Eggplant Parmigiana

Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli
Italian Cuisine Expert and Food Blogger
Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli, the mastermind behind Nonna Box, has honed his culinary expertise for decades, inspired by family feasts in Emilia-Romagna. Mentored by his restaurateur nonna, he mastered Italian classics and furthered his skills with professional culinary studies in desserts and gelato making from Mec3. Today, he shares this rich legacy and authentic recipes through Nonna Box.
Expertise: Italian cuisine, Pasta, Pizza, Pastry, Dessert

Perfectly cooked tender slices of eggplant are layered between lots of melted cheese and a delicious basil infused homemade marinara sauce to make this incredible Eggplant Parmigiana! It’s a classic Italian comfort food bursting with flavor. This recipe will show you how easy it is to make and includes instructions on how to fry, bake, or grill the eggplant!

What is eggplant parmigiana?

Also known as parmigiana di melanzane in Italy and eggplant parmesan in the United States, it’s basically an Italian eggplant casserole. Traditionally made with thick slices of fried eggplant, it’s also possible to bake or grill the eggplant as well. It’s a vegetarian dish is made similar to lasagna by assembling layers of Italian cheese and red sauce. However, in this case, eggplant slices are used in place of sheets of pasta. Then it’s topped with one final layer of grated cheese and popped into the oven to bake. Then about 40 minutes later the eggplant parmesan comes out of the oven bubbling with a lovely cheesy gratin-like crust.


  • Sharp Knife – Use a properly sharpened knife to cut the eggplant into uniform slices and chop the onion.
  • Cutting Board – Works as a surface for cutting the vegetables.
  • Colander – Used to drain the excess moisture of the eggplant.
  • Box Grater – Needed to grate the parmesan cheese.
  • Saucepan – You need a medium saucepan to make the tomato sauce.
  • Frying Pan – If you choose to fry the eggplant you will need a large skillet.
  • Slotted Spatula – Used to remove the fried eggplant from the hot oil.
  • Baking Dish – A 9×13-inch baking dish is needed to assemble and bake the casserole.


  • 2 Large Eggplants – The star ingredient! The eggplants should be firm to the touch but not hard and they don’t need to be peeled before being cooked.
  • ⅓ Cup Olive Oil – Needed to fry the eggplant and saute the onion. For the most flavor, use extra virgin olive oil. 
  • 1 White Onion – This recipe calls for white onion, which is milder in flavor. Yet, brown or yellow onion will also work.
  • 28 oz Can Crushed Tomatoes – You’ll need some good quality crushed tomatoes like San Marzano to make the sauce. 
  • ¼ Cup Basil – Always use fresh basil leaves. In this case, it’s used to infuse the simple tomato sauce with its herby goodness.
  • ½ Cup Flour – All-purpose flour is used to dredge the sliced eggplant before it’s fried, which helps it to brown. To make the dish gluten-free just omit the flour.
  • Seasonings – Used to season the tomato sauce. Use fine kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper if you have it on hand.
  • 10 oz Mozzarella Cheese – Use cubed fresh mozzarella for the most authentic taste. You can also use shredded mozzarella if that is what you have on hand.
  • ⅔ Cup Parmesan Cheese – If you can afford to use Parmigiano Reggiano, which is a higher-quality type of parmesan it will add the most delicious flavor.

How to make this recipe step-by-step

Prep the eggplant 

To begin, you don’t need to peel the eggplant skin but it is a good idea to draw out the moisture before cooking it. To do this, first cut the eggplant into thick ½-inch slices. Then sprinkle them on both sides with salt and put them in a colander in the sink. Now, leave the eggplant to sit for 1 hour so that the salt has time to draw out the excess water. This step helps to prevent the eggplant from having a soggy texture.

Make the tomato sauce

While the eggplant is resting in the colander you can make the tomato sauce. First, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Next, add the chopped onion and cook it until it’s soft and translucent. Then add the crushed tomatoes along with the chopped basil and bring the sauce to a simmer. Now, let it cook for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. Then when the sauce is done, taste it and season it with salt and pepper as needed. Now, remove the sauce from the heat and set it aside.

