Food/ Main Dishes/ Vegetarian

Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Saucy and cheesy eggplant parmesan in a skillet.

Saucy and cheesy eggplant parmesan in a skillet.

The funny thing about me posting this recipe is this: I don’t love eggplant, and I don’t love chicken parmesan. But the two slapped together? Sign me the hell up. This easy baked eggplant parmesan is hands down one of my most favorite dishes to put on the dinner table.

About this Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan.

When I first started making this dish at home, I’d go the frying pan route and fry my bread-y eggplant rounds to an oily crisp before layering them in a baking dish and drowning them with sauce and cheese. But in an effort to lighten things up and create comforting favorites that don’t weigh me down and throw me into a state of bloated self-loathing, I started to bake my eggplant.

Spoiler alert: it comes out beautifully.

Crispy baked breaded eggplant on a baking sheet.

Close up of eggplant parmesan stacks in skillet.

I don’t know why eggplant parmesan is as magical as it is—it just is. You get these golden crisp yet tender morsels slathered with tomato sauce and stretchy mozzarella and it’s just all too much for my Italian cuisine-loving self to handle.

A hack to rid of bitterness in eggplant.

Some people gripe about eggplant being bitter. I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced this with my eggplant parmesan, but if it’s a real concern for you, there’s an easy way to get rid of it: sweat it out. After cutting your eggplant rounds, spread them out onto some paper towels. Sprinkle them with a generous amount of salt and let them sit for about 30 minutes. This method pulls out any bitterness—you’ll even see little sweat beads forming on the flesh of the eggplant. When done, just be sure to rinse the salt off of each round and gently pat them dry.

I don’t do this step. As I said, I’ve never had issues with bitterness. But I wanted to provide a solution in case any bitterness you’ve experienced with eggplant in the past might deter you from giving this crave-worthy recipe a go.

I can’t let you miss out on this.

Saucy and cheesy eggplant parmesan in a skillet.

How do you enjoy your Eggplant Parmesan?

In restaurants, eggplant parm is usually served with a side of pasta. I like eating mine with fluffy basmati rice! Believe me when I say it is scrumptious. You can also slap it on a bun for a bomb sandwich, or just eat it as is. The possibilities are endless, and the leftovers reheat extremely well. So get creative.

Saucy and cheesy eggplant parmesan in a skillet.

If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations, and you could be featured in my monthly newsletter <3

Enjoying healthier spins? Try my Tender Turkey Meatballs With Easy Marinara Sauce!

Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Yield: 4-6 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
This Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan puts a healthier spin on this usually fried Italian favorite.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-large eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 1.5 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1.5 TBSP Italian herb seasoning
  • 1.5 TBSP Freshly and finely grated parmesan cheese, You can also use pecorino romano.
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten + a splash of water
  • 1 25 oz jar of tomato sauce, Feel free to use your favorite homemade sauce instead.
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella provolone blend, Or just mozzarella works.
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish, Leave them whole or julienne them.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. 
  2. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs until cohesive. Add a splash of water and beat again to mix. Set aside. In another shallow bowl, mix the Panko bread crumbs, Italian herbs, freshly grated parmesan, and kosher salt. Create somewhat of an assembly line with your sliced eggplant, egg wash, crumb mixture, and parchment-covered baking sheets.
  3. One at a time, dip your eggplant rounds into the egg wash, dredge them into the crumb mixture, then place them onto a baking sheet. Repeat this step for each eggplant round. When done, bake the eggplant rounds for 20-25 minutes or until golden crisp, flipping them over halfway through. When done, remove them from the oven and set them aside.
  4. Evenly coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet or baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Then, lay down your first layer of eggplant rounds. Add a heaping TBSP of tomato sauce over each round, and then sprinkle some shredded cheese over top. Then place down your second layer of eggplant rounds. I like to keep the eggplant rounds evenly stacked so that's it's easier to scoop up for a serving when it's done. Again, add a heaping TBSP of tomato sauce over each round, and top them with cheese. Repeat these steps until you're out of rounds. Smother the topmost rounds with tomato sauce and cheese.
  5. Cover with tin foil and set in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another five minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and turns lightly golden. When done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool for about five minutes.
  6. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with your favorite pasta, fluffy rice, on a bun, or on it's own.

Notes

Some people gripe about eggplant being bitter. I can honestly say that I've never experienced this with my eggplant parmesan, but if it's a real concern for you, there's an easy way to get rid of it: sweat it out. After cutting your eggplant rounds, spread them out onto some paper towels. Sprinkle them with a generous amount of salt and them them sit for a bout 30 minutes. This method pulls out any underlying bitterness—you'll even see little sweat beads forming on the flesh of the eggplant. When done, just be sure to rinse the salt off of each round and gently pat them dry.

