Eggplant is one of those foods I was in love with long before I became vegan, whether in baba ganoush, ratatouille or my favorite vegetable lasagna recipe. After going vegan, I started looking for new ways to let this versatile aubergine beauty shine as a main dish. Sweet & Spicy Grilled Eggplant is the latest result of my quest. It's definitely become a favorite at our house—so much so that I served it when my mother-in-law came to visit.
You might also like my spicy grilled Thai-Style Vegan Kebab recipe.
How to Make Grilled Eggplant - Sweet & Spicy
In this recipe, the marinade doubles as the sauce, which keeps the number of ingredients and prep time reasonable. And since I recently moved and have no longer have an outdoor grill, I simply cooked mine on my new grill pan.
It’s plenty spicy as is, but if you’re craving a Jamaican flavor profile—maybe you have a few bottles of Red Stripe in the fridge?—I include a Jerk eggplant variation using your choice of store-bought or homemade Jerk seasoning.
I’m not going to lie, this sweet & spicy grilled eggplant packs a little heat—probably more than young kiddos could tolerate. But most of the fire comes from the BBQ sauce. So if you want to tone things down a bit, just adjust the sauce to a heat level you and your family can live with.
Plus, I always serve this dish with Easy Coconut Lime Rice. Its mild flavor, slight richness and hint of citrus will cool your palate between spicy bites of eggplant. When you pair these dishes, each bite leaves you wanting more of the other—More heat! More cool! More heat!
Who says vegans can’t rock the grill? While there’s still a wee bit of summer left, throw some sweet & spicy grilled eggplant on the barbie and grab a cold adult beverage, my plant-eating friends.
If you like this whole food plant-based recipe, you might also like:
- Oven-Roasted BBQ Mushroom Sandwich
- Vegan Barbecue Sauce - Easy & Homemade
- Easy Coconut Lime Rice
- Crispy Spicy Sushi Bowls
- Roasted Eggplant Tomato Stacks
- Vegan Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables
Sweet & Spicy Grilled Eggplant
- 1 large eggplant or 2 small, sliced into ½ inch thick rounds
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 3 green onions, chopped into thirds (+ more for garnish)
- 1 jalapeno pepper, quartered and seeded
- 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 cup Vegan BBQ Sauce plus more for serving, if desired (see notes)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 ½ limes, plus more for garnish)
- 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce (or liquid aminos if GF)
- Serve with Easy Coconut Lime Rice
- Garnish with sliced green onions and lime
- For a "Jerk Eggplant" variation, add 1 tablespoon Jamaican Jerk seasoning to the marinade/sauce (or make your own - see notes)
- Heat the grill to medium-high--about 400 degrees. (OR cook on a non-stick grill pan on medium -igh heat on the stove top, OR broil on high heat on a non-stick sheet pan.)
- To make the marinade/sauce, add the dry ingredients-garlic, cayenne, chopped ginger, thyme, jalapeno, green onions (and Jerk seasoning, if desired) to a food processor. Process until finely chopped and blended. Add liquid ingredients (BBQ sauce, lime juice, and soy sauce) and process for about 30 seconds or until the ingredients are thoroughly blended into a slightly chucky sauce.
- Divide the marinade/sauce in half. Brush half of the marinade on each side of the eggplant, and reserve the rest as a sauce for serving.
- Cook the eggplant (on the grill, stove top or under the broiler) about 5 minutes per side, or until browned and tender.
- To reduce the sodium in this recipe, use low sodium tomato paste in the BBQ sauce or buy low sodium BBQ sauce. This recipe works well with either homemade or store-bought vegan BBQ sauce, like Amy's (brand) Sweet & Spicy.
- Jerk seasoning is readily available at most stores, or this simple version works well with this recipe: I teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon allspice, ¼ teaspoon each of ancho chili powder, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon sweetener like erythritol (Swerve), maple syrup or date paste.