Eggplant is a versatile vegetable growing in many regions around the world. One of the most common is Italian or Globe eggplant, but there are many other types of eggplants you can enjoy.
If you’re already a fan of eggplant and want to know which other types you might like, or you haven’t liked eggplant but are curious if it’s just the specific variety you didn’t enjoy, then this article is for you.
Types of Eggplant
I’ll discuss the various types of eggplants and the standout qualities of each one. By the end, you’ll be an eggplant expert and ready to make your next eggplant dish!
People have been cultivating Chinese eggplant for over 1500 years in both China and India.
This variety is small and spiny with a slightly orange tint and tastes bitter.
It goes great with Chinese recipes that include garlic sauce, ginger, and soy sauce.
But you can also enjoy it in other dishes, like soups, curries, and even salads.
I also appreciate that the taste of Chinese eggplants holds up well even if you cook them for a long time.
Fairy Tale Eggplant
A Fairy Tale Eggplant is an eggplant that’s quite tiny — only four inches long.
These eggplants were first cultivated in India and have an attractive lavender glow, usually with beige or light purple streaks throughout their skin.
I like grilling these eggplants because it brings out their sweet, non-bitter flavor. Plus, they’re so small that it only takes a few minutes to cook them.
Eggplants are sometimes called “brinjal” in India and are popular among small-scale farmers.
The Indian eggplant is typically much smaller in size than what we normally consider an eggplant in North America (Globe eggplants) but has a similarly striking purple color.
Indian eggplants also usually have a mild flavor and creamy texture that goes well in stews and curries.
Brinjal curry is a popular dish in South India and includes ingredients like garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chili powder, and paprika.
Like Indian eggplants, Italian eggplants are also a bit smaller than globe eggplants and tend to have a much darker purple color.
They have a teardrop shape that eggplants are known for, but I appreciate that they are much sweeter than many other eggplants, making them perfect for French dishes like ratatouille and Italian dishes such as pasta alla norma.
Thai eggplants are small and round and usually have a bright pink or green color, depending on the specific variety.
This type of eggplant has a unique, slightly bitter taste that grows stronger as it matures, which is why I like to add it to soups and salads.
It pairs nicely with other Thai flavors, such as lemongrass and basil.
White eggplants originated in India and Bangladesh, but you can find them in grocery stores throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.
They get their name from their white color, and I appreciate their particularly creamy texture, less bitter taste, and denser consistency.
They pair perfectly with cheeses like parmesan and also go really well with tomato sauces.
When you think about an eggplant, a Globe eggplant is likely what comes to mind.
As you can tell by their name, they are very popular around the world, and you should have no problem finding this variety in grocery stores near you.
They are dark purple with a glossy sheen and have a mild flavor and firm texture. Globe eggplants, or “American” eggplants, are perfect for roasting, sautéing, grilling, or baking.
Graffiti Eggplants have an exotic, striped look with shades of lavender fading into white.
They originated from the Mediterranean region.
These eggplants are slightly sweet and are excellent roasted or grilled.
As they are from the Mediterranean, I love choosing this variety to make an authentic baba ganoush or an Italian dish like caponata.
Little Green Eggplant
Little Green eggplants are native to India, China, and other parts of East Asia.
This eggplant variety is small, mild in flavor, and usually has a light green hue.
Little green eggplants go well in salads because they are quite firm but can also be sautéed or roasted, but they also go well in Asian dishes like curries and stir-fries.
Rosa Bianca Eggplant
Rosa Bianca eggplants originated in Italy and are beautiful with their white and purple marbled skin, but they also have a wonderful flavor that is creamy and sweet.
These eggplants work great in dishes like ratatouille and Parmesan pasta, but I also like to grill or bake them and eat them alone with just a bit of olive oil.
The Barbarella eggplant is a hybrid variety that was developed in Italy, most likely in Sicily.
It has an unusual shape — it’s almost round but slightly elongated.
This eggplant has a mild flavor and relatively thin skin. It’s excellent when stuffed with other vegetables or cooked with tomatoes and herbs.
I also enjoy sautéing Barbarella eggplants to include them in creamy pasta dishes.
The Calliope Eggplant is another hybrid developed in Italy. It has a unique shape — almost like an oval, but with a more bulbous end.
Like Barbarella, this eggplant has a pleasantly mild flavor, making it great for grilling, roasting, or baking, then eating it alone.
It goes well with the flavors of rosemary, lemon, and thyme, and I enjoy it in Italian dishes like caponata.
Heirloom eggplants are oval-shaped and small, somewhat resembling a large egg.
I like heirloom eggplants because they are sweet enough to eat raw but not so sweet that they don’t go well in savory recipes.
I enjoy eating heirloom eggplants in red sauce pasta dishes or with other roasted vegetables.
Kermit eggplants are another small, round eggplant variety that has a dark green color with light green stripes on the bottom.
They are also called Garden Egg or Bitter Ball and are quite firm and crunchy, making them a great addition to salads.
I also enjoy roasting them with other vegetables or adding them to spinach lasagna.
They have a mild taste that you can pretty much throw in any dish!
Machiaw eggplants are native to Thailand and have a unique shape, resembling a long cylinder with curved edges.
These eggplants have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and go swimmingly with other Thai flavors like lemongrass, ginger, and basil.
I also like to include Machiaw eggplant in stir-fries and curries.
Santana eggplants originated in the United States and look very similar to Globe eggplants with their teardrop shape, longer body, and purple skin.
However, they tend to be a much darker purple, sometimes nearly black.
I like preparing Santana eggplants for brightly colored food like seafood pasta because the dark color contrasts well with bright reds, yellows, and whites.
Types of Eggplant
- Chinese Eggplant
- Fairy Tale Eggplant
- Indian Eggplant
- Italian Eggplant
- Thai Eggplant
- White Eggplant
- Globe/American Eggplant
- Graffiti Eggplant
- Little Green Eggplant
- Rosa Bianca Eggplant
- Barbarella Eggplant
- Calliope Eggplant
- Heirloom Eggplant
- Kermit Eggplant
- Machiaw Eggplant
- Santana Eggplant
Try all of these eggplant varieties in different dishes to best enjoy their flavor!
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