Best Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Italian Sausage Sauce

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The Best Baked Eggplant Parmesan – a lighter version of the Italian classic. Baked crispy eggplant slices smothered in cheese and a mushroom sausage marinara sauce for the ultimate comfort food you’ll want to have for dinner at least once a week! 

If you love classic Italian recipes that you need to try this Tomato Pappardelle Pasta with Italian Sausage & Peppers or my Crock Pot Turkey Spinach Stuffed Shells.

eggplant parmesan in a baking dish

Best Baked Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Wanna know a secret? I’ve actually NEVER ordered eggplant parmesan before. I’ve always figured, if I was gonna get a “parmesan” recipe of some sort it was gonna be Chicken Parmesan

Well, that all changed after I was in Colorado earlier this year. We had just come off the mountain from a full day of skiing and I could smell the deliciousness being whipped up in the kitchen. And it was … you guessed it. Eggplant Parmesan. When this stuff came out of the oven and was sitting on the stove I devoured it with my eyes first, then the smell and then I finally tasted it.

It was seriously the most epic flavorful eggplant parmesan I had ever had in my life. I have been dreaming about it ever since and have been on a mission to recreate the sensational taste I had earlier this year. PS. In case you don’t know yet. I did, I won’t post this if it was crap so get ready for the best eggplant parmesan recipe of your life!

how to make crispy baked eggplant

a pot filled with mushroom italian sausage sauce

What is Eggplant Parmesan?

Eggplant Parmesan is an Italian dish made with deep-fried sliced eggplant that’s layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked. It tastes very similar to regular chicken parmesan. Eggplant itself doesn’t really have much flavor, think of it more like spaghetti squash. In something like eggplant parmesan, the eggplant flavor itself isn’t even really tasted it’s more about the surrounding components.

How thick do you cut eggplant for eggplant parmesan?

For Eggplant Parmesan, the eggplant should be sliced about 1/4 inch thick although I like mine a little more on the 1/2 inch size. 

Can you freeze eggplant parmesan?

No. I would recommend not freezing this eggplant parmesan. It will get soggy and lose it’s texture. You could make a freeze the sauce if you are wanting to “work ahead.”

a baking dish filled with eggplant parmesan

Ingredients you’ll need for this Recipe:

Before I made eggplant parmesan I thought it was gonna be super complicated. Turns out you just need an awesome knock your socks off sauce loaded with flavor and easy healthy baked eggplant then smother it with cheese. Voila… perfect eggplant parmesan. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Eggplant
  • Panko
  • Spices
  • Egg Whites
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Sausage
  • Cheese
  • Basil

how to make eggplant parmesan

How to Make Baked Eggplant Parmesan?

Take a breath even though the “how to” on this might look like a lot it’s actually super easy. I broke everything down for you so you can follow each step and make this eggplant parmesan flawlessly. Here’s how to make the Best Baked Eggplant Parmesan Recipe.

  1. Prepare the Eggplant: Slice eggplant into 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices or coins. Place eggplant on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Lightly salt eggplant slices. Let sit for at least one hour, or longer if you have time. The salt will draw the water out of the eggplant. Pat eggplant dry with a paper towel and gently rub excess salt off.
  2. Mushroom Sausage Sauce: Heat a large saucepan to medium high heat. Add avocado oil to the pan along with onion. Saute until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Next, add in garlic. Saute for 30 seconds, stirring the entire time. Then add in mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are slightly browned, about 4-6 minutes, stirring throughout. Once mushrooms are browned add in your ground italian sausage. Cook until sausage is browned, about 5 minutes, chopping up with a wooden spoon to make the pieces smaller. Then add in marinara sauce and bring to a boil. Set aside.
  3. Coat Eggplant: Preheat oven to 400°F. To a flat bowl add egg whites that are beaten. Set aside. To a medium flat bowl add panko, garlic powder, basil, oregano and parsley. Mix gently. Working one at a time, dredge both sides of eggplant in egg white mixture and then coat in the panko mixture.
  4. Baked Eggplant. Place coated eggplant onto a baking sheet in an even layer. Continue process until all eggplant are coated. Bake eggplant slices for 20 minutes, flipping half way through.
  5. Prepare Eggplant Parmesan: Now that your sauce is done and eggplant is done. It’s time to assemble. Add 1/4 cup of sausage pasta sauce to the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. Spread out evenly. Layer half of the eggplant slices on the sauce. Top each eggplant slice with 3 tablespoons of sauce, 2 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese, a pinch of parmesan and 1 whole basil leaf. Place remaining eggplant slices on top and cover with remaining sauce and cheese.
  6. Bake Eggplant Parmesan: Bake uncovered in 400°F oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Garnish with chiffon basil and serve.

Do you have to peel eggplant before you cook it?

