Classic Eggplant Parmesan

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 that are coated in flour, breadcrumbs, and then baked in layers of rich marinara and melted cheese! It’s a must-try for any and all Italian food lovers.

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

For this recipe I used a simple homemade breadcrumb recipe versus store-bought breadcrumbs. This is a simple 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.

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

Sweat the eggplant slices with salt: after slicing eggplant int 1/4-1/2 inch thick cuts, sprinkle with salt and let sit for 10 minutes before thoroughly patting drying with paper towel.

Bread the eggplant: assemble 3 bowl with flour, whisked eggs, and breadcrumb mixture.

First, dredge eggplant slice in flour on both sides, then dip into egg, and last dip in breadcrumbs – lightly pack breadcrumbs on with hands. Then arrange back onto sheet pan. (If you are baking the eggplant and not frying it, make sure sheet pan is brushed with oil).

Brown eggplant (two ways)

Pan fry: 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 eggplant is finished. Place on paper towels to absorb any extra oils.

Bake: Preheat oven to 350F, arrange eggplant on sheet pan brushed with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Assemble in baking dish: in a large casserole or baking dish, spread a thin layer of marinara and then top with one layer of breaded eggplant.

Top eggplant with mozzarella slices, a spoonful of marinara, then top with parmesan cheese.

Repeat with another layer of breaded eggplant, mozzarella, marinara, and parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered at 400F for 30 minutes. Top with additional fresh parmesan and chopped fresh basil & oregano.

Extra Tips for Success

Types of sauce to use: I recommend serving this dish with a 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 use store-bought gluten free breadcrumbs, or make the 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 which would mean that it’s underdone/undercooked. To avoid this, make sure eggplant cuts are no thicker than 1/2 inch. I like to shoot between 1/4 to 1/2 inch in thickness to ensure they’ll be fully cooked through!

Do I have to peel the eggplant before cooking? Eggplant skin is completely edible and actually gives a “meatier” texture to the vegetables 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 a 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: if you’re not freezing leftovers, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days. 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 flat in freezer-friendly bags (layered with parchment paper) and freeze up to 1-2 months to make at another time.

Freeze before baking: Assemble eggplant parmesan as 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 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.

More Italian Eggplant Recipes

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

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

4.99 from 69 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.

Servings 6
Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Tags: best eggplant parmesan, eggplant parmesan, fried eggplant parmesan
Freezer Friendly: Yes
Calories: 403 kcal
Author: Bethany Kramer

Ingredients

Eggplant

Homemade Breadcrumbs

  • 6 bread slices (about 1 1/2 cups – see notes)
  • 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
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • 1-2 Tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped

Instructions

  1. Slice eggplant: remove stem from eggplant then slice into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices.

  2. Sweat eggplant: arrange slices on pan and sprinkle with 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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Assemble: in a large casserole dish, spread a thin layer of marinara on the bottom. Then layer: eggplant slices, mozzarella, a spoonful of marinara, and shredded parmesan. Repeat an additional layer on top.

  7. Bake: Then bake at 400F uncovered for 30 minutes until cheese is browned and melted. Top with chopped fresh basil & oregano, and serve!

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.

Nutrition Facts
Classic Eggplant Parmesan
Amount Per Serving (1 eggplant parmesan stack)
Calories 403 Calories from Fat 158
% Daily Value*
Fat 17.5g27%
Cholesterol 109.1mg36%
Sodium 980mg41%
Carbohydrates 36.6g12%
Sugar 6.7g7%
Protein 25.4g51%
Vitamin A 17IU0%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Bethany Kramer

Bethany Kramer is a home cook, recipe developer, and dog mom. She found a deep love for food and nutrition after learning to cook from her mom at eight years old. Since then she’s been developing and sharing recipes from her own kitchen that are bold in flavor and nourishing to the body!

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Recipe Rating




146 Comments

  • Avatar for Marcia Marcia says:

    5 stars
    Very good recipe. I peeled and sliced the eggplant and then soaked in salt water for 10 minutes and then patted it dry. Not salty at all. Thanks for the recipe,Bethany..

  • Love the recipe and easy to make

  • Avatar for Rose Rose says:

    5 stars
    OMG was that good even if I have to say so myself! Thanks!

  • Avatar for Trisha Trisha says:

    5 stars
    Made this for self-proclaimed Eggplant Parm lovers, and they said it was their new Favorite!! Loved the ease of baking instead of frying (healthier & less clean-up!). Delicious.

