This recipe for Unbreaded Eggplant Parm requires only 5 ingredients, is gluten free, and is the cheesy Italian comfort food of your dreams.
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.
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!
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper. (You may have enough eggplant to make a 4th pan.)
- Brush the eggplant slices lightly with olive oil on both sides, then lay them out in an even layer on the sheet pans.
- 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.
- Lower the oven to 350 degrees and set aside 2 cups of mozzarella and ½ cup pecorino Romano.
- Ladle about ½ cup marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole dish, then spread it around to coat.
- Place a single, even layer of eggplant over the sauce, then top with another thin layer of sauce and a sprinkling of each cheese.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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).
Faq about Unbreaded Eggplant Parm
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.
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.
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.
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!Print