An oven-fry method creates this crispy Baked Eggplant Parmesan that rivals any fried version. This is an easy, updated take on the classic Italian dish.
More wholesome recipes we love include my Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats and Italian Stuffed Peppers.
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.
Table of contents
- Eggplant – You’ll need a couple of good sized eggplant with a total weight of about 2¼ pounds.
- Salt – For sweating the eggplant.
- Eggs – Three large eggs, beaten.
- Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs – Buying pre-seasoned bread crumbs is a great way to limit the number of ingredients and steps needed.
- Marinara sauce – A 24 to 26 ounce jar of your favorite store-bought marinara sauce.
- Cheese – 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. Fresh mozzarella has such a luscious, creamy quality and layers nicely on the eggplant stacks.
- Basil – Garnish the Baked Eggplant Parmesan with some sliced fresh basil. If you don’t have any on hand, just sprinkle the top with a little dried basil.
Should I Peel the Eggplant?
Whether you peel eggplant is a personal preference. I love the deep purple color not to mention that there are vitamins and additional flavor in the skin so I prefer unpeeled eggplant for this recipe.
I’ve made this Baked Eggplant Parmesan recipe with both peeled and unpeeled eggplant with a good result.
Do I Need to Sweat Eggplant?
Don’t sweat the small stuff, but definitely sweat your eggplant! 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.
How to Sweat Eggplant
- Sprinkle some salt on both sides of each slice of eggplant.
- Layer the slices in a colander and place the colander in your sink. Set a heavy dish or pan over the top to weigh them down.
- Allow the eggplant to sweat for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Rinse the slices well with cold water to remove any excess salt and blot them dry with paper towels.
How to Make Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- Bread the eggplant – Lightly whisk the eggs in a shallow dish, like a pie plate. Add the bread crumbs to another shallow dish. 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 greased baking sheet and lightly spray the tops of the breaded eggplant with nonstick cooking spray.
- Oven-fry the eggplant – Bake at 425 degree F 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.
- Assemble – In a 9- x 13-inch baking dish, spread just enough marinara to cover the bottom of the dish. Place a layer of breaded 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 layering one more time, ending with the remaining cheese. If using dried basil, sprinkle it evenly over the top. If using fresh basil, reserve it for later.
- Bake – Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil (f using) before serving.
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 Eggplant Recipes You’ll Love
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
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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
This post was originally published on September 11, 2011. It has been updated with new photos and an instructional video.
Questions and Reviews
This was great…per usual, I added my own version of spices to our tastes…but I love that it is baked and not fried.
What brand of marinara sauce did you use? Looks bright and yummy!
This was quite some time ago but I’m betting it’s Mezzetta. I still love that one but also really like Rao’s now which I get at Costco. Trader Joe’s has a pretty good one too!
My husband is an eggplant Parmesan snob and he LOVES this recipe! He said it’s some of the best he’s ever had! Thank you!
Our husbands have something in common! 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment, Haley.
I wrote little while ago what forgot I soak over night in water this is how I was taught.
I’ve always left the skin on, my ex mother-in-law came from Sicily and she left the skin on because that’s where all the vitamins are. Since I don’t like things breaded I make almost like a pancake which I season and then I fry in olive oil just a Browning. Then I just let them drain on a wreck with paper towel under and then. Season flour and dip in egg and then flour. Garlic, salt, pepper. Little Italian seasons basil what u like.
I have made this a few times and we love it!
I made this twice. The first time I made it exactly as written. The second time, I added oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan to the panko. My family liked both but prefer the changes.
My kind of recipe: healthy, delicious, inexpensive, and quick and easy!!
I have been using this recipe for a couple of years ! Always perfect. Grazie!
You are very welcome, Lisa!