An oven-fry method creates this crispy Baked Eggplant Parmesan that rivals any fried version. An easy, updated take on the classic Italian dish.
This post was originally published on September 11, 2011. It has been updated with new photos and an instructional video.
Aaahhh, cheesy Baked Eggplant Parmesan. One of my husband’s favorites. I remember making it for the first time ages ago and wondering how my kids would perceive it. I mean, there’s no meat in it! Not necessarily an easy selling point to four teenage boys.
Because it resembles lasagna they dove right in without even asking what it was… and it was love at first bite. So, there you go!
I find this oven-fry method is easier to prepare than the traditional fried version and it’s definitely a little easier on the waistline without forfeiting any of the delicious flavor or texture. Try it and you’ll see.
How to Sweat Eggplant
Don’t sweat the small stuff…. but definitely sweat your eggplant! Eggplant can have bitterness to it and this process of “sweating” helps eliminate that. Not all of them will have that bitter element, but to me it’s not worth the risk so I always take this extra step when I make this Baked Eggplant Parmesan.
Sweating is the process of salting your eggplant slices and allowing them to rest for about an hour or more. The salt will pull some of the potentially bitter liquid from the eggplant. Less moisture in the eggplant slices also helps them to crisp up nicely in the “oven-fry” method in this recipe. Once they’ve sweat, just be sure to rinse them well with cool water to remove the excess salt and blot them dry before breading them.
Should I Peel the Eggplant?
Whether you peel them is personal preference. It isn’t necessary and I love the deep purple color not to mention that there are vitamins and additional flavor in the skin. I’ve done it both ways with this Baked Eggplant Parmesan recipe but took the easy way out here and left the skin on.
You could mix things up by using different varieties of Italian cheese but for this recipe I always go with sliced fresh mozzarella and a little Parmesan. The fresh mozz has such a luscious, creamy quality and layers nicely on the eggplant stacks.
This is one of our favorite Italian-inspired meals in this house. I’ve made it countless times and it remains at the top of the list!
More fabulous ways to use eggplant:
Julia Child’s Eggplant Pizzas | Kayln’s Kitchen
Eggplant Fries with Marinara Sauce | A Family Feast
Garlic and Roasted Eggplant Hummus | Melanie Makes
Stuffed Eggplant | The Little Kitchen
Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- 2 to 3 eggplant (about 2¼ pounds), sliced ¼-inch thick (you'll need 12 slices)
- salt, as needed
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 8 ounces Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
- 26 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil , or 1 teaspoon dried basil
- cooking spray
- Sprinkle some salt on both sides of each slice of eggplant. Layer the slices in a colander and place the colander in your sink. Place a heavy dish or pan over the top to press them down. Allow the eggplant to sweat for 30 to 45 minutes. Rinse the slices well with cold water to remove salt and blot them dry with paper towels.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet generously with nonstick cooking spray.
- Dip the eggplant slices in egg, then in the bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs down with fingers to cover them evenly. Place them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and lightly spray the tops of the breaded eggplant with nonstick cooking spray. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes then carefully flip each slice over and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- In a 9- x13-inch baking dish, spread just enough marinara to cover the bottom of the dish. Place a layer of eggplant slices over the sauce. Cover each slice with a spoon full of marinara, a slice or two of mozzarella, and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (reserve half of the cheeses for top layer). Repeat with one more layer of eggplant slices. Pour any leftover marinara and around edges of eggplant slices and top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. If using dried basil, sprinkle it evenly over the top. If using fresh basil, reserve it for later.
- Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil, if using.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
Slightly adapted from Allrecipes.com