Vegan Crunchy Baked Eggplant Bites
Vegan crunchy baked eggplant bites, served with a marinara dipping sauce. Everyone goes nuts for this appetizer whenever I make it, it’s the first one to get eaten up. And so delicious, no one would guess that it was vegan.
What is the opposite of a green thumb? Because I think we have it. Shawn and I planted a huge vegetable garden again this year. And guys? It isn’t going well.
Our tomato plants have gotten really tall and big, but there are barely any tomatoes growing. I planted tons of herbs. Most of them shriveled and died. My lettuce got chewed up by some bugs and now the leaves looks like swiss cheese since they’re covered in holes. My zucchini plants looked promising and started growing zucchinis. But as soon as they got the size of pickles they stopped growing. Huh?
I don’t know if it’s the soil? Or that we have a big tree next to our garden and the shade is preventing it from getting enough sunlight? Or that we’ve over watered? Or under watered? Halp!
All I have to say is, thank goodness for farmers markets! Those guys know what they’re doing. They’re produce is WAY better than anything I can grow.
I went to the farmers market and got tons of great fruit and vegetables. Including a particularly gorgeous eggplant. I used it to make these vegan crunchy eggplant bites. This appetizer is a HUGE hit. It’s always the first to go at family gatherings.
It is a little bit of prep work to get it all ready, but it’s worth it for such a crunchy and delicious appetizer. Instead of using egg in the dredge, I replaced it with a flax seed mixture. It gets sticky and thick when you add water, and is the perfect vegan replacement for egg. Plus, it adds extra nutrients and even more crunch with the panko.
I kept this vegan, and coated it in just panko. But if your diet allows it, this is also great with parmesan cheese mixed in with the panko.
To make these vegan crunchy baked eggplant bites a little easier, I use a store bought marinara sauce for dipping. I love the new Prego® Farmers’ Market sauces. They taste so fresh, like they’re straight from the famers’ market. I couldn’t make it taste any better if I made it homemade. The taste is irresistible.
They have 3 flavors: Classic Marinara, Tomato & Basil and Roasted Garlic. They all use ingredients that are “picked at the peak of freshness”, and are bursting with flavor. Prego® Farmers’ Market brings amazing flavor from simple, farm fresh ingredients.
Crunchy Eggplant Bites
- 1 medium size eggplant, sliced 3/8" thick (try to get a longer, skinnier eggplant rather than a shorter, wider one)
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup flax seeds, or flax meal
- 1 cup water
- 1.5 cups panko bread crumbs
- olive oil spray
- Prego® Farmers' Market Classic Marinara
- Slice the eggplant 3/8" thick.
- Spread the eggplant in a single layer on paper towels. Sprinkle both sides generously with salt and let sit for 10 minutes. This draws out excess moisture. After 10 minutes, you will see beads of condensation drawn out. Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Make the flax seed "egg" replacement. In a small bowl, combine the flax seeds with water. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until thickened and gelatinous.
- In another small bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper and italian seasoning. Stir to combine.
- In another small bowl, add panko bread crumbs.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees with the oven rack in the middle.
Breading and Cooking the Eggplant
- Set up your dredging station: bowl of flour mixture, flax seed mixture, panko, baking sheet.
- Take 1 slice of eggplant. Dip it in the flour so it is coated, shake off excess. Then dip it in the flax seed liquid. Then dip it in the panko bread crumbs, pressing to adhere. Then place it on the baking sheet.
- Repeat with all the eggplant.
- Spray the top of the breaded eggplant with olive oil spray, and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, turning the eggplant half way through, until crispy and golden brown.
- Serve warm with Prego® Farmers' Market Classic Marinara as a dipping sauce.
- Leftovers will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 1 week.
More Vegan Appetizers
Crispy Oven Baked Onion Rings
(just substitute egg for the same flax meal mixture in this recipe to make it vegan)
Grilled Bread with Rosemary Dipping Oil
Mexican Restaurant Style Guacamole
This post is sponsored by Prego®. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support me!
