Sautéed Eggplant with Honey

Fried Eggplant. It’s a dish people tend to have strong opinions about. Today I’ll show you how to cook eggplant in a way everyone will enjoy. Sautéed Eggplant with Honey and Thyme is melt-in-your-mouth tender and savory-sweet. A sure fire way to create eggplant converts.

Fried Eggplant with Honey and Thyme @

We all have that food that is our life-long nemesis. Well, I used to dislike eggplant. Although the color and shape were appealing, the texture reminded me of makeup sponges, something I wasn’t keen on eating.

No matter how I, or anyone else, prepared it, eggplant always seemed to make my nose wrinkle in disapproval.

Then I learned a restaurant secret that changed everything…

Apply milk to makeup sponges eggplant.

To magically remove the bitterness from eggplant and greatly improve the texture, soak it in milk over night. Once the slices of eggplant have taken a long, luxurious, milky bath, they are tenderized and primed for frying.

Simply tap off the extra moisture, dust them with sea salt and flour. Pan-fry in a large cast iron skillet until golden brown. Then serve piping hot.

This my friends… is how to cook eggplant. This is how to get the reluctant eggplant-eater on board.

Tender layers of fried eggplant, with the uncanny custard-like texture of good French Toast.

It is crispy on the outside, moist and supple on the inside. Drizzled with honey and sprinkled with fresh thyme and sea salt, this sautéed eggplant is one irresistible veggie.

Sautéed Eggplant with Honey and Thyme will make a believer of you, guaranteed!


Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes active time

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Sautéed Eggplant with Honey

How to cook eggplant: Fried Eggplant with a crispy outside and moist tender inside.


  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 3-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Sea Salt


  1. Peel the eggplant and slice it into thin 1/8 inch rounds. Place the eggplant slices in an airtight container and pour the milk over it. Cover and refrigerate over night.
  2. In a small pie pan, mix the flour with 1 tsp. salt. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Line a plate with paper towels.
  3. When the oil is hot, dredge a few slices of eggplant in the flour and tap off the excess. Gently place them in the skillet and pan fry for 2 minutes per side. Remove and place on the plate to drain.
  4. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant, adding oil to the skillet as needed. Sprinkle the slices with a little more sea salt as they come out of the skillet. Serve warm, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with thyme.

More Summer Veggies:

Summer Squash with Blistered Tomatoes

Fennel Salad with roasted Beats and Shaved Asparagus

Grilled Fattoush

Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Sticks ~ How Sweet It Is

Grilled Corn ~ Michael Ruhlman

Roasted Tomato Soup ~ Smitten Kitchen

Candied Balsamic Tomato Salad ~ Eat Yourself Skinny

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60 Responses to “Sautéed Eggplant with Honey”

  1. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — August 10, 2012 @ 12:20 am

    I love eggplant but I’ve never thought to soak it in milk – brilliant! I love the honey and thyme here too.


  2. #
    Andrea Austoni — August 10, 2012 @ 3:21 am

    Soaking eggplants in milk overnight will obviously make them tender and milky but all you need to do to extract the bitterness is slice them, sprinkle them with salt and put them under a weight for about an hour then rinse.
    This is what Italians do at least.
    I wouldn’t add milk to eggplants if I were making parmigiana but it works for this recipe.


    • Sommer — August 10th, 2012 @ 7:44 am

      Thanks Andrea! I’ve tried that, but for me the texture has always been the issue, so the milk it the key to transforming it.


  3. #
    Belinda @zomppa — August 10, 2012 @ 3:57 am

    Really?? Great tip! I do have the issue with eggplant. They need a milk bath, huh? Got it!


  4. #
    shelly (cookies and cups) — August 10, 2012 @ 6:57 am

    Oh wow! I need to try this! My husband is convinced he doesn’t like eggplant!


  5. #
    Cécy — August 10, 2012 @ 8:05 am

    I wonder if that’s how they do it at Curate… I love the eggplant they have. I’m going to have to try this with the eggplant I got at the market.


    • Sommer — August 10th, 2012 @ 8:34 am

      Haha, YES! That’s where I got this tip. :)


      • Cécy — August 16th, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

        You’re my kitchen hero. So I decided to bring Curate home tonight: I’m makeing the Eggplan, along with the Garlic shrimp and the patatas bravas (I got the sauce recipe from Elizabeth Button).

