Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Updated: May 8th, 2024 · By Bethany Kramer
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The whole family will love this classic eggplant parmesan! Slices of tender eggplant coated in homemade breadcrumbs, and then layered with melted cheeses & rich marinara! Whether you’d like to bake or fry the eggplant, this recipe has a method for both.

eggplant parmesan in a white baking dish on dark gray background with herbs and a napkin arranged around it.

Growing up, I adored eggplant parm! No matter how laborious the cooking process was, it was always worth it in the end.

If you’ve never had it, eggplant parmesan is an Italian dish made up of slices of eggplant coated in flour and breadcrumbs, then baked in layers of rich marinara and melted cheese! It’s a must-try for any Italian food lovers.

It’s just like chicken parmigiana – but made vegetarian with eggplant instead of chicken!

I used a simple homemade breadcrumb recipe versus store-bought breadcrumbs for this recipe. This is a small change that really elevated the flavor and texture of the whole dish!

There are also two methods to make this dish – fried or baked. Frying the eggplant will mean using quite a bit of oil to brown the breaded eggplant. Baking the breaded eggplant on a tray in the oven requires a lot less oil, and is a little bit lighter and healthier! Either way you go, the dish will be exceptionally delicious.

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Ingredients You Need

Below you’ll find a photo of the ingredients and the information for each ingredient listed to help assist you in your cooking.

Ingredients for eggplant parmesan arranged on dark gray background.

Use the recipe card below for the complete list of ingredients and measurements.

Eggplant – also known in some countries as aubergine, is a purple fruit that is slightly firm on the outside but spongey on the inside. When baked, it becomes soft with a rich and meaty flavor. You’ll need two large eggplants – the bigger the eggplant, the bigger your serving of eggplant parmesan will be.
Breadcrumbs – are used to bread the eggplant and give it a nice crust. We like to use homemade breadcrumbs to give the best texture and taste, this also allows you to use any bread you like. Learn how to make breadcrumbs with our recipe!
Parmigianno Reggiano – is used to flavor the breadcrumb mixture and sprinkle throughout the dish. Since this dish has parmesan in the title, it’s the key ingredient for flavor! Use authentic, freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano for best results.
Marinara – for spreading on the bottom of the dish, as well as layering throughout to bring moisture and beautiful tomato flavor to the recipe! We like to use our San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh tomato sauce, or our favorite store-bought sauce.
Mozzarella – fresh slices of mozzarella are layered in the eggplant parmesan, as well as on top. Fresh cheese will melt beautifully versus pre-shredded cheese.
Eggs – to help the breading mixture stick to the eggplant. For a vegan option, some readers have used almond milk with success.
Flour – to coat the eggplant before adding the breading. This helps the breadcrumbs stick to the eggplant better! Use all-purpose, white whole wheat, or your favorite gluten-free flour blend.
Garlic powder – for seasoning the breadcrumb mixture.
Italian herbs –
this dry blend of herbs brings herbaceous flavor to the breadcrumb mixture.
Fresh basil & oregano – to sprinkle on the finished dish once it’s ready! This will add a bright, herby flavor.

How to Make Eggplant Parmesan – Step by Step

Salt + “sweat” excess moisture from the eggplant.

  1. 1

    Salt the eggplant. After slicing the eggplant into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick cuts, sprinkle with coarse salt and let the salt sit for 10 minutes. This helps release excess moisture from the eggplant.

  2. 2

    Pat the eggplant dry. Then use paper towels to pat the eggplant dry, wiping off the additional salt as well.

Bread the eggplant. Assemble three bowls with flour, whisked eggs, and breadcrumb mixture.

  1. 3

    Dip in flour. First, coat the eggplant with flour on both sides and along the skin-side.

  2. 4

    Dip in egg-mixture. Then transfer to the whisked eggs, and coat on both sides.

