Do you have to remove the seeds in eggplant?

Quick Answer

You do not have to remove the seeds from eggplants before cooking or eating them. The seeds are edible and contain beneficial nutrients. Leaving the seeds in can add texture and flavor to dishes. However, some people prefer to scoop out larger seeds for texture reasons.

Do Eggplant Seeds Need to Be Removed?

Eggplant seeds are soft, small, and edible. They do not need to be removed before cooking or eating eggplants. The seeds blend into the flesh and become nearly unnoticeable when cooked.

Some people may wish to scoop out the larger, more mature seeds from older eggplants. These larger seeds can contribute a slightly bitter taste. Their texture is also harder and chewier than the tender flesh. But this step is optional.

In most cases, the seeds can be left in without affecting the taste or texture very much. Many recipes call for leaving the seeds intact. Common dishes like baba ganoush, ratatouille, and eggplant parmesan retain the seeds.

Benefits of Eggplant Seeds

Not only are eggplant seeds safe to eat, but they also provide some nutritional benefits:

– Fiber – The seeds contain soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps regulate digestion. The skin is also high in fiber.

– Protein – Eggplant seeds contain a small amount of protein. The protein is higher quality than other vegetable protein sources.

– Phytonutrients – Eggplants contain phytonutrients such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid. These function as antioxidants and may lower inflammation and promote heart health. The skin and seeds are especially high in phytonutrients.

– Minerals – The seeds contain trace amounts of minerals like manganese, copper, iron, and magnesium.

So not only are the seeds harmless to eat, they boost the nutritional value of the eggplant. Removing them means missing out on some of these benefits.

Downsides of Eggplant Seeds

The only potential downsides of eggplant seeds are:

– Texture – Older, larger seeds can have a unpleasant crunchy or mealy texture when raw. Cooking helps soften them.

– Bitterness – As eggplants age and seeds mature, they can develop a slightly bitter taste. This is more pronounced in certain varieties.

– Discoloration – When cut, seeds release anthocyanin pigments that can turn the eggplant flesh brown. However, this does not affect the taste.

– Seed sprouts – In rare cases, the seeds may start sprouting if an overripe eggplant sits too long before cooking. Sprouted seeds should be removed.

Overall though, these downsides are fairly minor and mainly come into play only with very old eggplants. For most eggplants in prime condition, the seeds add more benefits than drawbacks when left intact.

Should You Remove Large Seeds?

The only instance when seed removal may be beneficial is with very large, tough, mature seeds. These tend to come from eggplants that are overripe.

Scooping out the large seeds before cooking can help with the texture and minimize bitterness. This can improve the consistency of dips like baba ganoush or dishes where eggplant is a smooth component, like moussaka.

However, removing oversize seeds is still an optional step. Leaving them in will not make the eggplant unsafe or inedible.

When preparing eggplants, you can simply look them over and decide:

– If the seeds are tiny and tender looking, leave them in.

– If you notice large, dark seeds, you can scoop these out with a spoon.

The flesh surrounding the cavity left by removed seeds will cook down and blend together, so no gaps will remain.

How to Remove Eggplant Seeds

If you do want to get rid of the larger, tougher seeds, here is a simple method:

1. Trim off the stem end of the eggplant and slice it lengthwise. You can peel the skin now if desired.

2. Use a spoon to scrape out the cluster of seeds from each half. Try to leave most of the flesh intact.

3. If any stubborn seeds remain, you can rinse the eggplant briefly to dislodge them. Pat dry.

4. Proceed with your intended recipe, whether roasting, frying, or boiling the eggplant. The cavity left by the seeds will fill in during cooking.

5. For eggplant used in sauces and dips, you can also scoop out excess seeds after cooking. Let the roasted or boiled eggplant cool slightly first before seed removal.

6. Avoid rinsing cooked eggplant, as this can make it waterlogged. Carefully scoop out seeds with a spoon instead.

As you remove seeds, keep an eye out for any that have sprouted. These tend to taste bitter. Pull out any sprouts and the gelatinous seed pods attached to them.

Seed Removal for Stuffed Eggplant

One recipe where seed removal comes in handy is stuffed eggplant. This can be made either with whole eggplants or just with eggplant halves.

To prep a whole eggplant for stuffing:

1. Slice off a thin layer from the bottom so it sits flat.

2. Cut a cone-shaped “cap” off the stem end. Reserve this cap.

3. Scoop out the seeds and some flesh, leaving at least a 1/2 inch thickness of flesh against the skin.

4. Brush the interior with oil and seasonings.

5. Stuff the eggplant with your choice of meat, rice, cheese, or vegetable fillings.

6. Replace the cap on top to enclose the fillings.

7. Bake until tender all the way through. The eggplant skin should deflate slightly.

For eggplant halves:

1. Slice the eggplant lengthwise.

2. Score the flesh gently to expose more surface area.

3. Brush with oil and broil or grill, cut-side down first.

4. Flip and brush flesh with more oil. Scoop out excess seeds if desired.

5. Fill the halves with your prepared stuffing.

6. Bake until the eggplant is fully tender.

Roasting before stuffing helps concentrate the flavor while also softening the texture. This allows for easier seed removal too.