47 Comments on “Vegan Crunchy Baked Eggplant Bites”
Made these tonight and they came out great! Way salty but once I added them to sandwich melt with marinera and vegan cheese on a hoagie they tasted delicious.
They do make fantastic sandwiches Ana! So glad you enjoyed them.
So good!! Even my non-vegan picky boyfriend liked them. Great way to eat the eggplant from our garden. So crunchy and delicious. I cooked them probably 10 minutes longer than specified.
I absolutely love them too Sydney. The crunch is the best part. That is great that your picky boyfriend liked them. That is always such a win!
This was great! Followed the recipe to a T. Wouldn’t change a thing 😋
I love to hear that you followed the recipe to a T and wouldn’t change a thing Rachel. That is music to my ears
Thia recipe was a total fail for me . The flax egg set uo way too thick to be an effective glue for the panko. I ended up ditching it for soy milk, which is what I usualy use. I tried the recipe because I had never seen a flax egg used for anything other than baking. I was curious how it would work. I am no longer curious.
Well shoot! I am so sorry the flax meal failed for you Keith. I make these all the time and it always works for me. I know how frustrating it is to try a new recipe only to have it fail. Sometimes if the flax meal mixture gets too thick, you add water as you go. I guess I am just used to adding water as I go. Sorry it didn’t work for you!
Thanks for sharing! Does this crunchy batter work with other veggies?
Yes! I have used the breading/batter on lots of veggies Vanessa. It works great on zucchini, squash, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli and asparagus. I think it would work on just about any veggie. It’s incredibly versatile.
These look so good! What a fun appetizer too! It is hard to find ideas for eggplant .
I am so glad you liked my eggplant bites Suzanne! They do work so well as an appetizer, too! They stay crunchy for forever!
Easy, Fun, Delicious, and TOTALLY doable for a full-time vegan engineering student!!
Thanks for a great recipe! I will definitely be remaking these bites for my monthly gatherings with friends and family ^_^
(the only thing I added was some nutritional yeast and extra red-pepper flakes to my bread crumbs… and made my own sauce with an old can of fire-roasted tomatoes in the cabinet. CANNOT WAIT for the hardcore week of courseload ahead. Now, I am SO prepped with good brain food ^_^)
I am so happy you like my eggplant bites Cait! They really are one of my all time favorites. You MUST try them as pizzas, so good!
OMIGOSH!!! TOTALLY nailed it on the EZ mini Breaded-Zuccinni Pizzzzzz-zzzzaaaas!!!
And right as Daiya’s Vegan Mozz Shreds were BOGO at Sprouts, lol… it was such a phenomenally tasty and stress-free way to come home after a long day on Campus acquiring full-on Brain-Fry.
This is a winner- and definite party favor in the future!
Thanks again for the Stellar Vegan Vibes, Natalie!! ^_^
I am so happy you liked my vegan eggplant bites Cait! I am so glad they turned out tasty and were stress free to make! We all need stress free cooking especially now!
I made this recipe a couple days ago and DEMOLISHED the WHOLE PLATE by myself! It was DELICIOUS!! I was a bit worried about the flax mixture being too thick. Maybe next time I will add a little more water to the flax meal since it goes on really thick and it sometimes didn’t stick well to the flour. But the layer it makes with the breadcrumbs is exactly what helps these slices to hold up in the oven and not get too soggy when they are done. The texture was a bit crunchy and hearty, it makes a nice crust and it’s wonderful to bite into!! I added some nutritional yeast to the bread crumbs. Next time I would also add seasoned salt to the bread crumbs. I also used GF flour & panko and that worked out just fine. It is labor intensive but well worth it!
I am so glad you like my eggplant bites Myriam! They are one of my very favorites! I serve them all the time. They can be appetizers, the main dish or even a great vegan sandwich. I also top them with a little tomato sauce and vegan cheese after they have cooked for little pizzas. They are labor intensive so I will make a big batch of maybe 4 or 5 eggplants and bread them, then flash freeze them and store in ziplock bags for an anytime meal! Yummy!
AAAHHHH!!!!!! MINI VEGAN EGGPLANT FREEZER PIZZAS?!?! WUUUUUT….. thats it. im set for finals week now too.
