My eggplant parmesan is made with crispy golden eggplant layered in a skillet with marinara, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. The recipe itself is incredibly simple, it just requires a little bit of prep work upfront for absolute killer results.
Good eggplant parmesan is very hard to beat. Fried eggplant has an unbeatable flavor and texture. It also has so much more flavor than chicken, making it a fierce competitor with chicken parmesan. The best part of this recipe is you can fry your eggplant and bake it all in the same skillet for less cleanup.
Tips for Making Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant parm is made using the same basic process as chicken parmesan. Once you’ve prepped the eggplant slices you can simply dredge them in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs and fry them in a skillet until they’re golden and crispy.
Tips & Tricks
- Draining excess water from eggplant is the most critical step when making eggplant parmesan. It’s the difference between crispy and melt-in-your-mouth eggplant versus spongy and tasting like you’re actually eating a vegetable. This is done by sprinkling the sliced eggplant with salt to extract the water.
- Eggplant should be thinly sliced and layered. Shoot for about 1/4 inch thick slices. A little thicker is OK. The end result will be 2 layers of thinly sliced eggplant layered with red sauce and cheese, rather than one thick single layer of eggplant.
- Always mix parmesan cheese in with the breadcrumbs. It’s not called eggplant parm for no reason. Layer with extra parmesan cheese and plenty of fresh mozzarella cheese before baking. You want a solid layer of melted cheese to nearly cover each piece of crispy eggplant.
- Always sauté/crisp the eggplant in olive oil. No substitutes here. Olive oil will add tremendous flavor to the eggplant and will help give your eggplant that much-desired texture. Nothing compares.
- Use a nice marinara sauce. There are plenty of good ones out there (I love Rao’s marinara for jarred marinara), our you can easily make your own sauce. Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce is my favorite recipe.
Layering Eggplant Parmesan
The layers consist of marinara, coarsely grated or shredded parmesan and mozzarella cheese, and fried eggplant (don’t use finely grated, powder-like parmesan).
The trick is to fill the skillet with as much eggplant as you can comfortably line the pan/dish with no overlap. You can go as far as cutting the eggplant slices in half to fill the entire skillet bottom if you prefer, although I don’t think it’s necessary.
Pictured is how I layer my eggplant parmesan. I start with a base of marinara and then layer eggplant, more marinara, and cheese. Repeat these layers one more time, finishing with a final layer of melted cheese!
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Easy and delicious crispy eggplant parmesan layered with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and baked in a cast-iron skillet.
- 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices (or 2 medium eggplants)
- 24 ounces marinara
- 1 1/2 cups dry, unseasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 cup coarsely grated/shredded parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for breading, plus 1/2 cup for topping)
- 8-ounce bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced (plus more for garnish)
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced (plus more for garnish)
- 1 pound spaghetti or linguine (optional)
- Cut the eggplant into roughly 1/4 inch thick round slices and place on a baking sheet lined with a paper towel. You want paper towel on each side of the eggplant. You can stack multiple rows separated by paper towels.
- Sprinkle each side with a little salt to draw out the liquid. Let rest for 45-60 minutes. Press down with the paper towel at the end to soak up any remaining surface moisture. This step is critical—do not skip
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs, on a plate and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and water and set aside. On another plate, spread the flour.
- Coat the eggplant with the flour and shake off the excess. Dip in the egg, and then fully coat with the breadcrumb mixture, patting with your fingers to ensure the breadcrumbs adhere. Set aside.
- Heat about half the olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. You want enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Add the eggplant in batches and sauté until golden brown, about 30 seconds-1 minute per side. Remove the eggplant and place it on a baking sheet. The eggplant may brown faster as the oil continues to heat. You may need to add more oil halfway through if depleted
- Let the skillet cool off the heat for about 5 minutes. Use a paper towel to give the skillet a quick wipe, soaking up any excess oil and burnt chunks from the eggplant.
- Layer the bottom of the skillet with 1 cup of marinara. Add a layer of eggplant, filling as much of the bottom of the pan as possible with no overlap. You can half slices of eggplant for better coverage if you prefer, but not necessary. Top with a 1/2 cup layer of marinara, then 1/4 cup parmesan, and 1 cup mozzarella.
- Create the second layer starting with eggplant, 1/2 cup layer of marinara, then 1/4 cup parmesan, and finish with 1 cup mozzarella (a little extra cheese is OK too).
- Place in the oven and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until cheese starts to bubble and slightly brown on the top. You can finish with a quick broil at the very end for a little charred cheese if you prefer, just note it will brown FAST. Let cool for 5 minutes, garnish with fresh basil and parsley if desired, and serve.
- Serve eggplant with a side of pasta if desired.
Draining the excess water from eggplant is the most critical aspect of good eggplant parmesan. It’s the difference between crispy and melt-in-your-mouth eggplant versus spongy and tasting like you’re actually eating a vegetable.
- Serving Size: 1 (with pasta)
- Calories: 595
- Sugar: 2.5g
- Sodium: 461mg
- Fat: 10.4g
- Saturated Fat: 4.1g
- Carbohydrates: 99.4g
- Fiber: 4.1g
- Protein: 25.9g
- Cholesterol: 133mg
Keywords: eggplant parmesan, eggplant recipes