This Italian pickled eggplant (melanzane sott’olio) recipe is a mainstay among many Italian-American families.  When you visit Italian specialty stores you will often see little jars of pickled eggplant sold for a hefty price.  It’s a lot cheaper to make a whole bunch yourself, and it’s real easy (and fun) too!

Jar of Italian pickled eggplant with olive oil container in background.

When I made, filmed and photoed this batch of pickled eggplant strips, I posted the story of making it over on my Instagram page.   I received more messages about this recipe than ever before.  It brought back memories for a lot of Italian-Americans who grew up in the New York metro area.

One man in particular, who grew up in the Bronx and is now living in Las Vegas, told me that his family used to fill an entire bathtub with eggplant for the salting process.  He was genuinely excited to see me make it, and for that I am grateful!  If you have your own pickled eggplant story, drop a comment below – we love to hear these stories and it really adds a sense of camaraderie between us and those who follow Sip and Feast.

Ingredients shown: parsley, cherry peppers, garlic and 2 eggplants on cutting board.


How to make Italian pickled eggplant

Each numbered pic corresponds to the numbered written instructions below.

  1. Begin by peeling and slicing the eggplant into long strips that are roughly 1″ wide and 1/4″ thick.  Don’t worry about being ultra precise.
  2. In a large colander with a plate underneath, layer eggplant and sprinkle kosher salt, repeating every inch or so to get some salt on most of the eggplant.  Use maybe 2 Tablespoons of salt.  The actual amount is not critical because it will be rinsed off later on.

Italian pickled eggplant recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Keep layering until the whole colander is filled.
  2. Place a heavy plate on top of the eggplant to weigh it down to help hasten the water release.  Placing a large tomato can on top wouldn’t be a bad idea.  Note – The plate underneath the colander is used to catch the water.  Dump the water every hour or so.  Alternatively, you can opt to leave the colander in the kitchen sink for the whole process.
  3. Chop up about a quarter cup of cherry (vinegar) peppers.
  4. Mince 2 cloves of garlic.  Note – The garlic can be overpowering and will get stronger every day the eggplant is stored, so maybe do one jar with a little and a separate jar with a bit more.  Feel free to experiment, or if you don’t like garlic, leave it out.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. Chop up a 1/4 cup of fresh parsley.
  2. After 6 hours the eggplant strips will have lost a lot of their water.  As you can see in pic 8 they occupy a lot less volume in the colander after this step.  Now, take the eggplant strips and rinse them with tap water to remove some of the salt.  Squeeze out as much liquid as possible, then set the eggplant strips aside.
  3. Bring a pot with 1 cup vinegar and 2 cups water to a boil.  Just use the 1:2 vinegar/water ratio if you are making a large batch.  After the water and vinegar mixture comes to a boil, cook the eggplant in the pot for 2-3 minutes.  Strain the eggplant in a colander to let dry.
  4. After somewhat dry and not too hot squeeze any excess water out of the eggplant and lay on a few paper towels.

Recipe process shot collage group number three.

  1. Begin the jarring process by placing a layer of eggplant, parsley, touch of garlic and cherry peppers.  Work your way up in layers until the jars are filled.
  2. Pour extra virgin olive oil into each jar, making sure to completely cover the eggplant with oil.  Let them settle and press down the eggplant, then top off with oil, cap and refrigerate for up to a week.  Each day the eggplant will develop a stronger garlic taste and will be perfectly pickled.

So that’s how to make Italian pickled eggplant in olive oil. 

The eggplant strips go so well on toasted Italian bread.  I have a hard time deciding between this eggplant recipe or eggplant caponata and/or this roasted eggplant with tomato sauce.    If you grow your own eggplants and are looking for recipes, all three of these are great condiment/appetizer ideas.

White dish with pickled Italian eggplant.

