This Baked Eggplant Parmesan is a lighter twist on the classic Italian recipe. It's coated in panko breadcrumbs, then baked with layers of cheese & marinara
This Baked Eggplant Parmesan is Italian comfort food with the familiar marinara and cheese layers baked between slices of perfectly oven-roasted eggplant slices. It’s a lighter take on the classic recipe because instead of frying the eggplant, I bake the eggplant. Serve it with a side salad and breaded chicken for a delicious meal!
The great thing about this recipe is that there’s no deep frying involved. Baking the eggplant at a high temperature with the panko breadcrumbs still gives you a fantastic crispy factor while keeping the eggplant tender on the inside. It’s low-fat twist on a favorite Italian comfort food that I know everyone will love!
How do you make baked eggplant parmesan
Prepare the eggplant
Prepare the eggplant by slicing it, placing it on a baking sheet and salting generously. Then place large paper towels between the layers to help remove the bitter liquid from the eggplant slices. This will take about 45 minutes and you will be surprised how much liquid gets extracted! You can do this step a day in advance.
Next, you’ll create the baked eggplant parmesan dredging station:
- All-purpose flour (or you can use a gluten-free flour of choice)
- Egg wash (3 eggs and a tablespoon of water)
- Panko bread crumbs mixture with parmesan cheese and olive oil (the olive oil is key here to creating a beautiful golden crust on the breadcrumbs)
And then you’re ready to dredge the eggplant slices. Start with the flour, then the egg wash and finally the breadcrumbs mixture. Repeat for all the eggplant slices and bake the eggplant in the oven. You should have about 18-20 slices, so you’ll most likely need two baking sheets.
Make the marinara
This is the easier marinara you’ll ever make, but it’s one that I recently learned and now use all the time for a homemade marinara taste with minimal effort! You’ll need only three ingredients and you don’t even need olive oil.
- Sweet onions: You can large dice them or finely dice.
- Sliced garlic: Make sure they’re fresh and remove any green sprouts for best freshness.
- Crushed tomatoes: If you can find the San Marzano brand, they have the best flavor, but any crushed tomatoes will work here.
Assemble the eggplant parmesan
- Start with marinara on the bottom of the baking dish and add half the baked eggplant on top.
- Add half of the remaining marinara on top of the eggplant.
- Sprinkle half the cheese on top.
- Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.
- Follow it with the remaining marinara.
- Top the dish with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil and bake the eggplant parmesan in the oven for the first 25 minutes. Then uncover for the remaining 20 minutes to allow the cheese to get lightly golden.
Tips for making eggplant parmesan
- Don’t peel the eggplant. Most eggplants you’ll find in the US have soft thin skin, which is not only edible but full of fiber and nutrition. It also helps to keep the eggplant slices in tact and adds great texture to the recipe.
- Make sure to salt the eggplant to remove the bitter liquid from it. If you can also apply weight to the salted covered eggplant using a baking sheet, the pressure will also help draw out the liquid and help bring a creamy custardy texture to the eggplant.
- Skip a step by using store-bought marinara. I make my homemade marinara sauce with no sugar and no salt, so I definitely prefer it if time allows. If you’re in a pinch, choose a low-sodium and low-sugar store-bought variety to keep this baked eggplant parmesan healthy.
- Prepare a day in advance for convenience. You can assemble the eggplant parmesan in your dish, and then cover it and keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours until you are ready to bake it. This is ideal if you’re serving to guests.
Frequently Asked Questions
I highly recommend that you use panko breadcrumbs for this recipe. Not only do the panko breadcrumbs stay crisp after baking, but they are lower in calories, sodium and fat compared to regular breadcrumbs. The crispy texture of the baked breadcrumbs means that you can skip the unhealthy frying.
This eggplant parm freezes really well. If your casserole dish is freezer proof, you just need to wrap it with a few layers of foil, and you can bake it right from frozen. Any leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge. They will be good for about 3 or 4 days.
This dish can be served in a variety of ways, if you like you can serve it in a sandwich, that’s always a crowd pleaser! It’s great to serve alongside a salad, potato side dish or steamed vegetables. Try it with:
Grilled Lemon Chicken
Quinoa Avocado Salad
Mediterranean Chopped Salad
Green Beans with Almonds
For more eggplant recipes:
If you’ve tried this feel good Baked Eggplant Parmesan recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
This Baked Eggplant Parmesan recipe was originally published on March 5, 2018. I’m updating the recipe today slightly and re-sharing it today with more step-by-step photos. Here’s the original photo!
Baked Eggplant Parmesan
For Marinara Sauce
- 1 sweet onion large diced
- 3 garlic cloves sliced
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
For the Baked Eggplant
- 2 eggplants sliced into 1/2 inche circles
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup parmesan shredded
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 2 ¼ cups low moisture mozzarella
Make the Marinara
- In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, sweat the onions for about 4 minutes, add garlic, and cook until lightly golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes.
Prepare the Eggplant
- Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet lined with a clean towel, salt the eggplant generously then apply another clean paper towel on top of the eggplant for 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F, lightly grease a baking sheet. Combine bread crumbs, olive oil and parmesan cheese in one bowl. Beat eggs in a separate bowl with 1 tablespoon of water. Place flour in a third bowl.
- Toss the eggplant with the flour, then dip into the egg wash, and then into the breadcrumbs, making sure to press the breadcrumbs onto the eggplant firmly. Place onto the prepared baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining slices. Bake until the eggplant coating is browned, about 30-35 minutes.
Assemble the Eggplant Parmesan
- Apply enough marinara to cover the bottom of a casserole dish, place half of the eggplant on top of the marinara. Spoon another layer of marinara over the top followed by ¾ cup mozzarella. Apply the remaining eggplant on top of the cheese followed by the remaining marinara and one remaining cheese.
- Lower oven temperature to 375°F. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese has lightly browned, about 20 more minutes. Broil for 2-3 minutes if necessary.
- Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve with fresh herbs, if desired.
- Instead of making the marinara sauce, you can use store-bought pasta sauce.
- Instead of all-purpose flour, you can bread the eggplant with almond flour or any other flour of choice.