Eggplant is one of the popular vegetables today. People from all over the world use eggplants in their cuisines.
This is because it has such a unique taste that adds to the goodness of a dish.
But, if you don’t like the basic taste of eggplant, have an allergy, or simply can’t find eggplants, you need to find a good substitute to sub in your favorite eggplant dishes.
So, what are the best substitutes for eggplant? The best substitutes for eggplant are mushrooms, zucchini, green tomatoes, okra, and tofu. When deciding which to choose, factors to consider include the substitute’s texture, intensity of flavor, and how you will be preparing the dish.
If you want to know why the above ingredients are the best substitutes for eggplants and where to use them, read on!
Can You Find Substitutes For Eggplant?
Yes, you can find substitutes for eggplant but you cannot replicate the exact taste of eggplant using them.
Still, they are great ways to recreate an eggplant dish that tastes somewhat similar to the original one.
These substitutes have an eggplant-like texture, softness, light flavor, and absorption which makes them suitable.
Let’s see which ingredients you can use for eggplant substitution.
What Are The 5 Best Substitutes For Eggplant?
There are many substitutes for eggplants, including both vegetable and non-vegetable substitutes.
These five best picks will help your eggplant dish taste equally amazing.
Mushrooms are one of the best substitutes for eggplant. They are also soft, mildly flavorful, and unique. Currently, there are two types of mushrooms that you can use instead of eggplants.
Portobello mushrooms have a similar texture, mild taste, and deep umami flavor as noted in eggplants.
You can mainly use them as a substitute for dishes like eggplant pizza, pasta, moussaka, and eggplant parmesan. You can also grill, broil, or sauté them as you like.
If you can’t replace meat with eggplant, then also you can replace it with Portobello mushrooms.
These mushrooms offer the right amount of juiciness and chewiness for a meat dish!
If you can’t find portobello mushrooms, you can opt for Shiitake mushrooms.
These mushrooms also have a mild and exotic umami flavor which can match the unique taste of eggplants.
Shiitake mushrooms can also be used with eggplant pizza, pasta, and parmesan eggplant.
If you are simply not a fan of mushrooms, you can opt for zucchini.
Zucchini is a type of summer squash that has a slight resemblance to eggplants. It has a mild flavor and a slightly soggy or mushy texture.
However, zucchini isn’t as mushy or soft as eggplants. But, if you cook it for too long, it may lose its texture which doesn’t happen with eggplant.
Zucchini contains various nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, which makes it an attractive choice for those who are health-conscious.
Thankfully, you can use zucchini as a substitute for eggplants in various dishes such as pasta, soups, stir-fry, and even stew.
Moreover, you can substitute eggplant with zucchini in the famous French dish – Ratatouille. It is also one of the most common substitutes for the classic dish, eggplant parmesan.
All you need to do while substituting zucchini in the place of eggplant is to double the measurements.
For instance, if the recipe calls for one eggplant, use two zucchinis.
If you want the authentic umami flavor of eggplant in your dish without using one, then green or red tomatoes are the best option.
Tomato is extremely versatile and can be used in almost anything, be it salads, pasta, or pizza.
They have a mushy texture, similiar to the texure of eggplants. Additionally, the umami flavor is the strongest as compared to the other substitutes.
You can specifically use green tomatoes instead of eggplants in dishes like Ratatouille. They can provide a similar texture and taste while making the dish look colorful too.
Keep in mind that if you can’t find green tomatoes for some reason, make sure to double the number of red tomatoes in the recipe.
Okra is certainly the go-to substitute for eggplant for many people out there.
This is because okra also has a very mild taste and blends well with the surrounding ingredients and flavors.
It has a slightly mushy and soft in texture. This gives a very eggplant-like feel to most of the dishes. Additionally, okra is rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
The only problem that you might face while using okra is its slimy nature. In some recipes, it may bring about a sticky consistency which can ruin the dish.
Okra releases a substance that causes its surface to feel somewhat sticky. Keep in mind, this may not affect any slow-cooked meals, such as casseroles.
The best way to avoid the food getting sticky is by taking vinegar and soaking okra in it. Then, pat it dry properly to remove any stickiness.
If you’re planning to cook something on high heat, like stir-fry vegetables, don’t worry as okra won’t get time to release any sticky substance.
Tofu is the best alternative to eggplant especially if you don’t want to go for any other vegetable. It’s also nutrient-rich with proteins, iron, calcium, and other minerals.
Similar to eggplant, tofu has a very subtle and mild flavor that doesn’t overpower other ingredients.
You can also use it in a variety of dishes, be it sweet or savory.
Firm tofu has a similar texture as that of eggplant. We recommend selecting firm or extra firm.
Another great feature of this choice is that it can also absorb the flavors while cooking without turning extremely soggy, as you might experience with zucchinis.
What Are Other Eggplant Substitutes?
Apart from our top five favorites above, there are also many others that you can use for eggplant dishes. These include:
1. Root Vegetables
If you are planning to prepare sauces, soups, or stew without eggplants, then consider using root vegetables.
For instance, you can opt for turnips as they have an extremely mild taste with a soft texture. They can also blend well with different flavors present in stew and soups.
Apart from turnips, you also have other options such as rutabagas. They’re just larger than turnips but have an almost similar taste.
Some other root vegetables include beet, yam, and carrots. You can choose any depending on your preferences.
Different types of squash are also a great substitute for eggplant.
You can go for yellow squash as it has an eggplant-like texture.
Or, you can go for patty pan/scallop squash especially if you want to stuff some filling inside similar to stuffed eggplants.
The taste may differ here but if you’re looking for consistency, then squash is a considerable option.
How To Choose The Best Substitute For Eggplant?
Now, you have a lot of substitutes for eggplants, so how do you choose the best one? Consider the below points while making your choice.
Type Of Dish
The type of dish is the most important deciding factor. Some substitutes may work really well for one dish or spoil the taste of another.
For instance, you can opt for okra if you have any slow-cooked dishes or even fast dishes cooked in high heat.
Zucchinis are ideal for dishes like ratatouille and pasta. They may not work well as vegan sheets for lasagna.
They may also not be suitable for slow-cooked dishes as they can turn really mushy.
We highly recommend root vegetables as a substitute for eggplant for stews and soups.
Whereas, for vegan dishes that call for eggplant as a meat substitute, try using mushrooms.
Availability And Cost
The price and availability of these substitutes will vary depending on where you live and what season it is.
Typically, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be able to find tofu in the grocery store year-round.
Though they do have varying prime growing seasons, most or all of our favorite vegetable swaps should be ready and waiting in your local grocery store year-round as well.
If you have an eggplant allergy, it is best to avoid all of its types. Instead, opt for some of the vegetables we have listed above.
If you’re not allergic, you can try out other types like Graffiti eggplants, Indian eggplants, Italian eggplants, etc. They may suit your taste buds!
If you have a soy allergy, it might be wise to steer clear of tofu as a substitute.
Eggplant is a lovely addition to any dish due to its subtle flavors and soft texture. However, what makes it the best is how well it absorbs the taste of other ingredients too.
If you’re not a fan of eggplant, you don’t have to leave out eggplant-based recipes.
Instead, simply try some of our suggested substitutes that can bring about almost the same texture and flavor.