  6. #
    MIss @ Miss in the Kitchen — August 10, 2012 @ 8:07 am

    I haven’t had eggplant in a long time, it is hard to come by here. This looks really delicious. Love those dishes too!


  7. #
    Amy @ Gastronome Tart — August 10, 2012 @ 8:18 am

    What a great tip! I have never heard about soaking it in milk to remove the bitterness. I have usually just sprinkled with kosher salt and let it “sweat” it out after about 30 minutes. I have to admit that I am not much of an eggplant person either, however I just recently had an amazing eggplant dish and am now HOOKED! Can’t wait to try this recipe!


  8. #
    Steph Cruz — August 10, 2012 @ 8:20 am

    Heading to the market NOW! These look delicious.


  9. #
    Jennifer @ Mother Thyme — August 10, 2012 @ 8:48 am

    Love egglant! This looks fabulous!


  10. #
    Jeanette — August 10, 2012 @ 8:55 am

    What a fantastic trick – I’ve never heard of soaking eggplant in milk!


  11. #
    Deb @ knitstamatic — August 10, 2012 @ 9:10 am

    What a wonderful way to serve eggplant. Great idea to soak in milk too, must give that a try.


  12. #
    Paula - bell'alimento — August 10, 2012 @ 10:14 am

    I think eggplant is totally underrated. Love it. And This. Yes indeed xoxo


  13. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts — August 10, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    I have always been on the fence about eggplant. Sometimes it is pretty good, other times it is kind of gross. All in the cooking, I am sure! This recipe look and sounds amazing. I love the flavors. I will definitely have to give this a try, I would like to add more veggies in any way to our life.


  14. #
    Sanjeeta kk — August 10, 2012 @ 10:56 am

    Absolutely gorgeous…never thought of combining eggplant with honey!! Pinning it…


  15. #
    amy @ uTryIt — August 10, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

    This is such a beautiful dish. Never know about the milk bath. I’m going to give that a try. :)


  16. #
    Jen @ Savory SImple — August 10, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    I can’t wait to try this! I’ve never thought to use milk.


  17. #
    claire @ the realistic nutritionist — August 10, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    Such a fabulous and healthy little eggplant dish!! Totally loving it.


  18. #
    Cristina — August 10, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

    Never thought to use milk — but I don;t like the idea of frying– I thought you were going to gently sauté in lower heat…Have you tried soaking in milk, then sautéing without dredging in flour? I’ll have to try that, since i Love eggplant! Thanks for the great tip.


  19. #
    Cassie — August 10, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    I want this for dinner TONIGHT! I love eggplant, and the honey + thyme are so perfect!


  20. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — August 10, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

    I can’t believe I’ve never made eggplant before! I seriously can’t wait to give this a try!


  21. #
    Kelley — August 10, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

    I will have to try this now!!! I always thought I didn’t care for eggplant, but now I want to eat this!!! :D
    Thanks for the post!! Sounds yummy!! I loved your comparison to makeup sponges….hahahah….they really do remind you of those!! lol


  22. #
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — August 10, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

    I JUST had dinner and now I’m craving this. Shame I don’t have any eggplant around, otherwise I’d actually do it right now :-)


  23. #
    Rachel @ Bakerita — August 10, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

    Mmm, I love eggplant, and I love finding new ways to prepare it. I can’t wait to try out the milk trick! I know what we’re having for dinner tomorrow :)


  24. #
    Priya Sreeram — August 10, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

    gorgeous really- loved the tip with the milk; thanks for sharing ! bookmarking it


  25. #
    Lauren of Spanish Sabores — August 11, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

    Spaniards make this dish all the time using molasses (what they call sugarcane honey) instead of flower honey. My mother-in-law was the one to show me how to soak the eggplant in milk and I haven’t done it any other way since!


  26. #
    Ginna Basile — August 11, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

    I looove eggplants!!… and will make this today cause I have two beautiful eggplants just waiting to be consumed!!


  27. #
    Katherine — August 11, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

    i thought i was the only one who liked eggplant with honey ! my eggplant is fresh from the garden / i favor the small white ones / they dont need a milk bath / i like to use the 3 dish prep : flour, egg, panko / fry until crisp in canola oil / drain on paper towels / drizzle with honey / divine!

    btw i cut the eggplant on the diagonal so they are ovals


  28. #
    Chris — August 12, 2012 @ 7:47 am

    I always want to like eggplant but it always lets me down. I just don’t enjoy the taste at all. I have tried it many ways, at home and in restaurants. I’ll give yours a try, if nothing else, Alexis will like it, she loves eggplant. Great pictures!


