Almost no-oil Pan Fried Eggplant

Today’s post is a recipe for how to cook eggplant on the stove with virtually no oil. I use a highly effective, simple pan-steaming method used for Asian dumplings like gyoza! Plus, I’m sharing 8+ ways to serve this pan fried eggplant. Which one is your favourite??

Almost oil-free Pan Fried Eggplant in a pan

How I cook eggplant on the stove with virtually no oil!

Anybody who has ever cooked eggplant knows they’re greedy oil-sucking sponges. So here’s how I cook them on the stove using very little oil – less than 1/2 teaspoon of oil for a WHOLE eggplant! 

Basically, I cook them the same way I do Asian dumplings – seared then pan-steamed. So you just need to spray the eggplant with oil before cooking in a dry pan. Works a treat, super fast, and ultra healthy.

It’s also a great method to cook thick slabs of eggplant on the stove which can be a bit tricky to do without burning the surface!

Freshly cooked Almost oil-free Pan Fried Eggplant

So while today’s post might seem a little out of place amongst the usual meal recipes I share, I think it’s a really useful one that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

Plus, I’m sharing a whole bunch of ways to serve this pan fried eggplant. Spend those calories you saved while cooking the eggplant on the toppings to turn it into a tasty meal!! Here’s a little preview of some of a couple: Caprese Eggplant (left) and Hainanese Eggplant (right).


If you give me oil, salt and pepper for free, then this is a ONE ingredient recipe – just eggplant!!

Almost oil-free Pan Fried Eggplant ingredients
  • Eggplant types – This recipe will work for large or small eggplants, including Asian eggplants. You need to cut them into rounds or lengthwise into long slabs so there is at least one cut face that sits flat on the pan, so it cooks through. For Asian eggplants, I just split them in half lengthwise.

    Thickness – Cut the eggplant up to 2 ½ cm / 1” thick. You’ll be amazed how quickly it cooks through! After searing the surface, it only takes about 2 minutes for the middle to become soft using the pan-steaming method.

  • Oil spray – This is the best way to get oil coverage using very little oil. I tried to measure it out and I used less than ½ teaspoon oil across 8 slices of eggplant, spraying generously. I like using olive oil spray because it has better flavour.

    But if you don’t have or prefer not to use spray, just brush oil on. You’ll need about 2 tablespoons for 8 slices. Use any oil you want – olive oil, vegetable, canola, coconut oil, even melted butter.

  • Adding other flavours – This recipe is a blank canvas you can take in many directions! Sprinkle the eggplant with a seasoning (paprika, onion and garlic is a foolproof combination) or brush with harissa paste mixed into the oil.

For today’s recipe, I’m searing the eggplants with just salt and pepper then providing a list of options for how to serve it with sauces and toppings. Just wait until you see all the possibilities!

Eggplant slices

How to cook eggplant on the stove – with very little oil!

You’ll need a large frying pan with a lid for this recipe. I use the lid of a large pot which is larger than my pan. You could also use a large baking tray or another frying pan. Anything to trap the steam in!

  1. Cut the eggplant into rounds. I like thick meaty rounds about 2 cm / 0.8” thick, though this method will cook for thinner rounds too, and up to about 3 cm / 1.2”. 

    Note on thickness: This method is to cook thick slices of eggplant. If you are after thin slices, say 5mm / 0.2” thick, there’s no need to pan steam. Just spray with oil and pan sear, it will only take a couple of minutes on each side to cook through.

  2. Spray the surface generously with oil, then sprinkle with salt (you can use pepper too, if you want).

  1. Sear – Heat a large non-stick pan over medium high heat, with no oil. Then place the eggplant in the pan and sear until browned on both sides. This can take 1 ½ to 2 minutes, depending on how well the heat distributes in your pan and how big your burner is. Control the heat as needed for nice even browning. 

    At this stage, the eggplant will still be completely raw inside.

  2. Add water – Carefully pour ¼ cup of water around the eggplant. The water will bubble up and get steamy quickly so pour slowly.

  1. Pan-steam – Quickly put the lid on to trap the steam to cook the eggplant. Leave it for 2 minutes or until the water has evaporated.

  2. Check to see if the eggplant is cooked by stabbing it with a butter knife (not a sharp cutting knife as it is too sharp so you can’t tell if the eggplant is fully cooked or not). It should be completely soft all the way through. If not, just add a splash of water and keep steaming. That’s the great thing about this technique, you can keep doing this multiple times until the eggplant is cooked through!

Once cooked, transfer to a serving plate! You can eat it as is – delicious, because eggplant is so ridiculously juicy inside and you seasoned it with salt and pepper. But see below for a whole bunch of other ways to serve this!

