What is Baba Ganoush?
Baba ganoush (also referred to as baganoush, baba gahanouj, baba ghanouj, papa ganoush, and baba ghanoush) is an eggplant- and tahini-based appetizer native to Levantine regions—now located the Middle East and Mediterranean. Directly translated, baba ganoush’s meaning is “pampered papa” or “coy daddy,” which may refer to the recipe’s smooth, rich taste.
If you are wondering, what is in baba ganoush, this savory, smoky spread generally consists of roasted eggplant, creamy tahini, zesty lemon juice, rich olive oil, and bold garlic. However, many also add unique blends of seasonings to give this Middle East eggplant dip a tantalizingly complex flavor profile.
Baba ganoush ingredients include a handful of fresh, natural, and flavorful ingredients—all of which you may already have in your pantry!
- Eggplant: There are many eggplant varieties to choose from when selecting a baba ganoush eggplant. Plump and round, globe eggplants are an excellent option for this recipe and are the easiest type to find in most American grocery stores. However, if you can get your hands on Italian eggplants, I highly recommend them, as this variety has a more tender flesh, fewer seeds, and a deliciously sweet flavor. Japanese eggplants will also work, but you’ll need more (7-8) due to their thinner shape and smaller size. If you’d prefer not to work with fresh eggplants, you may also use canned roasted eggplant (affiliate link), though it may not have the same tenderly mild flavor.
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Fresh lemon juice
- Sesame Tahini: Ground sesame paste, aka tahini, has an earthy, nutty flavor that perfectly balances the mild, smoky taste of roasted eggplant baba ganoush. My favorite tahini brand is Soom (affiliate link), which is incredibly smooth and creamy.
- Olive oil: I recommend using extra virgin olive oil for this recipe, as it has a higher quality with pure pressed olives, a lighter color, and a more neutral taste.
- Kosher salt
- Optional spices: While adding spices is not traditional to the original recipe, you can add more depth to your baba ganoush by adding a mixture of ground cumin and sweet, peppery paprika. For an extra deep taste, you may also use smoked paprika to complement your smoked eggplant baba ganoush. You can also add red pepper flakes for additional heat or black pepper for slightly pinier undertones.
- Garnishes: Topping this Mediterranean eggplant dip with different garnishes is a great way to revitalize your spread with sweet, crunchy, and fresh notes. For a tart, sweet finish, try topping your dip with pomegranate seeds, or use sesame seeds and pine nuts for a nuttier taste. Or, if you want bright, fragrant overtones, fresh herbs like parsley are some of my go-to’s.
How to Cook Eggplant for Baba Ganoush?
There are three different ways to prepare your eggplant for this simple recipe, depending on your preferred cooking method: roasted, charred, and grilled eggplant for baba ganoush.
Roasting Eggplant in the Oven
Roasting eggplant for baba ganoush is a cinch when you use my foolproof method for preparing Whole Roasted Eggplant. These instructions will ensure your eggplants come out tender and creamy with little prep time.
- Prep the oven: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Poke the eggplants: Use the tines of a fork to poke 7-10 ¾-inch holes around the exterior of each eggplant.
- Roast: Place eggplants on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil in a single layer and bake for 50-60 minutes, turning them every 20 minutes until they burst, collapse, and soften.
Char Eggplant On a Gas Stove
The most authentic way to prepare eggplant for this baba ganoush recipe is by charring it over the open flame of a gas stove. Making Roast Eggplant on a Gas Stove is quicker than other cooking methods and will result in a smoky baba ganoush recipe with an irresistibly complex, aromatic flavor.
- Prepare the stove: Line the base of a gas range stove with aluminum foil, ensuring that the burners are still exposed.
- Add the eggplants: Turn the burners to medium heat and place the eggplants directly on the flame. Two eggplants can fit on the larger burners, and one can fit on the smaller ones.
- Roast: Roast the eggplants for 15-20 minutes, depending on their size, turning them every five minutes with a pair of tongs. Be careful not to burn yourself while handling the hot eggplants.
- Remove from heat: Remove the charred eggplants from the flame when their skin becomes burnt and flaky, and their flesh is soft.
Learning how to grill eggplant for baba ganoush is an easy way to give this Mediterranean dip its classic rich, smoky flavor and smooth texture. Here’s how to do it:
- Prep the grill: Preheat the gas grill (or charcoal grill) to medium heat.
- Grill the eggplants: Place the eggplants directly on the grill and cook them for 40-50 minutes, turning them every 10 minutes or so. Continue grilling until the eggplants have charred skin on all sides and are fully tender.
How to Make Baba Ganoush?
