Eggplant in Garlic Sauce that’s Plant-Based and Oil-Free


I love eggplant, but Tony isn’t a big fan. Fortunately, I can usually win him over with Chinese-inspired recipes, like this Eggplant in Garlic Sauce. It boasts bolder flavors that compliment the eggplant. This is also a healthier recipe than most since it’s oil free! I originally shared this recipe over 15 years ago (time flies!), and am giving it a big update today.

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce Recipe (Chinese-Style) - Plant-Based, Dairy-Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free Optional

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce that’s Plant-Based and Oil-Free

Eggplant typically soaks up oil like a sponge, which is why many eggplant dishes can taste oily. But this is a weeknight version that uses no oil at all. Simmering the eggplant in water helps to soften it before adding the other sauces.

If you do like a seared flavor, you can quickly sear the eggplant in a little oil (about 2 teaspoons) over high heat, and then continue with the method below.

When I first started making this dish, the grocers in my small town didn’t offer Chinese eggplant. So we used the regular Italian-style globe eggplants. But you can use Chinese or Japanese eggplant, if preferred. They typically require less cooking time.

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce Recipe (Chinese-Style) - Plant-Based, Dairy-Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free Optional

Special Diet Notes: Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian.

Eggplant In Garlic Sauce (Oil-Free)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This classic dish is great served with steamed rice or quinoa. For a full meal, you can double the seasonings and add tofu or your protein of choice. You can also add other complimentary vegetables like red bell pepper or greens.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 medium globe eggplant, optionally peeled and cut into oblong pieces the size and length of 2 fingers side by side
  • 1 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (gluten-free, if needed)
  • 2 green onions or scallions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  1. Bring ¼-inch of water to a boil in a wide frying pan. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water as needed, until the eggplant is softened and very little water remains, about 7 minutes.
  2. Remove the eggplant to a bowl. Heat another ¼-inch of water in the pan. Add the garlic, ginger and hoisin sauce. Simmer briskly for 10 minutes, stirring and adding more water as needed.
  3. Add the soy sauce and green onions to the pan, then add the cooked eggplant, with a little more water if needed. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring to coat the eggplant with the sauce.
  4. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ recipe Calories: 50 Fat: .4g Saturated fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 11.3g Sugar: 5.4g Sodium: 144mg Fiber: 5.3g Protein: 1.8g

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About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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