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Pulled Eggplant BBQ Recipe

Pulled BBQ eggplant is a creative, vegetarian spin on traditional pulled pork. With a smoky, tangy barbecue flavor and tender, shredded texture, this dish is sure to satisfy both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Plus, the process of baking and shredding the eggplant mimics the slow-roasted delicacy of pulled meats, making it a unique culinary experience.

Pulled Eggplant BBQ Recipe

Photos of Pulled Eggplant BBQ Recipe

Eggplants are the star of this dish and can be found in most supermarkets. Choose ones that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny, with a vibrant purple color. Smoked paprika is another key ingredient that gives our BBQ eggplant its unique smoky flavor. It's typically available in the spice aisle, but if you can't find it, regular paprika mixed with a bit of liquid smoke would work as a substitute.

Ingredients for Pulled BBQ Eggplant

Eggplants: The base of our dish, providing a tender, meaty texture when cooked and shredded.

Spices (cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper): These create the smoky, spicy, and complex flavor profile of the barbecue sauce.

Brown sugar: Adds a touch of sweetness that balances out the spice and tang of the barbecue sauce.

Vegetarian barbecue sauce: Coating the shredded eggplant, it infuses the dish with a tangy, smoky, and slightly sweet flavor.

Buns: Serve as the vessel for our pulled BBQ eggplant, providing a nice contrast in texture.

Coleslaw: Adds a refreshing crunch and tanginess, balancing out the richness of the BBQ eggplant.

One reader, Donni Grimm says:

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This pulled BBQ eggplant recipe is a game-changer! The flavors are incredible, and the texture is spot on. It's a fantastic meatless alternative that even meat lovers will enjoy. Plus, it's so easy to make! I highly recommend giving it a try.

Donni Grimm

Key Techniques for Preparing Pulled BBQ Eggplant

How to bake the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, then place the eggplant on a non-stick baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes until the skin is wrinkled, then reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees F.

How to sweat the eggplant: After baking, transfer the eggplant to a large bowl, cover, and let it cool and sweat for 10 to 15 minutes. This will make the skin peel off easily and the eggplant cool enough to handle.

How to prepare the spice mix: In a small bowl, combine the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Mix well to create the spice mix.

How to bake the eggplant strips: Add the eggplant strips to a non-stick baking sheet, then sprinkle with the spice mix. Use your hands to mix well and coat the eggplant strips. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the ends of the eggplant strips start to dry out.

How to coat the eggplant with barbecue sauce: Pour the barbecue sauce over the baked eggplant and toss well to coat. Bake for an additional 15 minutes until the sauce has been absorbed by the eggplant.

How to assemble the dish: Pile the prepared eggplant on the buns and top with coleslaw before serving.

How To Make Pulled Eggplant BBQ

Sink your teeth into this easy-to-make pulled eggplant BBQ that’s generously simmered in a vegan barbecue sauce, served over bread for a healthier meal!

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 50 minutes



  • 3medium eggplants
  • 1tspcumin
  • ½tspchili powder
  • 1tspgarlic powder
  • 1tsppaprika
  • 1tspsmoked paprika
  • ½tspcayenne pepper
  • 1tbspbrown sugar
  • 1tspsalt
  • 1tsppepper
  • cupsvegetarian barbecue sauce
  • 6buns
  • coleslaw,for serving, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Place the eggplant on a non-stick baking sheet, then prick all over with a fork.

  3. Bake for 20 minutes, until the skin is wrinkled. Reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees F.

  4. Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and cover. Let cool and sweat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the skin peels off easily, and they are cool enough to handle.

  5. Trim the stems from the eggplant and remove the skin completely. Tear the eggplant flesh into thin strips, then set aside.

  6. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne, brown sugar, salt, and pepper and mix well.

  7. Add the eggplant strips to a non-stick baking sheet, then sprinkle with the spice mix. Mix well with hands to coat.

  8. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the ends of the eggplant strips start to dry out. Increase the oven temperature to 250 degrees F.