There’s no secret to making an authentic baba ganoush recipe. These foolproof instructions will ensure your tastebuds explode with fresh, Mediterranean flavors in just eight basic steps.
- Let the eggplant cool: Cook your eggplant following one of the three methods mentioned above. Allow your cooked eggplant to cool down. In the meantime, place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and set it aside for later.
- Scoop the eggplant flesh: Once cool, draw a knife lengthwise through each eggplant until cut in half. Then, use a spoon to scoop out the eggplants’ flesh, trying to remove as much skin as possible.
- Strain: Transfer the scooped eggplant into the fine mesh strainer and use the back of a spoon to gently press against the flesh, removing as much moisture as you can. Let the eggplant drain while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Discard the juices.
- Mix the garlic and lemon: Transfer the eggplant to a medium bowl and add the garlic and lemon juice. Use a fork to mix the ingredients, breaking apart and mashing the large chunks of eggplant until thoroughly combined.
- Add the tahini: Stirring constantly, pour the tahini, followed by the olive oil, into the mixing bowl in a steady stream. Mix the ingredients until emulsified.
- Add the seasoning: Add the salt, ground cumin, and paprika (if desired) to the bowl. Taste the mixture and add more seasoning and lemon juice if necessary.
- Garnish: After giving it a good stir, transfer the baba ghanoush to a serving bowl and garnish with fresh parsley and pomegranate seeds if using.
- Serve: If wanted, drizzle the spread with olive oil and serve with pita chips.
How to Make Ahead, Store, and Freeze?
This homemade baba ganoush is a must-have for anyone seeking easy meal prep. Whip up this simple dip for healthy snacking throughout the week, or make it in advance for a five-star party appetizer.
- Make ahead: You can make this baba ganoush recipe up to four days in advance. Then, store your prepared baba ghanoush in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to eat.
- Store: You can store your freshly made eggplant garlic dip in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- Freeze: While you can technically freeze this vegan baba ganoush recipe, please keep in mind that it will likely lose its creamy texture after it is exposed to freezing temperatures, so it might not taste as good after storage. However, if you still want to freeze, first transfer the mixture into an airtight container, removing as much air as possible. Then, store your baba ganoush in the freezer for up to one month.
- Thaw: Thaw your frozen aubergine dip in the fridge overnight. Because your mixture will likely become watery the longer it sits, drain it of excess liquid, taste for seasoning, and add more if necessary before serving.
What to Serve with Baba Ganoush?
One of the best things about preparing babaganoush is the many delectable ways to serve it. Though many traditionally serve this dish alongside pita triangles or vegetables, it also works as a tasty spread on toast, sandwiches, wraps, and more.
- Bread: Who can say no to an appetizer as effortless and tasty as this? Serve a bowl of this popular Middle Eastern dip with your favorite pita chips, roasted pita wedges, or crackers, and you’ll have the perfect crowd-ready snack.
- Raw vegetables: Crisp, nutritious, and garden-fresh, fresh veggies make an incomparable pair with a bowl of smoky eggplant dip recipes. My favorite raw vegetables include cucumber slices, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, and sliced radishes.
- Other Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dips: Wondering what to do with baba ganoush that will make even the pickiest eaters hungry for more? Try pairing your creamy eggplant dip with other classics, like Mediterranean Hummus, Muhammara, and Tzatziki. To transform this simple spread into a next-level meze platter, you can also serve them with a side of olives and nuts—gorgeous and delicious.
- Grilled or roasted meats: A tasty way to serve baba ganoush is as a light, creamy side dish for hearty protein mains. For a classic Middle Eastern pairing, serve it alongside brightly spiced Chicken Shish Tawook or Oven Chicken Kabobs. Or, if you want an irresistibly juicy, perfectly portioned poultry meal, try this simple dish with Grilled Cornish Game Hens.
If you have more questions about this classic baba ganoush recipe, don’t worry! This simple FAQ has all you need to know:
Baba ganoush originated in the Levantine regions, roughly located in the Middle East and Mediterranean. This area now includes several modern-day countries, including Palatine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey.
Yes! This baba ganoush recipe is vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free, making it the perfect recipe for anyone with dietary restrictions.
When grilling eggplant for baba ganoush, your eggplants will need 40-50 minutes of cooking time, depending on their size.
This creamy roasted eggplant dip offers a delectable balance of smoky, savory, and zesty flavors—a classic profile in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Not only does this spread taste incredible on its own, but it also makes a fabulous appetizer when served alongside a bowl of pita bread or raw veggies.
I recommend serving baba ghanouj chilled or at room temperature to ensure you can taste all its complex flavors.
