waffled eggplant and waffle iron

How to Cook Eggplant in a Waffle Maker for Perfect Texture

Despite the specific task for which it’s named, waffle makers have plenty of alternative uses, from omelets to grilled cheese sandwiches. A waffle maker’s capacity to bake, toast, melt, and otherwise cook a range of food applies to vegetables as well. Eggplant is the perfect vegetable to use in your waffle maker to elevate its texture.

While roasting, grilling, and pan-frying eggplant are common cooking methods to achieve a crisp exterior and creamy interior, a waffle maker delivers a superior texture with little effort. All it takes is sticking a round of eggplant into the waffle maker and, in a few minutes, you’ll have the textural and flavor benefits of grilling and roasting without turning on your oven or firing up the grill. The waffle maker will create the perfect waffle-patterned grill marks, providing a lovely presentation, crisp caramelized char, and earthy notes in the creamy pulp.

You don’t have to flip the eggplant for an even char as you would on the grill or in the oven, nor will you have to create an elaborate sauce to help cook the eggplant. The waffle maker is great for a quick and elegant dish. While you have to prepare one round or plank at a time, the two to three-minute cooking time will still allow you to cook an entire standard-sized eggplant in under 20 minutes.

Tips for eggplant waffles, sauces, and seasonings

Eggplant waffle on waffle iron

ImproVaneeta/YouTube

Preparing eggplant for your waffle maker requires little more than cutting them into rounds and brushing them with olive oil. You can use an herb and seasoning-infused olive oil for extra flavor. Garlic powder, red chili flakes, and smoked paprika would bring a well-balanced aromatic, spicy, and smoky depth. If you’re worried about bitterness, you can salt your eggplant rounds and let them sit for a good 15 minutes before running them under water and patting them dry. While the eggplant will absorb the small bit of olive oil almost immediately, it’s all you need to provide the moisture necessary for a creamy interior and crispy, charred exterior.

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You can level up your eggplant by breading it before cooking. As a bonus, the waffle iron will crisp the breading beautifully while also sealing it to the eggplant. So you don’t have to worry about the coating getting stuck to the inside of the iron.

Since the waffle maker is meant for liquid batter, it won’t close completely on an eggplant round. Lightly apply pressure to the waffle maker as it cooks the eggplant to ensure even grill marks. The waffle maker will create the same square-shaped dents in the eggplant you can use to pool sauces and condiments. Yogurt, tahini, labneh, and marinara are all tasty options to drizzle over crispy eggplant fresh out of the waffle maker. 

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