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Eggplant Parmesan

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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!

slice of eggplant parmesan being lifted out of pan and cheese pull can be seen

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.

overhead shot of eggplant parmesan in round casserole dish

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.

Exhibit A:

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.

What to serve with eggplant parmesan?

If you can’t decide what to serve with eggplant parmesan besides pasta, here are some great side dish ideas that would compliment this dish exceptionally well:

Roasted garlic brussels sprouts

Quick basic chopped salad

Roasted delicata squash

overhead shot of eggplant parmesan in round baking dish with one slice taken out

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 by then, your ingredients will all be melting and soggy.

close up of eggplant parmesan in round baking dish where you can see the tomato sauce and gooey cheese

If you love this eggplant parmesan recipe, then you’ll love these:

Watch me make this eggplant parmesan recipe:

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Eggplant Parmesan

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. Those who took the extra step did not regret it and I’m sure you won’t either!
4.75 from 128 votes
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Julie Chiou
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Ingredients 

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2" thick slices
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt, (DO NOT USE TABLE SALT)
  • 1 ½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 tablespoon 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)

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

Instructions

  • Salt the top side of your eggplant slices and place them on a wire rack on a baking sheet. Let the liquid pull out for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • When your eggplant slices have finished draining liquid, brush off the excess salt with a damp paper towel, 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 °F
  • 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 until you've pan-fried them all.
  • 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.

Video

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 723 kcal | Carbohydrates: 47 g | Protein: 39 g | Fat: 44 g | Fiber: 6 g | Sugar: 9 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Dinner, Main Course, Main Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: dinner, eggplant, italian recipe, parmesan

Photography by Eat Love Eats

Recipe Rating




Deanna

Thursday 25th of August 2022

My family with young kids and teens liked this. My teen boy ate 3 and my 7 yr girl, ate 2!

I used the recommendation of drawing the water out of the eggplant slices with kosher salt on a grate. However, I only had about 10 minutes to let them set, so I used the boiled water for the pasta, before cooking the pasta, dipped my slices in the boiling water then squeezed dry with a flour sack towel. They were not juicy when I fried them.

To save time, I made a Pasta Sauce using JUST the sautéed yellow squash from thehiddenveggies.com "Vegan Squash Casserole."

Served the breaded and fried eggplant along with Pasta Sauce and Pasta, also, Coconut oil fried Portabella Mushrooms, rather than putting the sauce on the eggplant and baking in the oven.

It was DELCIOUS!~ Made Brown Rice Pasta for my Husband and I.

Kathy

Saturday 13th of August 2022

Thank you from my family absolutely LOVED it. It will be this recipe from today on!

Janie

Monday 16th of May 2022

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite dishes. I had only ever eaten it at Italian restaurants. I was a bit intimidated at the thought of making it myself. I had never bought an eggplant much less cook one. While visiting a friend last month we decided to try this recipe together. Power in numbers,LOL! Wow! What an amazing meal. And, I made it again this past week (cutting the recipe in half for my small family). Thanks for sharing!

Dawn W

Sunday 3rd of April 2022

I had never had Eggplant Parmesan or baked it before. I recently purchased an eggplant and decided to head to Pinterest to find a recipe; yours was the first one that popped up. I read your blogpost before saving it to my Paprika app. Well, I used your recipe (followed to a T) and made Eggplant Parmesan tonight using my own homemade pasta sauce. I also used wild mushroom and sage infused olive oil in my sauce and when frying the eggplant plant. Dinner was so delicious tonight!! Rave reviews from my husband telling me to make this anytime. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us and the world!!

Debbie

Sunday 27th of February 2022

So good! I will remove some of the eggplant skin next time…

jean Cyr

Thursday 23rd of June 2022

@Debbie, i always remove the skin. its lighter but still tasty