  • Avatar for Michele Michele says:

    5 stars
    Delicious. We just had this for family dinner and will definitely use this for a dinner rotation.

  • Avatar for Yodle1 Yodle1 says:

    5 stars
    First time eating eggplant and this recipe will have us eating more eggplant.

  • Avatar for Ellen Ellen says:

    5 stars
    I have tried to make eggplant parm before (fry method) with the vegetable cut the other way, and it never worked. This recipe was a dream and I had extra, so I gave a pan to a friend for hey birthday, and her family loved it too! You won’t miss the oil if you bake it instead of frying!

  • Avatar for An Fi An Fi says:

    When using frozen eggplant parmesan I take it I thought 1st then how do I reheat it

    • Avatar for Bethany Bethany says:

      I’ve personally never used frozen eggplant, unless it is sliced the right way I wouldn’t know how to use it in this recipe. Plus it might have a bit of excess moisture that could make the recipe watery. Sorry I can’t be of help here! I recommend fresh eggplant. 🙂

  • Avatar for Sandra Sandra says:

    5 stars
    Best step by step instructions. It was delicious and turned out perfect.

    • Avatar for Bethany Bethany says:

      That means a lot – I always want the instructions to be thorough. Appreciate it, Sandra! 🙂 Glad you liked the recipe!

  • Avatar for Karina Karina says:

    5 stars
    This was a delicious way to use some freshly grown eggplant from my garden. Easy and delicious!

  • Avatar for caryparkway caryparkway says:

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe with my Fairy Tail Eggplant. I omitted the oven baking as once sauteing in pan on top of stove with cracker crumbs and milk as the coating, I found that the baking with marinara sauce was enough for these small eggplants. Turned out very tasty!! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • Avatar for Susan G Susan G says:

    5 stars
    I made this for the first time ever at my dad’s request, my dad LOVED it; and my mom, who doesn’t like eggplant, tried it and said it was good. It’s a keeper of a recipe. I did not peel the eggplant, and I baked it using gf bread crumbs. Yum!!

  • Avatar for John Boulanger John Boulanger says:

    5 stars
    This is delicious and so easy! I had never made eggplant Parmesan before, thinking it was too involved and time-consuming. This recipe is not only easy, but the tips on doing parts of it in advance are really helpful and I will definitely do those now that I know how delicious the dish turns out!

    • Avatar for Bethany Bethany says:

      Thanks so much, John! I really appreciate that. I’m really glad you tried making it for yourself – it’s always worth the little bit of effort 🙂

  • Avatar for Jackie Jackie says:

    I made this recipe the other night with my better half. We enjoyed cooking together and it came out delicious. We are making it tonight to freeze. The fresh eggplant are abundant in the garden. Any recommendations on which method I should choose to freeze? Thank you for a great meal!!

  • Avatar for LoriCris LoriCris says:

    5 stars
    Straightforward, excellent recipe. I used baby eggplants right off the farm so I didn’t but need to salt them. Also added 1/2 pound of hamburger crumbled. Delicious

  • Avatar for Sue Marie Sue Marie says:

    4 stars
    This was very good. I gave it 4 stars because there’s conflicting information. When I went to the baking instructions, there’s 2 different times/temps listed. I did mine at 350 for 30 minutes. Also, reading for freezing instructions, there’s also two different instructions for those too (keeps for 1 month / keeps 1-2 months).

    • Avatar for Bethany Bethany says:

      Hi Sue! Glad you liked the recipe! As far as the instructions, I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible. The two different times are for baking the eggplant alone (rather than frying), and then you up to temperature to bake the whole dish in the oven. I’ve intentionally placed two temperatures in the recipe. The freezing is for the eggplant slices being able to be frozen longer (1-2 months) versus the eggplant parmesan being frozen for only a month. Hope that helps!

  • Avatar for Larry Wade Larry Wade says:

    excellent recipe and directions

  • Avatar for Tony Tony says:

    The recipe was very good. The whole family praised the dish. I baked the eggplant slices. I added sauteed onions, garlic, basil, oregano and a pinch of chile pepper to the sauce. However, the suggested amount of sauce was not nearly enough. Actually needed about 6 cups of sauce for a 9 x 13 pan. The breaded egg plant really soaked up the sauce. Additionally, it would have been helpful if the casserole dish size or capacity was mentioned too.

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