Cut the time in half between you and vegan baba ganoush with this air fryer eggplant dip recipe. This smoky, full-bodied dip is a terrific appetizer alongside toasted pita.
No air fryer? No problem! I give standard oven directions as well!
For a while after we moved back to Iowa from Los Angeles, I felt very baba ganoush deprived.
The baba ganoush I could find locally didn’t have any of that signature smokiness that I really crave. It just tasted like a plainer hummus.
So I set about making my own baba ganoush – prepared just the way I like it. Plenty of smokiness, a bit of body, light on the lemon juice, nutty undertones from my favorite tahini, and of course, a little kick of garlic.
What is baba ganoush?
Baba ganoush is the smoky, eggplant-rich cousin of hummus. Whereas hummus uses chickpeas as the base, baba ganoush uses eggplant instead.
Eggplant is roasted, grilled, or in today’s case air fried, until it picks up smoky flavor from cooking at a high temperature.
I’ve made baba ganoush a million ways over the years – by roasting the whole or halved eggplants in the oven, on a cast iron skillet, or on the outdoor grill. (Including the time I forgot it was out there, and it was burnt to a crisp. Oops.)
That’s the problem with long cooking times… sometimes you move on to other things and forget about your old friend, aubergine.
Luckily, there are no worries about that with this air fryer eggplant dip recipe, because it takes only 20 minutes to fully cook it.
That means you don’t have to save baba ganoush for special occasions. In fact, you could have it done from start to finish in less time than it would take you to drive to your favorite hummus & falafel place, place an order, and have it brought to you.
Smoked salt adds extra smoky flavor
Even though the high cooking temperature gives the dip smokiness of its own, I like to add a bit more by way of smoked salt.
You can find smoked salt online, in specialty cooking stores, and even a lot of regular grocery stores have it.
How to make eggplant dip in the air fryer
Start with a medium sized, standard globe eggplant. You don’t want a skinny Japanese eggplant or those adorable mini eggplants.
Make sure the eggplant looks fresh, smooth, and shiny. You don’t want an eggplant that looks wrinkled, cut, shriveled, or damaged.
Slice the stem off the top. Then cut the eggplant length-wise down the center.
Rub oil on each half, front and back. Then use a fork to stab holes into the peel.
Place the eggplant halves cut side down in the air fryer basket. Air fry at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
The eggplant is ready when the cut portions are toasty brown and even black in parts. The peel will be wrinkled.
(If it’s not brown enough after 20 minutes, flip it over and cook for a few minutes more.)
Wait for the eggplant to cool. Once it’s cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh, and move it into a food processor. You can discard the peel.
Add the following to the food processor:
- Peeled eggplant
- Minced garlic
- Lemon juice
- Smoked salt
- Regular salt
Pulse the food processor 4 or 5 times, leaving the dip somewhat chunky.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Garnish with any of the following:
- Chopped parsley
- Pomegranate seeds
- Vegan feta cheese
- A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- A pinch of sumac or paprika
How to roast in the oven
If you don’t have an air fryer or just prefer to roast instead, it’s easy to make in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Put the eggplant halves cut side down on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes.
Check at about 35 minutes for doneness since cooking times/eggplant sizes vary.
Let the flavors meld before eating
You certainly can eat the baba ganoush right away. But I recommend putting it in a covered container, and popping it into the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld and mellow.
The raw garlic cools down and intertwines with the other flavors. All of the tastes find a kind of fusion.
What to serve with baba ganoush
Baba ganoush is terrific with:
- Homemade pita chips
- Sliced cucumbers
- Bell pepper wedges
- Carrot sticks
- Grilled artichoke hearts
- Warmed Castelvetrano olives
- Olive tapenade
- Turnip pickles
How to store baba ganoush
Keep the dip in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to four days. The flavors will continue to deepen and improve.
Don’t worry if the liquid has separated a bit. Simply give it a stir before serving.
To brighten the flavor, add a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle of salt, or fresh drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
More air fryer eggplant recipes
Vegan baba ganoush - in the air fryer or oven
- Cut the stem off of the top of the eggplant. Slice the eggplant down the middle lengthwise. Put a teaspoon of canola oil on each eggplant half, and rub it evenly across the entirety of the eggplant, including the cut side and peel. Prick several holes in the eggplant peel with a fork.
- TO AIR FRY: Lay the eggplant halves cut side down in the basket. Air fry at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
- TO ROAST IN THE OVEN: If you don't have an air fryer, roast the eggplant in the oven instead. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and put the eggplant halves cut side down on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes. Check at about 35 minutes for doneness since cooking times can vary.
- When the eggplant is done, the cut side will be toasty brown, and the peel will be wrinkly. Remove the eggplant halves from the air fryer basket, move them to a plate, and allow them to cool.
- Once the eggplant halves are cool enough to touch, scoop the soft eggplant out of its peel, and put the eggplant into a food processor. You'll be able to easily scoop out all of the white, soft eggplant. You can discard the peel.
- Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, smoked salt, and regular salt to the food processor. Pulse the food processor 4 or 5 times. Baba ganoush is best when it still has a bit of body to it, as opposed to being entirely creamy. So make sure everything is evenly combined, but don't blend to the point of being a puree.
- The baba ganoush can be served right away, but it's best if the flavors have a chance to meld for at least a few hours. (It's even better if you can make it the day before you want to serve it.) Move it to a covered container and put it in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve it.
- Serve the baba ganoush with pita bread and/or sliced vegetables for dipping. If you like, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil onto the baba ganoush before serving.
Content, photos, and recipe updated January 18, 2021. Originally posted May 22, 2018.