Preheat the oven 

Right before you start frying your eggplant, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) so that it’s ready to go! Then line a plate with paper towels to drain your fried eggplant.

Dredge the eggplant 

Before you can fry the eggplant you’ll need to wash the salt off of all the slices and then pat them dry with paper towels. Then dredge the eggplant in flour on both sides making sure to shake off the excess. 

Fry the eggplant 

After the eggplant is coated in flour, heat the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil over medium-high heat in a frying pan. Then when the oil is hot add the sliced eggplant to the pan in a single layer and fry it on each side for about 30 seconds or until it’s slightly browned. Now, transfer the fried eggplant to the plate lined with paper towels. You will most likely need to fry the eggplant in batches. 

Assemble the dish 

Once the eggplant is cooked you can start building the casserole. To begin, evenly cover the bottom of the 9×13-inch baking dish with some of the sauce. Then put a single layer of eggplant slices on top of the sauce.

Next, sprinkle the eggplant with ⅓ of the grated parmesan cheese and ⅓ of the cubed mozzarella. Then top the cheese with a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce. Now, repeat the process with another layer of eggplant, ⅓ of the parmesan cheese, ⅓ of the mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce.

Finally, spread the remaining tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the grated parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Bake the eggplant parmigiana

After the casserole is assembled, cover the baking dish loosely with foil. Then transfer it to the preheated oven and bake it for 20 minutes. Now, remove the foil and bake the eggplant for another 20 minutes or until it’s golden brown on top and bubbling. Then when it’s done, allow the eggplant parmesan to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Expert Tips

  • Use high-quality cheeses, crushed tomatoes, and extra-virgin olive oil. If possible use Parmigiano-Reggiano for the most authentic flavor.
  • Salt the sliced eggplant to draw out the excess moisture, which will prevent a soggy texture. 
  • Rinse the salt off of the eggplant and pat it dry well before dredging it in flour to fry.
  • Fry the eggplant in a single layer in batches. The eggplant can not properly brown if you crowd the pan.
  • No garlic cloves were used in this recipe for a reason. Traditional eggplant parmesan does not include garlic. 
  • To avoid oversalting, don’t season the tomato sauce with salt and pepper until after it’s finished cooking. 
  • Let the eggplant parmigiana rest in the casserole dish for at least 5 minutes before slicing it to serve. It needs this time to cool down for a moment and let the layers of eggplant set.


Eggplant Parmigiana is a popular Italian dish with variations in ingredients between regions. This Italian recipe, also known as parmigiana di melanzane, is the most well recognized. However, in Sicily Caciocavallo cheese is used instead of mozzarella. And in Campania, you will find variations that include ham or hard-boiled eggs.

Not to mention, how the eggplant is cooked can vary as well. It does not have to be fried. You can bake the eggplant or grill it instead. Just follow these instructions once you rinse the salt off of the eggplant and pat it dry. 

To bake: Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Then place the sliced eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet. Next, drizzle it with olive oil and put it into the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Now, flip the slices over and bake them for another 10 to 15 minutes until the baked eggplant is soft and golden.

To grill: Preheat the grill to a medium-high heat. Then brush both sides of the eggplant with olive oil. Now, grill the eggplant uncovered for about 4 minutes. Then flip it over and grill the other side for about 3 minutes. When it’s done it should be slightly charred but not burnt.

Recipe FAQs

Can I make this eggplant parmigiana recipe ahead of time?

Yes! And freezing it is the best way to do it. To freeze the eggplant parmesan before baking, assemble the dish but don’t bake it. Then wrap it with plastic wrap and foil to freeze it for up to one month. Then when ready, thaw the dish out at room temperature and bake it. But to freeze the dish after baking, wrap it well in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for up to a month. Then thaw it at room temperature and warm it in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for about 20 to 30 minutes.

