This is my favorite way to make eggplant parmesan. The extra prep step may not seem worth it to you, but trust me – it absolutely is and makes a huge difference. You can read the comments below and see that those who took the extra step did not regret it!
Eggplant parmesan will always be one of my top favorite comfort foods. There is something about the dish that feels like it’s giving you a giant hug.
Growing up, I was not a huge fan of eggplant. I didn’t like the texture. It was soggy and kind of slimey. The only time I would ever eat it would be when my mom deep-fried it or she made this one classic Taiwanese eggplant dish with this amazing garlic sauce.
Any other dish that had eggplant in it, I’d refuse to eat.
That is until I was introduced to the cheesy gloriousness of something called eggplant parmesan!
What a great way to have a hearty meal without meat. It’d be a great meatless Monday meal.
Eggplant is hearty and meaty enough to take place as real protein so I can see why this dish is also a favorite amongst vegetarians and why someone came up with it.
Basically the vegetarian version of chicken parmesan.
The method for the best eggplant parmesan recipe!
Heads up: once you make it this way, this is the ONLY way you’ll want to make your eggplant parmesan in the future. The technique I talk about is 100% worth it.
So many readers have made it before and have told me that they won’t ever skip the prep step again!
Okay, so the best method to make eggplant parmesan is to pull the moisture out of the eggplant prior to frying it.
How do we pull moisture out of the eggplant?
We sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices! The salt pulls out the moisture from the eggplant and therefore, when you cover it with breadcrumbs and fry it, you will have a much crispier and less soggy eggplant parmesan dish.
All that moisture beading up on top of the eggplant? That’s the salt doing its job! It’s pulling out most of the moisture
All you have to do is just pat it dry and dust off the excess salt and then you’ll be ready to start making your eggplant parmesan!
Can you make eggplant parmesan ahead of time?
Yes! However, the breading might end up a little soggy.
I definitely encourage you to pull the moisture out of the eggplant as a prep step and if you are going to bread the eggplant, you definitely should fry it up immediately after otherwise the breadcrumbs start to get soggy.
Even though we’ve pulled out the moisture, there is still going to be some moisture so it’s best you fry up the coated eggplant ASAP.
After you fry up the eggplant, I would lay it on wire cooling rack so air can get through on both sides. Otherwise, you’d be suffocating the breading with the heat and condensation so then it’d turn the breading soggy.
After it cools, you can place it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to use.
I wouldn’t assemble the casserole dish ahead of time because the marinara sauce will turn the breading soggy and mealy — BUT if you truly do want to prep the eggplant parmesan ahead of time and don’t mind that it’s a little soggy, you can assemble the entire casserole dish at this point then cover it and place it in the fridge.
Once you’re ready to bake it, I would let the casserole dish sit at room temperature while the oven is pre-heating. Sometimes if you stick a ceramic dish or glass dish from fridge to oven, it could crack.
Can I freeze eggplant parmesan?
Yes, but if that is what you are doing, I would suggest prepping it all in a disposable aluminum tray so you can pop it in straight into the oven without worries of your casserole dish cracking/breaking.
If you freeze the eggplant parmesan in a glass or ceramic casserole dish, then you’d have to let it sit out on at room temperature before putting it in the oven and then by then, your ingredients will all be melting and soggy.
If you love this eggplant parmesan recipe, then you’ll love these:
- Great Grandma’s Pasta Sauce
- Lasagna Soup
- Slow Cooker Pasta Fagioli
- Ultimate Skillet Lasagna
- Homemade Roasted Tomato Soup
- Tuscan Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
Watch me make this eggplant parmesan recipe:
- 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2" thick slices
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil, for lightly pan-frying
- 3 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
- 2 cups whole milk mozzarella shredded
- 1 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- Handful of fresh basil leaves chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Salt both sides of your eggplant slices and place them in a large colander in the sink. Let the liquid drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- When your eggplant slices have finished draining liquid, brush off the excess salt, as you don't want it to be too salty!
- In 2 shallow plates, add breadcrumbs to one and whisk eggs and milk in the other. Dip both sides of eggplant slice into milk/egg mixture then cover with breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess. Place on plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. Once the skillet is hot, add two eggplant slices at a time to the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown, remove and set on a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil for every 2 eggplant slices.
- In a large casserole dish, add 1 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices (I was only able to fit about 3 a layer) then using a 1/4 cup, dollop marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn't to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers until you run out of eggplants slices. Top the casserole with more cheese before you place in the oven :)
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I used the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown - you don't have to, but if you do, watch it carefully!
- Serve hot and top with chopped basil, if using.
*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.