7 reasons you're gonna love this simple vegan eggplant Parmigiana recipe
- From scratch—or not. You can make this eggplant Parm recipe completely with homemade ingredients—or semi-homemade by using a few store-bought ingredients to save time.
- As few as 6 ingredients. It can be intimidating looking at a recipe with dozens of ingredients! This recipe can be made with as few as 6 if you choose to use store-bought marinara sauce and vegan parmesan cheese.
- No messy dipping and breading. Traditional breaded eggplant Parmesan recipes require dipping eggplant slices into batter, then into bread crumbs to coat. This easy eggplant parmesan casserole has the same delicious flavors and texture, with a whole lot less effort.
- No tough, chewy eggplant. Eggplant is at its best when it’s soft enough to cut with a fork—even the nutritious skin. Here, roasting before baking ensures an ultra soft texture. Baking the eggplant slices separately also frees you up to prepare other ingredients, which saves time.
- It's baked, not fried. We all know oil free, baked dishes are healthier!
- It SO easy to customize! Add creamy layers of vegan ricotta cheese or vegan mozzarella, and you have a decadent, eggplant lasagna style dish.
- It's healthy. Not only is this a healthy vegan eggplant Parmesan, it's whole-food plant-based, gluten free, oil free and naturally low in calories.
- Eggplant - choose firm, medium-sized eggplants with dark purple (not reddish) skins.
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese - make it homemade, or if you're not oil free, you can find it at the grocery store.
- Marinara - make your own sauce or use your favorite store-bought sauce. Or make it more decadent with homemade bolognese sauce.
- Panko bread crumbs - I used Ian's gluten free, but use your favorite brand.
- Italian seasonings - make sure to choose a blend without salt if you're watching your sodium intake.
- Optional ricotta or mozzarella cheese - again, you can make your own or buy from the store if not oil free.
- Fresh parsley - for garnish, because fresh herbs just make everything better. 🙂
Follow these photos and instructions to help make it great, every time. Please also see the full recipe card at the bottom of this page.
Step 1. Roast the eggplant slices.
Step 2. While the eggplant is roasting, make the panko-Parmesan cheese topping. (Also make the pasta sauce if making homemade.)
Step 3. Spread some of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.
Step 4. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the dish. (Note: for an eggplant lasagna variation, add vegan ricotta or mozzarella now.)
Sep 5. Cover the eggplant slices with more sauce, and repeat once more.
Step 6. Spoon the topping evenly over the dish and bake.
Step 7. Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve.
- Place one sliced eggplant on each baking sheet. That way, you’ll already have equal amounts of eggplant ready for each layer, and the pieces should fit together well in the baking dish.
- Choose the right eggplant. Many recipes call for salting eggplant to draw out water and bitterness. I've found if you choose medium eggplants rather than large, that are firm and purple rather than red, you don't need to do this. And you'll get the best-tasting result.
- Even, golden-brown eggplant slices. Cut your slices as evenly as you can, so they're cooked evenly and golden brown and soft coming out of the oven. If you've ever eaten (or cooked!) an eggplant recipe that turned out tough and chewy, you'll love how easy it is to make this perfect, every time.
Substitutions and variations
- Bread crumbs. You can use any breadcrumbs you like, or make your own by toasting bread slices and pulsing in a food processor. Note: Some brands contain small amounts of oil or cane sugar, so check the ingredients.
- Nut-free vegan Parmesan. Substitute a blend of pepita (pumpkin) seeds and hemp seeds for a nut-free version.
- Tomato sauce. Jarred sauce works great instead of homemade in this recipe. (Look for oil free.) If you don’t want to heat your sauce first, see recipe notes for increasing the baking time.
- Cheesy eggplant lasagna style dish. Add layers of almond ricotta, tofu ricotta, or store-bought ricotta between the layers of eggplant and bake it with the casserole. Or pour some thick cashew cheese sauce, chickpea cheese sauce or alfredo cheese sauce in between the layers.
