Types of Eggplant

  • 01 of 08

    What Kind of Eggplant Is This?

    Many Eggplants. Photo © Maximilian Stock Ltd/Getty Images

    When I say "eggplant," you may well have an oblong, deep dark purple vegetable with a jaunty green cap attached to it pop into your mind. No doubt that that is the most common type of eggplant found in the U.S. And yet... the world of eggplants is wider. Bigger. Sometimes smaller. Fatter. Or skinnier. Sweeter. Or more bitter. Greener. Whiter. More stripe-y. In short, the range of eggplant flavors isn't huge, but there is more range than most people realize.

    Whatever color and shape of...MORE eggplant you're buying, always choose eggplants that have smooth, shiny skin and feel heavy for their size.

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  • 02 of 08

    Globe Eggplant (a.k.a. American Eggplant)

    Globe (a.k.a. American) Eggplant. Photo © Jon Boyes/Getty Images

    Should we be surprised that globe eggplants, the biggest and fattest of eggplants, are also known as American eggplants? Their big, meaty texture makes them particularly well suited for serving as slices of grilled eggplant. See how to make it perfectly at How to Grill Eggplant. Their size also makes them good candidates for roasting for grilling whole (see Whole Grilled Eggplant).

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  • 03 of 08

    Italian Eggplant

    Italian Eggplant. Photo © Molly Watson

    These large dark purple eggplant are a bit smaller and thinner than globe eggplants, and they tend to have a bit sweeter (as opposed to bitter) flavor. They aren't just or even officially Italian, but they are often labeled as Italian in the U.S. and used in Italian cooking (Eggplant Parmesan anyone?).

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  • 04 of 08

    Japanese Eggplant

    Japanese Eggplant. Photo © Molly Watson

    Like the eggplant above, these longer and thinner eggplant aren't confined to Japan or Japanese cuisine, but these smaller, skinny eggplants are often referred to as Japanese or, sometimes, Chinese eggplant. A wide variety of comparatively long and skinny eggplant will be so labelled, and you'll see some at markets that are half the width of the ones pictured here. Also note that they come in a range of shades of purple, including a deep almost-black purple. Their slim shape makes them...MORE particularly good for cutting on the bias (a.k.a. "roll cutting") and stir-frying in big chunks.

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  • 05 of 08

    Rosa Bianca Eggplant

    Rosa Bianca Eggplant. Photo © Molly Watson
    The beautiful markings on these eggplant do not, unfortunately, keep their vibrancy once the vegetable is cooked, but I have trouble resisting choosing these at the market just because they are so darn pretty. They do have a slightly (very slightly) more delicate flavor and less bitter tendencies than their more purple brethren.
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  • 06 of 08

    Indian Eggplant

    Indian Eggplant. Photo © Molly Watson

    These cute and squat eggplant are more common in Indian cooking. They are good to slice and fry or cube and stew, or cook whole, scoop out the tender insides, and make sauces, dips, or a classic raita.

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  • 07 of 08

    Thai Eggplant

    Thai Eggplant. Photo © Will Heap/Getty Images

    These small eggplant orbs common in Thailand aren't always green—they come in purple and white, too—but they definitely have a tendency to be more bitter than other types of eggplants. Be wise and remove their seeds. Brining them before cooking them also helps (see How to Brine Eggplant) to draw out their bitter essence. They also stand up well to lots of spice and stewing, making them ideal for adding to curries.

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  • 08 of 08

    White Eggplant

    White Eggplant. Photo © Molly Watson
    There's no real flavor difference between white eggplant and other colors, but they sure look cool. And, to be honest, their flavor is a bit more delicate, a little less eggplant-y, if the strong (some may say bitter) flavor of eggplant is a tad much for you.