  29. #
    Andi Houston — August 12, 2012 @ 7:54 am

    I’ve never heard of cooking eggplant this way! I’m going to try it this week!


  30. #
    nata — August 12, 2012 @ 8:16 am

    Absolutely delicious! I tried this today and I love it. Thank you for this wonderful receipe! Although my pics didn’t reach the same level as yours, I published them on my Food Blog.


  31. #
    Cara — August 13, 2012 @ 10:43 am

    You sold me. I can’t wait to try this. I hope it works with almond milk too!


  32. #
    Angie — August 13, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    I love your photos! This look so good!


  33. #
    mary — August 13, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

    Looks great. Is it some enzyme or protein in the milk that helps so much? or the act of soaking? The reason I ask is that I wondered what a vegan could use in place of milk. Thanks!


  34. #
    Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum — August 14, 2012 @ 8:35 am

    WHOAA! This looks amazing Sommer. Nicely done!


  35. #
    Kathy - Panini Happy — August 15, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

    I have an eggplant on hand and I wasn’t sure how I was going to prepare it. I’m now off to slice and soak it in some milk – thank you!!


  36. #
    Javelin Warrior — August 17, 2012 @ 8:36 am

    So I’ve never been a huge fan of eggplant, but these sound delicious and I’d definitely try them! I’m featuring this post in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and thanks for sharing such amazing creations…


  37. #
    Mary Riemen — August 17, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

    Has anyone tried this recipe with rice milk or coconut milk? I wonder if it would have the same outcome?


  38. #
    Adora's Box — August 17, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

    That is such a simple but unique way of serving eggplants. I like the salty and sweet combo and I’ll definitely try this recipe.


  39. #
    Donalyn — August 19, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

    Oh my – I can almost taste it! My Mom always soaked eggplant the same way, and it does indeed draw out the bitterness. Bookmarking this to give it a try :)


  40. #
    Tee Tee — August 20, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

    It was AMAZING!!! Thank you! ^.^


  41. #
    NANCY — August 27, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    When my Mom makes eggplant, she slices it, sprinkles with salt, covers, leaves it on the counter overnight. Dips it in egg (with a tiny bit of milk) then in crushed saltines and frys it in hot oil for a few minutes on each side…then we have always put butter on it and enjoy!! Wonderful dish from our chilhood (I am 51). I just bought 2 of them yesterday and called her for the recipe. This will be my first time ever making them ;)


  42. #
    Amy — September 2, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

    This was so delish! Thank you for sharing!


  43. #
    Jen — October 3, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

    Ever thought of trying buttermilk? I wonder how that would work. Tangy but nice combination with the honey.


  44. #
    Barbara F. — March 24, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

    This was the most delicious eggplant I have ever made, I ate half of it myself, and still have half in the fridge for tomorrow. I soaked it about 7 hours. I didn’t have any thyme, no fresh nor dried, have to get some. I did have a tasty clover honey from a farm stand in the fall. Wow. Excellent recipe. Love it. xo


  45. #
    Nancy Long — August 1, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

    can’t wait to try this – just bought an eggplant yesterday – reminds me of some caramelized eggplant we had on our honeymoon 22 years ago in St. Kitts. Hubby kept going back to get more. I’m a pretty good cook, but have never been able to match that one. Hopefully this one will work. Never thought of using honey. Have tried white and brown sugar. Fingers crossed.


  46. #
    Nancy Long — August 17, 2013 @ 6:28 am

    was so looking forward to this, but sorry we weren’t thrilled with it. Eggplant was still a bit bitter. Still looking for a great caramelized eggplant to match what we had on our honeymoon.


  47. #
    Laura — June 4, 2014 @ 8:04 am

    This is an interesting take on eggplant. The combination of honey and thyme intrigues me :) I have never soaked my eggplant in milk but I will give it a try.


  48. #
    Stéphanie — August 17, 2014 @ 5:08 am

    Loved the eggplant recipe! My husband thought I was serving him some sort of pastry, when he finished it (with great pleasure) I told him it was eggplant and he was pleasantly surprised. Thank you so much for the tip



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