There’s something inherently comforting about ooey-gooey melted cheese on top of a bright tomato sauce. Plus, anything breaded is true comfort food. In this case, eggplant is the star!
While traditional eggplant Parmesan recipes often involve frying the breaded eggplant, transferring it to a baking dish, and topping with a homemade tomato sauce before baking, this is a one-pan wonder. You can make this skillet eggplant Parm from start to finish in a single skillet, from the eggplant to the sauce to baking. This means you can spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your meal.
My perfect eggplant Parmesan recipe is made with Italian eggplants coated in an herbed breadcrumb mixture, lightly fried, and topped with a sweet and garlicky tomato sauce before a (very) generous sprinkling of melty mozzarella. I love when the breadcrumbs soak up a little tomato sauce, enveloping a fork-tender slice of eggplant.
This is the perfect weeknight meal during the colder weather months. It’s an edible hug in a cast iron skillet.
This recipe is so simple because it means just one pan is needed for the entire dish. An oven-safe pan (cast iron is best) is the cooking vessel for eggplant, tomato sauce, and a cheesy topping. It still delivers on the eggplant Parmesan you know and love, but with a few shortcuts that will save you time (and dishes) in the kitchen.
If time permits, salt the eggplant for at least 20 minutes before breading. This draws out excess moisture, resulting in a stronger flavor and tender texture. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and add the eggplant in an even layer. Generously salt both sides and let sit for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 hour. Rinse the eggplant lightly under cool water, then pat dry.
Use the right pan. Make sure your pan is at least 9 inches in diameter and has tall sides. It should also be oven-safe—this is why a cast iron pan is ideal.
- I like using fire-roasted canned tomatoes in my sauce. It adds a layer of flavor with a hint of sweet smokiness. Regular canned tomatoes will work, though.
- Try substituting gluten-free flour and almond flour for the flour and breadcrumbs (respectively).
- Have your own favorite tomato sauce? Use whatever recipe you like best. Or save time by using jarred tomato sauce.
- Use bocconcini mozzarella balls in place of the shredded cheese for a fancier version.
- Add 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning to the sauce for some herby goodness.
- Add 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan to the breadcrumb mixture for a little extra cheesiness.
Eggplant Parmesan is a meal-in-one. I like to serve mine with a simple green salad, garlic bread, or rolls—a simple but tasty meal. Bread comes in handy when lapping up any remaining sauce and cheese.
This recipe makes a chunky tomato sauce. For a smoother sauce, use crushed tomatoes.
- 1 medium (1 pound) globe eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- Prepare the eggplant:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
If you have time, salt both sides of the eggplant with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse the eggplant briefly under cold water, then pat dry with a paper towel. If you’re short on time, you can skip salting and resting the eggplant.
- Bread the eggplant:
To a shallow bowl, add the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. To a second shallow bowl, add the eggs and milk, whisking to combine. To a third bowl, add the breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder.
Dip a slice of eggplant into the flour mix, coating both sides. Dip the dredged eggplant into the egg mixture to coat, then into the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the crumbs to coat. Set aside on a plate while you bread all the eggplant slices.
- Cook the eggplant:
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat to a deep, 9 or 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Once hot butnotsmoking, add the eggplant 3 to 4 pieces at a time, careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Once cooked, set aside on the plate. Repeat with the remaining eggplant—you will likely have 2 batches. If needed, add more oil to the pan between batches.
Turn off the heat and carefully use a paper towel to wipe out the pan (I like to grip a paper towel with tongs and wipe to avoid burning myself).
- Make the sauce:
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until the onions have softened slightly, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar, chili flakes, and salt.
Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, and reduce to low heat and simmer until slightly thickened 10 to 12 minutes.
Taste and season with additional salt, if needed.
- Arrange the eggplant and add the cheese:
Return the cooked eggplant to the skillet, overlapping slightly in a circular pattern and nestling it into the sauce.
Top the eggplant with the mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper.
- Bake and serve:
Place the skillet in the preheated oven and bake until the cheese has melted and everything is warmed through, about 10 minutes.
Top with fresh basil and serve.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave, or transfer to an oven-safe dish and reheat at 350°F until warmed through.
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