  9. Pour the barbecue sauce over the eggplant and toss well to coat.

  10. Bake for 15 minutes more, until the sauce has been absorbed by the eggplant.

  11. Pile the eggplant on the buns and top with coleslaw, serve, and enjoy!


  • Calories: 321.49kcal
  • Fat: 2.78g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.54g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.56g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.06g
  • Carbohydrates: 69.26g
  • Fiber: 10.34g
  • Sugar: 37.71g
  • Protein: 7.77g
  • Sodium: 958.22mg
  • Calcium: 130.70mg
  • Potassium: 892.42mg
  • Iron: 3.06mg
  • Vitamin A: 36.30µg
  • Vitamin C: 7.16mg

Helpful Technique for Perfecting Pulled BBQ Eggplant

When preparing the eggplant, ensure to prick it all over with a fork before baking. This allows the heat to penetrate evenly, resulting in a perfectly cooked eggplant. Additionally, letting the eggplant sweat after baking makes the skin easier to peel off. This is done by covering the hot eggplant in a bowl, the steam trapped inside will loosen the skin. Lastly, tearing the eggplant into thin strips instead of cutting allows for a more natural, pulled texture which will absorb the barbecue sauce better.

Time-Saving Tips for Making pulled bbq eggplant recipe

Prep ahead: Chop and measure all ingredients before starting. This will streamline the cooking process and make it easier to assemble the dish.

Use kitchen gadgets: Utilize tools like a food processor or mandoline to quickly and efficiently prepare the eggplant and spices, saving time and effort.

Multi-task: While the eggplant is baking, use that time to prepare the coleslaw or set the table. This helps make the most of your time in the kitchen.

Organize your workspace: Keep your kitchen organized and clean as you cook. This will help you move more efficiently and find what you need without wasting time.

Plan ahead: Create a cooking schedule and follow the recipe steps in a logical order to avoid backtracking and save time.

Substitute Ingredients For Pulled Eggplant BBQ Recipe

  • eggplants - Substitute with portobello mushrooms: Portobello mushrooms have a meaty texture and rich flavor that can mimic the texture of eggplant in the recipe.

  • cumin - Substitute with coriander: Coriander has a similar earthy and slightly citrusy flavor that can replace cumin in the recipe.

  • chili powder - Substitute with paprika and a pinch of cayenne: Paprika can provide a similar smoky flavor, and a pinch of cayenne can add the heat that chili powder would provide.

  • garlic powder - Substitute with minced fresh garlic: Fresh garlic will provide a more intense and aromatic flavor compared to garlic powder.

  • paprika - Substitute with smoked paprika: Smoked paprika can provide a similar smoky flavor as regular paprika.

  • smoked paprika - Substitute with paprika: Paprika can provide a similar flavor profile without the smokiness.

  • cayenne pepper - Substitute with hot sauce or chili flakes: Both hot sauce and chili flakes can add heat to the dish similar to cayenne pepper.

  • brown sugar - Substitute with maple syrup: Maple syrup can add a similar sweetness and depth of flavor to the dish.

  • barbecue sauce - Substitute with homemade barbecue sauce: Making your own barbecue sauce allows you to control the ingredients and customize the flavor to your preference.

  • buns - Substitute with lettuce wraps: Lettuce wraps can be a lighter and lower-carb alternative to buns for serving the pulled BBQ eggplant.

  • coleslaw - Substitute with shredded cabbage and carrots with a vinaigrette dressing: This alternative can provide a similar crunchy texture and tangy flavor to the coleslaw.

Presenting Your Pulled BBQ Eggplant Dish

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the pulled BBQ eggplant, focus on creating an elegant and visually appealing plate. Use fresh microgreens and edible flowers to add a pop of color and freshness to the dish.

  2. Incorporate texture: Add a crunchy element to the dish by sprinkling toasted sesame seeds over the pulled BBQ eggplant. This will not only enhance the visual appeal but also provide a delightful textural contrast.

  3. Utilize negative space: Embrace the concept of negative space on the plate to allow the vibrant colors of the dish to stand out. Arrange the pulled BBQ eggplant in a way that showcases its rich, deep hues against the clean backdrop of the plate.

  4. Highlight the bun: Instead of using traditional buns, consider toasting brioche buns to golden perfection. This will elevate the overall presentation and add a touch of sophistication to the dish.

  5. Artful drizzling: Before serving, carefully drizzle a small amount of balsamic glaze around the edge of the plate. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also adds a hint of sweetness to complement the savory flavors of the dish.

