Sunday, September 12, 2021

Nana's Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

This eggplant parmesan recipe is easy to follow no matter what your experience is in the kitchen. Make it just like Nana used to!

Crispy rounds of tender vegetables smothered in cheese and homemade tomato sauce - it doesn’t get much more Italian than that!

While this recipe requires a good chunk of prep, you’ll soon forget your time in the kitchen once you taste that first incredible bite.

My roasted vegetable penne pasta is a simpler alternative if you don’t have hours to make this Italian eggplant parmesan recipe, and it can be made in advance for busy weeknights.

Want more dinner ideas that will knock the socks off your guests? You can’t go wrong with a classic lasagna or this chicken parm recipe for those who prefer meat with their meal.

eggplant parmesan recipe slice being lifted out of the pan

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe Tips

  • No need to peel. Simply slice the eggplant into ¼ - ½ inch thick rounds, keeping them as uniform as possible for even cooking.
  • Salt the veggie slices. Not only does this help prevent them from becoming soggy, but it also removes the bitter liquid for a better tasting dish.
  • Don’t forget the seasoning! Although the vegetable steaks are salted to draw out the moisture, the salt doesn’t actually season the slices. Be sure to season both the breading and sauce according to the recipe or the dish will be bland.
  • Want a thicker sauce? Simmer the liquid uncovered until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Tip for frying with oil: Use a candy thermometer to ensure the oil is the correct temperature (350°F) or the centers will be overcooked by the time the outside is browned. Also, allow the temp to recover between each batch for consistency.
italian eggplant parmesan recipe ingredients

Serving Suggestions

This breaded eggplant parmesan is quite filling on its own, so you shouldn’t need much more than a simple salad and some garlic knots.

If you’ll be feeding a crowd, my antipasto pasta salad can help stretch the servings so there’s plenty for everyone. And don’t forget the tiramisu for dessert!

breaded eggplant parmesan dredging station

Kitchen Tools You Will Need
  • Wire Rack and two Baking Sheets for salting the veggie steaks
  • Two Large Skillets - One for cooking the sauce and one for frying.
  • Shallow Bowls for dredging
  • A Potato Masher makes quick work of crushing whole tomatoes
  • 9x13 Baking Dish - This set is one of my favorites! It comes with a lid for easy storage and is great for casseroles too.
  • Box Grater - As much as I love buying bagged shreds because it’s easier, freshly grated cheese melts down so much smoother and tastes better too.
eggplant parmesan recipe being placed in skillet of oil

FAQ - Common Recipe Questions

Can I make this Italian eggplant parmesan recipe in advance?

You can, but it really is best fresh out of the oven.

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days when stored in an airtight container. Reheat for 10 to 15 minutes at 350°F or until warmed through.

breaded eggplant parmesan fried

Which tomatoes are best for the homemade marinara?

San Marzano are the preferred choice because they have a rich flavor without being too acidic.

If these aren’t available, choose a high quality brand of crushed tomatoes and add a little extra sugar to the sauce if needed.

Can I use regular breadcrumbs for breaded eggplant parmesan?

This is a matter of preference, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Regular breadcrumbs tend to cake to the surface and don’t crisp up as nicely as the panko.

eggplant parmesan recipe layered in a casserole dish

My mom used to make eggplant parmesan every year for Christmas dinner. I remember she would use a milking pot filled with water to help the eggplant release their moisture.

I have updated and adapted her "recipe" and method as we do all so often. Her idea of a recipe was more like an idea with bullet points.

I hope this recipe brings your family as much delight as it has mine.


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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italian eggplant parmesan recipe in casserole dish

Yield: 6
Author: Donna Elick
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

This eggplant parmesan recipe is easy to follow no matter what your experience is in the kitchen. Make it just like Nana used to!
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 90 MinTotal time: 2 Hour


  • 2 large eggplants, sliced into 1/2” steaks
  • about 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil for frying
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) cans san marzano tomatoes (use potato masher to mash them up, or just used good crushed tomatoes)
  • 1/2 can of water (14 ounce)
  • small handful basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • pinch sugar (takes the edge off the acidity)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to season sauce (plus more for breading, see below)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups panko
  • 2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup freshly grated provolone
  • 2 cups freshly grated mozzarella


  1. Place a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan. Lay out eggplant slices on this rack or on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle on both sides with kosher salt. Continue to layer salted eggplant slices with paper towels between each layer. Top with paper towels and place a sheet pan (or second plate) on top to add some weight. Set aside for at least 2 hours. After eggplant has set for 2 hours, remove the wet paper towels and pat each eggplant steak dry.
  2. Over medium heat, cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes longer.
  3. Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, 14 oz. water, basil, oregano, bay leaves, and sugar to the pan and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer sauce for 30-60 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, set up a standard dredging station for breading the eggplant. Place 1 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a wide and shallow bowl. Whisk together the eggs and 1/3 cup water in a second shallow bowl. Combine panko crumbs and 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese in a third shallow bowl.
  5. Dip each slice of eggplant into the flour mixture, lightly coating both sides completely. Next, dip the coated slice into the egg mixture, and then into the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure the slice is fully coated in the crumb mixture. Set aside.
  6. Fill a large skillet with 1/2” of olive oil. Heat over medium. Fry the breaded eggplant slices in the oil until browned on each side (about 2 minutes on each side). Work in batches and place the fried eggplant on a few sheets of paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  7. Mix together the remaining cup of parmesan cheese, the provolone cheese, and the mozzarella cheese in a bowl.
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  9. Scoop a ladle or two of the sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Arrange one layer of prepared eggplant over the sauce in the dish. Spread half of the remaining sauce over the eggplant.
  10. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture over the sauce. Layer the remaining eggplant and sauce and top with the remaining 2 1/2 cups of cheese.
  11. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and broil the top for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
  12. Garnish with freshly chopped herbs.

eggplant parmesan recipe closeup

Originally published September 2021

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