The skin of an eggplant is completely edible, it is also loaded with nutrients so it’s a great thing to keep on if your eggplant is fresh. Note: the bigger and more mature your eggplant gets the skin can start to become a little tough or bitter. So I recommend leaving the skin on for smaller eggplant and peeling it for larger eggplants. Honestly, it’s all about what you prefer.

eggplant parmesan being pulled from a baking dish

Tips for Making this Eggplant Parmesan:

  • Leave the Skin on. Despite what people think, you do not have to remove the skin of the eggplant before cooking. It actually has tons of nutritional value and when it’s cooking with all the other ingredients the texture of it will be non-existent. So just leave the skin on, it saves you a step and gives you the added nutrients.
  • Salt the Eggplant. If you don’t want a soggy eggplant parmesan make sure that you salt your eggplant slices ahead of time and let them rest of a paper towel. The salt pulls the moisture out of the eggplant so that when you cook it it keeps it’s firm texture.
  • Crush the Panko. In this recipe I use gluten free panko breadcrumbs. The size and texture of the gluten free panko is a little different than the regular. Therefore, I usually put it in a a ziplock bag and pound on it a little bit to break them up and create more of a powder. Doing this helps the panko stick better to the eggplant.
  • Make the Sauce. If I can give you any advice at all, it is to make this mushroom sausage sauce. It is the KEY element that takes this dish over the top and what makes it the BEST Eggplant Parmesan you will ever have!!!! Hear me. Do NOT buy or make a plain jane marinara, you’ll regret.

What to serve with Eggplant Parmesan?

In my opinion you don’t need much with this Eggplant Parmesan it is good on it’s own. However, if you’d like to have a full meal I’d recommend serving it with the following.

eggplant parmesan in a baking dish

What wines to pair with Eggplant Parmesan?

This dish has a classic parmesan flavor with a tomato base and loads of cheese, but the sauce is this dish is where the magic is at filled with italian sausage, aromatics and earthy mushooms for the ultimate umami flavor. Because of all the flavors and fat content, I’d recommend pairing bold red, fruity or spicy reds with this eggplant parmesan. Here are a few we love!

More Classic Italian Recipes you’ll Love:

eggplant parmesan on a plate with a fork

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eggplant parmesan on a plate with a fork

Best Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Italian Sausage Sauce

  • Author: Krista
  • prep_time Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • cook_time Cook Time: 1 hour
  • total_time Total Time: 2 hour 20 minutes
  • yield Yield: 8-9 1x
  • category Category: Pasta
  • method Method: Oven
  • cuisine Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

The Best Baked Eggplant Parmesan – a lighter version of the Italian classic. Baked crispy eggplant slices smothered in cheese and a mushroom sausage marinara sauce for the ultimate comfort food you’ll want to have for dinner at least once a week! 

Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4” to 1/2″ slices
  • salt
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free panko
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffon
  • 68 whole basil leaves

Mushroom Sausage Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups baby bella mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 lb. ground sausage (I use jimmy dean, natural)
  • 2 jars of marinara sauce (use different brands for variety of flavor)

Instructions

Prepare Eggplant:

  1. Slice eggplant into 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices or coins.
  2. Place eggplant on a paper towel lined baking sheet.
  3. Lightly salt eggplant slices. Let sit for at least one hour, or longer if you have time. The salt will draw the water out of the eggplant.
  4. Pat eggplant dry with a paper towel and gently rub excess salt off.

Mushroom Sausage Sauce:

  1. Heat a large saucepan to medium high heat.
  2. Add avocado oil to the pan along with onion. Saute until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Next, add in garlic. Saute for 30 seconds, stirring the entire time.
  4. Then add in mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are slightly browned, about 4-6 minutes, stirring throughout.
  5. Once mushrooms are browned add in your ground italian sausage. Cook until sausage is browned, about 5 minutes, chopping up with a wooden spoon to make the pieces smaller. Then add in marinara sauce and bring to a boil. Set aside.

Coat Eggplant:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. To a flat bowl add egg whites that are beaten. Set aside.
  3. To a medium flat bowl add panko, garlic powder, basil, oregano and parsley. Mix gently.
  4. Working one at a time, dredge both sides of eggplant in egg white mixture and then coat in the panko mixture. Place onto a baking sheet in an even layer. Continue process until all eggplant are coated.
  5. Bake eggplant slices for 20 minutes, flipping half way through.

Prepare Eggplant Parmesan:

  1. Now that your sauce is done and eggplant is done. It’s time to assemble.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of sausage pasta sauce to the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. Spread out evenly. Layer half of the eggplant slices on the sauce. Top each eggplant slice with 3 tablespoons of sauce, 2 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese, a pinch of parmesan and 1 whole basil leaf.
  3. Place remaining eggplant slices on top and cover with remaining sauce and cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered in 400°F oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.
  5. Garnish with chiffon basil and serve.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 eggplant parmesan stack
  • Calories: 384
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Sodium: 759 mg
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated Fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Fiber: 8 g
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Cholesterol: 43 mg

Keywords: eggplant parmesan, eggplant parmesan recipe, how to make eggplant parmesan, baked eggplant parmesan, easy eggplant parmesan, healthy eggplant parmesan, keto eggplant parmesan

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pinterest image for epic baked eggplant parmesan

pinterest image for epic baked eggplant parmesan

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Krista
Hi! I'm the recipe developer and food photographer behind all these easy healthy recipes! I love food, Jesus, morning lattes, and am obsessed with fantasy football! { more }

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