Essential Tools for Making Pulled BBQ Eggplant

  • Oven: Used for baking and roasting the eggplant.
  • Non-stick baking sheet: Provides a non-stick surface for baking the eggplant.
  • Fork: Used to prick the eggplant before baking.
  • Large bowl: Used for covering and cooling the eggplant.
  • Small bowl: Used for mixing the spice blend.
  • Baking sheet: Used for baking the seasoned eggplant strips.
  • Mixing bowl: Used for tossing the eggplant with barbecue sauce.
  • Spatula: Used for tossing and serving the pulled BBQ eggplant.
  • Knife: Used for trimming the stems and removing the skin from the eggplant.
  • Measuring spoons: Used for accurately measuring the spices and seasonings.

Storing and Freezing Your Pulled BBQ Eggplant

  • Let the pulled bbq eggplant cool completely before storing or freezing.
  • To store in the fridge, place the eggplant in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated for up to 4 days.
  • For longer storage, freeze the pulled bbq eggplant in a freezer-safe container or resealable bag.
    • Remove as much air as possible from the bag before sealing to prevent freezer burn.
    • Label the container or bag with the date of freezing for easy reference.
  • Frozen pulled bbq eggplant can be stored for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat, thaw the frozen eggplant in the refrigerator overnight.
    • Place the thawed eggplant in a microwave-safe dish and heat it in the microwave until warmed through, stirring occasionally.
    • Alternatively, reheat the eggplant in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring gently until heated through.
  • If the reheated pulled bbq eggplant appears dry, add a splash of water or vegetable broth to help moisten it.
  • Serve the reheated eggplant on fresh buns with a side of coleslaw for the best taste and texture.

How To Reheat Leftover Pulled BBQ Eggplant

  • The best way to reheat leftover pulled bbq eggplant is in the oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the eggplant in an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil. Heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until it's heated through. This method helps to retain the moisture and prevent the eggplant from drying out.

  • Another option is to reheat the pulled bbq eggplant in a skillet on the stovetop. Add a little bit of water or barbecue sauce to the pan to help keep the eggplant moist. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it's warmed through. This method is quicker than the oven, but you'll need to watch it more closely to prevent burning.

  • If you're in a hurry, you can also reheat the pulled bbq eggplant in the microwave. Place it in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a damp paper towel. Heat on high for 1-2 minutes, or until it's heated through. Stir the eggplant halfway through the reheating process to ensure even heating. Keep in mind that the microwave might change the texture of the eggplant slightly.

  • Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to reheat the pulled bbq eggplant until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure it's safe to eat.

  • To add some extra flavor and moisture to your reheated pulled bbq eggplant, consider adding a splash of barbecue sauce, a sprinkle of fresh herbs, or a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.

Interesting Trivia About Pulled BBQ Eggplant

Eggplant is a versatile vegetable that can be used as a meat substitute in many dishes. It is a great source of fiber and antioxidants, making it a healthy addition to any meal.

Is Making pulled bbq eggplant recipe at Home Cost-Effective?

This pulled BBQ eggplant recipe is highly cost-effective for a household. Eggplants are affordable and the spices used are pantry staples. The dish provides a satisfying and flavorful alternative to traditional pulled pork or chicken. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $10, making it a budget-friendly option. The versatility of eggplant makes this recipe a great choice for those looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diet without breaking the bank. Overall Verdict: 9/10

Is Pulled BBQ Eggplant Healthy or Unhealthy?

This pulled BBQ eggplant recipe is a healthier alternative to traditional pulled pork sandwiches. Eggplant is a nutrient-dense vegetable, low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The spice mix used in the recipe adds flavor without relying on excessive salt or unhealthy fats. However, there are a few aspects of the recipe that could be improved to make it even healthier:

  • The recipe calls for a significant amount of barbecue sauce, which can be high in sugar and sodium. Opting for a low-sugar, low-sodium variety or making your own sauce with natural ingredients could further improve the nutritional value.
  • While the eggplant provides a good base, the recipe could benefit from the addition of more vegetables to increase the overall nutrient content. Adding sliced onions, bell peppers, or mushrooms to the baking sheet could be a tasty way to incorporate more veggies.
  • The coleslaw mentioned in the recipe can be a healthy addition, depending on how it's prepared. Using a yogurt-based dressing instead of a mayonnaise-based one can reduce the fat content while still providing a creamy texture.
  • Whole wheat or multigrain buns can be used to increase the fiber content of the meal, promoting better digestion and feelings of fullness.
  • To make the recipe even more nutritious, consider serving the pulled eggplant over a bed of leafy greens or quinoa instead of on a bun. This can help to reduce the overall carbohydrate content while adding more vitamins, minerals, and protein to the dish.

