Easy Eggplant Parmesan (baked, not fried)

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Eggplant Parmesan is such an easy, quintessential vegetarian Italian recipe! This version features sliced eggplant coated in seasoned panko breadcrumbs, which are baked, not fried. Then, they’re stacked with marinara sauce, slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, and plenty of grated parmesan, and baked to bubbly, golden brown perfection. Serve with cooked pasta and more sauce for a complete meal!

Overhead photo of a white baking dish with eggplant parmesan in it and fresh basil as a garnish.

Eggplant parmesan is cheap to make, feeds a crowd, and is a great make-ahead meal. You can assemble it ahead of time and stick it in the oven when you’re ready, and after it’s cooked the leftovers make great lunches throughout the week!

This recipe features eggplant slices breaded in panko breadcrumbs, which are roasted instead of fried (which is more traditional). If I can avoid frying things I do – not only because it’s often healthier but because it’s much less messy. If you’re heating up the oven to bake the eggplant parmesan anyway, why not also use the oven to roast the eggplant? I also skipped salting the eggplant before cooking with it (which I don’t really think of as a necessary step).

Often when I’m craving eggplant I don’t even bother breading it and just make these easy roasted eggplant parmesan stacks which are super light and healthy. But this eggplant parmesan recipe is a step up – easier than a fried version, and a little heartier than the stacks.

Eggplant parmesan on a white plate with a garnish of fresh basil.

Ingredients in Eggplant Parmesan (and substitutions)

  • Eggplant – grab two large, or three medium eggplants for this recipe.
  • Eggs
  • Milk – whole, low fat, skim, or plant-based will work here.
  • Italian seasoning
  • Panko breadcrumbs – or regular breadcrumbs, or seasoned breadcrumbs (if using seasoned, omit any added salt and Italian seasoning). Gluten free breadcrumbs may also be used, or a low-carb substitute like crumbled pork rinds.
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh mozzarella – you can use shredded mozzarella to make it easier and cheaper if you like.
  • Fresh grated parmesan – or other hard aged Italian cheese like asagio or pecorino Romano.
  • Marinara sauce – homemade marinara or store bought is fine (I recommend Rao’s for store bought).

Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.

How to make Baked Eggplant Parmesan

  1. First, bread the sliced eggplant by dipping in egg, then seasoned panko breadcrumbs.
  2. Roast the eggplant on olive oil covered baking sheets.
  3. Assemble the eggplant parmesan by layering a little sauce, the eggplant slices, more sauce, fresh mozzarella, and parmesan, repeating one more time with eggplant, sauce, and cheese.
  4. Bake until golden brown and bubbly!

Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.

Process collage showing how to bread eggplant slices in panko breadcrumbs and roast.
Process collage showing how to layer the parts of eggplant parmesan in a baking dish.

Tips and Tricks for Easy Eggplant Parmesan

  • Slice 24 slices of eggplant, so you can easily layer 12 in a 3×4 grid in two layers in a 9×12 baking dish. It’s OK if they overlap a little.
  • On a similar note, slice 24 slices of fresh mozzarella ahead of time as well.
  • To make slicing the mozzarella easier, stick it in the freezer for 30 minutes before cutting it.

FAQs

Can I make eggplant parmesan in advance?

Yes! Just assemble it and keep it covered in the fridge for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake, just cover it with foil and cook for an addition 10-15 minutes, since you will be starting from cold.

Can I make eggplant parmesan gluten-free?

It’s easy to make eggplant parmesan gluten-free simply by using gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Do I have to salt the eggplant before using it?

I don’t think this is necessary. Some people will salt eggplant, let it sit in a colander for 30 minutes to “draw out the bitter taste,” then pat it dry and use it in recipes. You can do this if you want but I often skip this step to save time with great results, especially with something that cooks as long as eggplant parmesan does.

Close up overhead shot of eggplant parmesan in a white baking dish with browned, crispy cheese on top.

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Overhead photo of a white baking dish with eggplant parmesan in it and fresh basil as a garnish with browned crispy cheese on top.

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

This Easy Eggplant Parmesan is a perfect vegetarian Italian main course recipe, featuring panko-coated sliced eggplant roasted, not fried, then stacked with red sauce, fresh mozzarella, and parmesan cheese and baked to bubbly, golden brown perfection. Serve with cooked pasta and more sauce for a complete meal.

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Course: Main

Cuisine: Italian

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Servings: 8 servings

Calories: 376kcal

Author: Elizabeth Lindemann

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400° F. Get out two rimmed baking sheets and spread 2 tablespoons of olive oil on each.

  • In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs (2) with the milk (2 tablespoons), ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. In another shallow bowl, mix the panko breadcrumbs (1 cup) with the Italian seasoning (1 teaspoon), and the remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.

  • Dip each eggplant slice in the egg mixture to coat all sides, then into the breadcrumb mixture to coat all sides. Then place the eggplant on the oiled baking sheets and repeat with remaining slices, fitting about 12 on each baking sheet. (If you don’t have two baking sheets, you can do two batches.)

  • Bake the eggplant at 400° F for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 8 minutes, until golden and crispy.

  • Spread 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of an 8×10 or 9×12 baking dish. Layer 12 slices of the eggplant on the bottom in a 3×4 grid. Top each slice with a generous spoonful of marinara sauce, followed by a sliced of the fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese on top. Repeat the layers – the rest of the eggplant, sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.

  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and the eggplant parmesan is nice and bubbly. (If it’s browning too quickly, you can tent it with foil.)

  • Allow the eggplant parmesan to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before serving for best results. Serve with cooked pasta and more marinara sauce, with a garnish of fresh basil, if desired.

Notes

  • To make slicing the mozzarella easier, place it in the freezer for 30 minutes before cutting. It’s easier to cut precisely when it’s very cold.
  • To save on prep time, buy pre-sliced fresh mozzarella, or you can also use shredded mozzarella for a more budget-friendly option.
  • You can use Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs if you like – since these usually contain salt, omit any added salt.
  • Feel free to salt the eggplant and let it sit for 30 minutes, patting it dry after, if you prefer – I usually don’t find this step necessary especially for recipes that cook the eggplant for such a long time like this one. If you do this, you can omit the added salt in the egg mixture.
  • Using store-bought marinara sauce? Rao’s is my favorite and I highly recommend it!
  • Plant-based milk or low fat/skim milk can be used instead of whole milk.
  • If adjusting the servings in half, be sure to use a smaller sized baking dish.

Estimated Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Amount Per Serving

Calories 376
Calories from Fat 180

% Daily Value*

Fat 20g31%

Saturated Fat 11g69%

Trans Fat 1g

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 7g

Cholesterol 97mg32%

Sodium 1609mg70%

Potassium 781mg22%

Carbohydrates 26g9%

Fiber 6g25%

Sugar 11g12%

Protein 24g48%

Vitamin A 1119IU22%

Vitamin C 11mg13%

Calcium 494mg49%

Iron 3mg17%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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