The Best Eggplant Parmesan Recipe You've Ever Tasted

Eggplant parmesan recipes conjure up warm feelings of, well, deliciousness and satisfaction. Could any meal be more pleasurable to dive into after a long day when your stomach is rumbling? That is why, along with Mashed, professional chef and nutrition expert Maren Epstein, who blogs and shares recipes at Eating Works, has created a simple yet spectacular recipe for eggplant parmesan that works equally well for a quiet night in — glass of wine optional, but recommended — or for a group. 

"I like to make this dish when I'm hosting a dinner party," Epstein told us, adding, "It looks impressive and is easy to portion out and plate." But if you plan to roll up your sleeves and prepare this rich meal for one, she also notes, "You can keep eggplant parm in the fridge for up to five days." Imagine how yummy the dish will be as the days go on and the flavors combine! Epstein advises you to simply "reheat it in the oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes" to enjoy another serving. Bon appetit!

Gather your ingredients for this eggplant parmesan recipe

For this eggplant parmesan recipe, you will need two eggplants. Since this veggie is the star of the dish, be sure to carefully pick out a few good ones from what's available at the store. "When selecting an eggplant for this dish, find one that is firm and free of bruises — you don't want to use a soft eggplant," Epstein advises. 

You will also shop for (or pull from your pantry or fridge) sea salt, all-purpose flour, eggs, panko breadcrumbs, oregano, Italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and an Italian blend cheese, which Epstein notes is optional. She also told Mashed about making this meal dairy-free: "You can use any kind of cheese you like. There are plenty of vegan mozzarella cheeses that melt really well!"

Once you have your ingredients assembled, you will first prep your eggplant for its first round in the oven. Indeed, you bake your eggplant twice for this recipe — don't worry, we will explain.

Prep the eggplant for this eggplant parmesan recipe

Before doing anything else with this eggplant parmesan recipe, go ahead and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, you will slice your eggplants into half-inch rounds, with Epstein noting, "I don't peel the eggplant before slicing." She added that if "you don't like the skin, you could do this, but I like serving the eggplant in individual stacks. The skin helps keep the eggplant together." She also told Mashed, "The round eggplant with round, melty cheese on it makes for a beautiful presentation." But obviously, skin on or off is a personal choice.

Once your vegetables are sliced, you will season the eggplants with salt and allow them to sit and sweat for 30 minutes. This step is necessary, because as Epstein explained, "Eggplants are traditionally bitter. Salting them and letting them sit out helps combat bitterness." 

While your eggplant is shedding its bitterness, you can busy yourself preparing for the next step in this recipe, which is dressing the eggplant for its first round in the oven.

Assemble three bowls for your eggplant parmesan recipe

At this stage of the eggplant parmesan recipe, prepare three separate bowls that are wide and deep enough to accommodate your eggplants rounds. Flour goes in one bowl, your beaten eggs in another, and finally, you will combine the breadcrumbs, oregano, shredded cheese, and Italian seasoning in the last bowl. 

Epstein recommends blotting each slice of eggplant dry first. Then, you take a slice and dredge it in the flour. Next, the slice hits the egg bowl. The last step is to dredge the slice in the breadcrumb mixture until it is completely covered. 

You will repeat these steps with each eggplant slice, arranging the finished slices on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easier cleanup!). Give the slices a bit of space here, and then, in the oven they go! At this point, you can slice your mozzarella cheese to keep the process moving along. Or, perhaps sip that glass of wine

Bake your eggplant for the first time

After about 25 minutes, check to see if your eggplant is ready to come out of the oven. Epstein offers this tip to test for doneness: "The eggplant will be completely soft in the middle." But here's the thing — remember that the eggplant will get cooked again, so as Epstein tells home cooks, "Don't worry if it's not completely done in the first round of baking since they'll be going right back into the oven!"

