Eggplant Parmesan

A classic Italian baked eggplant Parmesan casserole with breaded eggplant slices layered with Mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, and tomato sauce.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Eggplant parmesan is one of those great Italian comfort foods—a layered casserole much like lasagna but with slices of globe eggplant taking the place of pasta.

The two things to keep in mind when cooking eggplant, especially firm globe eggplants, is that not only do eggplants hold onto moisture, they also absorb oil like a sponge. So if you’re not careful you can end up with something mushy and oily.

Eggplant Parmesan

In this recipe, to tackle the first challenge we lightly salt the raw eggplant slices and let them sit out for a while. The salt helps draw moisture out of the eggplant. To deal with the oil absorption issue, instead of frying the breaded eggplant slices, we bake them in the oven, before assembling the casserole to be baked again.

The result? Wonderful! Cheesy, tomato-y eggplant parmesan that doesn’t weigh you down with too much water or oil.

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Recipe revised and updated. Originally posted in 2005. Inspired by a recipe in the New York Times by chef Gabrielle Hamilton, recounting a recipe from her Italian ex-mother-in-law.

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

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  • Yield: Serves 8

First cut the eggplant and salt the eggplant rounds. Then prep the rest of the ingredients while the eggplant rounds are releasing their moisture.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 lbs (about 2 large) eggplants
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), tomatoes diced, reserve juices
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

 

  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 4 eggs, beaten (more if needed)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus more to oil the sheet pans)
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4-inch slices

Method

1 Slice and salt eggplant, let drain: Slice the eggplants into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick rounds. Lay the eggplant slices out on a rack over a rimmed sheet pan (or on several layers of paper towels).

Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant rounds lightly with salt. Let the eggplant rounds sit and release moisture for 2 hours.

2 Sauté garlic, add tomatoes, simmer, add salt, pepper, basil: Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and gently cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and their juices. Increase heat to bring to a simmer, lower heat to maintain a very low simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the minced basil and remove from heat.

3 Make breadcrumb Parmesan mixture, set up bowls for dredging with flour, egg, breadcrumbs: Combine 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and place in a shallow bowl or rimmed dish.

Set up your station so that you have flour in one shallow bowl, beaten eggs in another bowl, and the breadcrumb cheese mixture in another, in that order.

4 Dredge eggplant rounds in flour, egg, breadcrumbs, top with olive oil: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spread a tablespoon of olive oil each over the bottom of two rimmed baking sheet pans. Pat dry the eggplant slices with paper towels.

Working one at a time dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour, then dip in the beaten eggs, and then dredge in the breadcrumb parmesan cheese mixture.

Place on oiled sheet pan. Drizzle a little oil over the top of each breaded eggplant round.

5 Bake eggplant rounds: Place breaded prepared eggplant slices in the oven. Cook for 18 to 20 minutes at 425°F, turning the slices over at the half-way point, until they are nicely browned. Remove from oven, and let cool to touch.

6 Layer sauce, eggplant rounds, cheeses in casserole dish: Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Place a third of the eggplant rounds in a single layer covering the sauce on the bottom of the pan.

 

Layer half of the sliced mozzarella on top of the eggplant rounds. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

Place another third of the eggplant rounds over the cheese. Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the eggplant rounds. Layer the rest of the sliced mozzarella over the sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of grated Parm.

Add the remaining eggplant in a single layer on top of the cheese. Top with the remaining sauce and the remaining Parmesan.

7 Bake: Bake uncovered at 350°F for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into to serve.

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Links:

The Summer Cook; Ode to Joy: A Trip to Alda's Kitchen

Eggplant Parmesan

Showing 4 of 132 Comments

  • Lisa Arce

    I’m Italian and have always fried my eggplant. I’m trying it baked tonite because frying is such a pain these days. That’s why I bake my meatballs now, too. I’ll be back later with my finished product. Thanks!

  • Jenny

    Oh no!!! The most unique and perfect part of this recipe has been changed recently. This has been my go-to recipe for the most outrageous fresh and delicious eggplant parm that I’ve ever experienced. The key was that the original recipe in NY Times (and what used to be written on this site) called for this odd technique: dredge eggplant slices in flour and THEN egg. Yes, you read that right even though you can’t believe it. Dredging in egg last made for the best eggplant ever. If you attempt this recipe, you should refer back to the original NY Times post and follow the dredging method there – it will go against everything you’ve ever been taught, but I promise you will love it. And Elise – you should consider editing this recipe back to way you had written it before.

  • Trish

    Made this today but I used panko bread crumbs that I added seasonings to. First time making EPP and it was delicious. I also added canned sauce to the canned tomatoes. Will defs make again.

  • Amanda

    Excellent recipe! My husband also did not think he’d like eggplant but it tastes like lasagna with a mushroom/squash texture instead of noodles. I’m saving this recipe. I used Classico jarred marinara to save time, and sprinkled fresh garden herbs(sage, thyme, rosemary) over the cheese. Very good!

  • Ilene

    When I told my husband what was for dinner, he said that he wasn’t crazy about eggplant. I’m thinking, hm hmm, whatever. As he was eating, he turned to me and said, “this is really good.” Enough said. I did make 3 changes to the recipe — I used seasoned breadcrumbs, I had shredded mozzarella on hand, so used that instead of slices, and added some Italian seasoning to tomato sauce and dried basil. I cut the eggplant in 1/4 inch slices, but will cut them 1/2 inch next time.

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