Unbreaded Eggplant Parm

This recipe for Unbreaded Eggplant Parm requires only 5 ingredients, is gluten free, and is the cheesy Italian comfort food of your dreams.

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Eggplant Parmesan is one of my all time favorite comfort foods. It's melty, gooey, cheesy and always reminds me of my mom. She made the best Eggplant Parmesan ever. This version is a little bit different, but still tastes just as amazing.

Vertical shot of eggplant parmesan on a plate next to a baking dish.

Why this recipe works

  • My "oven fried" technique is easier, healthier and cleaner than the traditional frying method with absolutely zero sacrifice in flavor.
  • This recipe has less steps since the eggplant isn't breaded, making it simpler and faster to prepare.
  • Doesn't require "salting" the eggplant prior to cooking (because it's not needed).
  • Uses low-moisture mozzarella rather than fresh to prevent the eggplant parmigiana from turning out watery.
  • Although breaded Eggplant Parmesan is traditional in the US, this is the authentic way it's prepared in Italy!
A serving of eggplant parmesan with a fork.

Essential Ingredients

  • Eggplant - The classic dark purple Globe eggplant is what works best in this recipe but I've had good luck with the large, round, light purple Sicilian variety as well. When choosing eggplant, look for firm, shiny skin with no blemishes and avoid any that are really big because they can have large, bitter seeds. The fresher the eggplant, the better it will taste in eggplant parm. Avoid small, skinny eggplant varieties such as Japanese or Fairytale.
  • Cheese - Look for a "low moisture" mozzarella and grate it yourself for best results. Pre-grated cheeses have cellulose or other anti-caking agents added and don't have the same quality as freshly grated. Avoid using fresh mozzarella, as it can add too much extra moisture and make the eggplant parmigiana watery.
  • Tomato Sauce - I always prefer to make my own homemade marinara from scratch, but you can use whatever tomato sauce you prefer - bottled or homemade. If using bottled, make sure you're using a high-quality sauce.

Step by step instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper. (You may have enough eggplant to make a 4th pan.)
  2. Brush the eggplant slices lightly with olive oil on both sides, then lay them out in an even layer on the sheet pans.
  3. Sprinkle with salt, then bake until golden brown, rotating the pans as needed, about 15-20 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to flip the eggplant over to the other side and continue cooking for abutter 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Keep an eye on the eggplant as it cooks. Some pieces may brown before the others - remove them and continue cooking.
  4. Lower the oven to 350 degrees and set aside 2 cups of mozzarella and ½ cup pecorino Romano.
  5. Ladle about ½ cup marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole dish, then spread it around to coat.
  6. Place a single, even layer of eggplant over the sauce, then top with another thin layer of sauce and a sprinkling of each cheese.
  7. Continue layering the eggplant with more sauce and more cheese until you’ve used everything up. It's okay if the final layer of eggplant is a bit sparse. Sprinkle the top with the reserved 2 cups mozzarella and ½ cup pecorino Romano.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until bubbling and lightly golden on top, about 20 minutes more.
  9. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or basil if desired. Leftover unbreaded eggplant Parm can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
a spatula scooping out a square of eggplant parmigiana

Tips for success

  • To make mozzarella easier to grate, make sure it is very cold. You can even pop it in the freezer for 10-20 minutes to help. The grating attachment on a food processor can make it a lot easier too.
  • Be mindful not to brush the eggplant too liberally with oil. Eggplant absorbs oil really easily, so make sure you're just using a light coating so it doesn't turn out oily. 
  • Keep a close eye on the eggplant as it bakes. Some slices can brown faster than others depending on their thickness and the hot spots in your oven. Remove the pieces as they brown and continue cooking the rest to avoid any burning.
  • It's essential to wait at least 30 minutes before cutting the Eggplant Parmesan or it will ooze out everywhere and seem watery. It needs time to set up after baking. 
  • Like chicken parmigiana, this eggplant parmigiana tastes even better the next day because it has time for all of the flavors to meld together. If you can make it in advance, do it. Bake as normal, then refrigerate, and when you're ready to serve, reheat, covered, at 325 degrees F for about 20 minutes (or until hot throughout).
a plate of baked eggplant casserole with a fork

Faq about Unbreaded Eggplant Parm

Do you need to salt the eggplant first?

