5 from 2 votes

Best Aubergine Parmigiana Recipe (Melanzane alla Parmigiana)

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This Italian baked aubergine parmigiana includes a crispy breadcrumb topping plus layers of cheese and tomato sauce. It’s a family favorite in our house!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
£1.36
Makes: 6
mains
Italian
Freezable

If you love chicken parm and lasagna but want a meat-free option, you’ll find this aubergine parmigiana delicious! It’s an Italian recipe made with fried aubergine, tomato sauce, and gooey cheese arranged in each yummy layer. This melanzane alla Parmigiana is vegetarian-friendly and super easy to create! 

A white square dish with aubergine parmigiana topped with a golden browned cheesy topping and browned breadcrumbs next to a wooden board with grated cheese and basil leaves.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Family Favorite – With layers of fried eggplant, cheese, and sauce, this Parmigiana has a delicious flavour that everyone in our family loves.

Vegetarian – You won’t find any meat in this aubergine parmigiana!

Versatile – This baked aubergine parmigiana recipe is yummy as a side dish or main dish. It has enough servings to feed a crowd, especially if you double or triple the recipe.

Cheesy – There’s nothing better than an ooey-gooey cheesy Italian recipe!

Quick prep – You’ll only need about 20 minutes to have this dish prepped and in the oven. 

Love aubergine? Consider making these other tasty aubergine dishes during the week; Gochujang Eggplant, Grilled Aubergine Curry and Crispy Soy Tofu, Aubergine & Rice

What is Aubergine Parmigiana?

Aubergine parmigiana, also known as eggplant parmesan or melanzane alla Parmigiana, is a delicious vegetarian Italian recipe. The dish is associated with the southern part of Italy, and its history is a bit of a mystery. Eggplant arrived in Italy in the 9th century, but it was not until the late 1700s that the first version of the dish was seen in a recipe book. In 1837, the version of eggplant parm (like what we think of today) was first seen in a cookbook.

While the history is unknown, the ingredients are not! It’s crafted with thin slices of eggplant, which are fried and then covered in toasted breadcrumbs. These aubergine rounds are then added to a pan in between layers of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and grated parmesan cheese. 

Here are some other Italian favorite recipes to try after this one; Spaghetti Chorizo Carbonara, Spaghetti al Limone and Delicious Tagliatelle Carbonara

Working with Aubergine

How to slice for this recipe
When making this easy aubergine parmigiana, I cut the aubergines into 1cm thick pieces. Slice the pieces into as similar of sizes as possible so they cook evenly in the pan.

It is watery; how to remove water if needed
If your eggplant is watery when making aubergine parmigiana, the best solution is salting the slices. Let them sit with the salt for 30 minutes to an hour, which helps draw out the excess moisture. Then, pat them dry with paper towels and follow the steps noted in the recipe card.

Can you eat the skin?
Yes, you can eat the skin of aubergines. I love leaving it on for this recipe, as it gives the dish a good amount of flavour. 

Ingredients

Ingredients to make aubergine parmigiana laid out on a pale blue background and labelled.

Passata – For this aubergine parmigiana, you’ll be using tomato passata as a base. If you can’t find passata at the store, you can also use plain tomato sauce. Or, make homemade passata using fresh tomatoes.

Aubergine – The aubergine in this recipe is the star of the show, providing a delicious flavour and heartiness to the dish. You can also use zucchini rounds if you prefer.

Stale Bread – This Parmigiana recipe gets its crunch from a layer of stale, toasted homemade breadcrumbs. Premade breadcrumbs, including Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs and panko crumbs, will also work for this recipe.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations/ Adaptations

Passata – For this aubergine parmigiana, you’ll be using tomato passata as a base. If you can’t find passata at the store, you can also use plain tomato sauce. Or, make homemade passata using fresh tomatoes.

Aubergine – The aubergine in this recipe is the star of the show, providing a delicious flavour and heartiness to the dish. You can also use zucchini rounds if you prefer.

Stale Bread – This Parmigiana recipe gets its crunch from a layer of stale, toasted homemade breadcrumbs. Premade breadcrumbs, including Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs and panko crumbs, will also work for this recipe.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities. 

Pair this yummy aubergine parmigiana with one of these protein-rich mains for an even tastier meal; Air Fryer Chicken Bites, Salmon in the Air Fryer or Easy Turkey Steak

How to make aubergine parmigiana

Preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C)

  1. Set a non-stick deep pan over a medium heat and add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the onion. Season with salt and pepper and fry for about five minutes (Image 1).
  2. Then add the garlic and dried oregano, fry for a further minute (Image 2).
2 step by step photos, the first with finely sliced onions in a large saucepan and the second with the onions fried and stirred with a wooden spoon.

