Traditional French Ratatouille Recipe

4.74 from 155 votes
1 hour 15 minutes
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This Provencal-inspired Classic French Ratatouille recipe has all the summer veggie goodness going on with eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and sweet bell peppers simmered to perfection in a lively tomato sauce.

It’s THE dish to make with your summer vegetable garden abundance, after a trip to the farmer’s market or for a quick culinary escape to the south of France any time of year!

This is the best ratatouille recipe I have found! We love it!

Classic French Ratatouille in white Dutch oven with spoon on blue napkin.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper:

If ever there was a summer comfort food, the Classic French Ratatouille recipe has got to be it.  It’s a dish I eagerly look forward to making every summer when our garden goes into high gear.  Ratatouille is a great way to use up garden produce and it tastes better the next day!

In some versions, the vegetables are sautéed, browned or roasted on baking sheets in stages, combined and then stewed in a pan in the oven or on the stovetop.

I prefer the stovetop method which is the traditional method and only briefly simmer on the stovetop because the vegetables retain more of their texture. After all, it is a vegetable stew.

Ratatouille requires some knife work, but all the vegetables are cut into ½-inch or 1-inch pieces which goes much faster than chopping or cutting them into fine dice.

Another reason Ratatouille rocks is… it’s so versatile! Enjoy it over brown rice, quinoa, couscous or with crusty, toasted or grilled French bread. It can be served hot, room temperature or even cold. It’s vegan and gluten-free, so it’s perfect for anyone to enjoy!

One serving of Classic French Ratatouille in white bowl with fork.

What is Ratatouille?

Ratatouille is a rustic southern French vegetable stew from Nice made with the best summer vegetables: Eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, onions and tomatoes.  In some versions, the vegetables are combined and cooked together for a long period of time until they practically melt.

Traditionally it was considered a peasant dish because it was made with leftover vegetables, sometimes even vegetable scraps and the “rough cut” vegetable preparation style. It could be eaten with other low-cost items like rice, pasta or bread.

The dish the chef in Ratatouille, the 2007 Pixar film, served to the restaurant critic is actually not Ratatouille at all but a vegetable tian that uses some or all of the same ingredients. That dish is arranged and layered in a casserole and baked. Again, traditional Ratatouille is a stew.

How to Make Traditional Ratatouille:

Ratatouille Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this recipe along with how to prep. See the ratatouille recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for Classic French Ratatouille in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Eggplant:  Eggplant is one of the main ingredients in Classic French Ratatouille. It’s commonly believed that eggplant must always be salted before cooking to draw out the bitterness. However, eggplant characteristically has a mild but pleasing bitterness so it’s a personal preference. It develops a pronounced bitter flavor when an eggplant gets large and seedy. For this dish, I do salt the eggplant because it won’t absorb as much oil when cooked. Extracting liquid from the eggplant makes it less spongy, resulting in less oil absorption. After draining and before cooking, pat dry with paper towels to remove the excess moisture and salt.
  • Bell Peppers:  Use any sweet bell pepper or combination:  Red, Yellow or Orange.
  • Dry White Wine:  Always use a wine you would enjoy drinking. Alcohol Substitute: If you don’t wish to use alcohol, use vegetable broth or even water. Add 1-2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar.
  • Crushed Tomatoes: Use canned crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes that you crush yourself or a fresh tomato sauce such as my Parma-Style Tomato Sauce.
  • Seasonings:  Even though Ratatouille is all about summer freshness, I use dried oregano because the flavor is concentrated and is released as the stew simmers.  Fresh herbs are always best added near the end of the cooking process but I didn’t want fresh oregano and fresh basil competing with one another.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and measure all the ingredients.  The French call this mise en place or “everything in its place” which refers to the set-up before cooking.
  • Cube the eggplant, place it in a colander and generously salt with a teaspoon or so of salt.
Cubed eggplant in white colander.
  • Chop the remaining vegetables while the eggplant drains.
Vegetables cut up for ratatouille on dark wood cutting board.
  • Pat the eggplant dry with a paper towel.  Heat some of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the eggplant, reduce to medium heat and brown the eggplant.  Transfer it to a bowl.
Eggplant being cooked in white Dutch oven.
  • Refresh the oil if needed then add the zucchini and yellow squash.  Cook until it begins to brown and soften a bit.  Transfer to the bowl with the eggplant.
Zucchini and yellow squash being cooked in white Dutch oven.
  • Refresh the oil again if needed.  Toss in the onion and cook until it begins to soften then add the bell peppers.  Cook that a bit until it softens up then add the garlic and give it a stir until it’s fragrant.
  • Add the white wine, bring to a boil and let that reduce 1-2 minutes.
Onions and peppers being cooked in white Dutch oven.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes.
Tomato sauce added to Dutch oven with peppers.
  • Return the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash to the pot and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
Eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash added back to Dutch oven.
  • Season with salt and pepper and toss in the fresh basil.
  • Delish!
  • MAKE AHEAD:  Make as directed to the point of adding the fresh basil.  Cool, then refrigerate for 1-2 days for best quality.  (The ratatouille will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days in an airtight container.)  When needed, add 1/2 cup water, stir and gently reheat over medium-low heat.  Add the fresh basil when ready to serve.
Classic French Ratatouille in white Dutch oven garnished with fresh basil.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • The eggplant needs approximately 20-30 minutes to drain in the colander so do that before doing any other chopping.  That amount of time gives you time to prep the remaining vegetables. 
  • After the summer squash, eggplant and zucchini are browned, remove it as quickly as possible from the Dutch oven.  If left to sit in the oil even for half a minute, it will absorb oil.
  • Rub dried herbs such as the oregano in this dish between your fingers as you sprinkle it into the pot.  This helps to “wake up” the flavor of dried herbs and spices.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the difference between ratatouille and caponata?

