Fried Eggplant Parmesan is so easy to make at home! This vegetarian main dish is crunchy on the outside, smooth on the inside, and smothered with a meat or marinara sauce.
I am always craving Italian food, and this Fried Eggplant Parmesan is the perfect marriage of fried goodness smothered in a sweet tomato sauce. I love using fresh eggplant in summer and early fall to make this simple rustic dish covered in mozzarella and parmesan cheese!
Much like chicken parmesan, fresh eggplant is breaded and fried before being baked in a layer of sauce and cheese. Same flavor, but totally vegetarian!
Eggplant may seem kind of intimidating, and I confess I was intimidated the first time I ever took a knife to one. Now, I have never ventured outside my box on eggplant, I only use it for a fried version of eggplant parmesan.
- Italian breadcrumbs
- Adobo seasoning with pepper
- Marinara sauce — homemade or store-bought
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese, of course!
If you want a gluten-free eggplant parmesan, skip the flour and bread crumbs and use Rice Chex that have been run through the food processor or blender until fine and add dried parsley and grated Parmesan cheese. Use this blend for both the flour and bread crumbs!
This blend is also a suitable substitute for the bread crumbs in meatloaf and meatballs.
Chicken can also be substituted for eggplant in this recipe, as the breading and cooking techniques are the same. If you use chicken, be sure it reaches 165 degrees F internally before serving.
How to Make Eggplant Parmesan
- First, preheat your oven and grease a baking sheet.
- Then, mix together your breading ingredients and peel the eggplant.
- Slice your eggplant into half-inch to 1-inch slices, and make sure they’re even! (Photo 1) Coat with breadcrumbs immediately to reduce browning. (Photo 2)
- Now, mix your egg wash and get ready for breading!
- First, dip the eggplant into egg wash on both sides. (Photo 3)
- Then, dip it into the breadcrumbs, (Photo 4) making sure it’s coated on all sides. Set aside (Photo 5) and repeat!
- Next, heat the oil in a large skillet and fry until brown on both sides. Move fried eggplant to a paper towel to remove extra oil. (Photo 6)
- Once they’re all fried, put the eggplant on a baking sheet and layer with sauce (Photo 7), mozzarella (Photo 8), and parmesan (Photo 9). Bake until the cheese is melted and serve!
I like to add extra sauce when I serve fried eggplant parmesan. A serving is about two slices each.
This can also be made with jarred pasta sauce, and Lord knows I have used jarred sauce before when I was too lazy or busy to make homemade. No really, lazy is the better reason.
One trick I learned long ago — and even use with homemade sauce — is to add a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce to extend any tomato sauce. Unless you are mixing it with less than 16 ounces of pasta sauce, you should not even notice a huge difference in taste!
I like how it thins out the sauce for this recipe, as I don’t care for a big stiff glop of sauce on my eggplant or chicken parmesan.
How to Peel Eggplant the Easy Way
Cut off the ends of the eggplant.
Set the eggplant on a cutting board with the large flat end at the bottom.
Using a sharp knife, cut the skin from the eggplant starting at the top and working your way down to the bottom, following the curve. Try not to remove too much flesh.
Any small pieces of skin that were left behind can be trimmed off at the end.
What to Serve with Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant Parmesan is a vegetarian dish, but I prefer a Versatile Meat Sauce and spaghetti with mine.
If you like to make as many parts of your recipes as you can, try making your own breadcrumbs for this! Add a little Italian seasoning to your breadcrumbs and you’re set!
I love to serve this eggplant parm with a warm bowl of Minestrone Soup for a full, hearty meatless meal that can be made vegetarian with a simple veggie broth swap.
I love this homemade Italian Salad Dressing on a small side salad, too. This delicious vinaigrette goes great alongside the fried eggplant.
More Italian Recipes You’ll Love:
What I Used to Make Eggplant Parmesan:
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Baking sheets: I love these baking sheets! Their nonstick coating is perfect for baking cookies or a sheet pan dinner.
Mixing bowls: These mixing bowls are always in use in my kitchen. The range of sizes are great for making multiple dishes at once and they nestle inside each other for easy storage.
Skillet: A sturdy, deep skillet is necessary for frying. This one has great heat distribution and tall sides to keep all the oil in the pan where it belongs!
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Fried Eggplant Parmesan
- Small mixing bowl
- Large mixing bowl
- Large skillet with tall sides
- Paper towels
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 ½ cups Italian breadcrumbs
- ½ tablespoon adobo seasoning with pepper
- 1 eggplant large, firm, with no soft spots or visible damage
- 2 large eggs
- Oil for frying
- 2 cups marinara sauce plus extra for garnish
- Mozzarella cheese shredded, for garnish
- Parmesan cheese shredded or grated, for garnish
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a baking sheet with baking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, breadcrumbs, and adobo seasoning.
- Peel eggplant and slice into 1/2 to 1-inch slices. Immediately coat eggplant slices with bread crumb mixture to avoid browning.
- In a small bowl, whisk eggs with ½ cup of water. Set aside.
- Dip 1 eggplant slice at a time into the egg wash, covering both sides. Place eggplant slice back into bread crumb mixture and make sure it is completely coated with breadcrumb mixture. Set aside. Repeat on all eggplant slices.
- In a large skillet, add enough oil to the pan so the eggplant slices will not touch the bottom of the pan. Heat oil over medium-high heat until oil sizzles when you drop in a little of the breadcrumb mixture.
- Once the oil is heated, add as many eggplant slices as will fit in the pan, leaving a little room between slices.
- Cook until the first side is golden brown, carefully flip over and brown the other side.
- When done, remove to paper towels for draining excess oil.
- When all slices are cooked, move them to the prepared baking sheet.
- Cover each slice with 1 to 2 tablespoons of sauce.
- Cover sauce with shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Cover mozzarella with parmesan cheese.
- Place in preheated oven and bake until cheese is melted.
- Serve immediately with more sauce if desired.