If your babaganoush comes out bitter, your eggplant may be old or not in season. I recommend selecting only fresh eggplants, which tend to have milder, sweeter flesh. Furthermore, it’s possible that the tahini paste you used has a naturally bitter profile or that you added too much during the mixing process. Always be sure to taste your babaganoush as you go so that you can adjust the seasoning to counteract any unwanted bitterness. You may also try adding extra fats, such as olive oil or Greek yogurt, to balance out any bitterness you taste.
Though they have a similarly smooth, rich flavor profile, hummus comes from a mixture of chickpeas and tahini, while baba ganoush contains a blend of eggplants and tahini.
Absolutely! This recipe only uses the freshest, most natural ingredients—all packed with healthy nutrients. In fact, eggplants are high in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, helping reduce your risk of heart disease.
As long as it is kept in an airtight container in the fridge, your baba ganoush should last for up to 4 days.
Other Eggplant Recipes You Might Also Like
Wondering what to do with roasted eggplant? If you can’t resist adding this eggplant tahini dip to every meal, you’ll love adding these other eggplant recipes to your family cookbook.
Baba Ganoush Recipe
- 2 ½-3 lbs globe or Italian eggplant ~ 2-3 eggplants if using globe eggplants
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup lemon juice plus more to taste
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more as a drizzle
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
- Pinch ground cumin optional
- Pinch paprika to finish it off – optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley chopped (as garnish)
- Handful of pomegranate seeds optional
- To cook eggplants for baba ganoush, you have three options:a. Roast whole eggplants in the oven: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Using a fork, poke 7-10 ¾-inch holes throughout each eggplant. Place eggplants on the sheet pan on a single layer and roast them for 50-60 minutes, turning them every 20 minutes until they burst, collapsed, and softened.b. Roast eggplants on the gas stove: Line the base of a gas range with aluminum foil, making sure to keep the burners exposed. Turn the burners on medium -heat and place eggplants directly on an open flame. You can put 2 eggplants on the larger burners and 1 on the smaller ones. Roast eggplants for about 15-20 minutes (depending on their size), turning every 5 minutes or so using a pair of tongs, being careful not to burn yourself. You will know that it is fully roasted when the skin is burnt and flaky and the flesh is soft.c. Grill eggplants: Preheat a gas grill (or a charcoal grill) to medium heat. Place eggplants directly on the grill and cook, turning every 10 minutes or so for 40-50 minutes or until charred on all sides and fully tender.
- Let the now-cooked eggplant cool down. Meanwhile, place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl and set it aside.
- When cool enough to handle, working on one eggplant at a time, slit open each eggplant lengthwise and carefully scoop the eggplant flesh removing as much of the skin as possible.
- Transfer the eggplant flesh into the fine mesh strainer. Using the back of a spoon, gently press to remove as much of the liquid as much as possible. Let it drain while you are working on the rest of the ingredients. In the end, you should have about 17 ounces (~480 gr.) of eggplant flesh.
- Transfer the eggplant to a medium bowl. Add minced garlic and lemon juice. Using a fork, give it a mix while breaking the large chunks of eggplant flesh until fully combined.
- While stirring constantly, pour in the tahini, followed by olive oil, in a steady stream. Mix until fully combined.*
- Add salt, ground cumin, and paprika (if using.). Taste for seasoning and add in more seasoning and/or lemon juice if you want.
- Transfer baba ganoush to a serving bowl, garnish with fresh parsley and pomegranate seeds if desired.
- If preferred, drizzle it with olive oil and serve with pita chips on the side.
- Yields: This recipe yields about 2 cups of this roasted eggplant dip, which is good for 4-6 servings when served as an appetizer.
- * Food processor: While it is not traditional, you can make baba ganoush using a food processor or blender. To do so, place eggplant flesh, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, salt, and ground cumin and paprika (if using) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse 7-9 times until fully combined. You can run it for longer if you prefer it to have a smoother texture. Taste for seasoning and add more if necessary. Transfer to a bowl, garnish with parsley and a drizzle of olive oil, and serve with pita chips on the side.
- Eggplant seeds: Globe eggplants tend to have a lot of seeds—more than Italian eggplants. The seeds are entirely edible and will blend into the dip after everything is mixed. However, if you are not a fan, you can remove them.
- Don’t skip the draining: The secret to an epic baba ganoush recipe is to remove as much liquid as possible from the eggplant flesh. So, be sure to take your time when draining as much liquid as possible.
- Add the oil in a steady stream: When adding the tahini and olive oil to the mixture, it is imperative to drizzle them in a steady stream while you are vigorously mixing the eggplant mixture. If you add them at the same time, they will not mix properly, and you’ll most likely end up with a less creamy and smooth baba ganoush.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.