You'll love the combination of savory, sweet, and sour flavors in this creamy eggplant caponata with onions, tomato and olives! A great make-ahead appetizer to serve over crusty bread or use next to chicken or fish!

eggplant caponata served in a bowl with toasted ciabatta bread

In Mediterranean cooking, there is no shortage of tasty eggplant recipes! Some favorites around here include eggplant rollatini; classic moussaka; and stuffed eggplant.

I'm excited to add one more tasty eggplant creation from Italy: Caponata!

You'll love the loads of texture and flavor in this vegan eggplant salad. And because it tastes better the next day, it's the perfect make-ahead appetizer to serve over crostini or toasted bread of your choice.

What is caponata?

Caponata Sicilian is one of Sicily's essential dishes. Pronounced ka·puh·naa·tuh, it is a vegetarian eggplant salad--more like a relish, really--made of eggplant, onions, bell pepper, celery and tomatoes with briny olives and capers.

There are variations of this tasty eggplant salad. Most are spiked with vinegar. Some call for raisins, which I love and use in this caponata recipe.

For a kick of sweetness, many recipes call for brown sugar, but I use a bit of honey, which is sufficient given the addition of raisins.

If you have them, add some toasted pine nuts at the very end.

eggplant caponata in barising pan

Ratatouille vs. Caponata

Some describe caponata as the Sicilian version of ratatouille.

The two may have something in common as both use diced summer vegetables cooked with a bit of tomato. But, to me, ratatouille is more of a saucy stew, and the veggies will vary depending on what you have on hand.

Caponata is more of a salad or an appetizer that is altogether savory, sweet, and sour, thanks to the use of briny olives, salty capers, sweet raisins, and a spike of vinegar.

It's best served at room temperature topping some crusty bread. And it's also great as a relish to elevate your roast lamb, chicken or fish such as pan-seared salmon or trout.

ingredients: eggplant, tomato, celery, capers, onions, honey, olives, raisins etc.

What you'll need to make it?

The ingredients to make caponata are simple and readily available in most grocery stores. Together, they give this little vegetarian eggplant salad all sorts of beautiful texture and special flavor. Here's what you'll need:

  • Eggplant: If you're wondering what kind of eggplant to use for caponata, you can use globe eggplant that is readily available in most supermarkets all year round. 1 large eggplant will be sufficient here.
  • More vegetables: 1 yellow onion chopped, 1 red bell pepper cored and chopped, 2 small celery stalks thinly sliced
  • Tomatoes: I use 1 cup crushed canned tomatoes here which add a ton of umami with less work.
  • Greek olives and capers: these both add a bit of that briny salty flavor that distinguishes caponata from ratatouille or any other eggplant dish really. about ¼ cup pitted green olives and 2 tablespoons of capers.
  • Sweet flavor makers: ¼ cup raisins and 2 teaspoons of honey (you can do more honey if you like yours on the sweeter side).
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Crushed red pepper flakes: I use about ½ teaspoon for an extra kick)
  • Vinegar and wine: I used ¼ cup red wine vinegar and ¼ cup dry white wine (any dry white wine you have will do)
  • Fresh herbs for garnish: a little bit of parsley and fresh mint, if you have them (2 tablespoons each).

Typically, capontata starts with frying cubed eggplant in a bit of oil until browned. While I love fried eggplant, in this case, I found roasting the cubes to offer the same result. Plus roasting is less hands-on, so I can work on the rest of the ingredients while the eggplant is roasting.

Once the eggplant is fully roasted, it's added to the pan with the rest of the ingredients which have been braising to create a tasty, sweet and sour base or sauce.

How to make caponata?

  • Roast the eggplant. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes and season with salt (I like to let my salted eggplant sit in a colander for a few minutes to sweat out any bitterness, but that is optional. If you do this, just be sure to pat the eggplant dry). Toss the eggplant with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil and spread on a large sheet pan. Roast in 400 degrees F heated-oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until fully cooked and tender.
roasted eggplant on sheet pan
  • Cook the onions, bell peppers and celery in a large skillet with a bit of extra virgin olive oil until softened. Season with salt.
Onions, peppers, and celery cooked in skillet
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to make the sauce base. To the same skillet, add crushed tomatoes, capers, olives, raisins, honey, bay leaf and crushed pepper flakes. Stir in the vinegar and white wine. Stir to combine. Simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
tomato sauce, olives and the remaining ingredients are added to the pan
  • Stir in the eggplant. Since the eggplant is fully cooked, simply stir it in with the rest of the ingredients and allow it to cook for 2 to 3 minutes or so together, then finish with fresh parsley and mint.
finished caponata, garnished with parsley and mint

Eggplant caponata is better the next day, but if you need to serve it on the same day, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

If you love this caponata, then our equally delicious zaalouk is a must try. An eggplant dip with a Moroccan twist!


You can store caponata in the fridge in a tightly-closed mason jar for 5 days or so, or freeze it for later use. Bring it to room temperature before serving.

