Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

A healthier eggplant parmesan recipe. Eggplant Parmesan Stacks have a crispy texture and fresh ricotta topping with bright flavors. It’s the ultimate vegetarian comfort food!

white pan of baked breaded eggplant with tomato sauce, cheese and basil

The first time I remember having Eggplant Parmesan was at our house in California. My very cool Aunt Mary was visiting and she made it for dinner. Aunt Mary was Josie’s sister and a former teacher who commanded respect just by her presence. We always watched “the stories” in her apartment attached to Gram’s house. Despite her reputation, Aunt Mary had a twinkle in her eye — unless you broke a rule while playing cards or used incorrect grammar—then look out.

Aunt Mary truly was the best and made a killer eggplant parm.

A healthy version with a fun twist

stacks of breaded eggplant and fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce with basil on top

Instead of traditional eggplant parmesan that is fried, smothered in sauce and tucked between miles and miles of cheese (which don’t get me wrong is damn good), this is a baked eggplant parmesan. Baked—not only because it’s healthier—but it’s easy and pretty to serve. And has great texture with crunchy eggplant slices and a zesty ricotta topping.

One easy eggplant parmesan recipe

For this recipe, you’re going to be making individual eggplant parmesan stacks that are lightly layered with sauce and cheese and then topped with a fresh ricotta mix. The whole thing is baked just to bring it all together. You’ll bake the breaded eggplant slices first which gives the whole dish a crisp texture.

Hungry yet?

Prepping the eggplant

four process shots showing the salting and breading eggplant

Eggplant is like 300% water. And waterlogged eggplant means soggy eggplant parmesan.

The solution? Salting the eggplant. It’s an easy step that helps produce crisp results because the salt draws out excess water. You can skip it if you don’t have time and some experts like Bon Appetit say it’s not necessary to salt eggplants anymore because we used to do it when eggplants were more bitter (and apparently that’s no longer the case).

You decide.

Here are the steps:

  • Salt:
    • Place the cut slices on baking sheets lined with double layers of paper towels.
    • Sprinkle kosher salt over all the slices – about 1 tsp/eggplant.
    • Let the the eggplant sit out at room temperature for 1 hour and rinse off the water that comes out (I know that seems weird but it’s ok – you’re not making it soggy again).
  • Dry: Using a clean paper towel, blot each side of eggplant until completely dry.
  • Flour: Dip each slice of eggplant in the flour on both sides.
  • Egg: Then lightly toss in the egg mixture
  • Bread: Finally coat with parmesan cheese and breadcrumb mixture.
  • Bake: In a preheated oven for about 15 minutes until crispy and set aside.

Making the ricotta filling

white bowl of ricotta, parmesan, parsley, and a raw egg with a fork on a wooden cutting board

While the eggplant is doing its thing, gather up all the cheeses, some eggs, a little lemon zest, parsley and salt and pepper. Mix it all together and refrigerate it until later.

And then you can work on the tomato sauce. Or not.

Great tomato sauces

turquoise blue baking pan with three pieces baked eggplant parmesan slices topped with tomato sauce and cheese and a ladle

You know I love options, especially ones that make your life easier. This baked eggplant parmesan recipe needs a sauce to bring out the best in the crispy eggplant.

You have some choices:

Assembling the eggplant stacks

white oval baking pan with tomato sauce and breaded eggplant parmesan topped with cheese, ricotta, tomato sauce
  • Coat the bottom of baking pan with a couple of ladles of tomato sauce.
  • Lay down one slice of breaded baked eggplant and spoon on a piece of fresh mozzarella and a little sauce. Repeat.
  • Top with a healthy serving of ricotta and a little more mozzarella and/or parmesan.
  • Bake until heated through and garnish with fresh basil and some extra sauce (and parm!) served on the side.

Air fryer eggplant parm

You can also make these easy eggplant stacks in an air fryer. Here’s how to do it:

  • Bread the eggplant per the instructions above.
  • Air fry the individual slices at 375˚ for 13-15 minutes till crispy.
  • Layer the cheeses and sauce and air fry for another 8-10 minutes until golden. Line the air fryer basket with parchment for an easy clean up!

