Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Updated: Jan 23rd, 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

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this dish happen: eggplant, marinara, breadcrumbs, fresh herbs (basil & oregano), eggs, flour, garlic powder, dried herbs, oil, marinara, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.

Ingredients for eggplant parmesan arranged on dark gray background.

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. 11

    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.

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. I like shooting between 1/4 to 1/2 inch in thickness to ensure they’ll be fully cooked!

Do I have to peel the eggplant before cooking? Eggplant skin is completely edible and gives the vegetables a “meatier” texture when cooked. I recommend keeping the skin on instead of peeling.

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.

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 171 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 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 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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404 Comments

  • Carol Cuevas says:

    5 stars
    Fantastic! I’m a pretty good cook but have never made Eggplant Parmesan. It was a huge hit. And easy.

    I didn’t try the bake method for the eggplant slices, but the pan fried will always be my choice, I think. That texture really adds to the dish.

    Also, those tips for the marinara was a game changer for me.

  • S Anderson says:

    5 stars
    I’m not real daring – so zero modifications. I made this following the recipe and instructions exactly – including making my own bread crumbs because I had bread that needed to be used and I also did do the fry method. I should also say I’ve never commented on a recipe but had to this time. This was the best eggplant plant Parmesan that I’ve ever eaten – including ordering it at numerous restaurants!! Thank you for the recipe. I will be making this again. I have left overs – I hope they warm up as delicious.

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share – thrilled you enjoyed the recipe so much! Homemade breadcrumbs are a small addition but they make such a delicious difference in this recipe. Thanks so much for the kind words!

  • Reese says:

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe!

    Question! If I made extra eggplant and breaded/fried it. What’s the best way to eat? Should I thaw or put in the oven directly?

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Hi Reese, so happy you enjoyed it! I’m assuming the breaded eggplant is frozen? If that’s the case, I like to thaw it just a little so it’s not frozen solid, then heat it in the oven (layered with sauce and cheese) until hot. If you find at all the frozen eggplant is taking longer, you can cover it for a little of the cook time to trap the moisture and speed up the cooking process. Hope this helps!

  • Endre says:

    5 stars
    Made this yesterday. Loved it. Definitely will make again. This is perfect for a household who has vegetarians and non vegetarians sharing meals.

  • Jay says:

    5 stars
    Such a great recipe!
    However, I ended up burning the sauce at the bottom of the dish. It was still delicious. How can I stop from burning the sauce the next time I make this? Maybe add olive oil before the marinara sauce or cook at a lower temp for a little longer?

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Hi Jay, you can add more sauce and also you could lower the temperature to 350-375F and cook it longer like you suggested. That should help it! Every oven is going to cook differently. My new ovens cook dishes a lot quicker then the precious ovens I used. So, you can make those changes and that should help!

  • Karen says:

    Planning on making for Christmas I see a comment that you can make in advance and freeze. Do you fully assemble before freezing? Can it be done if using the baking method vs frying method?

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Hi Karen, Yes you can fully assemble everything and then freeze, thaw it then bake it completely. And this can be done with both the baking or frying method! Hope this helps 🙂

  • john says:

    Very good work. especially egg recipe which is very interesting and delicious . I shall try it at home keep it up. Mushrooms also have Good Mushrooms you can also write on it

  • lisa e platt says:

    This is the perfect recipe. In the past month I have made it 3 times. My husband and I just love it! Thank you!

  • Zarah l says:

    5 stars
    Currently making this for the second time. Absolutely loved it the first time. I used panko bread crumbs. The first time I used preshredded Parmesan cheese and felt like it didn’t melt as good as I wanted. This time I shredded my own cheese and anticipate it to be even better!

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      So happy to hear you loved it, Zarah! Fresh parmesan definitely melts better. I hope you enjoy it the second time around 🙂

  • Rebecca says:

    5 stars
    I halved the recipe for a 9×9 casserole and it was DELICIOUS! I baked the eggplant pre Parmesan to save on stovetop splatter. I should have turned the slices about 15 minutes into baking time for more even golden breading but still nothing short of amazing! Will make again!!

  • Ilene Sheres says:

    Hi!
    I want to prep this in advance for dinner! I was wondering if I pan fry the eggplant, then assemble with cheese, then put it covered in fridge to bake for later!
    So excited ti try!

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Hi Ilene, you can definitely do that! It might take away from of the crisp from the breaded eggplant, but that works just fine! 🙂 Hope you enjoy it!

  • ANNE OGREN says:

    5 stars
    I have made this numerous times and my younger son who is picky evens loves this eggplant parmesean. I’m making this again tomorrow night. Yum!

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