  3. 5

    Coat in breadcrumbs. Transfer to the breadcrumb bowl and lightly pack the breadcrumbs using your hands. Shake off excess crumbs and arrange on a sheet pan. (if you are baking the eggplant and not frying it, make sure the sheet pan is brushed with oil ahead of time).

A collage of three photos showing steps three through five for how to make eggplant parmesan. The first image, step three, is a hand dipping a slice of eggplant into a pink bowl with flour in it. The second photo, step four, is a hand dipping the same slice of eggplant into whisked eggs in a light blue bowl. The third photo, step five, is a hand dipping the eggplant slice that's coated in the egg mixture into a gray bowl with breadcrumbs in it.

Two ways to brown the eggplant

  1. 6

    Baking method: Preheat the oven to 350F, and arrange the breaded eggplant slices on a sheet pan brushed with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

  2. 7

    Pan fry method: in a skillet with 1-2 Tablespoons of oil at a time, brown breaded eggplant for 2-3 minutes on each side. Repeat until all of the eggplant is finished. Place on paper towels after browning to absorb the extra oils.

Assemble in a baking dish

  1. 8

    Layer a baking dish with sauce. In a large baking dish, spread a layer of marinara on the bottom.

  2. 9

    Add browned eggplant slices. Then on top of the sauce, add a layer of breaded and browned eggplant slices that were either baked or fried.

Layer with cheese and sauce. Then bake!

  1. 10

    Layer with mozzarella. Top each of the browned eggplant slices with mozzarella cheese.

  2. 11

    Layer with sauce. Top with a spoonful of marinara sauce.

  3. 12

    Top with parmesan, then bake. Then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers: eggplant, mozzarella, sauce, then parmesan. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 400F. Top with fresh basil and oregano before serving.

Tips for Success

Types of sauce to use – I recommend serving this dish with quality marinara sauce! I love using our San Marzano tomato sauce for a homemade sauce or using our favorite store-bought marinara. You can also spice up the dish and use our homemade arrabbiata sauce.

How to avoid soggy eggplant parmesan – one of the biggest reasons eggplant parm comes out “soggy” is because it’s covered in sauce. You can always serve this dish with extra sauce on the side! But I recommend only spooning enough to cover the top of the eggplant so that the crispiness from the breading can be preserved while it bakes.

Types of flours for dredging – I recommend I finely ground flour for dredging the eggplant such as all-purpose, white whole wheat, gluten-free flour blend, or oat flour.

Make it gluten-free – use a gluten-free flour blend for dredging eggplant and either store-bought gluten-free breadcrumbs or make homemade breadcrumbs with your favorite gluten-free bread.

How to avoid “tough” eggplant – in some cases, the eggplant parm can come out tough in texture, meaning it’s underdone/undercooked. To avoid this, make sure eggplant cuts are no thicker than 1/2 inch. Shoot between 1/4 to 1/2 inch in thickness to ensure they’re fully cooked!

Types of bread to use for homemade breadcrumbs – this recipe includes a homemade breadcrumb recipe that is super easy to make! The types of bread you can use are endless. You can make it with healthier grain bread, white bread, your favorite gluten-free brand, or Ezekiel bread. For this recipe, I used this specific grain bread.

Do I have to peel the eggplant before cooking? Eggplant skin is completely edible and gives the vegetables a “meatier” texture when cooked. But this comes down to preference, if you prefer no skin you can peel it.

eggplant parmesan arranged in white baking dish on dark gray background.

How to Freeze & Store Leftovers

Keep leftovers fresh: refrigerate them in an airtight container for 3-5 days if you’re not freezing leftovers. Reheat in the oven at 350F until warm or microwave.

How to Freeze (three ways)

Freeze fried/baked eggplant: if you have extra breaded & cooked eggplant leftover, you can store it flat in freezer-friendly bags (layered with parchment paper) and freeze for up to 1-2 months to make at another time.