Top tips

  • Squeeze out the water after rinsing the salt off.  This is an important step to ensure the eggplant can absorb the olive oil, and to not have too much water in the jars.
  • Do not boil the eggplant strips for longer than 3 minutes, so as to prevent mushiness.
  • When pulling a jar out of the fridge for serving, run it under warm water for 5 minutes or so to loosen up the congealed olive oil.
  • Serve the eggplant strips with a full antipasto and toasted Italian bread.
  • Adding the eggplant as a sandwich topper is a great idea!  Try it on this Italian pulled pork recipe.
  • Eggplant can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (I’ve done way longer, but do that at your own risk!).  Also, if you make a lot of pickled eggplant, storing it in the freezer in large plastic containers is a good option.  The flavors will be locked in.  When needed, defrost a batch, put in jars with olive oil, and use over the next week.

Three jars of Italian pickled eggplant on cutting board.

My daughter loves these owl jars.  This recipe makes about three 16 ounce jars worth of pickled eggplant.  Remember, what you start off with will greatly reduce in size from the water removal process.

More delicious Italian eggplant recipes

If you’ve enjoyed this Italian Pickled Eggplant Recipe or any recipe on this site please let us know in the comments.  We would love to hear how you did and it’s nice to show others as well.  Thanks!

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Italian Pickled Eggplant

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Salting Time: 6 hours
Total: 6 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Salted and boiled eggplant strips are layered in jars with cherry peppers, garlic and parsley, then topped with extra virgin olive oil.


  • 2 pounds eggplant
  • 1/4 cup cherry peppers
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 2 cups water


  • Peel and cut eggplants into strips that are roughly 1" wide and a 1/4" thick. Place a thin layer of eggplant strips in a large colander and sprinkle with kosher salt. Repeat this process with all eggplant strips, so salt touches all of the strips.
  • Place a heavy plate on top of the eggplant and a plate underneath the colander to catch water. Let the eggplant release its water for 6 hours. Check and dump the water from the bottom plate every hour or so. The eggplant will release a lot of water.
  • Mince 2 cloves of garlic, a 1/4 cup of cherry peppers and a 1/4 cup of fresh parsley.
  • Bring a large pot to boil with 2 cups of water and 1 cup white vinegar. After the eggplant has released its water, rinse the salt off in colander. Try to squeeze out more liquid from the eggplant, then boil in the water/vinegar for 2-3 minutes max.
  • Strain eggplant strips and rinse to cool. Squeeze out more moisture one more time and lay eggplant on paper towels to dry.
  • In 3 clean 16 ounce jars, evenly layer the eggplant strips, cherry peppers, garlic and parsley. Keep layering equally into all the jars and then top with extra virgin olive oil. Press down the eggplant with a spoon and top the jars with extra virgin olive oil. The eggplant should be completely covered.
  • Store the jars in the fridge for up to 1 week and serve with toasted Italian bread. Enjoy!


  • Squeeze out the water after rinsing the salt off.  This is an important step to ensure the eggplant can absorb the olive oil, and to not have too much water in the jars.
  • Do not boil the eggplant strips for longer than 3 minutes, so as to prevent mushiness.
  • When pulling a jar out of the fridge for serving, run it under warm water for 5 minutes or so to loosen up the congealed olive oil.
  • Eggplant can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (I've done way longer, but do that at your own risk!).  Also, if you make a lot of pickled eggplant, storing it in the freezer in large plastic containers is a good option.  The flavors will be locked in.  When needed, defrost a batch, put in jars and use over the next week.


Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1.2g | Fat: 50.6g | Saturated Fat: 7.2g | Sodium: 400mg | Potassium: 263mg | Fiber: 4.1g | Sugar: 3.4g | Calcium: 12mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. Angela Nogaro says:

    5 stars
    Hi Jim,
    I am a fellow Italian Brooklynite, born and raised in Flatlands. My father’s family was from Sicily and my mom’s family Salerno. My grandmother (Mom’s side) was an amazing cook as were most . She used to make this but kept hers in white vinegar in the jars. When you served them you would squeeze them out and dress them with Olive oil. A good piece of Italian bread and it was a feast !!! have you ever heard of it been done that way? I have looked online and can’t find anything.

