How to Make the BEST Baked Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
If you’re not the biggest fan of eggplant, this recipe might be one that can convince you otherwise! It’s basically meatless lasagna, but with hearty slices of crispy breaded eggplant in place of the noodles. This vegan eggplant parmesan is easy to make, full of flavor, and super fun!
What exactly is eggplant parmesan?
Eggplant parmesan is what I like to think of as a great Italian comfort food dish. The eggplant is breaded and typically shallow or deep-fried. However, I chose to bake my eggplant to save some dirty work! Don’t worry; they still get ultra-crispy! The crispy eggplant is then layered with tomato sauce and cheese, then baked.
You must salt and allow the eggplant to rest, and for a few good reasons!
Salting the eggplant is essential in my eyes. Some might argue otherwise, and they’re titled to feel however they feel. I choose to salt my eggplant slices and let them rest for around three hours. The salt draws a ton of moisture out of the eggplant. I then squeeze the eggplant slices between paper towels to get rid of all of the released water. I find this salting method seasons the eggplant from the inside out and gives the eggplant a meatier texture rather than soft and mushy. The salt also combats any bitterness the eggplant may have had. If you’ve ever tasted bitter eggplant, it’s not pleasant!
This vegan eggplant parmesan recipe takes some time to make, but it’s EASY!
This recipe is SUPER easy! The most “difficult” part of making eggplant parmesan is deep-frying the eggplant. But, I chose to bake my eggplant instead. This saves you not only a ton of time and effort but also a smelly, messy kitchen. Once I have finished breading and baking the eggplant, I layer them several times with my effortless tomato sauce and store-bought vegan mozzarella and parmesan. As I previously mentioned, this vegan eggplant parmesan is essentially a meatless lasagna, with the sliced, breaded eggplant replacing the noodles. It’s so, so, SO delicious!
SPEAKING OF LASAGNA! Check out my Truly the BEST Vegan Lasagna Recipe EVER! I layer the lasagna noodles with shiitake and portobello mushroom tomato sauce, homemade basil sunflower seed cheese, mozzarella, and cashew parmesan. It’s incredible and probably my all-time favorite recipe!
Read my “tiparooskis,” located below the recipe, for an essential tip!
I always like to share tips to set you up for ultimate recipe-making success. In addition to the written recipe and my tips, I’ve filmed a TikTok quickly demonstrating how to make my vegan eggplant parmesan. Please give my short video a watch if you ever feel confused while making this recipe!
If you make this vegan baked eggplant parmesan, don’t forget to post a picture to Instagram, tag me @chefsummerstorm, and #gardengrub so I can see your recreation!
How to Make the Best Baked Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
- 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish
- Paper towel
- Tin foil
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 2 medium-large eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3/4 cup liquid 'JUST Egg' (You may need 1 to 3 tablespoons more, depending on how many slices of eggplant you have.)
- 2 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup shredded vegan parmesan (I used Follow Your Heart's. I also crumbled it up into smaller bits so it would stick to the eggplant better.)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- One 28 ounce can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic, peeled and minced
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
You Will Also Need:
- 2 bags favorite shredded vegan mozzarella (I used Daiya's Cutting Board Collection Shreds)
- 1 1/3 cup shredded vegan parmesan (I used Follow Your Heart's)
- Line two large sheet pans with wire racks. Lay the eggplant slices across. Lightly season BOTH sides of the eggplant slices with kosher salt. Allow the eggplant to rest for 3 hours; this is a MUST/do NOT skip this step!
- After the eggplant has rested for 3 hours, you will notice they have released a bunch of moisture. Squeeze each slice with sheets of paper towel to get out all of the excess water.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper and spray them generously with olive oil cooking spray.
- Set up three large, wide, shallow bowls for breading the eggplant. In the first bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In the second bowl, add in the liquid JUST Egg. In the third bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs, shredded parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
- To bread a slice of eggplant, first coat both sides very well in the flour and then shake off the excess. Then, dip both sides into the liquid egg, making sure there are no patches of flour showing. Drip off the excess egg and then place the eggplant slice into the panko bread crumb mixture. Coat and pat the bread crumb mixture onto both sides of the eggplant very well.
- Place the breaded eggplant slices on the prepared baking sheets. Spray the tops of them generously with olive oil cooking spray.
- Place the pans on the middle oven rack and bake them for 10 minutes. Flip the eggplant slices over, spray the tops generously with more olive oil cooking spray, and bake them for another 10 minutes.
- *I always make this immediately after popping the breaded eggplant into the oven. Place a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add in the olive oil, followed by the garlic. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add in the entire can of tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Using a cooking spoon of choice, break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Still, over medium heat, bring the sauce up to a low boil.
- Once it is boiling, cover it with a lid, turn the heat down to low, and cook for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Remove the sauce from the heat, add in the shredded basil, and stir well.
How to Assemble and Bake the Eggplant Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread across 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. (If you decided to double the tomato sauce recipe, spread across 1 cup.)
- Evenly lay across 1/3 of the breaded, baked eggplant slices. If you need to cut any eggplant slices in half to fill the dish's bottom evenly, go ahead and do that.
- Sprinkle over one entire bag of shredded mozzarella. Then, sprinkle over 1/3 cup shredded parmesan.
- Evenly lay across half of the eggplant slices.
- Spread across 1 cup tomato sauce. (Again, if you doubled the tomato sauce recipe, spread across 2 cups instead of 1.)
- Sprinkle over the second bag of shredded mozzarella, followed by another 1/3 cup shredded parmesan.
- Evenly lay across the rest of the eggplant slices.
- Spread across the rest of the tomato sauce.
- Lastly, sprinkle over the last 2/3 cups of shredded parmesan.
- Wrap the top of the baking dish with tin foil, place it on the middle oven rack, and bake it for 35 minutes.
Welcome to my tip section of the baked vegan eggplant parmesan recipe! Here I provide my top tips to help you perfect the recipe. Sometimes, I also give substitute suggestions that I think you may find helpful.
- If you want your vegan eggplant parmesan to be pretty saucy, I highly recommend doubling my tomato sauce recipe. You would then double the tomato sauce measurements when you’re assembling the eggplant parmesan in the baking dish. EXAMPLE: If I say to place down 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, but you made a double-batch of the sauce, you would place down 1 cup of sauce. (I reiterate this in the actual written recipe as well.) Alternatively, you could follow the assembly measurements precisely as I say so in the written recipe, pretending as if you made a 1-time batch of the sauce, and then save the other half of the sauce for topping the eggplant parmesan later when you’re eating it. This will be a great idea if you’re planning to serve the eggplant parmesan over pasta! Then you wouldn’t have dry noodles. With that all being said, my vegan eggplant parmesan is not dry. I know some people like their eggplant parmesan to be ultra-saucy, so I wanted to suggest doubling the sauce recipe to avoid disappointment!