If you love to enjoy an unconventional veggie burger as much as I do, then my crispy eggplant burger is just the recipe to whip up. Prepared with crispy panko-coated slices of tender eggplant layered up with my mouthwatering caramelized onion and tomato jam, feta cheese, herb mayo and greens, this crispy eggplant burger recipe is an extra delicious way to enjoy eggplant!
A Mouthwatering Veggie Burger with a Crispy Eggplant Twist
Don't get me wrong, I utterly love a delicious beef burger, but there are times when the craving hits for a slightly unconventional burger, a savory veggie burger, packed with flavor and lots of texture.
Typically, you'll see veggie burger recipes made with beans and some other binding ingredients (you can check out my classic veggie burger if you'd like), and they're a perfectly scrumptious option of course!
But then there are times when I want a meat-free burger without any beans or binders, flavorfully and creatively prepared with some unique and palette awakening fix-ins to go along.
Because I love to cook with eggplant and use it in creative ways, I decided to take some inspiration from classic eggplant parmesan with its crispy-yet-tender slices of eggplant and decided to turn those into a burger layered up with some mouthwatering additions, and with loads of fresh flavor.
I'm talking a generous spoonful of my savory caramelized onion and tomato jam prepared with warming spices, a touch of salty-briny feta cheese, plus an easy and bright herb mayo to slather onto to soft buns, along with a sprinkle of watercress or arugula for a bite of something green.
With all the fresh, savory flavor and delectable texture in this crispy eggplant burger, I promise that you'll never miss the meat!
My Recipe for Crispy Eggplant Burger
Making this crispy eggplant burger does require preparing several components, but my, oh, my do they add lots of zip, zest and personality to this delectable little veggie burger recipe!
Sure, panko-coated, crispy-fried slices of eggplant are delicious on their own, but when they'e stacked up with that juicy, sweet-savoy and mildly spicy caramelized onion and tomato jam, plus that bright, herby mayo, these ingredients become one extra special sandwich...
Preparing the crispy eggplant is as simple as a dredge in flour, a dip in whisked eggs, then a press in panko breadcrumbs before a quick shallow fry until golden-brown.
And the caramelized onion and tomato jam? It has an almost chutney-like texture, a little bit chunky and a little bit “jammy”, and it's filled with spices such as cumin, coriander, a pinch of cayenne, plus some garlic cloves and herbs.
Then, of course, the herb mayo ties this crispy eggplant burger recipe together, prepared with a touch of mayo, Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon, plus a combination of fresh parsley, mint and dill—Absolutely scrumptious!
Here's a sneak peek at my crispy eggplant burger recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I prepare my caramelized onion and tomato jam, then spoon that into a bowl and keep warm or room temp.
- Next, I mix up my ingredients for my herb mayo in a small bowl, and keep that chilled until ready to assemble my burgers.
- Then, I season my slices of eggplant, coat them in flour, whisked eggs and then panko breadcrumbs, and shallow-fry just until golden-brown and crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. Then, I hold the crispy eggplant slices on my oven's “warm” setting for 10 minutes.
- When ready, I assemble my crispy eggplant burgers, sprinkle over some feta and some greens, then cover with a top bun, and enjoy!
Crispy Eggplant Burger
by Ingrid Beer
This mouthwatering and zesty crisp eggplant burger is layered with a caramelize onion and tomato jam, herb mayo and watercress!
Cuisine: Middle Eastern-American
Yield: 4 burgers
Nutrition Info: 623 calories per burger
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Eggplant Burger Ingredients:
- 1 medium eggplant, ends removed, and sliced into 8 (¼ to ½ inch thick) slices
- Black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs, whisked
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- Peanut oil or vegetable oil, for frying
- 4 buns, toasted
- ¼ cup feta crumbles
- Watercress or other greens
Caramelized Onion and Tomato Jam Ingredients:
- Olive oil
- 2 medium onions, halved and sliced thinly
- Black pepper
- ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 4 Campari tomatoes, cut into large chunks
- Small squeeze lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Herb Mayo Ingredients:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- Zest of ½ lemon
- Small squeeze of juice from ½ lemon (about 1-2 teaspoons)
- ¼ teaspoon (heaping) salt
- Pinch black pepper
- 4 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoons dill, chopped
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your caramelized onion and tomato jam ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare your caramelized onion and tomato jam, heat a large cast-iron skillet or pan over medium-high heat with about 3-4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the sliced onions along with a good pinch or two of salt and black pepper, and caramelize them, stirring frequently, for about 12 to 15 minutes.
- Once golden-brown, add to the cumin, coriander, pinch of cayenne and the garlic, and stir to combine. Once aromatic, add in the tomatoes, plus another pinch or two of salt, and stir those in until they begin to break down, about 4-5 minutes. Add the squeeze of lemon and the chopped parsley, and keep warm until ready to use.
- Next, gather and prep all of your herb mayo ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare your herb mayo, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl, and keep chilled in fridge until ready to use.
- Next, gather and prep all of your crispy eggplant burger ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare your crispy eggplant, preheat oven to 200°, for a “warm” mode.
- Sprinkle some salt and pepper on both sides of the slices of eggplant, along with a pinch or two of cayenne pepper, and allow the slices to sit for 5 minutes.
- Dredge each eggplant slice in the flour, then dip into the whisked eggs, and then dredge in the panko breadcrumbs, pressing a little bit so that the panko adheres well. Set the slices onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to hold.
- Add enough vegetable oil to a large heavy bottom pan to shallow fry (about a couple of inches), and heat the oil on medium-high until hot, or it shimmers and has tiny bubbles forming.
- Add several slices of eggplant into the hot oil (work in batches) and fry on that first side about 4 minutes, then flip and fry on the second side for another several minutes, or until golden-brown, and tender. Allow to drain on a wire rack set over another baking sheet, and repeat with remaining eggplant slices.
- Once all slices are fried, place into “warm” oven for 10 minutes.
- To assemble the burgers, spread a little of the herb mayo on top and bottom buns. Place a slice of the crispy eggplant on the bottom bun, then spoon some of the caramelized onion and tomato jam over top. Repeat the process again with a second slice of eggplant and more onion and tomato jam, then sprinkle on a touch of the feta, a few sprigs of the watercress, and top with bun and serve.
Tips & Tidbits for my Crispy Eggplant Burger recipe:
- Simplify your process, or do ahead: This recipe is simplified when you prepare all of your components first. I like to begin with the caramelized onion and tomato jam, and then the herb mayo, to have those ready for assembly. Finally, I fry up my eggplant slices. You can also prep the mayo and jam components the day before, and just reheat the jam at the time you plan on building your burgers.
- Keep the heat moderate for frying: Take care not to fry the eggplant too quickly, on too high a heat, making it too dark on the outside and not cooked through on the inside. Keep your heat to a medium or medium-high once it's hot enough to begin frying, and allow for the slices to become golden-brown more slowly to ensure the inside is tender and cooked through.
- Turn up the spiciness: You can make these burgers more spicy (which I personally love!) by being a little more heavy-handed with the cayenne. Just sprinkle the extra cayenne on right after you fry your eggplant for more kick!
- Watercress of arugula for greens: If you're looking for milder flavor, then watercress is a terrific green to use for this burger. I also love arugula because it has lots of nice “bite”. So whichever you enjoy more, or have on hand, feel free to use.
Craving more delicious and cozy burger recipes? Check out this Portobello Mushroom Burger, this classic Veggie Burger, this Korean BBQ Burger, this Chicken Burger, or this Grilled Eggplant Parmesan on grilled bread!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2017, and has been updated with even more love!