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Angela, thanks for the comment. If you are storing the eggplant in the refrigerator with the vinegar, the eggplant will continue to get more and more vinegary. That’s why I prep it with the vinegar but preserve in the oil. Now, it’s possible your grandma was actually putting the eggplant through a canning process that would preserve the eggplant in a way that would make it shelf stable and storable for a while. If that’s the case, it’s possible she was just using vinegar for that. I hope this helps!

  2. Saundra Sillaway says:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe . I have a bucket full of baby light lavender eggplants. They never get more than about three inches long and one inch wide. This one potted plant has not stopped producing all season. Any suggestion on how to use your recipe without peeling them?

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Saundra, thanks for the comment. I haven’t tested the recipe without peeling them but you can try.

  3. Shery Sullivan says:

    5 stars
    Can you believe I’m Italian and never had pickled eggplant. My family never made it. I will now. My husband said he only married me because he loves italian food. I like all food.

    1. Jim says:

      I hope you enjoy it and that it becomes a yearly tradition like it is in our family.

  4. Mary says:

    Hi Jim, Ever since I found your cooking shows, I HAVE to make whatever you are making. Everything you cook is amazing. I also prepare pickled eggplant like you do except I slice them pretty thin instead of in strips.I also add the garlic to the vinegar,just for about 30 seconds. that prevents any botulism from forming. I don’t refrigerate jars, I just leave them out on the counter. Been doing this for approximately 50 years with no problems.I always add oregano & crushed hot pepper. I come from a Sicilian family & we always prepared eggplant this way. I love your show.

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Mary, I’m sure your way is great. I know every family has their own passed down ways for recipes like this. Sounds great with oregano and the crushed pepper! Glad you like the videos and recipes. I truly appreciate your support!

    2. Roseann Allen says:

      I also make my pickled eggplant the same way and learned from my Sicilian father. We didn’t can it either. We kept the jars in a cool basement and made sure it was completely covered by olive oil. I love his recipes also!

  5. Vanessa says:

    I made the pickled eggplant and use olive oil. The olive oil harden in the refrigerator and took away the delicious look. Is there a pacific olive oil I should use so that doesn’t happen.

    1. Jim says:

      Olive oil will always harden in the fridge. I simply take the eggplant jar out ahead of time to let it warm up. If in a rush, you could run the jar under warm water for about 5-10 minutes. I do that often with my refrigerator stored jarred anchovies. Commercial brands use safflower oil which doesn’t congeal and keeps a better appearance. Safflower oil doesn’t have the taste of olive oil though. Hope this helps.

  6. Celena says:

    Hi Jim
    If making a lot of this recipe can you go through the sealing jar process? Jars in boiling water to seal them? Is this necessary because they are in olive oil?

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Celena. I am not an expert on canning. I had family members that used to can this pickled eggplant for longterm storage, so I know it can be done. I would find an authoritative source on canning with olive oil just to be safe. As far as storing them in the fridge with just olive oil they will last a long time if covered completely with olive oil. They have lasted us at least 2 months, but we normally eat them sooner or gift them. If you desire to keep them in the fridge for a couple of months, I recommend omitting the fresh herbs and garlic. When you serve them you could just add some herbs and garlic at that point. Enjoy!

  7. Lynda says:

    HI. If I choose to freeze some, is it frozen in the olive oil? Then just add more olive oil after defrosting?

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Lynda. Olive oil can be frozen, but I have never frozen pickled eggplant. I’m not sure how the consistency would be but would like to know the results if you try it. If you need more olive oil you can just top the jars whenever needed.

  8. Ilayda says:

    Amazing recipe, thank you so much! I have 2 quick question, why should we rinse it under water Before serving? ( we used a lot of oil, i wouldnt like to waste it )
    2-) could we use olive oil again ? New pickle?

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Ilayda. I mean to run the jar while capped under hot water. Olive oil in the fridge tends to congeal, making it hard to take the eggplant out. The warm water will loosen up the oil. For the second question, it’s advised to not use the oil again because of botulism risk. Hope this helps.