Ratatouille is a dish from the Provence region of France made with eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and herbs simmered in olive oil.  Caponata has Sicilian roots and is made with eggplant, onions, tomatoes, anchovies, olives, pine nuts, capers, and vinegar, all cooked together in olive oil often containing something sweet like raisins or a touch of sugar.

Should eggplant be peeled?

Peeling eggplant is optional but I prefer not to peel it because that deep purple skin contains powerful antioxidants. Here’s more information on eggplant nutrition from WebMD.

Can I use a yellow onion instead of a red onion?

Yes, absolutely.  I like to use red onion because it adds to the visual appeal and it’s milder and sweeter than yellow onion allowing the delicate flavor of the eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash to shine through.

Can I make Ratatouille ahead of time?

Classic French Ratatouille is a great make-ahead dish that’s even better the next day.  Make the ratatouille recipe as directed to the point of adding the fresh basil.  Cool, then refrigerate for 1-2 days for best quality.  When needed, add ½ cup water, stir and gently reheat over medium-low heat.  Add the fresh basil when ready to serve.

What meat goes with ratatouille?

Almost any! If you wish to serve ratatouille as a side dish, I would suggest simply prepared roasted or grilled chicken, fish beef or pork.

Two servings of Classic French Ratatouille in white bowls garnished with fresh basil.

What to serve with ratatouille:

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Classic French Ratatouille in white Dutch oven garnished with fresh basil.

Traditional French Ratatouille Recipe

4.74 from 155 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
This lovely Provencal-inspired Classic French Ratatouille has all the summer veggie goodness going on with eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and sweet bell peppers simmered to perfection in a lively tomato sauce. It's THE dish to make with your summer vegetable garden abundance, after a trip to the farmer’s market or for a quick culinary escape to the south of France any time of year!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Vegetarian / Vegan Entrees
Cuisine French
Servings 4
Calories 249 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium eggplant - cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt - plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup olive oil - or as needed, divided
  • 1 medium red onion - cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 red or yellow bell peppers - or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium zucchini - cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium yellow squash - cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 large plum tomatoes - seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 can (15-ounce) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Instructions
 

  • Place eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let drain in the sink or over a bowl while prepping the remaining vegetables.
  • Pat the eggplant dry with a paper towel.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add the eggplant, reduce to medium heat and cook 3-4 minutes or until beginning to soften and is lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Refresh oil as needed. Add zucchini and yellow squash and cook 3-4 minutes or until beginning to soften and is lightly browned. Transfer to the bowl with the eggplant.
  • Refresh oil if needed. Add the onion and cook 4-5 minutes or until the onions begin to soften, adjusting the heat as necessary so the onions don't burn.
  • Add the red bell peppers and continue cooking another 3-4 minutes or until beginning to soften.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and garlic and cook 1-2 minutes.
  • Add wine, bring to a boil and cook 1-2 minutes.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Return eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash to the pot, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf. Stir in basil.

Notes

Rub the dried herbs between your fingers as you sprinkle them in to “awaken” the flavor.
MAKE AHEAD:  Make as directed to the point of adding the fresh basil.  Cool, then refrigerate for 1-2 days for best quality.  (The ratatouille will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.)  When needed, add 1/2 cup water, stir and gently reheat over medium-low heat.  Add the fresh basil when ready to serve.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Make as directed, cool and store in the freezer in an airtight container or in individual containers for 2-3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 249kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 606mg | Potassium: 1098mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 2829IU | Vitamin C: 122mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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65 Comments

    1. Hi, Jen, Thanks so much for your question. Yes, you can but it won’t be the same… it will just be different. If you’re looking for other things to add, you might try mushrooms, potatoes or even green beans. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

      1. 5 stars
        It is so delicious even though I didn’t use eggplant or bell peppers. I loved not adding extra salt or sweetener. Added cubed French bread…yum!