Make ahead and reheating instructions

  • Prep and bread the eggplant slices earlier in the day and refrigerate them until about an hour before you’re ready to eat.
  • Bake the slices and then assemble and bake.
  • The ricotta mixture can be made a couple of days ahead of time.
  • Use any sauce you have frozen or on hand because you don’t need a lot of it.

Tips

For a few: The best thing about this easy eggplant recipe is that you can make it for one to however many you need to serve. Use one eggplant and you’ll have dinner or lunch for 2-3 meals.

For a crew: I have made this for as many as 14 people and since everyone gets their own stack, it’s easy to do. You just keep making as many stacks as you have people especially if other things are being served. Count on 2 stacks per person if it’s a hungrier crew or main course, but they don’t shrink much in cooking.

This post contains links to affiliate websites including Amazon. I make a small commission for any purchases made using these links. Thank you!

Serve with

single serving of stacked eggplant parmesan with ricotta and basil on top

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks would be yummy with:

Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!


white pan of baked breaded eggplant with tomato sauce, cheese and basil.
5 from 5 votes

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

An easy eggplant recipe that is baked not fried. Eggplant Parmesan Stacks are breaded and baked slices of eggplant stacked between layers of cheese and sauce. If you have other items on the menu, count on one stack per person but could serve as few as 4-6 if serving as a main course.
Prep Time:1 hour 5 minutes
Cook Time:15 minutes
Final Dish Cook:20 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 8 eggplant stacks
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Ingredients
 

Salting the eggplant

  • 2 eggplants, sliced into 1/3" slices, about 8 per eggplant
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp per sheet pan to salt the eggplant

For the Breading

For the Ricotta Filling

Instructions

Salting

  • Slice the eggplants each into 8 slices, approximately 1/3" thick.
  • Lay 8 eggplant slices side by side on a baking sheet covered with two layers of paper towels. Repeat with a second sheet
  • Salt the eggplant (1 tsp for each pan) and let rest for 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour, lightly rinse the eggplant and using a paper towel, dry completely as much as possible.

Breading

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Coat a baking sheet with 1 T of olive oil or spray with baking spray. Set aside.
  • Place the flour in its own shallow dish.
  • Beat the eggs into a wide shallow pie plate and set aside.
  • Combine both breadcrumbs and the cheese into another shallow dish.
  • Dip each side of each eggplant slice first in flour, then into beaten eggs and finally the cheese and breadcrumb mixture. Remove to prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes, flipping halfway through, until crispy. You might need longer depending on your oven.
    Allow to cool.

Assemble

  • Pour one cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9×13" pan.
  • Layer half of the eggplant slices on the sauce.
  • Top with a piece of fresh mozzarella and a hefty tablespoon of sauce. Repeat
  • Spoon another tablespoon of sauce and a large dollop of ricotta filling on the top of each eggplant tower.
  • Sprinkle grated mozzarella or parmesan over top, if using.
  • Bake in 400° oven for 20 minutes until cheese is melted.

Notes

Options:
  • Layer a piece of prosciutto between the layers.
  • Add cooked crumbled Italian sausage and ground beef to your sauce for a meat version.
Make ahead:
  • Prep and bread the eggplant slices earlier in the day and refrigerate them until about an hour before you’re ready to eat. Then follow the directions for baking the slices and assembling the stacks.
  • The ricotta mixture can be made a couple of days ahead of time.
  • Use any sauce you have frozen or on hand.
Air fryer: (perfect for 1-3 servings!)
  • Bread the eggplant per the instructions above.
  • Air fry the individual slices at 375˚ for 13-15 minutes till crispy. (Don’t crowd  – depending on the size of your air fryer you’ll do this in batches.)
  • Layer the eggplant with the cheeses and sauce and air fry for another 8-10 minutes until golden. Line the air fryer basket with parchment for an easy clean up!
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, First Course
Cuisine: Italian, vegetarian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!


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7 Comments

  1. Question…instructions say to salt the eggplant after the paper towels and layers are done. Is this correct? Thanks much for clarifying.

      1. Thank you so much. It is contrary to the method of salting eggplant I’ve used in the past! I’ll do it just as you suggest and let you know how it turns out! So appreciate your taking time to answer!!