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Can You Eat Eggplant Skin? Things to Know

Is eggplant skin edible, or are you supposed to peel it before cooking? We’ve done the due diligence so you can focus on the cooking.

Eggplants, with their glossy purple skin and versatile uses, have long held a prominent place in the repertoire of American home cooks.

Whether grilled to smoky perfection, sautéed in a fragrant curry, or baked into a luscious Eggplant Parmigiana, this vegetable’s ability to absorb flavors should not be underestimated. 

However, there has long been a lingering question that troubles the minds of those who have not yet mastered the ins and outs of cooking eggplant: Is the skin of the eggplant edible, or does one need to peel it before cooking?

Can You Eat the Skin of an Eggplant?

We’ve all been there—maybe you’re feeling too tired or lazy to peel eggplants right now.

Or maybe you’ve been peeling off the skin of eggplants your whole life, and now you want to switch things up a bit.

Now matter what it is that brought you here, we have good and nothing but good news for you: Eggplant skin is edible. Whether to remove the skin before cooking or cook the eggplant with the skin on comes down to how you and those you cook for like it.1Henne, B., & Gawel, J. (2013, May 10). Eggplant: It’s purple, healthy and easy to prepare. MSU Extension. Retrieved May 18, 2023, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/eggplant_its_purple_healthy_and_easy_to_prepare2Kirkland, L., & Hedstrom, N. Bulletin #4307, Vegetables and Fruits for Health: Eggplant. University of Maine Cooperative Extension Publications. Retrieved May 18, 2023, from https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/4307e/

But that’s not the whole story. As it turns out, eggplant skin is also nutritious and comes with numerous health benefits.

As a matter of fact, eggplant skin contains a powerful antioxidant called nasunin, which is said to help dilate blood vessels, protect cells against oxidative stress, lower bad cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, and even help to reduce inflammation.3Noda, Y., Kneyuki, T., Igarashi, K., Mori, A., & Packer, L. (2000). Antioxidant activity of nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant peels. Toxicology148(2-3), 119–123. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0300-483x(00)00202-x4Jorge, P. A., Neyra, L. C., Osaki, R. M., de Almeida, E., & Bragagnolo, N. (1998). Efeito da berinjela sobre os lípides plasmáticos, a peroxidação lipídica e a reversão da disfunção endotelial na hipercolesterolemia experimental [Effect of eggplant on plasma lipid levels, lipidic peroxidation and reversion of endothelial dysfunction in experimental hypercholesterolemia]. Arquivos brasileiros de cardiologia70(2), 87–91. https://doi.org/10.1590/s0066-782×19980002000045Yarmohammadi, F., Ghasemzadeh Rahbardar, M., & Hosseinzadeh, H. (2021). Effect of eggplant (Solanum melongena) on the metabolic syndrome: A review. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences24(4), 420–427. https://doi.org/10.22038/ijbms.2021.50276.11452

To sum it up so we can move on to the next piece of culinary goodness we’ve prepared for you, not only can you eat eggplant skin, but it could be argued that you should be eating eggplant skin to begin with.

When Is It a Good Idea to Eat Eggplant With Skin?

Okay, okay, we’ve made it perfectly clear that eggplant skin is entirely edible. But should you be leaving the skin all the time, or are there certain dishes for which the skin just… doesn’t cut it?

It all boils down to the recipe and the use case it has for the eggplant, really.

If the eggplant is the main ingredient—the star of the show, if you will—then you probably want to leave the skin on. This is particularly important if the eggplant is sliced crosswise and you want the slices to hold their shape.

However, if the eggplant has a supporting role, which usually is soaking up the flavors and disintegrating into the cooking liquid, then you might want to peel the eggplant, as you may not want vegetable skins to ruin the mouthfeel of your dish.

Speaking of taste and texture, another consideration is the size of the eggplant and the thickness of its skin. For instance, a larger eggplant with thicker skin may warrant peeling since the skin is tough and your dish is going to be easier to eat without it.

What About the Seeds? Can You Eat Eggplant Seeds?

Eggplant seeds are edible. That said, they tend to taste bitter.6The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Eggplant. UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions. Retrieved May 18, 2023, from https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/edibles/vegetables/eggplant.html

The best way remove some of the bitterness from your eggplant dish, then, is to scoop out the seeds and throw them in the compost pile.

Considering everything we just went over eggplant skin and seeds, it isn’t hard to understand why many an eggplant recipe discard them, and stuff the eggplant with a combination of ingredients that are a little more palatable than its original contents.

Should You Soak the Eggplant Before Cooking?

Eggplants are like sponges. They soak up anything you throw at them, and then some more.

This can prove to be problematic when you’re sautéing eggplants but want to restrict the amount of oil—and, as a result, calories—in your dish.

You can counter this by soaking the raw eggplant in water. The water permeates the eggplant cells’ walls and fills them up with liquid. With the eggplant flesh moist, the eggplant cubes or slices end up absorbing fewer oil. Just be prepared for a lot of splatter, as you’re mixing oil and water.

Bottom Line

Eggplant skin is safe for eating, and whether to cook your eggplants with or without it is a matter of preference.

Of course, not all recipes are created equal. If the eggplant is the star of the show, then leaving the skin on can help the cubes or slices hold their shape. However, if it’s only a supporting character, peeling the skin may be the better thing to do for the overall texture of your dish.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.