- Eggplant Parm Bolognese. Swap mushroom walnut bolognese for the red pasta sauce.
- Mozzarella. Add shredded store bought mozzarella or make it homemade, and layer it on top of the eggplant slices.
- Pesto. Amp up the flavor by stirring in some green pesto or red pesto into the tomato sauce.
- Spicy. Add freshly ground black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to your marinara sauce to kick up the heat.
- Without breadcrumbs. Skip the breadcrumbs and increase the cashew Parmesan cheese topping.
Yes, in fact the dark-colored skin is rich in antioxidants. Because they're roasted in this recipe, the skin will become soft and tender. Just be sure to choose younger eggplants (small or medium vegetables with dark purple rather than reddish skin) for the best flavor and texture.
Zucchini slices or sweet potato slices would work well here. Just roast them until tender before using in the dish.
No, as long as you choose younger eggplants--small or medium vegetables with dark purple rather than reddish skin--they should have no bitter flavor. That said, if your eggplant is old and has brown seeds, salting both sides of the eggplant slices and allowing them to sit for 30 minutes to one hour before cooking can help reduce the bitterness. Be sure to rinse the salt off before using.
You can store this eggplant dish in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Just cover the casserole dish tightly with foil or plastic wrap, or remove to an airtight container. This freezes well for up to 3 months. To freeze casseroles, cut into individual portions for easy meals, or freeze the entire recipe.
Happy, whole food plant-based cooking, y'all!
More whole food, plant-based recipes
Easiest Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
- 2 medium eggplants trimmed and sliced into ½-inch discs (See notes)
- Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 ½ cups 28 ounces Easy Tomato sauce Or your favorite tomato pasta sauce
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs Or regular bread crumbs, GF if desired. I used Ian's Gluten Free. See notes.
- ½ cup vegan Parmesan See notes for nut free
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
- Optional: chopped fresh parsley for serving
- Optional: bake or serve with almond ricotta cheese See notes
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and Preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Arrange the eggplant slices evenly on the baking sheets, and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or until browned and very soft, flipping halfway through cooking.
- While the eggplant is roasting, make your tomato sauce. (If using jarred sauce, heat it in a pan first, OR increase the final baking time as needed, see notes.)
- Next, make the vegan Parmesan in a food processor.
- In a small bowl, make the topping by tossing together the bread crumbs, vegan Parmesan and Italian seasonings.
- When the eggplant is cooked, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ladle about ¾ cup of the hot tomato sauce into a 9" x 9" square baking dish, coating the entire bottom with thin layer of sauce.
- Arrange ½ of the eggplant on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Cover the eggplant with ½ the remaining sauce, then add another layer of eggplant. Cover the eggplant with the rest of the sauce.
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of the dish. Add a little more Italian seasonings, if desired.
- Cover with foil and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly throughout.
- Optional: for a crispy, golden brown topping, broil under low heat for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the topping.
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with almond ricotta, if desired.
- Eggplant. I like to place one sliced eggplant on each baking sheet. That way, when I layer the dish, I'll have approximately equal amounts of eggplant ready for each layer. Plus, the pieces just fit together well this way, with some larger and some smaller slices in each layer.
- Bread Crumbs. Some brands of store bought bread crumbs contain small amounts of oil or cane sugar. If you can't find compliant brand, you can make your own by toasting bread slices in the oven and pulsing in a food processor.
- Almond Ricotta. I love serving this dish with a dollop of almond ricotta on the side. But you can also layer the almond ricotta between the layers of eggplant and bake it with the casserole if you like. Just increase the cooking time a bit if necessary to heat everything through.
- Nut-free Vegan Parmesan. I make my vegan Parmesan with cashews or walnuts. But you can substitute a blend of pepita seeds and hemp seeds for a nut-free version.
- Tomato Sauce. The baking time for this recipe assumes everything goes into the baking dish already warm to hot. If you don't want to pre-heat your jarred sauce, just increase the cooking time so everything heats through.