3. Using a non stick frying pan over a high heat, add half a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and fry a batch of the aubergine rounds for two minutes on each side until golden brown.

The aubergine rounds must make full contact with the pan, so you may have to fry around four batches using half a tablespoon of rapeseed oil for each batch. It should take about 16 minutes in total (Image 3).

4. Then add the passata and 300 millilitres of water. Add half of the fresh basil to the sauce and allow to simmer (Image 4).

2 step by step photos, the first with finelyaubergines browning in a pan and the second with tomato sauce with seasoning in a saucepan with a wooden spoon.

* While the sauce cooks and the aubergine is frying, add the breadcrumbs to a separate frying pan with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over a medium/low heat. Season with salt and pepper and fry until golden brown, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

5. Assemble the Parmigiana in an ovenproof dish, measuring around 25cm x 25cm. Spread 2 ladles of the tomato sauce across the base of the dish (Image 5).

6. Add a layer of aubergines, three tablespoons of breadcrumbs and three tablespoons of Parmesan, sprinkled evenly (Image 6).

2 step by step photos, the first with a rectangular white dish with tomato sauce mix added and the second with pieces of browned aubergine on the sauce.

Repeat the process in step 5 for another layer. For the final layer add the aubergine, then the sauce.

7. Now to prepare the mozzarella. Tear it into pieces and lay across one half of a clean tea towel. Pat dry with the other half of the tea towel and press lightly to remove the excess moisture (Image 7).

8. Top the final layer of the Parmigiana with the dry, torn mozzarella and the remaining breadcrumbs (Image 8).

2 step by step photos, the first with a rectangular white dish with mozzarella peices added to the tomato mix and the second with breadcrumbs added to the dish.

9. Brush a light layer of olive oil over some foil to prevent sticking. Place over the dish, oil side facing down and pop in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, take off the foil (Image 9).

10. Then return to the oven for a further ten minutes until golden brown. Leave to stand for two minutes, then tuck in! (Image 10).

2 step by step photos, the first with the rectangular dish covered with foil and the second with the now golden browned filled in the white dish.

Tips for the best results

Cut the eggplant into even slices
Slice the eggplant as evenly as possible to ensure the pieces cook evenly. If you have some that are way thicker, you’ll end up with tough, undercooked eggplant slices.

Salt the aubergine slices first
Let the eggplant slices sit with salt before patting them dry to help remove extra moisture. This step also removes bitterness and helps create softer eggplant pieces in this aubergine parmigiana.

Use a good passata
Since this Parmigiana aubergine uses simple ingredients, it will yield the best results if you use good-quality items. If you don’t, you’ll notice a difference in the flavour.

Need inspiration for some other main meal recipes? Try my; Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta, Cottage Cheese Pasta and Air fryer Halloumi

A white square dish with aubergine parmigiana topped with a golden browned cheesy topping and browned breadcrumbs on a blue background.

Serving Suggestions

This aubergine parmigiana is delicious with some crusty bread. You can also serve it over a bed of cooked noodles. Or, keep the meal light with a fresh green salad on the side. If you decide to serve this aubergine parmesan as a side dish, pair it with grilled chicken or baked pork.

Pair this yummy dish with a side salad; Tricolore Salad or Greek Chicken Salad, and add my; Caesar Salad Dressing

Can you make this ahead?

 This aubergine parmigiana is a great make-ahead recipe! Simply follow the steps from two through nine when you cover the baking dish with foil. Instead of putting it in the oven, keep it in the fridge for up to one day. Then, preheat the oven and cook it according to the recipe. It may need a few extra minutes since you’ll be cooking the recipe with cold ingredients.

Leftover Storage and Reheat Instructions 

Once the aubergine parmigiana is cooked, allow it to fully cool. Then, cover the baking pan with foil and keep the leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Can you freeze this?
You can also freeze the parm leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 months. When reheating this recipe from frozen, allow it to thaw first in the fridge overnight.

Then, either heat it in the microwave for a few minutes. Or, preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C) and cook the eggplant parmigiana for about 20 minutes (or until warmed).

FAQs

Why did my aubergine turn out tough?

