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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
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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:

4.60 from 247 votes

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!
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2" thick slices
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt, (DO NOT USE TABLE SALT)
  • 1 ½ cup (180 g) Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (118 ml) milk
  • 4 tablespoon vegetable oil, for lightly pan-frying
  • 3 cups (735 g) marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 cups (224 g) whole milk mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 cup (100 g) parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped, for garnish (optional)
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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 (191 °C)
  • 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

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

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.

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.

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Photography by Eat Love Eats

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701 Comments

  1. This recipe is really the best! I’ve made it twice now. I use panko bread crumbs seasoned with Italian seasoning. Don’t skip the fresh basil. It adds just the right touch. My husband and son both went for second helpings. My husband is still raving and has said thanks for such a good meal no less than three times. You’d think I starve him!😂

  2. So good! I air fried my eggplant and salted it before to draw the water out (then rinsed and pressed). Big hit! Thanks for the recipe!

  3. I really want to make this for a upcoming dinner, couple of questions. Have you froze it before? if so does it taste as good as if you made it the same day?

    If I was to freeze it, do I assemble it without cooking ? how long do I cook it for when coming out of the freezer?

    1. I haven’t froze it myself but I have had others who have. Of course anything frozen vs. same day will be slightly different but not too much. Bake it same temperature but give it maybe 15-20 minutes longer.

      I grabbed this from the blog post to answer your question on prep:

      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.

    2. @Julie Chiou, What if I was to fry the eggplant on Saturday and let it completely cool on a wire rack, then once it’s cool store it in the fridge.
      Then Sunday before dinner put it together and bake it. what do you think about that?

      Or

      Should I just assemble as is and freeze it then bake?

  4. My favorite method is even a bit more unusual but it works for me, especially in the summertime when eggplant is plentiful and cheap. I’m also put off by watery, slimy eggplant but don’t like heavy frying,
    so here’s what I do:
    I buy as many beautiful eggplants as I can carry from the farmers market, partially peel them, and slice them 1/4 ro 1/2 inch thick, salt them, and fill up my food dehydrator with them. After several hours, the slices will be leathery and chewy and not bitter at all.
    Next, I dip those slices in my best homemade red sauce, dredge in panko and parm and assemble as I please,either in ttaditional layers or individually with sliced mozz, etc. Then I bake.As the eggplant cooks, it rehydrates not with water but with the yummy sauce, creating a meatier, chewier texture that’s more like fried but without the oil and calories. I love it that way! And What you don’t use freezes well or you can dry it more and just store it in Ziploc bags in the pantry. If you don’t have a food dehydrator you can use the oven at about 200 degrees.

    1. @Nancy Hochberg,
      I never thought of using this method, however I am trying it today and look forward to seeing how it turns out. Thanks for the wonderful idea.

  5. I just made this eggplant parmigiana. It is definitely the best recipe! I will only make this one.
    Thank you for sharing it

  6. I made this last night and OMG it was delicious! I haven’t made eggplant in years and the step with pulling out the moisture was definitely a game changer. My husband wasn’t crazy about the idea of not having meat for dinner and has never had eggplant, but he enjoyed it so much he went for seconds!! I will definitely be serving this dish again in the near future❤️

  7. I’ve made this recipe in the past and absolutely loved it. I only have frozen eggplant right now, do you think I’d be able to use that?

    1. i haven’t made this with frozen eggplant before! are they slices? i imagine if you let the defrost and pat the dry they would work! i would think salting them to pull more liquid out would work too but again, i haven’t worked with frozen eggplant before so i can’t be 100% on that part.

  8. I’ll tell you what if you want it even better add in half a cup to 3/4 of a cup of provolone cheese to your mozzarella cheese mix you’d be really pleasantly surprised at what it does for the dish

  9. This turned out perfect! I’ve made eggplant parm before and never get a good balance of taste and texture. Until now! Finally found my go-to recipe.

  10. 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.