I LOVE YOU SO MUCH MISS NATALIE!!!!!! ^_^
(see comment down below, lol)
Simply excellent. I made two varieties to test them. Baked one and pan fried the other. Identical ingredients.
BOTH were excellent! My grandson devoured the pan-fried. My wife preferred the baked. We didn’t use any dip, just ate them as they were to taste test. These were so very easy to make. Highly recommended.
I am so happy you liked my eggplant bites Carl! I am glad they were devoured by your grandson and wife! That is fantastic! I have also tried them both ways frying and baking. I usually do the baking method because it is so easy and they are super crunchy. I was actually amazed at how crunchy they get. They are so healthy for you too! Thanks so much for sharing, I really appreciate it.
Made this recipe tonight and it is wonderful! Came out nice and crunchy. I will definitely be making this again!
Yea! So happy to hear that! Thank you so much!
Made these tonight; they were fantastic. They have the crunch of fried without all the oil. I’m going to be making this recipe quite often. Thank you.
I’m so glad you liked them Lisa! Thanks for taking the time to let me know.
Hey! This recipe looks amazing! I have a quick question – Is it possible for me to prepare this overnight and bake in the morning? I’m hosting a brunch for a couple friends so… :)
Yes! I would actually fully bake them and then reheat the next day. Bake them at 350° until warm and golden. Maybe 5 minutes? They reheat beautifully!
This was delicious! I added nutritional yeast to the flour mixture for vegan cheezy flavor :) can’t wait to try it with zucchini and summer squash!
So glad you liked it Rebecca! I love the idea of adding nutritional yeast. I’m going to do that next time. And this is great with zucchini!
Just made this recipe and it was delicious. The only tweak I made was to add 1/4 Parmesan finely shredded cheese to the Panko bread crumbs. I love the tip about the flax seeds. I don’t eat eggs so this was a wonderful substitute.
I’m so glad you liked it Denise! This would be delicious with Parmesan added in! I’m going to have to try that next time! Glad the flax egg worked for you. Such a great swap out, right? Thanks for letting me know you liked my recipe, you made my day!
Thanks so much, I loved this recipe and it was so easy to do. I also tried it with zucchini and yellow squash and it worked great. I added in about 1/4 cup of the vegan Parmesan cheese to the panko crumbs and it was delish! ?
I’m so glad you liked it Sheri! So genius trying it with zucchini and yellow squash! Why did I never think of that? I have so much zucchini in my garden. I’m going to try it! And adding vegan parmesan cheese sounds delicious too! Thanks for letting me know you liked my recipe. This made my day!
I wish I could help you, but I’m not much better with the whole garden thing…my tomatoes never turn red (EVER), my beans are being demolished by some sort of bug, and my basil was dead after about 2 weeks. Wah! LOVE the looks of these eggplant bites, especially dipped in that sauce! YUM!
How interesting… didn’t realize you could use flax seed and water for an egg consistency. We’re not vegans but I know a lot of people who are. These look like the real thing. #client
These are seriously making my mouth water over here…they look so crunchy and wonderful!! And I am obsessed with your idea of using flax seed and water as an egg replacement! What a fantastic way to make it even healthier. I am definitely going to try this recipe out. YUM.
I don’t know much about gardening, but that stinks! But I’m right there with you…farmer’s markets are the best! I’ve been going to my local one every Friday and stocking up. I’ve never thought to make eggplant bites before, so I’m loving these! Such a fun way to use fresh produce for the summer!
I’m right there with you, Natalie! Josh and I planted a few things this year and we literally killed everything. Oops! But on the bright side, farmer’s markets are there to save us too haha. These little eggplant bites look so delicious and they sound perfect with that marinara!
What a great way to have eggplant, Natalie! I’ll definitely be needing this very soon as I have a few in my garden that are just about ready. Speaking of gardens… so sorry yours isn’t doing well :( My guess would be not enough sunlight, how much shade does the garden have throughout the day? The zucchini not maturing could be a pollination problem… I had this issue early last month and had to hand pollinate! Now there are enough bees and they are doing well. I hope things improve!