How to store?

Leftovers will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container. Then to reheat, put the eggplant parmesan in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for about 10 to 15 minutes or in the microwave on medium power. The leftovers can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can then reheat them in the oven from frozen for about 30 minutes. Keep in mind, how long it takes to reheat leftovers is also dependent on the amount you are reheating.

Should I remove skin from eggplant for eggplant parmesan?

There is no need to peel the eggplant. In fact, it’s best if you don’t. The skin actually helps to maintain the shape of the eggplant as it cooks.

What is the difference between parmesan and parmigiana?

The terms tend to be used interchangeably in the US, but they are not exactly the same. Parmigiana typically refers to Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is a hard cheese made from cow’s milk that is aged at least 2 years. Whereas, parmesan cheese is also made from cow’s milk but normally only aged for 10 to 12 months.

eggplant parmigiana served on a dish

Eggplant Parmigiana Casserole

This eggplant parmigiana casserole is one of the most famous Italian dishes. Simple and inexpensive, it will be an absolute winner in your kitchen.
4.63 from 24 votes
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Course: Casserole
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 422kcal


  • 2 large eggplant
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onion chopped
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 10 oz fresh mozzarella cheese cut into small cubes
  • cup grated parmesan cheese Parmigiano Reggiano preferred


  • Sharp Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Colander
  • box grater
  • Saucepan
  • Frying Pan
  • Slotted Spatula
  • Baking Dish


  • Cut the eggplant into slices that are ½ inch in thickness. Then sprinkle them with salt and put them in a colander. Now, set them aside for 1 hour so that the salt has time to draw out the excess moisture.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Then add the chopped onion and saute for a few minutes just until it’s soft and translucent.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes to the onions along with the chopped basil. Then bring the tomato sauce to a simmer and let it cook for 20 minutes while stirring it occasionally. Then taste the sauce and season it with salt and black pepper as needed. Now, turn the heat off and set it aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Rinse the salt off the eggplant slices under cold water and then pat them dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel. Now, lightly dust the slices on both sides with the flour making sure to shake off any excess.
  • Heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Next, add the eggplant to the hot oil and fry it on each side for about 30 seconds or until it’s lightly browned. Then transfer the fried eggplant to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the excess oil.
  • Evenly spread a small amount of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Next, place a layer of the fried eggplant on top of the sauce. Then sprinkle the eggplant with ⅓ of the parmesan cheese followed by ⅓ of the cubed mozzarella and then top the cheese with a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce. Now, repeat the process with another layer of eggplant, ⅓ of the parmesan cheese, ⅓ of the mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce. Finally, spread the remaining tomato sauce over the top layer followed by the rest of the parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
  • Loosely cover the baking dish with foil. Now, transfer the eggplant parmigiana to the preheated oven to bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake it for another 20 minutes until it’s bubbling and golden brown on top.
  • When done, let the dish sit for 5 minutes to set before slicing into it to serve.
Calories: 422kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 670mg | Potassium: 841mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 791IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 405mg | Iron: 3mg
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History of eggplant parmigiana

Everyone agrees that eggplant arrived in Italy around the 9th century when the Arabs brought the vegetable to the southern part of the country. And we know that it dates back to the late 1300s when it’s mentioned in a poem about food. But like many Italian dishes, the origins of eggplant parmigiana are disputed. The dish most resembles the cooking style of Naples in southern Italy. But others say it’s from Sicily due to its name which references the Sicilian word “palmigiana” which means “shutters” like the overlapping layers of the dish. And there is even an argument that its origins are in Parma in Northern Italy, which is the home of parmesan cheese. 

Yet, the dish that we know today as eggplant parmigiana was first seen in the cookbook Cucina Teorico-Pratica by Ippolito Cavalcanti, published in 1837. At the time the cookbook was very popular in Naples and the first time a recipe was seen for eggplant that was layered in tomato sauce. It quickly became one of Italy’s favorite eggplant recipes.

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