Freeze before baking: Assemble eggplant parmesan as the recipe instructs, but don’t bake it. Cover with plastic wrap, then cover with foil and freeze for up to 1 month. Then thaw at room temperature and bake when ready to eat!

Freeze leftovers: Assemble eggplant parmesan as the recipe instructs and bake it. Store leftovers in airtight containers and freeze for up to 1 month – thaw at room temperature and reheat in the oven at 400F until warm.

a slice of eggplant parmesan being lifted on spatula out of white baking dish.

What to Serve it With

There are many things to serve eggplant parmesan alongside, but here are some of our favorite pairings.

Pasta. Noodles of any shape are a classic pairing with eggplant parmesan! We love serving this with whole wheat or regular pasta such as rigatoni, radiatori, fusilli, rotini, penne, or spaghetti. You can also use gluten-free noodles too!

Salad. We always love pairing eggplant parmesan with a Mediterranean or Italian-style salad, such as our Tuscan artichoke salad, chickpea Greek salad, or our Tuscan Panzanella salad. For a pasta & salad combo, you can pair it with our Italian pasta salad!

Bread. A crusty Italian bread, french banquette, or homemade sourdough loaf makes for the perfect vessel for scooping up any tomato sauce that gets left behind!

Vegetables. To add some color, we love to serve this with roasted, sauteed, or grilled vegetables! Whether sauteed Brussels sprouts, zucchini, roasted asparagus, or a medley of your favorite seasonal vegetables.

More Italian Eggplant Recipes

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

4.97 from 181 votes
The whole family will love this classic eggplant parmesan! Slices of tender eggplant coated in homemade breadcrumbs, and then layered with melted cheeses & rich marinara! Whether you'd like to bake or fry the eggplant, this recipe has a method for both.
Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients

Eggplant

Homemade Breadcrumbs

  • 6 bread slices (about 1 1/2 cups – see notes) for more info use our homemade breadcrumb recipe.
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • 2 teaspoons Italian herb blend
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (each) salt & black pepper

Toppings

  • 1 1/2 cups marinara if you like a lot of sauce you can aim for 2 to 2 1/2 cups of sauce
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • 1-2 Tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped

Instructions

  • Slice eggplant: remove stem from eggplant then slice into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices.
  • Sweat eggplant: arrange slices on a pan and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt on both sides. Let sit and "sweat" excess moisture for 10 minutes. Pat firmly with paper towels to dry eggplant thoroughly (wipe off salt as well).
  • Breadcrumbs: toast slices of bread. Then chop in food processor until consistency is crumbs. Mix breadcrumbs in a bowl with garlic powder, salt & pepper, Italian herbs, and shredded parmesan cheese. Tip: If you are not making your own breadcrumbs, use 1 1/2 cups of store-bought breadcrumbs instead.
  • Bread eggplant: arrange three bowls containing whisked eggs, flour, and breadcrumb mixture. First, coat eggplant in flour on both sides, then dip into eggs, and then dip into breadcrumbs – pack onto eggplant and then gently shake off excess crumbs. Wipe hands with paper towel then repeat. Tip: if baking eggplant instead of frying, brush a sheet pan with 1-2 Tablespoons of oil and arrange breaded eggplant onto pan as you coat them.
  • Pan frying method: in a skillet pan, add 1-2 Tablespoons of oil at a time, and cook breaded eggplant for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Lay on paper towels to soak up excess oil. Repeat until all eggplant has been fried.
    Baking method: instead of pan frying you can also bake the eggplant to use less oil. Preheat oven to 350F and arrange breaded slices onto sheet pan that is brushed with 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes until golden.
  • Assemble: in a large casserole dish, spread a generous layer of marinara on the bottom. Then layer: eggplant slices, mozzarella, a spoonful of marinara, and shredded parmesan. Repeat an additional layer (breaded eggplant, mozzarella, marinara, and shredded parmesan).
  • Bake: Then bake at 400F uncovered for 30 minutes until cheese is browned and melted. Top with chopped fresh basil & oregano, and serve!