Should You Remove Eggplant Skin?

Eggplant skins are also edible and full of nutrients. Peeling is not required. However, you may choose to remove the skin if:

– You want a softer, smoother texture: Eggplant skin can be chewy.

– Appearance matters: Skinning gives a brighter, purpler interior color.

– Following a recipe: Some dishes like baba ganoush call for peeled eggplant.

– Reducing bitterness: Older eggplant skin may taste more bitter.

– Managing digestion: The skin has more fiber which can cause gas for some people.

Peel eggplants using a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Cut into planks or cubes first to make peeling easier.

You can also broil or roast eggplants whole until the skins blacken and blister. The moist interior will steam and separate from the skin, which peels off easier.

Keep in mind that you will lose a substantial amount of the antioxidant content without the skin. Leaving young, tender skin on is recommended. Simply scrub the exterior well instead of peeling.

What to Do with Leftover Eggplant Seeds and Skin

As you remove eggplant seeds and peel skins, save the excess parts instead of pitching them out. The skins and seeds can be repurposed in these creative ways:

– Make vegetable stock by simmering skins, seeds, stems, and any pulp in water for 1 hour. Strain and use this stock for soups or cooking rice.

– Dehydrate skins and seeds to make crispy snack chips. Toss in olive oil and salt before dehydrating.

– Mix into meatloaf or burger patties for added moisture and binding.

– Blenderize into salad dressings, dips, pasta sauce, or marinara sauce for added texture.

– Bake leftover seeds and skins into crackers or bread for extra fiber and crunch. Grind them finely first.

– Fry or roast to make eggplant bacon bits as a topping for salads, pastas, and pizzas.

– Process skins into powder to add to smoothies or sprinkle on dishes.

– Whip up eggplant jam using the skins, seeds, and any leftover flesh.

– Add eggplant pulp, seeds, and skins to enrich compost.

With a little creativity, those unused eggplant parts can find a purpose instead of being discarded.

Types of Eggplants

All varieties of eggplants are fine to eat with the seeds and skins intact. However, bitterness and texture may vary slightly among the different types.

Here is a look at some common kinds of eggplants and their seed characteristics:

Type Seed Features
Globe Most common type. Round shape with glossy purple skin. Seeds are small and mild in flavor.
Italian Elongated and slender shape. Bright purple skin. Seeds are tiny and tender.
Chinese Oval with pale violet skin. Creamy white flesh. Seeds are very small and mild.
Japanese Elongated and deeply ridged. Dark purple skin. Seeds are slightly larger but still edible.
Indian Oval shape with green, white or striped skin. Seeds are edible when young but may become bitter as eggplant ages.
Thai Mini eggplants with vivid purple skins. Very few seeds. Excellent in stir fries.
White Oval shape with white skin and flesh. Mild seeds.

As a general rule, the seeds in globe, Italian, Chinese and Japanese varieties are all perfectly edible. Indian, Thai and white eggplants may have slightly more noticeable seeds but they do not need removal.

Even large seeds can be left in place for most cooking methods. You may choose to scoop out only the very toughest, most mature seeds when making dishes like baba ganoush where texture is important.

How Cooking Method Affects Seeds

The cooking method chosen can impact whether eggplant seeds become soft or remain crunchy. Here is how different techniques affect seeds:

– Roasting – Roasted eggplant flesh becomes very soft and seeds get lightly browned. Roasting concentrates flavors.

– Boiling – Boiling makes seeds very tender so they blend in with the flesh easily. Use this technique for dips.

– Steaming – Steaming also softens seeds effectively. The flesh remains a bit firmer than boiling.

– Frying – Pan frying gives a crispy exterior while keeping a creamy interior. Seeds remain slightly crunchy.

– Broiling – Broiled eggplant develops a smoky taste. Seeds char just slightly but soften.

– Microwaving – Microwaving is very quick but can make the texture spongy. Seeds cook through but don’t soften much.

– Raw – Raw eggplant has a crunchy, crisp texture. Seeds remain hard and chewy when eaten raw.

Roasting, boiling, steaming, and broiling are ideal cooking methods if you wish to soften the seeds. Pan-frying and microwaving may keep them slightly more intact. Consume raw eggplant only when seeds are very immature and tender.

