With layers of cheese and crispy eggplant, this Eggplant Parmesan recipe is a classic vegetarian dinner soon to be a favorite in your house! This Italian staple recipe requires 8 simple ingredients and is straight forward to make (we’ve included step-by-step photos to make it foolproof)!
Eggplant is one of those ingredients that people always seem to have opinions about. I love it and am confident that folks who don’t like it, don’t know how to use it properly.
And the most classic way to use eggplant, of course, is in eggplant parmesan! Eggplant is the perfect texture and shape to be breaded and coated in a gooey cheese. And with its neutral flavor, the Italian seasonings really shine!
Why you’ll love it
- 8 simple ingredients that are mostly pantry staple ingredients make this a great weeknight meal.
- Cheaper than chicken. Eggplant will run you about $1 per pound while chicken is $2+ per pound.
- Freezer-friendly because you can make 2 or 3 trays of this eggplant parmesan and freeze them until ready to bake. Then on busy nights, just pull it out of the freezer and bake!
“I made this for my son’s birthday dinner and everyone loved it. It turned out exactly as the recipe photo. I will definitely put this into our regular rotation.” —Jenn
Ingredients for Eggplant Parmesan
This classic Italian dish is turned into a delicious vegetarian dish thanks to some very strategic ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Eggplant: You’ll need 3 medium eggplants, or aubergine as the Brits say! But if you’re using a smaller type of eggplant, grab 5-6.
- Italian Breadcrumbs: Flavored bread crumbs are a great way to pack in flavor without additional ingredients. If you just use plain bread crumbs, you can add 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
- Flour: I use all-purpose flour but a 1:1 gluten-free replacement flour should work just fine since this is a coating and not being used for the structure.
- Eggs: Eggs help to bind the breadcrumb coating to ensure an even crisp all the way around.
- Cheese: You’ll need shredded mozzarella cheese for creaminess and grated parmesan cheese for the coating. I prefer to grate my own but you can use pre-grated parmesan.
- Marinara Sauce: 1 jar of store-bought marinara is all you need for this recipe to add natural sweetness. You can also make homemade marinara sauce to use.
Which breadcrumb is best?
While I prefer Italian seasoned breadcrumbs for this recipe, you could also use panko breadcrumbs for a lighter crunch!
How to make This eggplant parmesan recipe
With a few simple tricks, this will be the best eggplant parmesan you’ve ever had! While eggplant parm is typically made by frying the eggplant pieces, we’ll coat it in breadcrumbs and bake it for a healthier, crispy result. Let me show you!
- Sweat the eggplants by sprinkling on salt and letting them rest
- Bread the slices by dredging them in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs with parmesan
- Bake the breaded eggplant slices, flipping halfway through
- Assemble the layers of eggplant slices, tomato sauce, and cheese into a baking dish
- Bake and serve!
Why salt the eggplant
Eggplant has a lot of moisture. Not quite like cucumbers, but close. Salting the eggplant slices draws out excess moisture which helps to make sure they are extra crispy when baked.
How to make eggplant parmesan in the air fryer
While I prefer to bake this recipe, you can also make it in an air fryer. To do so:
- Sweat the eggplant slices
- Bread the slices and spray them with cooking spray
- Place into the air fryer in a single layer
- Cook for 5 minutes and then flip over
- Dollup on marinara sauce, top with mozzarella, and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly
“Before I tried this recipe, I didn’t like eggplant… I was told a few times that it’s because I didn’t know how to prepare it, and indeed, I was surprised to notice that I did like eggplant in this recipe!” —Evelyn
Why this Recipe Works
Just to make sure you know how awesome this recipe is, here’s a few things I love about it!
- Drying the eggplant slices seriously makes the difference in a crispy bite.
- Layers, layers, layers of eggplants, cheese, and marinara make this eat almost like a creamy and dreamy lasagna!
- Feeds a crowd! Especially if you have different types of eaters, like vegetarians or meat-eaters. Everyone always loves it!
Can I use a cheese other than mozerella?
Mozzarella has the best meltability and gooey texture making it the best choice for this recipe. You could also use provolone or an Italian cheese blend.
Can this recipe be gluten-free?
Yes you can use a 1:1 gluten free flour and gluten-free bread crumbs to make it gluten-friendly.
Do I need to peel the eggplant?
No, I tested this with and without peeling the eggplant and found it tasted great either way.
Eggplant parmesan makes a great dinner when paired with some other staples, like a leafy green salad or pasta. Here are some pairing ideas to make this a complete meal:
- Panzanella Toscana is an Italian salad that’s easy to make and a refreshing bite alongside eggplant parmesan.
- Basil Oil can be used to dip bread into or to drizzle on top of this eggplant dish.
- Vegan Garlic Bread is something you have to eat with any baked Italian dish, I think it’s a rule (just kidding, but not really).
And if you’re looking for more eggplant recipes, check out my post on 23 easy eggplant recipes!
“Exceptional recipe, thanks so much! My husband loved it and so did I! Also made the garlic bread, it was fantastic.” —Sharon
- 3 medium eggplants
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour 120 g
- 4 eggs whisked
- 2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs 250 g
- 1 cup grated parmesan 85 g
- 1 23-oz jar marinara sauce or 3 cups, 650 g
- 1 8-oz package shredded whole milk mozzarella or 2 cups, 226 g
- Sweat Eggplant: Slice your 3 medium eggplants into ½-inch thick rounds. Spread out a few paper towels and arrange eggplant on top. Sprinkle them all with the 1 tsp salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Pat dry with more paper towles.
- Bread Eggplant: Arrange three bowls – one with the 1 cup flour, one with the 4 eggs (whisked), and one with the 2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and 1 cup grated parmesan (stirred together). Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C).Working one at a time, dip each eggplant into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Place finished eggplant on a greased baking sheet.
- Cook Eggplant: Bake the eggplant for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip each piece over, then continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Leave oven on.
- Assemble: Into a large casserole dish, layer:1. one third of the marinara2. half of the eggplant 3. one third of the marinara4. half of the mozzarella5. remaining eggplant 6. remaining marinara7. remaining mozzarella
- Bake: Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown and melty. Serve warm with fresh basil.