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4.84 from 187 votes

Caponata Recipe

Suzy Karadsheh
eggplant caponata served in a bowl with toasted ciabatta bread
Sicilian caponata is a tasty salad or relish made of eggplant with onions, celery, and tomatoes and augmented with tangy olives and capers. It's best the next day, so try to make it ahead and store it in the fridge in a tight-lid mason jar. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
Prep – 20 minutes
Cook – 45 minutes
Serves – 6 people
Appetizer, Entree, Salad


  • Sheet Pan
  • Braising pan or large skillet


  • 1 large eggplant 1 ¼ lb or so, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil I used Private Reserve EVOO
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper cored and chopped
  • 2 small celery stalks thinly sliced
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon capers
  • ¼ cup pitted green olives roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons honey more to your liking
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint


  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Season the eggplant cubes with salt (if you have the time, set it aside in a colander to sweat out its bitterness for about 20 or 30 minutes, while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Pat dry with paper towel).
  • Place the seasoned eggplant cubes on a sheet pan, add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (about 3 tablespoons or so) and toss to coat. Roast the eggplant in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, tossing regularly until softened.
  • Add the tomatoes, capers, olives, raisins, honey, bay leaf and crushed pepper flakes. Pour in the vinegar and white wine. Stir to combine. Simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the roasted eggplant and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes in the sauce. Finish with fresh parsley and mint.



  • Cook's Tip: Salting the eggplant and allowing it to sit for a few minutes helps it "sweat out" any bitterness and improves its spongy texture. a If you have the time, leave the salted eggplant in a colander for 20 minutes or so while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. 
  • For best flavor: Let the caponata sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving, or store in the fridge overnight and serve cold or at room temperature. I like to serve it with toasted Italian bread such as ciabatta .
  • If serving with toasted ciabatta: Slice the bread and brush each slice with a bit  of extra virgin olive oil on both sides. Arrange on a sheet pan and toast in your heated oven for about 10 minutes until golden brown (I do this while the eggplant is roasting). 


Calories: 91.3kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 2.2gFat: 1.3gSaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 228.9mgPotassium: 435.4mgFiber: 4.7gSugar: 8.2gVitamin A: 955.2IUVitamin C: 34.7mgCalcium: 35.3mgIron: 1.2mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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  1. 5 stars
    I have tried multiple caponata recipes and this is by far the best tasting. Love the method of roasting the eggplant instead of frying it as it did not absorb much of the olive oil. The honey balanced the vinegar and the saltiness of the olives and capers without making the finished product too sweet. This will definitely be my go to caponata recipe going forward. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    The BEST! i grilled the eggplant and used fire roast tomato. I canned 7 half pints. gave one away. have eaten 2. down to 4?!? im making more today and canning it. this time a double batch!

    1. So glad to see this comment. I'm getting a big batch of eggplant from a neighbor and was thinking about canning pickled eggplant but this sounds better. The tomato should make the acidity high enough along with the vinegar, I think.

  3. 5 stars
    I was intrigued by the ingredients and had to give this a try. I wasn’t familiar with caponata prior to making this but it will be a regular on my menu now. The whole family really enjoyed it.

  4. 5 stars
    I'll be making this today, for the second time. I won't change a thing! This time I'm making it to have at home, and maybe take for an upcoming camping trip. I hope that freezing for the camping trip will preserve the texture and the flavors.

    I also appreciate the tip about making crostini. It's been very easy to make in the air fryer, and it only takes a few minutes. I did try it on crackers, but crostini is the way to go. Word of warning though, reheating crostini in the air fryer makes them rock hard. If you want to make ahead, it's best to allow them to cool slowly and store loosly so they stay crunchy, but not chewy.

    Thank's once again for the fantastic Mediterranean recipes!

  5. Hi
    Recently went to a winery in Croatia & they served a version of Caponata & it was absolutely delicious but their dish was very dark, do you have any idea how this may have been achieved, although not tried your recipe yet, but would love your opinion.

    1. Hi, Pat. That's hard to say as many have their own variations of recipes. One or two ingredient differences can cause a change in appearance.

    2. Could it have been Croatian ajvar, perhaps? It’s a staple everywhere in the Balkans, and some regional variations include eggplant.

  6. 5 stars
    I love caponata, and have enjoyed the Cento version. This recipe appears to be more chunky, so I might chop everything a little finer.

    I'm bringing an appetizer for an Easter dinner, and am thinking of making your Mediterranean bean dip as well as this Caponata. There will be two young kids, and I'm wondering if anyone has served this to kids, and if they like it. I can always make mini sausages wrapped in crescent rolls! But these kids do have more sophisticated tastes.

  7. 5 stars
    Hi Suzy! I have enjoyed so many of your recipes!!! My favorites being those with eggplant.
    Is there another way to make sure the picture prints along with the recipe. When I hit the square to add the picture it never prints.
    I hope there's a fix for this. Being able to see the dish I'm making is important when I'm deciding what to cook.
    Best wishes, I LOVE your recipes!

    1. Hi, Elaine. I'm so sorry, but there isn't at the moment. We lost the ability to print pictures with our newer recipes when we redesigned our website last fall, and are unable to get it back :(. Hope you are still able to enjoy the recipes.

  8. 5 stars
    One the the best caponata recipes by far. Thought roasting wasn’t going to work……it did! No more trying eggplant. This recipe is a keeper!

  9. 1 star
    This was highly acidic and just not nice. I've had caponata at a friend's and it was the best thing I tasted, trying to make this myself has been a big let down. Leave out the bell pepper and white wine, and swap the red wine vinegar for balsamic to hopefully even up the flavour.

    1. 5 stars
      One the the best caponata recipes by far. Thought roasting wasn’t going to work……it did! No more frying eggplant. This is a keeper. Only change I did not use pepper