There are a few reasons why aubergine may be tough in aubergine parmigiana. For one, it is tough and chewy if it’s undercooked. Be sure to fry the rounds first to ensure they’re fully cooked. You may also find the eggplant tough if you leave the skin on. You can prevent a chewy bite in the eggplant slices by peeling them first.

Can I bake my aubergine instead of fry it?

You can roast it in the oven with a little olive oil instead of pan-frying it. However, this method will add time to the recipe. Instead of 2 minutes per side, it will take about 15-20 minutes to roast the eggplant before assembling the layers and cooking it for another 30 minutes in the oven.

Should I peel the eggplant first?

It’s really up to your preference when creating this recipe. I love the bite it adds to the dish, but if you want softer pieces of eggplant, you can peel them before making this recipe.

Do I need to salt my eggplant before making this dish?

I recommend salting the eggplant first, as it helps draw out excess moisture and creates creamier eggplant slices.
 

A white square dish with aubergine parmigiana topped with a golden browned cheesy topping and browned breadcrumbs and fresh basil leaves.

If you tried this Aubergine Parmigiana recipe, it would be mean so much to me if you could leave a review & a star rating to let me know how you found it! I love hearing about your experiences – it motivates me to keep creating more and more recipes for you guys 💛 Let’s get cooking! – Mimi x

 

Best Aubergine Parmigiana Recipe

Print
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
£1.36
mains
Italian
Freezable
Servings: 6
This Italian baked aubergine parmigiana includes a crispy breadcrumb topping plus layers of cheese and tomato sauce. It’s a family favorite in our house!

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely diced (£0.15)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed (£0.39)
  • 1 kg 2 packs passata (£0.57x2)=(£1.14)
  • 30 g of fresh basil (£0.60)
  • 3 or 4 large aubergines, cut into 1cm thick rounds (£2.85)
  • 80 g Parmesan (£2.60/2)=(£1.30)
  • 250 g 2 balls mozzarella (£0.89x2)=(£1.78) (£0.89x2)=(£1.78)
  • 3 slices of stale bread blitzed to breadcrumbs

Cupboard Essentials

  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C)

  • Set a non-stick deep pan over a medium heat and add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the onion. Season with salt and pepper and fry for about five minutes. Then add the garlic and dried oregano, fry for a further minute before adding the passata and 300 millilitres of water. Add half of the fresh basil to the sauce and allow to simmer.
  • Meanwhile, set another frying pan over a high heat, add half a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and fry a batch of the aubergine rounds for two minutes on each side until golden brown. The aubergine rounds must make full contact with the pan, so you may have to fry around four batches using half a tablespoon of rapeseed oil for each batch. It should take about 16 minutes in total.
  • While the sauce cooks and the aubergine is frying, add the breadcrumbs to a separate frying pan with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over a medium/low heat. Season with salt and pepper and fry until golden brown, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  • Assemble the Parmigiana in an ovenproof dish, measuring around 25cm x 25cm. Spread two ladles of the tomato sauce across the base of the dish. Add a layer of aubergines, three tablespoons of breadcrumbs and three tablespoons of Parmesan, sprinkled evenly.
  • Repeat the process in step 5 for another layer. For the final layer add the aubergine, then the sauce.
  • Prepare the mozzarella. Tear it into pieces and lay across
  • one half of a clean tea towel. Pat dry with the other half of
  • the tea towel and press lightly to remove the excess moisture.
  • Top the final layer of the Parmigiana with the dry, torn mozzarella and the remaining breadcrumbs.
  • Brush a light layer of olive oil over some foil to prevent sticking. Place over the dish, oil side facing down and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, take off the foil then return to the oven for a further ten minutes until golden brown. Leave to stand for two minutes, then tuck in!

Notes

  • Cut the eggplant into even slices to ensure even cooking and avoid tough, undercooked pieces.
  • Salt the slices and let them sit before patting dry to remove excess moisture and bitterness for softer eggplant.
  • Use good-quality passata for the best flavour, as the dish relies on simple ingredients.

Nutrition

Servings: 6 servings
Fat: 29g
Calories: 530kcal
Carbohydrates: 36g
Protein: 24g

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Thank you so much for trying my recipe! I hope you loved it. I’d be so grateful if you could leave a comment/rating - it makes my day hearing your feedback!

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Comments

  1. So tasty and great vegetarian recipe5 stars

    1. Mimi Harrison | 2 days ago

      Thanks so much 🙂

  2. Delicious!5 stars

    1. Mimi Harrison | 6 days ago

      Thank you Rose!

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