The Cozy Cook

Eggplant Parmesan

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!

A spatula holding up warm, cheesy eggplant Parmesan.

Eggplant Parmesan

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:

Ingredients

See recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient amounts and full instructions

  • Eggplant
  • Italian Breadcrumbs– Check out my homemade breadcrumb recipe
  • Marinara Sauce– I’ve got a marinara sauce recipe as well!
  • Flour
  • Garlic Powder
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Eggs
  • Mozzarella Cheese- Low moisture shredded from a block melts the best
  • Parmesan Cheese

overhead shot of ingredients for eggplant parmesan.

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.

close up shot of an eggplant slice with moisture on top from salting it.

2. Bread it.

  • Dip each slice into the seasoned flour mixture, then briefly in a whisked eggs, and then coat well with breadcrumb mixture.

a hand dipping eggplant into flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs for eggplant parmesan.

A tall stack of breaded eggplant slices.

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.

slices of fried eggplant on a white cutting board.

4. Assemble in a Baking Dish and Bake

  • Preheat the oven to 400 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.

Overhead image showing how to layer ingredients for eggplant Parmesan in casserole dish.

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

A casserole dish filled with warm eggplant Parmesan hot out of the oven..

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Eggplant Parmesan being pulled up from a casserole dish with hot mozzarella cheese on top.

Eggplant Parmesan

5 from 19 votes
Thin slices of eggplant are lightly fried in a crispy Parmesan breadcrumb mixture and baked with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants, ripe
  • Salt
  • 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)

Instructions

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.

To Fry:

  • 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!

Video

Notes

Don't forget a side of CHEESY Homemade Garlic Bread!

Nutrition

Calories: 453kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 117mg, Sodium: 1806mg, Potassium: 468mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 840IU, Vitamin C: 6.8mg, Calcium: 533mg, Iron: 4.4mg
Eggplant Parmesan

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Recipe Rating




82 comments on “Eggplant Parmesan”

  1. Eggplant turned out way too salty for our tastes.  I had created a pile of salt and tapped each piece of eggplant on it (both sides).

    Next time will skip salting step.  Otherwise recipe works but have had better in restaurants.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Andy, did you let the eggplant sit for the full hour after salting them? Salting them is pretty key, otherwise you’ll have soggy eggplant, they are 92% water. The salt is what helps to draw out a lot of this water which is absorbed on the paper towels, along with some of the salt. This is definitely the technique that restaurants use. I just wanted to let you know the reason behind the salting in case you missed it! 🙂

      • Thanks for your prompt reply.

        Eggplant sat for roughly 3 hours and paper towels were sopping wet. Perhaps, I used too much salt? I did dredge the slice through salt as if I was flouring them.

      • Ohhhhh okay that definitely sounds like too much salt for sure- next time give them a light sprinkle on each side and you will be much happier with the results! 🙂 I’m glad we worked through it! 🙌

  2. If I bread my eggplant today and put in the fridge overnite and fry it the next day is that okay?

    • As much as I want to say yes for convenience purposes, eggplants contain so much moisture that water will creep through and make the breading soggy in the fridge overnight.

  3. This was delicious! I usually just wing it when it comes to eggplant parm, but the results are never great, which is frustrating when it is such a laborious process. I think adding different seasonings to component of the breading station made a difference. Also, thank you for giving the option to bake the eggplant. I haven’t fried it in years and I think the baked version is just as good, if not better. Not frying it offsets the calories of all the extra cheese I throw on top!!!

    • Hi Jennifer! I totally agree, the extra seasonings in the breading makes a big difference! I’m so happy to hear you liked this one. Thanks so much for the great review!😃

  4. I followed this recipe but my eggplant didnt really brown enough i dont think. I should have broiled it for a few minutes, but Im wondering I assembled this to make tomorrow. Will the eggplant brown more in the oven as it cooks under the sauce and cheese? 

    • Hi Matthew! You’ll be okay! I don’t assemble this ahead overnight underneath sauce and cheese but the flavor will be great! Don’t worry. The breading won’t brown more but no one will know that! ☺️

      • hi. No i know nobody will notice (hopefullly) but its bothering me  as to why i didnt just throw the broiler on. I guess ill see tomorrow. Thx and happy thanksgiving. 👍

  5. This was delicious!! I made it gluten free, as my Mom has celiac. I used gluten free Italian panko/bread crumbs. It rivaled my favorite eggplant parmesan from our go to restaurant. I put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese a bit. Highly reccomend!!

  6. Simple and elegant recipe. Far superior to any dish I have tried at restaurants. I did not have Italian breadcrumbs but added 1 tsp dried Italian Seasoning to my plain breadcrumbs and followed the rest of the recipe exactly. Superb results.

  7. I was worried I wasn’t gonna have enough sauce for this recipe when I followed the marinara recipe but it was absolutely perfect! This is my new go to eggplant recipe… I did peel the skin which was the only change I made

  8. Hello there! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I’m slightly confused – is Step #8 and #10 choices to fry OR bake the breaded eggplant? I understand that we then bake it again with sauce and cheese. Or, do we do Step #8 (fry) and then Step #10 (bake the fried pieces at 400c) and then bake once more with sauce and cheese at 375? Thank you!

  9. Great recipe. Followed as directed. My family loved it. Will make again.

  10. We loved this!! I’ve never made this before, only had 1 eggplant, I did peel it, used a partial jar of spaghetti sauce with a can of chopped tomatoes…what I had. Followed the directions and it turned out amazing…very happy family. Will definitely do this again.

    • Hi Darlene! I am so happy that you and your family enjoyed this recipe, that’s great! I actually just made a very similar recipe yesterday for the blog, but with zucchini! It was delicious. Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for leaving a review! Take care. -Stephanie

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