Freshly cooked Almost oil-free Pan Fried Eggplant

Suggestion for ways to serve pan-fried eggplant

If I want to do a little more but still keep things effortless, I just add a swish of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt flakes and a squeeze of lemon. If I’m cooking to impress, I might even sprinkle over a few parsley leaves – going all out! 😂 This is picture above. (To take it over the top, add a shower of parmesan. So good!)

But, if you want to make your eggplant-eating life even more exciting, here’s a list of suggestions. Just wait until you see the variety of possibilities!

1. Chilli crisp eggplant

The fastest way to dress up pan-fried eggplant: add a good smear of your favourite chilli crisp! (My go-to store bought Chilli Crisp is Lao Ganman “Angry Auntie” which is a worldwide favourite).

Chilli crisp eggplant

2. Caprese Eggplant

Topped with tomato, basil, crumbled goats cheese or feta with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. I especially like eating this on toast!

Caprese eggplant

3. HAINANESE Eggplant

Named as such because it’s served with the Hainanese Chicken ginger shallot sauce plus a drizzle of sriracha. And it’s amazing! Ginger shallot sauce recipe here.

Hainanese Eggplant


Bright Mediterranean flavours in this olive-tomato-garlic-herb vinaigrette style modern French salsa-sauce that I love serving with seared tuna steak. It works so well with eggplant! Sauce Vierge recipe here.

Sauce Vierge with Almost oil-free Pan Fried Eggplant


I really need to share our dukkah recipe with you! For now, use store bought. 🙂 Use the tahini sauce from this recipe.

Dukkah eggplant


A slather of garlic yogurt sauce and a mound of garlic parmesan panko is a ridiculously delicious combination of flavours and textures!

Almost oil-free Pan Fried Eggplant with a mountain of parmesan breadcrumbs


And with that, I’m done. Who knew I had so much to say about pan-fried eggplant?? 

Now for the best part – getting ideas from. Share, share, share! – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

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Almost oil-free Pan Fried Eggplant in a pan

Almost no-oil Pan Fried Eggplant


Tap or hover to scale

Recipe video above. This is a recipe for how to cook eggplant on the stove with virtually no oil – less than 1/2 teaspoon for a whole eggplant! I use a highly effective, simple pan-steaming method used for Asian dumplings like gyoza! Eat it as is, or see in post for a list of toppings and sauces to serve with this pan fried eggplant. Which one is your favourite??


Sauces and toppings for serving:


  • Cut the eggplant into 2cm / 0.8” rounds.

  • Spray each side generously with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  • Brown – Heat a large non-stick pan with a lid over medium high heat, no oil. (Note 3) Add the eggplant slices and pan fry for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side or until you get some nice browning on it. As much or as little as you want!

  • Pan steam – Carefully add water around the eggplant (it will bubble and steam, so do this carefully). Then immediately cover with a lid to trap the steam in. Steam for 2 minutes or until the water has evaporated.

  • Check – Use a butter knife to check to ensure the eggplant is cooked through. If not, add a bit more water and steam again!

  • Serve – Transfer to a serving plate and serve! Great as is, or to dress it up a tiny bit, add a swish of olive oil, squeeze of lemon juice and parsley leaves, or a smear of chilli crisp! See in post for more ways to serve.

Recipe Notes:

1. Eggplant (aubergine) – For Asian eggplant (ie the long thin cucumber shaped ones), split in half lengthwise. Sear the cut face and the skin side. Add water and cook using this method.
Thickness of slices – This method is for thick slices of eggplant around 2 – 2.5cm / 1” thick. If you are after thin slices of eggplant ~5mm / 0.2”, there’s no need to do the steaming step. You can just pan-fry it for 2 minutes on each side.
2. Oil spray is the best for even coverage. If you prefer to brush oil on, you’ll need around 2 – 2 ½ tbsp of oil for 6 large rounds as pictured (eggplant absorbs oil so easily!).
3. Lid for pan – I just use the lid of a large pot which is actually larger than my pan but works fine to trap the steam in. You could also use a baking tray.
4. Leftovers will keep for 3 to 4 days but it does tend to get watery and mushy. Best served freshly cooked!
Nutrition for the whole recipe ie assuming it serves 1!

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 121cal (6%)Carbohydrates: 24g (8%)Protein: 4g (8%)Fat: 3g (5%)Saturated Fat: 0.4g (3%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1172mg (51%)Potassium: 923mg (26%)Fiber: 12g (50%)Sugar: 14g (16%)Vitamin A: 95IU (2%)Vitamin C: 9mg (11%)Calcium: 39mg (4%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Life of Dozer

For short trips, I’ll just pop him in the boot which is his preference. He likes to sprawl. But for longer distances, I always belt him up. Safety first!

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