Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

4.80 from 5 votes
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My eggplant parmesan is made with crispy golden eggplant layered in a cast iron skillet with marinara, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. The recipe itself is incredibly simple, it just requires a little bit of prep work upfront for the best results. Let’s make the best eggplant parmesan you’ve ever made!

A metal spatula lifting a slice of cheesy golden eggplant parmesan from a cast iron skillet.

Good eggplant parmesan is very hard to beat. Fried eggplant has 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.

If you want more Italian favorites, you can’t beat sausage stuffed shells and another great oven bake is spaghetti and meatballs. Add a fun twist by stuffing the chicken parm into a calzone.

The Secret to the Best Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan all comes down to how the eggplant is prepped. It’s very important to thinly slice the eggplant and remove as much excess moisture as possible. This is the key to tender, flavorful eggplant that isn’t spongy or soggy.

Ingredients

  • Large eggplant: the most important step is to thinly slice the eggplant so it’s not too thick (about 1/4 inch). Some recipes call for the skin removed, but I’ve always left it on.
  • Unseasoned breadcrumbs: look for regular breadcrumbs and not panko crumbs for best results. I prefer unseasoned but seasoned is OK too.
  • Marinara or tomato sauce: for jarred, I prefer Rao’s, otherwise, I highly recommend you make a homemade sauce using this foolproof tomato sauce recipe.
  • Parmesan cheese: I always recommend a block of parmesan that can be grated by you. Invest in a microplane for the easiest/best results. Pregrated cheeses aren’t as fresh and won’t melt as nicely.
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese: you can optionally use strips of fresh mozzarella or fresh mozzarella pearls if you prefer!
  • Eggs: eggs help bind the breadcrumbs to the eggplant. This ingredient is critical!
  • All-purpose flour: flour helps the egg adhere to the eggplant and also contributes to the crispy coating.
  • Olive oil: my favorite oil for frying eggplant is olive oil. While not traditionally the best frying oil due to its lower smoke point, it adds unmatched flavor.
  • Fresh parsley and basil: remember, fresh herbs are always best. Do not substitute the same quantities in dry spices.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

How to Make Eggplant Parmesan

Step 1.

Cut the eggplant into roughly 1/4 inch thick round slices and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. You want the paper towel on each side of the eggplant. You can stack multiple rows separated by paper sheets.

Step 2.

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 it!

Step 3.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 4.

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.

Step 5.

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 until ready to fry.

Step 6.

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 per side. Remove the eggplant and place it on a baking sheet.

Quick Tip

The eggplant may brown faster as the oil continues to heat. Turn the heat down as needed. You will likely need to add more oil halfway as it’s absorbed.

Step 7.

Turn off the heat and let the skillet cool 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.

Step 8.

Layer the bottom of the skillet with 1 cup of tomato sauce. Add a layer of eggplant, filling as much of the bottom of the pan as possible with no overlap. Top with a 1/2 cup of marinara, then 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

Fried sliced eggplant sitting in a bed of marinara in a cast iron skillet.
Fried eggplant slices topped with marinara in a cast iron skillet.
Fried eggplant in a cast iron skillet topped with shredded mozzarella cheese,

Quick Tip

You can cut the slices in half around the perimeter so they fit better if you prefer.

Step 9.

Repeat by creating the second layer starting with eggplant, 1/2 cup of marinara, 1/4 cup of parmesan, and finish with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.

Step 10.

Place in the oven and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or 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 with pasta if desired.

Golden baked eggplant parmesan in a cast iron skillet on a dark wooden table.

Expert Tips

  • 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 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 result will be 2 layers of thinly sliced eggplant layered with tomato sauce and cheese, rather than one thick single layer of eggplant.
  • Always mix parmesan cheese in with the breadcrumbs. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can eggplant parmesan be made ahead?

Yes, this can be made up to 24 hours in advance and store in the fridge covered until ready to bake. Always save initial baking just before serving for best results.

Why is my eggplant soggy?

The water must be removed from the eggplant before frying. This will help keep eggplant tender and crispy. Eggplant is 92% water. Season with salt and let rest to drain.

What’s the best way to increase the recipe?

I recommend stacking a third layer of eggplant, sauce, and cheese. This will make each serving thicker.

More Italian Classics

Enjoy this recipe? If you made this recipe, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
4.80 from 5 votes

Easy Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Servings: 6
Prep: 1 hour
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Easy and delicious crispy eggplant parmesan layered with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and baked in a cast-iron skillet.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine, optional
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices (or 2 medium eggplants)
  • 24 ounces marinara or tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups 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 eggs, large
  • 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)
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions 

  • Cut the eggplant into roughly 1/4 inch thick round slices and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. You want the paper towel on each side of the eggplant. You can stack multiple rows separated by paper sheets.
  • 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 until ready to fry.
  • 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 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 as it's absorbed.
  • Turn off the heat and let the skillet cool 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 tomato sauce. Add a layer of eggplant, filling as much of the bottom of the pan as possible with no overlap. Top with a 1/2 cup of marinara, then 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. You can cut the eggplant in half around the parimter so it fits more snug if you prefer.
  • Repeat by creating the second layer starting with eggplant, 1/2 cup of marinara, 1/4 cup parmesan, and finish with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
  • Place in the oven and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or 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 with pasta if desired.

Notes

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 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 result will be 2 layers of thinly sliced eggplant layered with tomato sauce and cheese, rather than one thick single layer of eggplant.
Always mix parmesan cheese in with the breadcrumbs. 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.
Use a nice tomato sauce. There are plenty of good ones out there (I love Rao’s marinara) or you can easily make a homemade sauce using Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce. TRUST ME!

Nutrition

Serving: 1(with pasta)Calories: 595kcalCarbohydrates: 99.4gProtein: 25.9gFat: 10.4gSaturated Fat: 4.1gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 461mgFiber: 4.1gSugar: 2.5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
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About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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Recipe Rating




21 Comments

  1. Wow! I really went by your recipe totally and it was fab!!- perfect crisp eggplant slices & you are right..do not have to be so thick.. I cheated and ate a small round without any sauce…just amazing! Will check out some of your other recipes! Hugs😁

  2. Hi! I see that the recipe yields 4 servings but the photos seem to show around 8 servings, are the photos based on the 1x or 2x recipe? Thanks!

    1. It’s up to you but I’m accounting for two slices a person. They aren’t huge pieces so it’s more of a measure of how hungry your guests will be.

  3. 5 stars
    This was fantastic, thank you for the recipe. I went a little over-indulgent and made some pesto and added it to the marinara sauce. It made it all the more decadent, but I could totally do without, too, and it would remain yummy as can be!