No, although some recipes may state otherwise. Salting the eggplant and letting it sit for a few hours prior to cooking is said to remove the bitterness from the eggplant, but it adds a lot of extra work to an already labor intensive recipe and I just don't think it's necessary. Modern, conventionally grown eggplant today really isn't very bitter to begin with and salting wont make much of a difference.

Do you need to peel the skin for unbranded eggplant parm?

No, you do not have to, but I prefer to peel the eggplant since I prefer the texture of it peeled. The skin is perfectly edible, but can sometimes be tough and have a slightly bitter taste.

Does eggplant parmesan freeze well?

Yes! Freeze it in individual portions for quick and easy future meals. It's best to defrost it first, then reheat as desired in the microwave or oven.

Lighter eggplant parmesan in a pasta bowl.

Did you make this recipe and LOVE it? Please leave a star ⭐️ rating and/or comment to help other readers. I absolutely love hearing from you and do my best to answer all questions and comments. I love seeing when you make my recipes, so please tag me @ColeyCooks on Instagram and I will repost!

Lighter eggplant parmesan in a pasta bowl.
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Unbreaded Eggplant Parm

his recipe for Unbreaded Eggplant Parm requires only 5 ingredients, is gluten free, and is the cheesy Italian comfort food of your dreams.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 498kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs eggplant about 2-3 large, peeled and sliced ¾ - 1 inch thick
  • extra virgin olive oil for brushing eggplant about ½ cup or more
  • salt for seasoning the eggplant
  • 5 cups tomato sauce homemade is best
  • 1 ¼ lbs 20 ounces freshly grated whole milk mozzarella
  • 1 ½ cups finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • minced fresh parsley or basil for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper. (You may have enough eggplant to make a 4th pan.)
  2. Brush the eggplant slices lightly with olive oil on both sides, then lay them out in an even layer on the sheet pans.
  3. Sprinkle with salt, then bake until golden brown, rotating the pans as needed, about 15-20 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to flip the eggplant over to the other side and continue cooking for abutter 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Keep an eye on the eggplant as it cooks. Some pieces may brown before the others - remove them and continue cooking.
  4. Lower the oven to 350 degrees and set aside 2 cups of mozzarella and ½ cup pecorino Romano.
  5. Ladle about ½ cup marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole dish, then spread it around to coat.
  6. Place a single, even layer of eggplant over the sauce, then top with another thin layer of sauce and a sprinkling of each cheese.
  7. Continue layering the eggplant with more sauce and more cheese until you’ve used everything up. It's okay if the final layer of eggplant is a bit sparse. Sprinkle the top with the reserved 2 cups mozzarella and ½ cup pecorino Romano.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until bubbling and lightly golden on top, about 20 minutes more.
  9. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or basil if desired. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • To make mozzarella easier to grate, make sure it is very cold. You can even pop it in the freezer for 10-20 minutes to help. The grating attachment on a food processor can make it a lot easier too.
  • Be mindful not to brush the eggplant too liberally with oil. Eggplant absorbs oil really easily, so make sure you're just using a light coating so it doesn't turn out oily. 
  • Keep a close eye on the eggplant as it bakes. Some slices can brown faster than others depending on their thickness and the hot spots in your oven. Remove the pieces as they brown and continue cooking the rest to avoid any burning. 
  • It's essential to wait at least 30 minutes before cutting the eggplant Parm or it will ooze out everywhere and seem watery. It needs time to set up after baking. 
  • This Eggplant Parmesan tastes even better the next day because it has time for all of the flavors to meld together. If you can make it in advance, do it. Bake as normal, then refrigerate, and when you're ready to serve, reheat, covered, at 325 degrees F for about 20 minutes (or until hot throughout).

Nutrition

Calories: 498kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 1400mg | Potassium: 1044mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 1272IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 599mg | Iron: 3mg

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35 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I don't usually leave recipe reviews, but this is the BEST eggplant parmesan I've ever had. Yes, I made it myself and was delighted at how flavorful it was and not at heavy or greasy. Serve it with a side salad and crusty bread or just eat it right out of the casserole dish. You will not be disappointed!

  2. 5 stars
    This is my go to recipe every time and is a now family favourite! AND we prefer this version over breaded eggplant. Your cooking time and prep time is bang on. No need to adjust 🙂
    We’re having it tonight (again)!

