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.
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 and all 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.
How to Make Eggplant Parmesan – Step by Step
Sweat the eggplant slices with salt. After slicing the eggplant into 1/4-1/2 inch thick cuts, sprinkle with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes before thoroughly patting it dry with a paper towel. Be sure to wipe off any additional salt too.
Bread the eggplant. Assemble three bowls with flour, whisked eggs, and breadcrumb mixture.
First, dredge the eggplant slice in flour on both sides, then dip it into the egg, and last, dip it in breadcrumbs – lightly pack breadcrumbs with your hands. Then, arrange it back onto a sheet pan. (If you are baking the eggplant and not frying it, ensure the 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 the eggplant is finished. Place on paper towels to absorb any extra oils.
Bake: Preheat the oven to 350F, and arrange eggplant on a sheet pan brushed with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
Assemble in a baking dish: in a large casserole or baking dish, spread a 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 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.
How to Freeze & Store Leftovers
Keep leftovers fresh: refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 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 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 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.
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 wheat 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 salad, typically Mediterranean or Italian-style, 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 that be sauteed Brussels sprouts, zucchini, roasted asparagus, or a medley of your favorite seasonal vegetables.
More Italian Eggplant Recipes
- Baked Eggplant Rollatini
- Eggplant Lasagna
- 6 Ingredient Roasted Eggplant Pasta
- Roasted Eggplant Meatballs
Classic Eggplant Parmesan
- 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
- 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!