This all-star baked eggplant paremsan recipe will be your new go-to! A classic Italian-style casserole with layers of eggplant, Parmesan, fresh mozzarella and basil. Check out the tips and video for how to make it!
Baked eggplant parmesan, or eggplant parmigiana, is one of those classic Italian-style comfort foods most people enjoy. Much like lasagana, this is a casserole dish made of different layers, but here the star is globe eggplant and there is no pasta involved.
Layers of goodness and flavor with such familiar ingredients. Our layers in this eggplant parmesan include: crispy eggplant slices, mozzarella, Paremsan, fresh basil and tomato sauce.
One important first step makes all the difference in this eggplant Parmesan recipe...
Do you need to salt the eggplant before making eggplant parmesan?
This is something that's been debated, but I do recommend salting your eggplant before making this dish. Globe eggplant can be challenging to work with. It can be bitter and it holds on to moisture. Plus, because of it's somewhat spongy texture, it can absorb way too much oil when fried or baked. If you're not careful, your eggplant casserole could end up being mushy and unpleasant. What can you do to help this? Salt your eggplant slices and let them sit for about 30 minutes or so on a large tray lined with paper towel! The salt will draw out the moisture, and the eggplant will also "sweat out" its bitterness. This step also helps to somewhat break eggplant's "spongy" texture.
How to make eggplant parmesan?
- First, slice and salt your eggplant. Let the eggplant sit on a large tray for a good 30 minutes. Beads of water will emerge, that's a good thing! Wipe the eggplant dry and remove any excess salt.
- Coat the eggplant in flour and eggs. Prepare a bowl of flour and another with beaten eggs. Dredge the eggplant in flour then coat with the eggs, allowing excess eggs to drip back in the bowl.
- Fry the eggplant in a bit of olive oil until golden brown. Lay on paper towels so that they eggplant will drain excess oil.
- Assemble the eggplant parmesan casserole. Prepare a casserole dish with a little bit of your tomato sauce in the bottom. Add a single layer of the fried eggplant slices. Add Parmesan, basil and top with fresh mozzarella slices. Continue layering until all the ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of tomato sauce and the cheese on top.
- Bake on the center rack of your heated oven at 325 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted.
- Rest then serve! Give the baked eggplant parm some time to rest before slicing and serving.
Can I bake the eggplant instead of frying?
I've had better results with frying the eggplant, but if you prefer to bake them instead, you sure can! Once you've coated the eggplant slices with the flour and egg, arrange them in a single layer on an oiled sheet pan. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes at 425°F (turn slices over half-way through) until they are nicely browned. Remove from oven, and let cool a bit before assembling the eggplant parmesan.
Can I freeze cooked eggplant parmesan?
Yes, the beauty about eggplant parm is that you can make it in bulk and freeze it either whole or in pieces for later use. Let the casserole cool completely, then cover tightly and refrigerate for 1 night. From there, you can freeze it in it's own dish (make sure it's freezer safe) but make sure it is well covered and protected. Or, you can cut smaller individual portions and wrap them up really well and freeze. Take out as much as you need at a time and heat, covered, in a medium-heated oven.
Baked eggplant parmesan would keep safe in the freezer, if wrapped well and protected, for 3 months or so. But personally, I would use it up earlier because the quality of the eggplant may be compromised the longer it sits in the freezer.
Serve it with
This is a great vegetarian meal on its own, but if you're looking for some sides to go with it, you can't go wrong with some crusty bread to sop up all the sauce. And to start the meal, try a salad like Panzanella, White Bean Salad, or this hearty Farro Salad with Arugula and Walnuts!
More Eggplant Recipes you may like
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
- 2 eggplants thinly sliced length-wise
- 2 large eggs beaten
- Black pepper
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups tomato sauce, no salt added
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (more if needed)
- Large bunch of fresh basil leaves, reserve a few for garnish
- 8 to 10 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced (more if needed)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Lay eggplant slices on a large baking sheet lined with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 30 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Pat dry. (Optional step. See notes)
- Prepare a dredging station with two somewhat shallow bowls, one for the beaten eggs and the other for flour.
- Coat an eggplant slice in the flour (shake off the excess) then dip it into the egg and let excess drip back into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining slices. Set eggplant on a large tray for now.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Working in batches if necessary, cook the eggplant slices for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until nicely golden. Place fried eggplant on paper towels to drain any excess oil.
- Assemble the eggplant parmesan casserole. Spread a bit of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish, add a layer of fried eggplant slices, then top with Parmesan, basil, and mozzarella in Season to your taste. Continue layering in this same pattern until all the ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on the very top.
- Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake in 325 degrees F heated-oven for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted.
- Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes before serving. Add a sprinkle of fresh basil on top. Enjoy!
- Tip- Salt Your Eggplant: The first step here is to salt the eggplant and set it aside to let it sweat out its bitterness. This is helpful as the salt will also help the texture, and as the eggplant releases moisture, it will absorb less oil. The end result is far more delicious and you avoid a soggy eggplant Parmesan.
- To bake the eggplant instead of frying: If you prefer to bake the eggplant instead, once it's been coated in flour and egg, you can place the eggplant slices on a large lightly-oiled sheet pan. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes at 425°F (turn slices over half-way through) until they are nicely browned. Remove from oven, and let cool a bit before assembling the eggplant parmesan.
- Can I freeze cooked eggplant parmesan? Yes! I like to cover the casserole well and refrigerate for 1 night. The next day, either freeze it in its own baking dish (make sure it's freezer safe too), covered super well so it's protected. Or, cut the eggplant Parmesan into individual serving sizes and wrap each one in good quality plastic wrap, then freeze them. Take out as much as you need at a time. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat, covered, in a medium-heated oven. While it will keep safe in the freezer for about 3 months or so, best to use it at the earliest chance because so that the quality of the eggplant is not too compromised the longer it sits in the freezer.
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*This post has been recently revised from an earlier 2019 version. New information and media have been added for readers' benefit.