve these with asparagus AND artichokes! Bring on ALL the veg!
 
Stephanie P. April 19, 2019
I bet eggplant would be awesome in the airfryer.
 
marilu April 19, 2019
Yes! I’m very new to the air fryer. Any particular tips you could recommend? Would the consistency still be the same?
 
Ida S. April 19, 2019
Israeli style in a pita, shredded lettuce, chopped olives, grilled tomato, grilled onion- use tahini sauce mixed with sun dried olive oil . Yumm
 
Kate R. April 15, 2019
Hi everyone! I’m terribly allergic to eggs. Any thoughts on how to make this yummy sounding recipe without?
 
ganga C. April 19, 2019
I substituted chickpea flour / corn meal for egg and the cutlets came out really well.
 
Heather April 19, 2019
You could use aquafaba... the juice from chickpeas.
 
Sheppard April 19, 2019
There are all kinds of egg substitutes for dredging. Check your local Whole Foods. (I can’t recall the name of the one I used but I think it was chia based.)
 
Margaret April 8, 2019
I have just seen the video on another way to eat eggplant but it went by so quickly that I didn't get time to write it down. Is there somewhere it is written for me to see or is it only the video? These look amazing and I am always looking for ways to use eggplant now my kids have all left home (they hate it?) but I love its versatility. Can anyone help please?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 9, 2019
Hi Margaret! Here's the recipe for the eggplant Parmesan in the video: https://food52.com/recipes/77386-unfussy-eggplant-parm
 
Margaret April 9, 2019
Thank you Emma, I am going to buy one today! Wish me luck, although I have found that with Food52 recipes, no luck is needed, it is all there for me.
 
FS April 4, 2019
Crispy eggplant cutlet sandwiches ... maybe with tomato slices and avocado mayo? YUM!
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 4, 2019
Mmmmm avocado mayo!
 
Christina April 3, 2019
I made this last night and it would have been delicious except, OH SO SALTY!!!
Obviously I made a mistake somewhere (too much salt). I generously salted (coated) and left on paper towel covered baking trays for 1 hour, then patted dry and dredged.
Can someone explain (as if to a child!) how much salt I should have used?
Thank you!
 
Bella95 April 5, 2019
A lot of modern eggplants don't need salting. My guess method is, if there's no seeds don't bother salting. If you do salt give them a quick rinse and pat dry. That way you can be sure that the only salt is what you actually wanted to add to the recipe.
 
Christina April 6, 2019
Thanks Bella95. I'm definitely not adverse to salt so I know it was a mistake and not a preference. I think I just put way too much on. I'll try again without salting!
 
Jeanne C. April 19, 2019
Husband and I owned an Italian restaurant. We NEVER salted eggplant! Skip it; it's an extra, unnecessary step that does nothing.
 
marilu April 19, 2019
Thank you for your observation! This helped me to be more aware of how much I was salting and to cut back on the salt in other places.
 
Todd B. April 2, 2019
I found this article using the Apple News app on my phone. As a single person with only 7 years cooking experience, a true beginner, I feel these type of recipes are what the market is missing. I looked up the author on Amazon and found... nothing! Easy to understand, usage of psychology that a common person can relate to, common ingredients, (with the exception of panko). The Vegans and the meat haters need to wake up and see recipes like these are the ones that are going to convert the folks who have spent 40 plus years macking at KFC, and not the "fancy" or "gourmet" stuff that we don't understand anyway and could never find those odd ingredients at the grocery store anyway. Three cheers for Emma. We want books like this. I am a big fan. Thank you. Minimalist approved!
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 2, 2019
Thank you so much for the kind feedback, Todd!
 
miriam S. April 5, 2019
If you like the recipe - that's great. But why the inappropriate "fancy or gourmet stuff that we don't understand anyway." NO, Todd. perhaps it's you that does not understand fine, gourmet ingredients. I do. and I appreciate buying and using special spices, oils, aged balsamic's. KFC! Are you serious. You like what they offer. Fine, but fine cooks do not. So, do as you like. Cook what pleases you and keep criticism of what you don't know anything about....to yourself.
 
