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 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
- 24 ounces marinara sauce
- 16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup torn 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- x 13-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). Layer the remaining eggplant slices over the top and add another spoon full of marinara on top of each. Spoon any remaining marinara around the edges of the eggplant stacks then top each stack with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. 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
My family loves this recipe!! I have made it many times and it is always a hit!!! 🙂 Thank you!!!
My 15 yo son made this for our family’s dinner tonight and it was delicious!!! He said it was fun to make and the instructions made it really easy. Thank you for sharing such a great recipe!
Your comment made my day, Kathy! You have a future chef on your hands 🙂
I don’t know about a future chef. But I’m happy knowing he can follow a recipe and make a healthy and delicious meal for himself and friends instead of living on fast food when he goes to college. This recipe along with others we’ve found are getting him on that path. 😊😊 Thank you again!
Does anyone have a recommendation for a good jarred sauce?
Hi Patricia. My favorites are Mezzetta brand and Silver Palate makes a great low-sodium marinara.
Thank you! Will try those!
This was the best eggplant I ever had! So easy and delicious!
Oh Valerie ~ this gets a 10* from me~ I’m Italian and I would have never thought to bake the eggplant ~ I did a triple dip of light flour egg and Italian spicy breadcrumbs~ it was FABULOUS ~ my family and guests loved it and raved about it for days ~ thank you for this recipe~ this is the *PERFECT *RECIPE for Eggplant Parm ~💗💗💗💗💗💗
Looks and tastes gourmet but so easy to prepare. Came out delicious definitely a saver. Didn’t have basil so I used ground oregano. Didn’t have panko bread crumbs instead so I smashed saltine crackers and seasoned with oregano onion powder and garlic salt.
Also I took a users suggestion and scored the eggplant skin instead of removing it. Soo Soo good.
Why do you use 3 eggplants in your recipe when you can get 12 slices out of 1? I love this easy recipe but it is misleading by suggesting 3 just to get 12 pieces which the recipe clearly states that it is for… otherwise very easy and tasty. Thanks.
Eggplants can vary in size. Also, I prefer even sized slices so sometimes that can take an extra eggplant.
I used to peal my eggplant because I didn’t like the big, plasticky pieces of skin. Now I score it with fork tines before slicing! I don’t know how to submit a photo. 🙁
I bought 3 eggplants but ended up only needing half of one and a lot less crumbs and eggs were needed as well
It is very tasty and unusual in taste, thanks for the recipe!
I’ve made this a few times for guests and everyone has been astounded !!! I didn’t really care for eggplant until this recipe!!!
I love eggplant, they remind me of the taste of mushrooms baked in the oven with cream cheese … hoho, it’s fantastic, tasty, beyond words, thanks !!!