This authentic and best Italian Fried Eggplant Parmesan Recipe (a.k.a. Melanzane alla Parmigiana) is like no other. It’s full of flavor because it’s made with a tasty homemade meat sauce and fried eggplant, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. It’s an old family specialty recipe passed down through the generations…right down to me!
When I say “authentic Italian” recipe, I mean straight from Italy. This recipe has not been “Americanized.” You know what I mean, right? So many Americanized Italian recipes are made with sugary tomato sauces, processed meatballs, etc. Well, this fried eggplant parmesan recipe is the real deal!
It’s from-scratch and it’s damn good! My mother, God rest her soul, would be so proud of me. She was an excellent cook and thankfully, I inherited her cooking skills. My dad’s side of the family has good cooks too so, I suppose it’s in my genes.
This recipe is tried and true. Anyone who’s had it, loves it! It is one of my husband’s favorite dishes. He looks forward to coming home to this Eggplant Parmigiana casserole.
If you’re thinking of making a baked eggplant parmesan recipe you found somewhere on the internet, you must know that if the eggplant is not fried, it will not be nearly as flavorful. I understand wanting to save calories but, I don’t suggest sacrificing all of that flavor. There’s no amount of cheese and sauce that can make up for it. LOL
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means, if you make a purchase, I’ll receive a very small commission.
How to Pick Good Eggplant
When you’re at the grocery store picking out an eggplant, you can look for Italian eggplants but, if that’s not available then buy the closest kind. Look for eggplant that’s firm without bruising or soft spots.
Fried Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
To make this incredible tasting Eggplant Parmesan you need to:
- Make my homemade meat sauce recipe.
- Make fried eggplant.
- Add the fried eggplant in a single layer to an 13″x 9″ x 3″ baking dish.
- Add mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Then, spread the the meat sauce.
- Repeat steps 3-5.
- Bake the casserole.
This eggplant recipe took me two hours from beginning to end and it is so worth the time and effort! This is the kind of dish you make on the weekends, double the batch and freeze one of the casseroles. Make it for parties. Who wouldn’t love to eat this while watching a football game?
Can you use jarred sauce to make this eggplant parm recipe? Sure! But, I highly suggest you make this meat sauce instead. It’ll give this Eggplant Parmesan casserole the flavor it rightfully deserves!
Also, you can use my popular and TASTY marinara sauce recipe to make this a vegetarian recipe if you don’t want to use meat sauce.
To make the meat sauce, cut up onion, mince garlic and throw it in a pot with canned tomato sauce, oil, parsley and ground beef. Cook it for one hour. It’s so easy to make! Try it! You won’t be disappointed.
Note: There will be more than enough sauce to make this casserole which is intended for those that like a lot of sauce. If you want extra sauce than mentioned in the recipe, you’ll need a bigger casserole dish for baking or it’ll likely overflow in your oven.
Pan Fried Eggplant
- First step, cut eggplant into round 1/4″ thick pieces and put on a platter in a single layer on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 10-15 minutes. Use a paper towel to remove bitter taste (brown juice) from eggplant.
- Next, make your dredging station. Put beaten eggs in a shallow bowl. Put flour in a dinner plate. Put layers of paper towels on a platter.
- Second, add cooking oil to a large frying pan one medium-high heat and preheat.
- Next, dip a piece of eggplant into the flour followed by the egg and then put into the hot oil. Repeat until the pan is full. Cook until golden brown (about 5 min each side) and then put onto a platter with layers of paper towels. Cook remaining eggplant. They’ll come to room temperature while you’re layering the eggplant slices but, they’ll reheat when you bake the casserole.
Can you use bread crumbs or Panko breadcrumbs instead of flour to make this recipe? I feel the best way to fry eggplant is to use flour because it helps the egg to adhere to the eggplant without making it crunchy.
Do you have to peel eggplant before you cook it?
No, the peel doesn’t detract from the flavor of the eggplant nor does it remove itself from the vegetable flesh as do peppers need to be removed unless you don’t like it. It’s faster and easier clean up not to peel the eggplant.
Should I salt eggplant before frying?
Although you don’t HAVE to, it is better to salt eggplant. Salting eggplant and letting it sit for 10-15 minutes will allow the bitter juices to “sweat” out.
How do you get the bitterness out of eggplant?
Salting the eggplant will remove the bitter juices from the eggplant. The steps to do this are below.
How do you cure eggplant before cooking?
As mentioned above, cut the eggplant into 1/4″ thickness round pieces, salt it and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the bitter juices to “sweat” out. You’ll see little puddles of brown water form on top of the eggplant as pictured below. You don’t need to wipe it off.
Can Eggplant Parmesan be frozen?
Yes, oven baked Eggplant Parmesan can be frozen. It’ll still taste good too. Just make sure to cover it tightly. Use it as quickly as you can because it will lose flavor the longer it is frozen. Using it within three months of freezing it is best.
What do I serve with Eggplant Parmesan?
- homemade meatballs
- Broccoli rabe, Parmesan green beans or asparagus
- garden salad
- garlic bread
- bread rolls
Are you ready to start cooking yet? You can make this delicious, from-scratch Eggplant Parm in just two hours! It’s hearty meal for a hungry family.
It’s a great recipe for holiday dinners, special occasions and Italian Sunday dinners. It freezes well so, it’s a good dish to make ahead for parties. You just may think this is the best eggplant parmesan recipe!
Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe
- 6 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
- 16 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 54 oz canned tomato sauce or puree
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup cup of chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
Italian Fried Eggplant
- 2 Italian eggplants or 1 large eggplant
- 4 eggs, beaten You may need up to 6 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- First, make meat sauce. In a large sauce pan, add extra virgin olive oil, chopped onion and garlic and cook for a minute.
- Then, add ground beef and cook until the beef is browned. Add canned tomato sauce or puree. Add fresh parsley. Stir it and let it cook for about an hour. Stir it every 10 minutes so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, make the fried eggplant. First, wash the eggplant and dry them. Then, cut eggplant into 1/4 inch thick round pieces with a serrated knife.
- Next, salt one side of the eggplant to sweat out the brown, bitter juice. It will take 10-15 minutes. Note: You don't have to remove the brown juice before frying.
- Then, set up the dredging station: Dip the eggplant in flour, followed by beaten eggs.
- Next, fry the dipped eggplant in canola, corn or olive oil heated to about 365 degrees. Drain on paper towel-lined platter.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Next, add about 3/4 cup of meat sauce to the bottom of a 13"x 9"x 3" casserole dish.
- Then, add fried eggplant to cover the casserole dish allowing them to overlap on the edges. You should have about 9 pieces or so.
- Next, add half each of the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
- Then, add about one cup of meat sauce. Use a slotted spoon so that most of the sauce drains into the pot before adding it to the casserole. (NOTE: if you like a lot of sauce, don't use a slotted spoon and you may need a bigger casserole dish.)
- Repeat steps 9-11 for the next and final layer.
- Next, bake the casserole uncovered in oven at 350F for 30 minutes. Once removed from oven, allow the casserole to sit 10 minutes before cutting.
Leftovers:Freeze the casserole leftovers and leftover sauce in plastic containers for up to 3 months. Note: there will be more than enough sauce to make this casserole which is intended for those that like a lot of sauce. If you want extra sauce than mentioned in the recipe, you'll need a bigger casserole dish for baking or it'll likely overflow in your oven.