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Types of bread to use for homemade breadcrumbs: this recipe includes a homemade breadcrumb recipe that is super easy to make! The types of bread you can use are endless. You can make it with a healthier grain bread, white bread, your favorite gluten free brand, or Ezekiel bread. For this recipe I used this specific grain bread.
Types of flours for dredging: I recommend I finely ground flour for dredging the eggplant such as all purpose, white whole wheat, gluten free flour blend, or oat flour.
Make it gluten-free: use a gluten-free flour blend for dredging eggplant and either use store-bought gluten free breadcrumbs, or make the homemade breadcrumbs with your favorite gluten free bread.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword best eggplant parmesan, eggplant parmesan, fried eggplant parmesan
Freezer Friendly Yes
Author Bethany Kramer

Nutrition

Serving: 1eggplant parmesan stack | Calories: 403kcal | Carbohydrates: 36.6g | Protein: 25.4g | Fat: 17.5g | Cholesterol: 109.1mg | Sodium: 980mg | Sugar: 6.7g | Vitamin A: 17IU | Vitamin C: 2mg

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430 Comments

  • Christine says:

    4 stars
    I made the marinara! It is fabulous! However, getting the salt off the eggplant proved to be the failure. I scrubbed and dabbed but it was not enough. Can that step be skipped?

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Hi Christina, so happy the sauce worked out! You can’t really skip salting the eggplant, but if you use a small sprinkle and if its left on the eggplant it will just season it nicely 🙂

  • Jimi says:

    5 stars
    Tonight we made this for dinner with some angel hair pasta and it was out of this world. We choose to peel the eggplant though, but that’s just our preference. Sadly we’ll have leftovers for a few days too 🙂

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Thank you so much, Jimi! Always a win when there’s leftovers 😉 Thrilled you enjoyed it!

  • Bonnie says:

    5 stars
    Just made it tonight! I thought oh no I forgot the mozzarella but then realized I just bought burrata cheese for another recipe! Your recipe is perfect! Easy and delicious . I made 2 big pans one for my daughter.

  • Andrew Rychard Mysliwiec says:

    5 stars
    Worth the effort. Was not like other eggplant parts I’ve had that are too heavy or soppy. Quite the opposite, this one was crispy, flavorful, and took just enough cook time for me to build a solid appetite.
    The layers can be repeated over and over, I love that trick, fewer for lighter fare or more for hearty meals.

  • Teresa Moore says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is delicious. It looks like it is more difficult to make than it really is. I used panto bread crumbs not homemade, and my favorite marinara. I couldn’t be happier with the results.

  • Judy says:

    What size casserole or baking dish you use?

  • Lorri Finke says:

    5 stars
    Loved the flavor and ease! For ease of recipe…I used what I had on hand…so shredded mozzerella & parmesan cheese! Also a jar of sphaghetti sauce verses marinara. Skipped the flour…and only did breadcrumbs and eggs. Still soooo delicious! I think I may try it with the flour addition next time…for comparison. Thanks for the pictures too!

  • April Blevins says:

    5 stars
    This is a wonderful recipe.

  • Kae says:

    What temp should the oil be?

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Hi Kae, there’s no specific temperature – the pan just needs to be on medium heat. If the pan gets too hot you can remove it from the heat 🙂

  • Gretchen Buccheri says:

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe! So easy to make, I followed the directions and did the baking method. Best eggplant parmigiana I’ve eaten.

  • Serena S says:

    5 stars
    I made this for my family and they LOVED it! I am now making it again, it’s the best eggplant parmesan I’ve ever had!

  • Lily J says:

    5 stars
    Really good recipe! Used the fresh eggplant from my garden and made my own homemade marinara sauce.

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      So glad you got to use your garden eggplant! Thanks so much for sharing, Lily 🙂 Really happy you enjoyed it.

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