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Eggplant meatballs baked with marinara sauce and cheese in a large skillet.
4.77 from 118 votes

Eggplant Meatballs

Delicious Eggplant Meatballs made with roasted eggplant, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs then topped with fresh cheese and baked in your favorite marinara sauce. So tender and flavorful, you won't even notice they're completely meat-free.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 25 mins
Total Time1 hr 55 mins
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 382kcal

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 1 large eggplant - (approx. 1½-2 pounds total)
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs - homemade or (store-bought okay)
  • 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley - minced
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil - minced
  • ½ cup milk - (cow or plant-based)
  • cup parmesan cheese - grated
  • 2 large eggs - whisked

For baking (optional)

  • 1 (16 oz) jar marinara sauce - (see notes)
  • 1.5 cups fresh mozzarella - shredded
  • fresh basil leaves - to garnish
  • fresh parsley - chopped
  • Fresh bread or cook pasta - to serve

Instructions

For the Meatballs

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and dry your eggplant(s), then use a knife to prick little holes in your eggplant. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for approximately 45-60 minutes, or until very soft.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before gently peeling away the skin from the flesh. Discard the skin and transfer the flesh to a large mixing bowl, using a large fork to break it apart into small bits and pieces.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the breadcrumbs (if making your own). Transfer approximately 3 cups of crusty day-old bread to a large food processor (fresh and fluffy bread will not work). Process until all of the bread has been chopped into tiny uniform little bits and pieces. Measure out 2 cups and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • In the same bowl as your breadcrumbs, add the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper, fresh parsley, fresh basil, and milk. Mix thoroughly to combine. Then add the whisked eggs, cooked eggplant, and parmesan cheese. Use your hands to mix everything together until fully combined.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Form the eggplant mixture into approximately 24 balls, rolling tightly between the palms of your hands, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until firm and golden, approximately 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and enjoy as is, with pasta and pasta sauce, or baked in simmering marinara sauce and melted cheese (instructions below).

For Eggplant Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Add approximately 1 cup of prepared marinara sauce to a large oven-safe skillet followed by a single later of pre-cooked eggplant meatballs (depending on the size of your meatballs, all the meatballs may not fit in the same skillet). Spoon the remaining tomato sauce on and around your meatballs, top with freshly shredded mozzarella cheese, and freshly torn basil leaves.
  • Transfer your skillet to the preheated oven and bake for 15-25 minutes, or until pasta sauce is hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted.
  • Serve immediately with cooked pasta noodles or fresh, warm, buttery bread.

Notes

  • If you love sauce or plan to serve this recipe with noodles or pasta, you may want to consider having an extra jar of pasta sauce on hand.
  • Double the recipe and freeze extra meatballs in a ziplock bag after they have been cooked and cooled.
  • Swap the pasta for lower-carb spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.
  • Leftovers are fantastic the next day. I recommend storing the meatballs and the sauce separately to prevent them from turning soggy.

Nutrition

Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 951mg | Potassium: 336mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 534IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 327mg | Iron: 3mg
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