Editor's Opinion on This Delicious Eggplant Recipe

This pulled BBQ eggplant recipe offers a delightful twist on traditional pulled pork. The combination of spices and barbecue sauce creates a rich, smoky flavor that complements the tender eggplant perfectly. The cooking method ensures a satisfying texture, and the addition of coleslaw provides a refreshing contrast. This dish is a fantastic option for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, offering a satisfying and flavorful alternative to the classic pulled meat sandwich.

Enhance Your Pulled Eggplant BBQ Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Grilled Corn on the Cob: Try grilling some fresh corn on the cob and brushing it with a garlic herb butter for a delicious and smoky side dish.
Roasted Sweet Potato Fries: Slice up some sweet potatoes into fries, toss them in olive oil and seasonings, then roast them in the oven until crispy and golden brown.
Fruit Salad: Mix together a variety of fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple for a refreshing and colorful side dish that pairs perfectly with the smoky flavors of the pulled BBQ eggplant.

Similar Recipes to Try If You Love Pulled BBQ Eggplant

Spicy Grilled Vegetable Skewers: Marinate the vegetables in a spicy sauce before grilling for a flavorful and healthy dish.
Mango Chicken Salad: Combine juicy mangoes with grilled chicken and fresh greens for a refreshing and satisfying salad.
Coconut Curry Lentil Soup: Simmer lentils in a fragrant coconut curry broth for a comforting and nutritious soup option.
Berry Crumble Bars: Use seasonal berries to create a delicious crumble bar that's perfect for dessert or a sweet snack.

Appetizers and Desserts That Complement Pulled BBQ Eggplant

Stuffed Mushrooms: Create a savory and indulgent appetizer by stuffing mushrooms with a mixture of cream cheese, garlic, herbs, and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden and serve hot for a crowd-pleasing starter.
Bruschetta: Elevate your appetizer game with a classic bruschetta featuring ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and balsamic glaze on crispy toasted bread. This refreshing and flavorful dish is perfect for any gathering.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder for an elegant and decadent dessert experience.
Berry Parfait: Layer juicy mixed berries with creamy Greek yogurt and crunchy granola for a refreshing and satisfying parfait that's perfect for a light and healthy dessert option.

Why trust this Pulled Eggplant BBQ Recipe:

This pulled BBQ eggplant recipe offers a delicious and satisfying alternative to traditional pulled pork. The combination of smoky spices, savory eggplant, and tangy barbecue sauce creates a mouthwatering dish that's perfect for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. The careful preparation and seasoning ensure a flavorful and tender result, while the incorporation of cumin, paprika, and smoked paprika adds depth and complexity to the dish. Trust in the balance of flavors and textures, and savor the delightful experience of this delectable vegetarian dish.

Share your thoughts and experiences with this Pulled Eggplant BBQ Recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum.
Can I use regular barbecue sauce instead of vegetarian barbecue sauce?
Yes, you can use regular barbecue sauce if you prefer. The vegetarian barbecue sauce adds a nice flavor, but feel free to use your favorite barbecue sauce.
Can I prepare the eggplant ahead of time and reheat it later?
Absolutely! You can prepare the pulled BBQ eggplant ahead of time and reheat it when you're ready to serve. Just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat it in the oven or microwave when needed.
Can I freeze the pulled BBQ eggplant?
Yes, you can freeze the pulled BBQ eggplant. Allow it to cool completely, then store it in an airtight container or freezer bag. When you're ready to enjoy it, simply thaw it in the refrigerator and reheat it as desired.
What can I serve with the pulled BBQ eggplant?
The pulled BBQ eggplant is delicious served on buns with coleslaw, but you can also serve it alongside a fresh green salad, roasted vegetables, or even as a topping for a loaded baked potato.
Can I adjust the level of spiciness in the recipe?
Absolutely! If you prefer a milder or spicier flavor, feel free to adjust the amount of cayenne pepper in the spice mix to suit your taste preferences. You can also add a dash of hot sauce or chili flakes to increase the heat if desired.

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