A highly popular food, eggplant is used globally in a variety of cuisines.
While eggplant has a particular taste, its versatility lends itself to be used in numerous dishes. But what happens when you have an allergy, aren’t a fan of the taste or texture of eggplant, or just can’t find it? You’ll need a good substitute.
The best substitutes for eggplant include zucchini, mushrooms, okra, tofu, and summer squash. When choosing a substitute, consider the texture, flavor intensity, and dish preparation needed.
These options are consistent winners. Curious as to why? Keep reading!
The Top 5 Substitutes for Eggplant
There is a myriad of both vegetable, and non-vegetable options to be used as substitutes. The following are the top substitutes to make your dishes amazing.
Zucchini is one of the more popular substitute options due to its versatility. It’s one of those vegetables that is hard to mess up, and it’s usually a crowd-pleaser for all ages.
A variety of summer squash, zucchini has a resemblance to eggplant in both taste and texture. Its flavor is mild, and its slightly mushy texture makes it a perfect substitute for all types of dishes.
You can substitute zucchini for eggplant in many dishes, like soups, kabobs, and pasta.
In order to substitute zucchini for eggplant, simply double the measurements. For example, use two zucchinis if the recipe calls for one eggplant.
Mushrooms are an excellent substitute for eggplant. Most mushrooms have a slightly nutty and earthy, and at the same time mild, taste. This adds a richness to your dish that eggplant would have otherwise provided.
When you don’t like eggplant or don’t have it on hand, portobello mushrooms are the best mushroom choice for an eggplant substitute.
Like eggplant, portobello mushrooms are often substituted in place of meat. Portobello mushrooms are the most similar to eggplant when it comes to taste and texture.
Portobellos are best when substituted in dishes such as pasta, pizza, and eggplant parmesan. They are great grilled, sauteed, or broiled.
When subbing in mushrooms, if working with ½ inch pieces, 2 cups of mushrooms is about 12 ounces or half of a medium eggplant.
Okra is a great eggplant substitute when looking for a food that is low in calories, and high in vitamins, fibers, and antioxidants. Similar to eggplant, okra absorbs a lot of the flavors around it.
When cut open, okra is slightly sticky and slimy inside. It’s not a great idea to slow cook okra, as this method of cooking can exacerbate that texture. If you have no other option, you can avoid this by soaking the okra in vinegar and patting it dry before adding it to your cooker.
Okra is best enjoyed as a substitute for eggplant when grilled, fried, or sauteed over high heat.
The only non-vegetable substitute on this list, tofu is a good substitute for eggplant when you’re looking for something heartier.
Tofu is coagulated soy that is pressed into cubes that vary by firmness. The best tofu substitute for eggplant is extra firm or firm tofu, as it has the same consistency as eggplant, and tends to absorb flavors around it quite well.
1 pound of fresh tofu will substitute nicely for 1 small or medium eggplant.
5. Yellow Squash
Both straight neck and crooked neck yellow squash are common substitutes for eggplant. Similar to eggplant, yellow squash has thin, smooth skin that can be eaten.
Yellow squash, like many of the items on this list, is an excellent source of fiber and vitamins.
When cooked, yellow squash has a very similar texture and consistency to eggplant. The taste is not similar, so yellow squash is a great 1:1 option when your original dish does not rely on eggplant to be great.
How Do I Choose the Right Eggplant Substitute?
Consider the following when choosing a substitute for eggplant:
Type of dish
As some substitutes can change the taste of a dish so much that they actually ruin it, this is an important factor to consider. Different substitutes work for different types of dishes.
Soy is one of the most common allergies. If you have a soy allergy, stay away from substituting tofu!
Availability and/or cost
Depending on the season, and your location, it may be difficult to find some of these substitutes year-round. The good news is that the majority of these substitutes can be found all year!
How Do I Know How Much of a Substitute to Use?
1 medium eggplant is about 1.5 pounds or 24 ounces. You can weigh your produce at a grocery store when in doubt.
When cut into ½ inch pieces, 2 cups of eggplant is about 12 ounces or half of a medium eggplant.
Substitutes that contain more water such as zucchini should be doubled when in use. Others, such as tofu, mushrooms, or okra can be substituted 1:1.