  3. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Simple and straight forward, but omg so good! I've made other recipes for eggplant parmesan that call for fresh mozzarella and they always turn out watery - this was perfect. Great tip about using low moisture. I want to try your other recipe next as I like it with the breading too

  4. 5 stars
    Eggplant PARMIGIANA IS a favorite in our house.I am Sicilian and this receive without breading the eggplant is delicious and healthier

  5. 5 stars
    Eggplant parmesan is one of my favorite meals so I was really bummed when I had to go gluten free because gf breadcrumbs are gross lol. I never knew it could be made without breading but wow - its as good if not better!

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious even made with bottled sauce. I was expecting too liquid-y as eggplant tends to be sometimes, but it was not and was really good.

  7. 5 stars
    I’m so excited to try this recipe without flour or breadcrumbs. It looks delicious and I will comment back after I make it. Thank you in advance for the recipe. By the way I’m 100% calabrese and husband is Sicilian and we prefer our eggplant without breadcrumbs.

  8. 5 stars
    THis wa delicious I made today.. Did not use the pecorino cheese.. and still amazing. I did not measure the out the ingredients perfect. Will make for my daughter who is gluten free. Thank you for a great recipe. A staple recipe for me going forward

    1. 5 stars
      This meal takes WAY longer to make than 1:40. I allowed 2 hours and it still wasn't enough time.
      Prep 30min
      Bake eggplant 25-35min
      Bake casserole 40+20=60min
      Time to set 30min
      That's a total of 2:35. This was my dinner plan tonight but now I'll have to make other plans because it won't be ready for when I need it!
      Very frustrating. Very disappointing. Please correct total cooking time from 1:40 to 2:35.

      1. I'm very sorry you were disappointed in the time allotted for the recipe. I will take your notes into consideration and make adjustments.

  9. 5 stars
    Made this for my Italian dad and he loved it. I loved that it was not super heavy with breaded eggplant and it still tased delicious.

  10. 5 stars
    Sorry I am NOT computer savvy.... I can only look for your recipes. David said you had some lobster recipes but I see none. I am an 83 year old totally disabled lady in a wheel chair and I don't use my computer too often. I am also 100% Sicilian both parents came from Sicily. Can you help me find some recipes....don't know what chrome or other things are. Also since I exist on Social Security I can't afford to join anything. My chemo therapy just went up in price so I need to watch my pennies.

    May I hear from you please, help me find some inexpensive recipes, I want to try the Eggplant...I love that dish.

    1. Hi Rita! Glad to hear you're a fellow Sicilian and thanks for checking out my website after seeing me on In the Kitchen with David! Here are the link to my lobster recipes: https://coleycooks.com/lobster-corn-fritters/, https://coleycooks.com/cape-may-lobster-rolls/, https://coleycooks.com/lobster-corn-chowder/.

      Here is a link to another recipe you might like: Easy and Inexpensive 5 ingredient bean soup https://coleycooks.com/5bean-soup/ and one of my most popular Sicilian family recipes for Spiedini: https://coleycooks.com/spiedini-alla-siciliana/

      I hope you find these links helpful! Let me know if there's anything else I can do for you. 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    This is the real deal eggplants, a famous and familiar dish of Italy. My mom never breaded her eggplant and doing this version in the oven makes it easier and far less oily. ; Tomorrow night’s dinner in our home. Bravo for a rare recipe to be. Found in America..

  12. 5 stars
    Coley,

    Thanks for this gluten-free version of Eggplant Parmesan! I'm on a nutrition plan and not having a lot of starch, so I'm missing my Eggplant Parm! This looks like a great option and I can't wait to try it!

  13. 5 stars
    I can't wait to try this recipe. My M-I-L is Italian and never, ever used bread crumbs in her egglant parm. The only thing I can think of that she will use bread crumbs and fry, are arincini. lol 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe!

  14. 5 stars
    Hey Coley!
    This recipe will definitely be prepared and making an appearance on a nearby plate [in my kitchen] real soon. No doubt I'm not a hater of fried eggplant, but baked is more healthier and less of a mess. Just two reasons why your insight will become a successful dish for me.
    Thanks Coley for sharing, always. You're not just a recipe poster, you have the validating details in a compelling story from a real Jersey girl versus a big corporation with suspect motives. Much respect!
    Warm regards, BK

    1. Thank you for such a warm and genuine compliment, Bonnie! It means so much to know you enjoy my recipes and stories and trust me as an authority. I hope you love the eggplant! 🙂