Skip to Content

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

This easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan lightens up the classic Italian favorite by baking the eggplant instead of frying it! The result? Crispy eggplant slices layered with marinara sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. It’s just as delicious as the original – but less calories!!

Eggplant Parmesan (or Parmigiana as you might see it on a menu) is one of my all-time favorite things to order when I go out for Italian…so of course I had to learn how to make it at home!

The only thing that held me back from making it for the longest time is that the eggplant is usually fried {sigh}.

Now, I love fried food (who doesn’t?), but I definitely do not love the process of frying. It makes a splattery mess. I usually get burned. It ruins my shirts. It makes the house smell like oil for days. It makes my hair and clothes smell like oil. Then I have to figure out how to get rid of all that oil. The cleanup sucks.

Yeah…NO.

So I decided to try baking the eggplant instead of frying it. I was skeptical. I never would have thought that you could get crispy eggplant by baking it, but you absolutely can! And it makes making eggplant parm so much easier!

I’ve been making this recipe for a long time, and I make it often!

FUN FACTS ABOUT EGGPLANT:

  • It’s called eggplant because the early versions were actually smaller and were yellow or white, and they kind of looked like eggs hanging from the plant.
  • It’s not a vegetable (although it’s used as a vegetable in cooking). It’s actually a fruit (technically a berry).
  • It’s a member of the nightshade family and is closely related to tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.
  • People in the UK call them aubergines.

This Baked Eggplant Parmesan is similar to lasagna in that it’s layered with sauce and cheese and then baked in the oven. Y-U-M!

baked eggplant parmesan cut into squares in a white baking dish

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED TO MAKE BAKED EGGPLANT PARMESAN:

  • Eggplant
  • Salt
  • All-purpose flour
  • Eggs
  • Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • Spaghetti sauce (homemade or jarred)
  • Dried basil
  • Dried oregano
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley or basil (optional)

Eggplant has a relatively short shelf life, so you want to make sure you buy the freshest ones you can and use them sooner rather than later.

Make sure the skin is smooth, shiny, and free of bruises and discoloration. The eggplant should feel heavy for its size. When you press your finger against it, it should be firm with a slight give (it should not be very soft).

Eggplant can sometimes have a little bitterness. Smaller eggplants tend to be less bitter and have less seeds than larger ones so, if you can, opt for a few smaller eggplants rather than larger ones. Older eggplant will also be more bitter than super fresh eggplant.

HERE’S A QUICK LOOK AT HOW TO MAKE BAKED EGGPLANT PARMESAN:

three images showing steps to make baked eggplant parmesan
three images showing steps to make baked eggplant parmesan
three images showing steps to make baked eggplant parmesan
three images showing steps to make baked eggplant parmesan
three images showing steps to make baked eggplant parmesan
three images showing steps to make baked eggplant parmesan
three images showing steps to make baked eggplant parmesan

COMMON QUESTIONS:

  • Can I leave the skin on the eggplant? Yes. Skin on or off, it’s totally up to you. I just don’t care for the taste or texture of the skin, so that’s why I take it off.
  • Why do you salt the eggplant? Can I skip this step? Salting the eggplant and letting it sit draws out some of the moisture and makes the eggplant less bitter. This step is optional, and you can skip it if you really want to. But please don’t be mad at me if your eggplant is a little bitter.
  • Why do you use two types of breadcrumbs? Can’t I just use one or the other? I use two types of breadcrumbs because panko sometimes doesn’t want to stick to stuff, but it’s wonderfully crispy. The regular breadcrumbs give a nice coverage while the panko gives extra crispiness. You can, of course, just use one or the other.
piece of baked eggplant parmesan on a plate with sauce

I don’t like to use too much sauce when I put this together in the baking dish because I like to keep some of that crispiness you get from baking the eggplant. But I do like me some sauce, so I always heat up some extra sauce and put it on the plate when I serve it. So, so good!

If you want to make your own sauce, try my Quick & Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce recipe. It’s ready in 30 minutes! You can make it while the salted eggplant is sitting. Make a double batch so you have some extra sauce for serving.

I hope you try this recipe for Baked Eggplant Parmesan and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

michelle signature
close up of a piece of baked eggplant parmesan being taken out of the dish

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

A lightened up version of the classic Italian favorite – the eggplant is baked instead of fried. The result? Delicious crispy eggplant slices layered with marinara sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. Just as good as the original – but less calories!!
Print Recipe Rate/Comment Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Salt Eggplant (Optional): 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 8
Calories: 420
Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds eggplant, peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick rounds
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • cups Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 cups spaghetti sauce (homemade or one 24 to 28-ounce jar)
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • chopped fresh parsley or basil, optional
  • additional spaghetti sauce, warmed, for serving, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. 
  • Generously sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and set them on a large plate, tray, baking sheet, or in a colander, and let them sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the salt off the eggplant slices, and pat them dry with paper towels. Note: This step is optional. It will draw some of the moisture out of the eggplant and will reduce any bitterness the eggplant might have.
  • Spray two large baking sheets with cooking spray. 
  • Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Beat the eggs in another shallow bowl. Place the regular breadcrumbs and the panko breadcrumbs in a third shallow bowl; stir to combine.
  • Lightly coat each piece of eggplant with flour, then dip in the egg, then coat with the breadcrumbs (press down a little to make sure the breadcrumbs stick to the eggplant). Place the coated slices of eggplant on the prepared baking sheets. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  • Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through, or until the eggplant slices are golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F.
  • Spread ½ cup of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place half of the baked eggplant slices in the dish (even them out as much as possible). Top the eggplant with 1 cup spaghetti sauce, and sprinkle with the basil and oregano. Top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella and ¼ cup Parmesan. 
  • Add the remaining baked eggplant slices (even them out as much as possible). Top with the remaining sauce and the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. 
  • Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley or basil, if desired.
  • Serve with additional spaghetti sauce, if desired.

Notes

  • You can leave the skin on the eggplant if you prefer.
  • You can use just plain breadcrumbs or just panko breadcrumbs if you prefer.
  • I find that using darker baking sheets and baking the eggplant in the lower portion of the oven can help get the eggplant nicely browned. 
  • Calorie estimate does not include any extra sauce used during serving.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Mention @nowcookthis or tag #nowcookthisrecipes!

Recipe Rating