Sharon I. April 5, 2019
Well, will you, then, Miriam? That would be a deal. Otherwise, you just want Todd to shut up so you can go on and on? Cut it out!
 
Nancy W. April 7, 2019
There's nothing wrong with liking fancy, gourmet stuff, and there's nothing wrong with liking simple, minimalist stuff. There's room for all of it. No need for negativity from either side.
 
Jeanne C. April 19, 2019
I think all Food 52 recipes are easy to understand/follow!
 
Brutus S. April 19, 2019
Those who do not know how to properly use an apostrophe should not look down their noses at those who do not understand "fine, gourmet ingredients" such as balsamic's (sic).
 
Rosalind R. April 19, 2019
You might take your own advice about keeping criticism to yourself. You come across as an unpleasant shrew.
 
miriam S. April 19, 2019
Ms. Rosalind Russell found my comments to be that of a "nasty shrew." I am sorry if such a misreading of what I said was taken and replied to in such an unpleasant way. This is a wonderful site. I love the products, the recipes and the advice.
I advised somewhat who found gourmet foods to be "fancy and not understood" someone who enjoys "macking at KFC" (don't understand the term) " to be far better. At best, all that can be said is this is a foolish comment for Todd B to have made on Food 52 - a fine food, upscale, high end website. I did not deserve to be called a "nasty shrew." Such unpleasant attack personalized as this was is exactly what is not needed in a comments section. Respond with respect. Anything personal is best left unsaid. I advise you to follow the rules of decent conduct, Ms. Russell.
 
miriam S. April 19, 2019
For Heaven' sake, Who are you people?
An apostrophe - so noted. Brutus. So noted. Does this have something to do with cooking?

What Todd B. said was that gourmet "stuff" that "we don't understand" was not not necessary. A strange comment indeed on a site like Food 52. And very wrong. If you want to learn about cooking and how to become a better cook, you explore a wide range of ingredients.
His reasoning is not sound. His criticism pointless. To Ms. Russell, a 'shrew." To Brutus, the apostrophe.
It is sad to receive such pointless comments.Please don't reply. I will not. This is finished. If it's Kentucky Fried Chicken and ketchup you like, so be it. I'm sure there are many more Food 52 fans who explore spices and condiments, foods and recipes beyond the world of fast food.
I love Food 52. I buy products that allow for the exploration.
 
Brutus S. April 19, 2019
I think you misused the apostrophe in the first line. It should perhaps be followed by the letter s. How does this relate to cooking? Precision, that's how.
 
Annada R. April 1, 2019
Hi Emma, we have a similar recipe in Western Indian cuisine too. A large eggplant is cut into thin round slices and pan roasted with spice mix of coriander and cumin powder, red chile powder, turmeric and salt. Because it is pan roasted at low heat with a healthy swirl of vegetable oil, the eggplant gets a crunchy, brown exterior. Generally this is served as a side dish.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 2, 2019
Hi! That sounds so delicious—thank you for sharing. I'm making these again soon, so it'll be fun to switch up the spices and incorporate the ones you mentioned.
 
Brutus S. April 19, 2019
Hi Amanda: I'd like to try this. Just to be clear, is the oil mixed with the spices, or poured over the spiced eggplant? Also, what oven temp would you suggest? Thanks1
 
Annada R. April 19, 2019
Hello Brutus,

You mix the spices in a bowl, lather the eggplant slices with the spice mix on both sides. Meanwhile heat a skillet with oil in it and pan roast the spiced eggplant slices at low heat till they get a crunchy exterior. No need of an oven!
 
Brutus S. April 19, 2019
Thank you. It will be next up, right after the Easter leftovers are gone.
 
gandalf April 1, 2019
I clicked on the recipe above, and left a comment; then when I hit refresh, my comment disappeared.

Any ideas on why this happened, and what I can do to prevent it from happening again? Thanks.
 
Eric K. April 1, 2019
Hi gandalf, I see your comment on the recipe page now: https://food52.com/recipes/80737-breaded-eggplant-cutlets

It takes a few seconds for a new comment to show (needs to cache). That's probably what's happening!