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BA’s Best Eggplant Parmesan

Overhead shot of cheesy eggplant parmesan in a casserole dish with one rectangular serving removed.
Photo by Alex Lau
  • Active Time

    1 hour

  • Total Time

    4 hours 30 minutes

The mantra for this eggplant Parmesan recipe should be: “Good things take time.” Trust us. Your efforts will be rewarded the moment you pull this dish of breaded eggplant slathered in tangy tomato sauce with a crispy, cheesy top from the oven. Need some reassurance? One commenter proclaims: “This was by far the best eggplant dish I ever made.”

You can break the work into chunks over a couple of days. The homemade marinara sauce makes all the difference, so don’t swap it out for store-bought. This one is rich with tomato, wine, tons of garlic, and anchovies (the secret to everything) and can be made up to two days ahead; the flavors might even be better after a day of mingling. As for the fried eggplant and herby panko breadcrumb mixture? Hold off making those until the day you plan to layer it all together. Making them fresh will help keep the herbs vibrant. (The whole dish can be assembled and cooked two days before you want to dig in—make room for the casserole dish in the fridge and reheat when ready.) 

If you’re striving to serve this eggplant Parmesan as perfect blocks with some structural integrity (like the picture above), let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes after baking. No garnish is necessary, but fresh basil is always welcome. Pair it with a simple side dish like a green salad with more shavings of Parmesan cheese and call it dinner.

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What you’ll need


12 servings



cup olive oil


head of garlic, cloves crushed


large red onion, chopped


oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)


teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


Tbsp. tomato paste


cup dry white wine


28-oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes


cup torn basil leaves


tsp. dried oregano

Kosher salt

Eggplant and Assembly


pounds Italian eggplants (about 4 medium eggplants), peeled, sliced lengthwise ½–¾ inch thick

Kosher salt


cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

tsp. dried oregano


tsp. freshly ground black pepper

cups finely grated Parmesan, divided

cups all-purpose flour


large eggs, beaten to blend


cups olive oil


cup finely chopped basil and parsley, plus basil leaves for serving


ounces low-moisture mozzarella, grated (about 1⅓ cups)


ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced


  1. Marinara

    Step 1

    Preheat oven to 350°. Place a Dutch oven or other large heavy ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add oil and garlic and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden, about 4 minutes. Add onion, anchovies (if using), and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, breaking up with your hands, and their juices; add basil and oregano and stir to combine. Swirl 1½ cups water into one tomato can, then the other, to rinse, and add to pot; season with salt. Transfer pot to oven; roast sauce, stirring halfway through, until thick and tomatoes are browned on top and around edges of pot, 2–2½ hours.

    Step 2

    Let sauce cool slightly. Pass through the large holes of a food mill or process in a food processor until mostly smooth. Taste and season with salt.

    Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

  2. Eggplant and Assembly

    Step 3

    Lightly season eggplant slices all over with salt; place in a single layer on several layers of paper towels inside a rimmed baking sheet. Top with another layer of paper towels and more slices; repeat as needed. Top with a final layer of paper towels, then another rimmed baking sheet; weigh down with a heavy pot. Let eggplant sit until it has released excess liquid, 45–60 minutes. This step gives the eggplant a creamy texture when baked.

    Step 4

    Meanwhile, pulse panko, oregano, pepper, and ¾ cup Parmesan in a food processor until very finely ground. Transfer to a shallow bowl.

    Step 5

    Preheat oven to 350°. Place flour in another shallow bowl and eggs in a third shallow bowl. Working one at a time, dredge eggplant slices in flour, then dip in egg, allowing excess to drip off. Coat in breadcrumbs, packing all around, then shaking off excess. Place on wire racks.

    Step 6

    Heat ⅔ cup oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Cook as many eggplant slices as will comfortably fit in pan, turning once, until deep golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and immediately press with more paper towel to absorb oil. Working in batches, repeat with remaining eggplant, adding remaining ⅔ cup oil and wiping out skillet as needed. Let cool. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

    Step 7

    Toss chopped herbs, low-moisture mozzarella, and remaining ¾ cup Parmesan in a medium bowl. Spread 1 cup sauce over the bottom of a 13x9" baking pan; top with a layer of eggplant slices (trim as needed). Drizzle 1 cup sauce over and sprinkle with one-third of cheese mixture. Add another layer of eggplant, followed by 1 cup sauce and half of remaining cheese mixture. Repeat layers with remaining slices, sauce, and cheese mixture. Cover with foil and bake on a rimmed baking sheet until eggplant is custardy, 45–60 minutes.

    Step 8

    Remove from oven and arrange fresh mozzarella over eggplant. Increase oven temperature to 425° and bake, uncovered, until cheese is bubbling and browned in spots, 15–20 minutes longer. Let rest 30 minutes. Top with basil leaves just before slicing.

    Do Ahead: Eggplant Parmesan can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover with foil and chill. Reheat in a 350° oven, uncovering halfway through, until bubbling gently at edges.

    Editor’s note: This recipe was originally printed in our October 2016 issue. Head this way for more of our best eggplant recipes

Nutrition Per Serving

Calories (kcal) 620 Fat (g) 41 Saturated Fat (g) 11 Cholesterol (mg) 100 Carbohydrates (g) 45 Dietary Fiber (g) 5 Total Sugars (g) 9 Protein (g) 19 Sodium (mg) 640
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Reviews (186)

Back to TopTriangle
  • I've made this a couple of times now and it is truly superb. Even my husband, who doesn't like eggplant, goes for seconds. It does take some time to prep and put together, but the result is creamy and delectable. Can't wait for summer and fresh eggplant from the garden!

