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

  • Tera says:

    5 stars
    Used gf flour and gf Italian breadcrumbs from Aldi’s (but added the Parmesan, salt and pepper) and assembled on 2 stoneware plates- just 2 layers, and two stacks. As newly empty nesters testing out different ways to cook smaller sized meals. Definitely a hit! Used the pan fry method and cut the eggplant extra thick. Tonight is the second time I’ve made it, and I don’t have mozzarella, so I’m going to test out my block of cotija. Fingers crossed!

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      So happy to hear it worked out for the gluten-free version! Thanks so much for sharing, Tera! 🙂

  • Evelyn says:

    5 stars
    I made this for my family today. Everyone loved it! Not my first time making eggplant parm, but this is the way I will make it always. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  • Elle says:

    5 stars
    I made this using the baking method . I used San marzano tomatoes ( blended with minced garlic and Italian bomba hot pepper sauce 1 teaspoon) and red pepper flakes ( a few shakes)
    It had a perfect heat. Perfect no- meat meal.

  • Elle says:

    5 stars
    This was easy to assemble and absolutely delicious. It is also beautiful and impressive to serve. A great no meat meal.

  • Evelyn says:

    I am getting ready to make this. I will give my feedback after. I love eggplant and have tried only one other. It was time consuming, but yummy. The restaurants have some great tasting eggplant. It’s the only meal I don’t need a doggy bag for 😄

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      I hope you enjoyed it Evelyn! And I agree, I can’t ever get enough of this dish when I make it. 🙂

  • David says:

    5 stars
    Deliciousness…. Thank you
    As an Italian American nothing better than good Eggplant parm … right here … family recipes are my specialty… aboundanza ❤️

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      I couldn’t agree more, David! it’s a special recipe to be enjoyed with the ones you love. Cheers!

  • Karen says:

    5 stars
    I made this dish yesterday and it was a huge hit with the family! It’s so delicious! I also needed to make some vegan eggplant parm, and really all u have to do is use panko for breading, marinara sauce, and dairy free cheese!

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      So happy to hear it was a success, Karen! And yes, it’s a super easy swap for vegan. So glad that worked for you too! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  • Kathleen Pregitzer says:

    Fabulous recipe, Bethany! I’m serving it again this Sunday for my son’s birthday but wondered if I prep the eggplant itself on Saturday and then assemble it with the sauce and cheese on Sunday if the eggplant will be too soggy? Or would it make more sense to bake all of it on Saturday and reheat on Sunday?

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Hi Kathleen, it would be soggy. I like to keep the breaded slices separate, then assemble and bake. You could also bake it ahead of time and reheat (covered) in the oven! Hope you enjoy it:)

  • Lynne Knudsen says:

    5 stars
    I recently got a diagnosis for lung cancer so I’m limiting my activities. I asked my home health aide to prepare the eggplant with the first few steps & I just added the mozzerella, sauce, and parmasian after. It was fabulous! I’ll hve enough now to entertain friends & eat for the remainder of this week, along with the roasted veggies that she made. Thanks for that lovely recipe.

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Lynne, I’m so sorry to hear about your cancer diagnoses. I pray for a speedy recovery for you! Thank you for sharing such kind words about making this recipe. It truly warms my heart. Thank you! xoxo

  • Kim Murphy says:

    5 stars
    Looks easy can’t wait to try… thanks for sharing

  • mary says:

    5 stars
    THREE CHEERS!! I have been making eggplant parm (fried version) for years, and it’s always been great (I mean, how can it not be, right?) but with these three changes in my method of cooking, it brought it to a whole new level. 1: I never used to salt before frying. It definitely makes for a creamier, melt-in-your-mouth feel. I’m dying to test it on those that say they hate eggplant because of the texture. I think it will change their minds!! The crispy outside…the creamy inside. YUUUUMMM. 2: I’ve never floured before the breadcrumb stage. Will do so from now on!! This made for a definitely nicer adherence, as well as an extra level of crispiness. 3: I’ve previously fried in a pan of 1/4-1/2 inch of oil. . .and usually had to change my oil at some point because of the breadcrumbs burning, etc. No longer!! Your method of only frying in a few tablespoons at a time allowed me to wipe the pan clean in between batches. (Wiped carefully with a paper towel, then replaced back on the burner with new oil as needed.) Thank you for the post! Next time I will try your homemade bread crumbs so I can add a “Cheer Number 4”!!!

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Woohoo! This is so great to hear, Mary. 🙂 Thank you for all the kind words and feedback! I’m so happy you were able to take some things away from you with this recipe! And you’re right, it’s a great recipe to test out on anyone who doesn’t like eggplant. It always surprises them!

  • Barbara G says:

    5 stars
    I’ve always found eggplant tricky to work with, but this recipe was quite good!

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