Since the veggies get cooked again for this eggplant parmesan recipe, we couldn't help but wonder why it is necessary to bake them, well, pre-baking. "Cooking the eggplant ahead of time will ensure that it's crispy," the healthy eating advocate told Mashed, adding, "Cooking it all together will likely make a soggy eggplant parm stack." As she explains about the process, "I cook the eggplant through a second time to melt the cheese and incorporate the sauce."

Assemble your eggplant parmesan stacks for this eggplant parmesan recipe

Now is the fun part of the eggplant parmesan recipe: the assembly! You will arrange the eggplant parmesan in a 9x13-inch baking pan. But before adding so much as a slice of eggplant, first place a quarter of a cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. 

Next, you will arrange a single layer of your dressed-up eggplant slices. Now, place one mozzarella cheese slice atop each eggplant round. Another layer of your tomato sauce goes on next, which Epstein says amounts to about two tablespoons. "Don't add too much sauce so that the stacks fall apart," she cautions at this step. Remember, this meal is meant to be both yummy and visually pleasing. 

You will repeat these steps once more to finish off your eggplant Parmesan. The final step before putting the pan in the oven is to add some shredded cheese on top along with the fresh, fragrant basil. If you'd like, you can replace the shredded mozzarella with a shredded, low-moisture Italian blend of cheese.

Bake this eggplant parmesan recipe for the second time

Go ahead and crank the oven temperature up to 450 degrees for this eggplant parmesan recipe, and allow your assembled eggplant parmesan to bake for 30 minutes. Watch for the cheese to get melty, bubbly, super-irresistible. Now, it's time to eat up! Epstein recommends using a large spatula to scoop each stack of eggplant out of the pan, and serving the meal immediately, while it is nice and hot.

She offers this tip to really wow your guests or just to make yourself feel super accomplished, noting about why she adds basil before cooking up the meal: "I just add a little bit of basil to infuse the casserole with some extra flavor. But you could skip this step and season it after if you prefer fresh basil." Or both — because yum, and because how pretty does a bit of greenery look against the red and white of this savory meal you are, let's face it, going to be making again soon.

The Best Eggplant Parmesan Recipe You've Ever Tasted
4.7 from 7 ratings
Eggplant parmesan recipes conjure up warm feelings of satisfaction. Could any meal be better to dive into after a long day when your stomach is rumbling?
Prep Time
30
minutes
Cook Time
1
hour
Servings
6
servings
eggplant parmesan recipe plated
Total time: 1.5 hours
Ingredients
  • 2 eggplants, sliced into ½-inch rounds
  • sea salt
  • all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, raw and scrambled
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons oregano, dried
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, dried
  • 16 ounces mozzarella, sliced and 4 ounces shredded
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
Optional Ingredients
  • shredded low moisture Italian blend cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Season eggplants with salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place the flour in one bowl, the egg in another, and the bread crumbs, oregano, shredded cheese, and Italian seasoning in the other. Stir to combine.
  2. Blot the eggplant dry. Take each slice and dredge it in the flour, followed by the egg. Last, dredge it in the bread crumbs until it's completely covered. Set aside on a foil-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all of the eggplant slices are done.
  3. Bake the eggplant for 25 minutes or until completely cooked through.
  4. Assemble the eggplant parmesan in a 9x13-inch baking pan. First, place ¼ cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Next, place a layer of eggplant.
  5. Add one layer of mozzarella cheese slices. Follow with another layer of sauce (2 tablespoons). Don't add too much sauce so that the stacks fall apart. Repeat this layer once more. Lastly, place the shredded cheese on top with fresh basil. Or, you can use the shredded low-moisture Italian blend if you prefer.
  6. Place in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Use a large spatula to scoop each stack out and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 410
Total Fat 20.3 g
Saturated Fat 10.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 139.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 34.8 g
Dietary Fiber 8.2 g
Total Sugars 10.9 g
Sodium 924.7 mg
Protein 24.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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