What Is Graffiti Eggplant? Here’s How to Cook It

It doesn't just look gorgeous; graffiti eggplant tastes sweeter and less bitter than regular eggplant.

Growing up, an eggplant was an eggplant: large, purple, and kind of bitter if you didn’t cook it right. Today, there are dozens of different types at the farmers market stalls. You’ll find long and narrow Japanese eggplant, round purple Indian varieties and tiny little green ones that look like they’re not ripe at all. It might feel a bit overwhelming, but don’t let it stop you from picking up a few of those purple-and-white striped graffiti eggplant. Luckily, cooking them is barely a challenge at all!

What is graffiti eggplant?

These eggplants may be unusual in color, but they cook up very similarly to the Italian eggplants you’ve been working with your whole life. Although they’re slightly smaller and have a tear-drop shape, you can drop them into any recipe that calls for regular eggplant. They take well to grilling, sauteing, braising, frying or stewing. Just make sure to pick up an extra one, because you’ll need about two to equal one large eggplant. Here’s how these iconic foods got their names.

What makes these eggplants stand out is their vibrant color and smooth, shiny skin. Be sure to take your Insta photos with your raw ingredients, though, because those stripes will fade as you cook them. If you see any eggplants at the market with wrinkled skin, don’t put them in your basket; it’s likely old, and it will taste bitter.

What does graffiti eggplant taste like?

Graffiti eggplants taste similar to the regular kind with one notable exception: They have a sweet, almost fruit-like flavor. You also won’t find eggplant’s stereotypical bitterness here thanks to their smaller seeds, and the skin is thinner than the large purple varieties. If you’re following a recipe that calls for peeling the skin or salting the flesh to pull out the bitterness, you can go ahead and skip those steps.

How to grill graffiti eggplant

This Italian-style vegetarian dinner is one of our summer favorites. It serves four.


  • 2 graffiti eggplant (about 2 pounds total)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 log (1 pound) fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 16 slices
  • 1 large tomato, cut into eight slices
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley

Step 1: Get ready to grill

Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium heat. Meanwhile, remove the stem ends the eggplant and cut each one crosswise into four slices. Brush the slices with olive oil and season them with the salt and pepper.

Step 2: Grill ’em up

Once the grill is hot, grill the slices, covered, for 4 to 6 minutes a side. If you’re going for presentation, you can rotate the eggplant 45º halfway through the cooking time to get cross-hatch grill marks. When the eggplants are soft and tender, remove them from the grill. Learn about some more surprising foods you didn’t think to grill, but should.

Step 3: Get melty

Top the cooked eggplant slices with the mozzarella cheese, tomato, and Parmesan cheese. Put them back on the grill and replace the cover. Cook until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Top the slices with basil or parsley and serve hot. If you’re not in a grilling mood, try using graffiti eggplant in one of our favorite baked eggplant recipes instead.

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Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef and a food writer. After graduating from Cascade Culinary school, Lindsay became the Executive Chef at Jackson's Corner in Bend, OR, from 2013 to 2016. Her genuine passion for food and sustainable food practices led her to find the farmer in herself. She lives in Durango, CO, where she enjoys the trials and errors of small plot farming. Lindsay is currently working on a cookbook that teaches home cooks how to craft beautiful meals without a recipe, tentatively titled "The Art of Bricolage: Cultivating Confidence and Creativity in the Kitchen."