  1. 5 stars
    Wanted to make this. Made loads before. This time, the food pantry gave me all the vegetables except eggplant. I have carrots and ground beef. Should I make it with these ingredients? I love this dish and don’t want to mess it up. Thanks! Mom from Texas

    1. Hi, Cyn, Thanks so much for your question. I would probably leave the carrots out but someone else made this recipe with ground beef and really enjoyed it. Ratatouille is a vegetable dish, but using ground beef just makes it “different.” More like a beef and vegetable ragout (stew). I’m all for using what one has on hand! Thanks again!

  2. 5 stars
    Perfection! Uses so many fresh ingredients from my summer garden. Love how easy and delicious this recipe is. Thanks for another great creation!

  3. 1 star
    Quantities are absurd. I increased the recipe by 50% to serve eight and I ended up with enough ratatouille to serve 16. Ridiculous

    1. Hi, Bleh, Thanks so much for your feedback. Since you only commented on the quantity, I’m assuming they enjoyed? I show the exact quantities and the sizes of the vegetables used in the “Recipe Ingredients” photo. I show the vegetables cut on a cutting board, the ratatouille, when finished, comes halfway up the Dutch oven and I have a photo of two bowls of the ratatouille with some of the Dutch oven showing and I’m able to see the bottom of the Dutch oven. Did you look at the photos or just “jump to the recipe?” There’s a reason bloggers put so much information and photos in blog posts so people have success with the recipe. My husband and I got four servings from this. We really do eat what I share on this blog and I do my best to estimate quantities but some people may not eat as much as others while others may eat more. I LOVE having leftover ratatouille! It only gets better over a day or two. There’s so much you can do with it: Freeze it for a ready-made meal in the future, add broth and orzo and make a soup, add it to an omelet, frittata, make a quiche! Can you share some with someone who would appreciate a meal?

  4. 5 stars
    This is so good. I didn’t have wine so used a combination of water and white wine vinegar which worked perfectly. I like a bit more sauce so used most of a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes with a bit of extra water.

    1. Hi, Jennifer, Thanks so very much!! Your wine substitution is spot on if someone wants a non-alcoholic solution. So glad you enjoyed and thanks again!

      1. Hi, Callie, Thanks so much for your question. Use 1/2 cup water and 1-2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar. For 1 whole cup of water, I usually use 1 tablespoon of wine vinegar. You can always use more if you think it needs it but it’s tough to correct if you use too much. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

      2. 5 stars
        Wow, what a fab recipe. Tastes amazing and looks so colourful. Everyone commented as soon as I served it.

      1. First – wow! So nice to find out that this can be served cold! I didn’t know it can be frozen! That’s good to know because I usually make a HUGE pot and we eat it for a week! Second – I’m glad you said that it’s OK to add mushrooms because I was planning to!

      2. Hi, Renee, Thanks so much for your comment. We do the same thing; LOVE having leftover/extra ratatouille! Any frozen vegetable is going to be a little softer after being frozen and then thawed because of the cell expansion then water release after thawing. I recommend to my PC clients that they heat from frozen if possible. The fact the veggies are a little softer doesn’t bother me. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  5. 5 stars
    I was looking for fresh inspiration and saw your recipe…

    I made it with ground chuck and sautéed the veggies with the beef..

    It turned out pretty well, but perhaps not as pretty looking as yours…

    1. Hi, Walter, Thanks so very much and glad you enjoyed! Ground beef is an interesting addition but sounds like it worked out well for you. Thanks again!

  6. I’ve heard so much about ratatouille and knew loosely what it was but had never seen the ingredient list until now. I love everything in this and know that I will love it. I can’t wait to try this. Thank you for sharing!

  7. I made your recipe tonight and even though I didn’t have any crushed tomatoes or wine, it turned out so delicious! I added mixed beans towards the end and served it on couscous. I’ll definitely be making it again! 🙂

  8. As a kid I never liked Ratatouille, I had to train my taste spuds and now….oh my…just reason your Ratatouille’s ingredients list makes me drool. Will definitely have to try this!!!

  9. Hi Carol – this looks really good. I’ve got zucchini and tomatoes growing like crazy so this will be a great way to use them up. I also love any recipe that calls for wine – since I get to drink the rest :).