Hands tearing apart a freshly fried eggplant ball with a black background.
Photography, Art Direction & Food Styling: Anthony Contrino

My dad has been making Eggplant Balls for as long as I can remember. They are a cross between a meatball and a croquette, but we just call them balls.  The outside is super crunchy, while the inside is ridiculously creamy.  I think they’re best right after frying, but they’re still tasty at room temperature, and even good cold, although the texture will be different.

I often make a double batch, mixing everything to the point of frying, then divide the mixture into 2 so I can freeze some for a later time. Just defrost the mixture and pick up where you left off.

Dad’s Eggplant Balls

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4


  • 2 pounds purple eggplant, about 2 medium
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup finely grated pecorino
  • 1 ¼ cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, divided
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


  • In a large stockpot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil.
  • Meanwhile, trim the tops and bottoms from the eggplant and peel. Cut the eggplant into quarters, lengthwise. Cut each quarter into 5 chunks.
  • Carefully add the eggplant to the boiling water.
  • Boil for 12-15 minutes, until the eggplant has softened, using a spider to stir and submerge the chunks every so often; the eggplant should be very soft and mushy, but still hold its shape.
  • Strain the eggplant in a colander.
  • Place the colander into a bowl, leaving at least 2 inches of space between the colander and the bowl.
  • Place a weight over the eggplant and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, to remove as much liquid as possible; discard the extracted liquid.
  • In a large high-sided skillet, heat ½” of canola oil, over medium-high heat, to 350 degrees.
  • Meanwhile, transfer the eggplant to a large bowl.
  • Using your hands, break the eggplant into smallish chunks.
  • Add the egg, pecorino, ¾ cup breadcrumbs, garlic powder, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • Using your hands, mush all the ingredients together, to combine; it’s okay if there are some larger chunks of eggplant left.
  • Portion the eggplant mixture into 2 ounce balls, a little larger than a golf ball.
  • Roll the balls in the remaining breadcrumbs and gently flatten the balls.
  • Fry the eggplant balls on both sides until deep golden brown.
  • Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and serve immediately.


If using cast iron to press the eggplant, wrap it well in plastic wrap, otherwise it will discolor and ruin the eggplant.
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Author: Anthony Michael Contrino