I don't do this step. As I said, I've never had issues with bitterness. But I wanted to provide a solution in case any bitterness you've experienced with eggplant in the past might deter you from giving this crave-worthy recipe a go.

Saucy and cheesy eggplant parmesan in a skillet with text for Pinterest.

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Amanda
    December 7, 2018 at 6:29 am Eggplant Parm is one of my favorite dishes! It's so pretty in the pan, and there's just something so extra cozy and comforting about it. Baking the eggplant splices is such a good idea. Eggplant is so prone to soaking up anything in its vicinity - including frying oil - and baking must make the dish feel much lighter. I love a good Eggplant Parm sandwich, too. The perfect splurge-worthy lunch!
  • Reply
    Sean@Diversivore
    December 4, 2018 at 1:06 am Dana, as you know, I am a fan of the veggies. But as a person who eats meat but also likes to eat LESS meat, sometimes I feel a little frustrated when I can't find enough good veggie recipes that really leave you feeling satisfied. This is a PERFECT recipe for that. I love eggplant in general, and I love how these crispy little guys are just so full of flavour (I love how eggplant just absorbs flavour in general) while delivering big on texture AND filling you up. I've had some bitter eggplant and had success with salting them to deal with it, though most of the time I just use the much-less-bitter long Asian eggplants. In any case - hooray for cheesy eggplant goodness. Cheers.
  • Reply
    Traci
    December 3, 2018 at 6:02 pm Oh eggplant, how I love thee! I haven't made these in so long and I can smell them just thinking about them. I love that yours aren't drowning in sauce and cheese either. Gimme all the crispy edges on my eggplant, because that's the best part, right?! Great recipe as always, Dana. Sharing this beauty!
  • Reply
    Marisa Franca
    December 3, 2018 at 3:26 pm We certainly love our eggplant and since we do, my mamma taught me the tip about salting them and letting them sit before using them. I really like the idea of baking them instead of the old method -- frying. That method really soaked up a lot of calories. Your method you get all of the delicious taste and not so much of the calories. That's a win-win.
  • Reply
    Debra
    December 3, 2018 at 2:46 pm I agree...I've never had the bitterness that others complain about....not worth that extra step. Thanks for lightening this up with baked rather than fried. That eggplant soaks up so much oil when fried. Well done....and now I can't wait to make this. Looks both gorgeous and delish.
  • Reply
    Carmy
    December 3, 2018 at 11:41 am I'm not a fan of eggplant on its own but when it comes to eggplant PARM, I am HERE for it! I totally feel ya haha. The cheese on top definitely helps with me loving it My partner is going to love this so I can't wait to make it!
  • Reply
    Molly Kumar
    December 3, 2018 at 9:20 am This is totally my kind of meal, cheesy, baked and so easy to put together. Love eggplants and these would make a fab family meal. I could even serve them with some red wine for a holiday brunch.
  • Reply
    Tina
    December 2, 2018 at 9:50 pm I love eggplant parmesan but have never made it myself. Yours looks so colorful and delicious I'm going to have to try this. I really love your photography, you make everything looks amazing. Thank you for sharing this!
  • Reply
    Melissa
    December 2, 2018 at 4:35 pm That looks absolutely amazing! Eggplant parm is one of my favorite dishes. Love the baked version here! And I really want that pan!
  • Reply
    Daniela
    December 2, 2018 at 3:39 pm Your version of eggplant Parmesan looks soooo good! I really love that you figured out a way to make it in the oven because I absolutely hate frying all those eggplant rounds. That's the main reason I don't make this dish more often, but now I can! Great recipe!
  • Reply
    Sandra
    December 1, 2018 at 1:34 pm This dish is fantastic! I'm a huge eggplant fan, but do eat it often enough. Make this for my family and there wasn't a bite left. Will make again. Thank you.
  • Reply
    Leah
    December 1, 2018 at 1:07 pm This sounds like the perfect weeknight meal. I love eggplant, and I can't say I have ever had it be bitter for me either, but my kids say that, so I do the salt treatment on them, just for them! Gimme all the cheese on here, too! Sounds delish.
  • Reply
    Gloria
    November 28, 2018 at 11:23 am Eggplant is one of those ingredients you either LOVE or grow to love. It took me a long time to "grow to love", but now we totally enjoy it. This looks like a delicious way to prepare it. I would serve this for brunch or dinner. I know the family will love this recipe.
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