    • Joann

    • Nampa, ID

    • 12/17/2022

  • Good recipe. However I prefer not make a less greasy Eggplant Parmesan by leaving out the frying. You just use less eggs, mixed with some spoons of water and breadcrumbs/herbs/Parmesan- no flour. And no frying. Instead I put eggplant slices on baking sheet into hot oven and turn side after 20-25 minutes. It’s just as delicious and a tiny bit healthier.

    • Anonymous

    • Vienna

    • 10/8/2022

  • Everything about this is absolutely amazing. The roasted marinara is a treasure in its own right, and the eggplant comes out with the perfect texture. This is my fourth or fifth time making it, and it took me just around three hours to get it into the oven—I start the marinara first, and the time it takes to roast gives me enough time to do the rest of the prep and a little cleanup. I can't get over how seriously delicious this is. Sooo worth it.

    • Nicole

    • Ann Arbor, MI

    • 8/15/2022

  • The best egg plant Parmesan, I did use eggplant from my garden though;) The sauce is so amazing, you could even use it for chicken Parmesan. 100% would make again.

    • Anonymous

    • Seattle wa

    • 8/6/2022

  • I would like to serve this recipe as a main to vegetarian friends. What will I serve with it? Spaghetti? and tossed salad?

    • Anonymous

    • Cronulla Australia

    • 7/12/2022

  • Time consuming but worth it! I cut the eggplant too thinly and made it overall not as saucy with all of the breading from the fried eggplant but it was still delish! Definitely can make it in parts and it all at once!

    • Kathryn E

    • Atlanta

    • 2/13/2022

  • This was amazing! Yes time consuming but worth it. I used my deep fryer for the eggplant.

    • Anonymous

    • Centerport, NY

    • 2/6/2022

  • Amazing recipe. The only change I made is, I used my air fryer for the eggplant. No oil!

    • Linda

    • Montreal

    • 1/11/2022

  • I think this recipe should be labeled as eggplant lasagna rather than Parmesan. Still it is amazing. I highly recommend making the sauce in advance just to save time. It is a lengthy recipe. Additionally, I’m not the hugest fan of the skins of egg plants, so I recommend just going ahead and cutting all of that off when layering.

    • Ariel

    • TX

    • 12/27/2021

  • This is the best eggplant parm I’ve ever had, but be warned, it is a marathon and it’s messy. If you don’t do the sauce and eggplant concurrently, plan on this taking 4+ hours. I don’t make any variations to the recipe for the most part. I would recommend buying 5 pounds of eggplant so you don’t have to worry about using the end scraps after cutting. Go thick on the slices, it will cook down significantly. Also a good idea to increase the panko mixture by 50% so you don’t end up with tiny crumbs.

    • Tom K

    • Los Angeles, CA

    • 12/5/2021

  • Really good eggplant parm just takes time, but it sure is delicious. A few tips to reduce some of the pain of making this: 1. Give yourself time. I made this over three days (sauce day one, bake eggplant up fresh mozz day 2, reheat and broil mozz day 3). 2. Take a few minutes before you start to read through the recipe several times, prep, and strategize. There's a lot of moving eggplant from one dish to another. 3. Clean as you go. You can give yourself time in between breading and frying the eggplant. This + pre planning will make things much less dire at the end, especially if you're dealing with a small kitchen and/or fewer tools. This is a project for sure but if you enjoy eggplant parm, you'd be hard pressed to find a better one than this.

    • Nytasha

    • Oakland

    • 11/25/2021

  • This was by far the best eggplant dish I ever made, worth all the time and effort. A couple things I didn't intuitively know, like whether to leave the Dutch oven lid on while roasting the sauce or chopping up the anchovies. I put the lid on, and left the anchovies whole. Seemed fine.. Also, I don't have a food mill and instead put the sauce in my food processor. Next time I will batch it since I made an enormous mess. It worked fabulous though, I was impressed. I skipped the bake it for an hour step since I deep fried my eggplant slices in my Fryer for three minutes. They were already custardy when I layered it all together. 20 minutes uncovered 350 was perfect. This was my first time not using a jar sauce, honestly never going back so thank you. My family thanks you. There wasn't a scrap of leftovers. I have to make two next time, maybe three. I took photos but I don't see a way to share my pics.

    • JoLynn Becker

    • Lompoc, California

    • 11/13/2021

  • How much time and how much effort will you make for maximum flavor? This is a spectacular dish, and I've used the mother sauce in other recipes as well (makes great lasagne and spaghetti as well). It's time consuming, and when it comes to the eggplant, a bit fiddly and fussy, too. But this is unbeatable for flavor and texture. To me, it's worth it.

    • RWylde

    • St Paul, MN

    • 11/13/2021

  • I grew up in New York eating some of the best Italian food you can get in America . This is the second time I've made this. It's phenomenal, got rave reviews from a restaurant owner. Roasting or baking the sauce is something I've never done before but it came out unbelievably well. As others have said this takes a long time . It's a lot of work . But alll in all a great recipe. The only change I made was adding a little bit of Italiab hot pepper pate' because I like my sauce with some spice.

    • Russ Taylor

    • Vero Beach. Florida

    • 10/31/2021

  • Was nervous that it would be a nightmare! For a rainy Sunday it was a good project to have, and the outcome was delicious. 4 eggplants was way too much- I ended up having enough to make two. My partner was my fry cook. It takes a long time to fry all those pieces so be prepared! SO yummy, but be ready for this commitment. You need time, you will have dishes to wash, and supper will be so satisfying :)

    • Shae

    • Vancouver, BC

    • 10/27/2021