Troubleshooting Eggplant Seeds

Eggplants with bitter, tough seeds are typically overripe specimens. Here are some tips for troubleshooting seed issues:

– Buy younger eggplants – Choose eggplants that are smooth, shiny skinned, and feel heavy for their size. Avoid wrinkled ones.

– Use eggplants soon – Older eggplants are more prone to seed bitterness and sprouting. Use within a few days of purchase.

– Remove sprouts – Check for any protruding seed sprouts and pull these out along with the attached seed and gel.

– Scoop large seeds – Focus on removing only very large, tough seeds if texture is a problem.

– Soak in salt water – A 30 minute salt water soak can help extract some bitterness. Rinse before cooking.

– Mask flavor – Pair eggplant with spices, garlic, tomatoes, cheese, or other strong flavors to mask bitterness.

– Adjust cooking method – Roasting, steaming, and boiling will impart less raw seed crunch than frying or microwaving.

With fresh, youthful eggplants, the seeds rarely cause issues. But these tips can help improve overripe or older eggplants prone to seed bitterness and sprouting.

Can You Eat Raw Eggplant Seeds?

Technically eggplant seeds are edible both raw and cooked. However, raw seeds tend to be quite hard and chewy. Cooking softens up the texture considerably.

Eggplant flesh also contains soluble oxalates which can cause mouth tingling or minor stomach upset for some when consumed completely raw. Cooking helps deactivate these.

For the best flavor and texture, enjoy eggplants cooked rather than raw. But if you do wish to eat raw eggplant, choose younger varieties with very immature, tender seeds. Chew the seeds thoroughly to help break down their tough cell walls.

An easy way to incorporate raw eggplant is through baba ganoush dip. After broiling or grilling the eggplants, scrape out the interior flesh and mash it smooth without further cooking. This preserves some of the fresh, crisp texture while still softening the seeds substantially.

Dice very young eggplants into salads for a crunchy texture along with tender seeds. Laying the diced eggplant in acidified water for 30 minutes beforehand can mellow the seed hardness slightly.

While not unpleasant, consuming large amounts of raw eggplant seeds takes some getting used to. Roasting, frying, boiling or steaming the seeds makes them much more palatable to most people.

Should You Rinse Eggplant Seeds?

Eggplants do not require seed rinsing before cooking in most cases. A simple scrubbing of the exterior is sufficient.

If you do wish to rinse seeds after cutting open the eggplant, take care not to soak the flesh too long. It can quickly become waterlogged.

A brief 10 to 30 second rinse can help loosen and dislodge any remaining seeds after you scoop out the main seed pocket.

Pat eggplant halves dry before proceeding with a cooking method like filling and baking stuffed eggplant halves. Excess moisture leads to steaming instead of proper baking.

For boiled and roasted eggplants used in dips, a quick post-cooking rinse can be used to wash away any loose seed remnants without compromising the texture.

Salt water soaking is another option to help reduce potential bitterness in seeds and flesh. Soak eggplant halves or cubes for 30 minutes in cold water mixed with 1 tablespoon salt per cup of water. Rinse afterwards.

In most scenarios, rinsing is an optional extra step, not a requirement. Focus on selecting younger, fresher eggplants with seeds and flesh that are naturally mild in the first place.

Eggplant Seed Propagation

If you enjoy growing your own vegetables, you can easily propagate new eggplant plants from the seeds inside fruits you use in cooking.

Follow these steps for eggplant seed saving:

1. Scoop seeds from a ripe, fresh eggplant into a container. Separate out any pulp clinging to them.

2. Add water and agitate vigorously to separate seeds from pulp. Strain out pulp.

3. Spread seeds in a single layer on paper towels. Allow to dry for 1 week.

4. Place dried seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They remain viable for up to 1 year.

5. When ready to plant, soak seeds overnight to rehydrate. Sow indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost.

6. Transplant seedlings into garden beds after hardening off for 7-10 days.

7. Grow eggplants in full sun. They need at least 90 days of warm weather to reach maturity and set fruit.

8. Harvest fruits when glossy and firm with visible seeds inside. Seeds darken and fully mature as fruits ripen.

9. Save seeds from your healthiest, best tasting plants for propagation.

With ideal storage conditions, eggplant seeds stay viable for up to 5 years. Stagger your planting over a few seasons to maintain a supply of seeds.


Eggplant seeds provide a nutritious and edible part of the vegetable. In most cases, the tiny soft seeds can be enjoyed without seed removal. Larger, mature seeds can optionally be scooped out to improve the texture in certain dishes. But all eggplant seeds are perfectly safe to consume when properly cooked. Roasting, frying, boiling, and other cooking techniques allow the seeds to blend smoothly into the tender flesh. While chewing raw eggplant seeds takes some getting used to, overall eggplant seeds provide an extra flavor element and added nutrition.

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