Thin slices of eggplant are lightly fried in a crispy Parmesan breadcrumb mixture and baked with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. This will be the BEST Eggplant Parmesan recipe you’ll ever try. Be sure to check out my make-ahead tips!
Be sure to try my recipe for Zucchini Parmesan next!
Guys, if you have any doubts about this recipe, check out the reviews. It’s a keeper.
It does take a bit of prep work, but the end result is worth every minute. Plus, I’ll share some make ahead tips with you. But first, the ingredients:
See recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient amounts and full instructions
- Italian Breadcrumbs– Check out my homemade breadcrumb recipe
- Marinara Sauce– I’ve got a marinara sauce recipe as well!
- Garlic Powder
- Seasoned Salt
- Mozzarella Cheese- Low moisture shredded from a block melts the best
- Parmesan Cheese
Do You Peel Eggplant Before Cooking
There is no need to peel the eggplant prior to cooking it, unless it’s very large, in which case the outside could be tough and a bit bitter. I like to leave it on, especially for this recipe.
How to Make it
1. Salt the Eggplant to Remove Excess Moisture.
- This is key to crispy results. Eggplants are 92% water. Failure to remove some of this water will results in soggy Eggplant Parmesan.
- Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices and line them on paper towels.
- Salt each side.
- Top the slices with paper towels and let them sit for one hour. The paper towels will absorb the excess moisture during this time.
2. Bread it.
- Dip each slice into the seasoned flour mixture, then briefly in a whisked eggs, and then coat well with breadcrumb mixture.
3. Lightly Fry for a Golden Brown, Crispy Crust.
- Fry in batches of about 4 at a time. Leave breathing room around each slice to allow them to crisp up as well.
- Cast Iron skillets conduct heat the best and give you a nice golden brown, crispy surface.
To Bake instead of fry:
- Line the breaded eggplant on lightly greased baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes. Flip them halfway through.
4. Assemble in a Baking Dish and Bake
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Spoon marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.
- Layer with eggplant slices. Top with marinara sauce, then with mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat with 2 more layers of eggplant, marinara, mozzarella.
- Top with Parmesan.
- Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.
Make-Ahead Eggplant Parmesan
- Eggplant Parmesan can be time consuming, but most of the work can be done ahead of time.
- Remove the excess moisture, bread them, then lightly fry.
- Store them in the refrigerator for 1-2 days prior to assembling and baking.
- You can also flash freeze them on a plate and then store them in a labeled freezer bag for up to 3 months. Place them in the refrigerator overnight prior to assembling and baking.
What to Serve it With
- Garlic Bread with Cheese
- Roasted Broccoli
- Roasted Carrots
- Salad with homemade Italian or Caesar Dressing
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Try These Next:
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- 3 medium eggplants, ripe
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 3 large eggs
- 1-2 splashes milk, optional
- 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, separated
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 8 oz. Part Skim Mozzarella, grated
- Basil, to garnish (optional)
Bread the Eggplant
- Slice the eggplant into ¼ inch slices. Season each side with salt and lay them in between paper towels. Let them sit for one hour to allow the paper towels to absorb excess moisture.
- Create an assembly line to bread the eggplant:
- Station #1: Combine the flour, seasoned salt, and pepper on a large plate.
- Station #2: Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Add an optional splash of milk to thin it out slightly. It’s easier to dunk and lightly coat the slices this way.
- Station #3: Combine the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, and ½ cup Parmesan cheese on a large plate.
- Dip each slice into the flour and ensure it’s thoroughly covered. Next, dip into the egg mixture, and then into the breadcrumbs. Stack the breaded slices on a plate as you go.
- Add vegetable oil to a skillet over medium heat. Use just enough to submerge each slice by half. Add more as needed while they cook.
- Use kitchen tongs to gently place about 4 slices at a time into the heated oil. Fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.
- Continue to fry the remaining batches. Reduce the heat if the pan starts to get too hot.
To Bake (Alternative Method to Frying):
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the breaded eggplant on lightly greased baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
- Set the cooked slices on a wire cooling rack to allow air to circulate and keep them crisp.
- Note: You can stop here if you are preparing this ahead of time. Let the eggplant slices cool completely and refrigerate for up to two days, or flash freeze for an hour before stacking them in a freezer bag.
Assemble and Bake
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish and spread a light coating of marinara on the bottom. Top it with a layer of breaded eggplant slices.
- Top the eggplant with marinara sauce, then with grated mozzarella. Repeat with another layer of eggplant slices, then with marinara, then with mozzarella. Continue until you’ve used all of the eggplant.
- Sprinkle the top of the mozzarella with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, until the top is hot and bubbling.
- Top with chopped basil or parsley if desired and serve!
This is a great recipe! It’s easy, concise and delicious! I only used one eggplant and a 7×10 inch baking dish and it was plenty for my family of 3. I also baked the eggplant instead of frying and it was so much easier- less cleanup, and it was still crisp. The wire rack makes all the difference. Thanks for a great recipe. I don’t make eggplant parmesan much, but I might make it more often now.
I’m so happy you liked the Eggplant Parmesan Erin, sounds like you did a great job with this one!🙌 I can’t wait for my eggplant to be ready! Thanks so much for the great comments and for taking the time to leave a review!
You have to remove the skin.its tough and bitter
Only if the eggplant is very large. Not necessary otherwise. That’s why you’ll notice restaurants leave them on, and it’s delicious. There is a section in the blog post that explains this.
I have made this completely except for baking. I want to serve in 24 hours. Can I refrigerate till then or would it be better to freeze, thaw and bake.??
Hi Sue, you should be fine to leave them in the fridge! 🙂 You can always toast them a little bit on a baking sheet and them assemble as outlined and bake, depending on what you think the day of serving!