This mouthwatering vegan eggplant Parmesan is made with layers of crispy fried eggplant, optional vegan mozzarella, and marinara sauce, baked up to bubbly perfection.
Eggplant Parm was one of my go-to meals when I first went vegetarian. It’s delicious and one of those dishes you can get at lots of non-vegetarian restaurants. It’s also something that most meat eaters enjoy!
I figured a vegan version wouldn’t really be doable. I mean, the name eggplant Parmesan implies the use of cheese. Plus the fact that traditional recipes involve coating the eggplant in egg in order to get the breading to stick.
It took a few years of blogging, and me developing recipes for vegan mozzarella cheese and vegan Parmesan cheese, as well as creating a few other breaded dishes sans eggs, like these tofu nuggets, to realize I could totally create a vegan eggplant Parmesan recipe!
What You’ll Need
- Eggplant. You can use any variety, but Italian globe eggplants would be the traditional choice.
- Non-dairy milk. Just about any variety that’s unflavored and unsweetened will work.
- Ground flaxseeds.
- Salt & pepper.
- Panko breadcrumbs. I use panko because it’s the only type of vegan breadcrumb I can find. If you’re able to find regular breadcrumbs in vegan form, feel free to use them.
- Flour. I use all-purpose flour for this recipe, but whole wheat works too!
- Herbs. We’re using dried oregano and basil. If you have a favorite Italian seasoning blend, feel free to use that instead.
- Olive oil. You can really use any high-heat oil to fry your eggplant, but olive will give it the best flavor.
- Marinara sauce. Store-bought or homemade marinara — your choice!
- Vegan mozzarella cheese. Again, use store-bought or homemade vegan mozzarella. You can even omit it completely if you like — the dish will still turn out delicious.
- Vegan Parmesan cheese. Another item you can make yourself or buy at the store.
How to Make Vegan Eggplant Parm
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d prefer to skip to the recipe.
Salt the Eggplant
This step is optional, but I recommend it, especially if your eggplant has been hanging around for a while and shows any brown when you cut it open. Salting will pull water from the eggplant, removing any bitterness.
- To salt your eggplant, first slice it into 1/2 inch thick rounds.
- Now very liberally sprinkle both sides of each round with salt, then place them on paper towels or in a colander to drain any water that seeps out.
- Let the eggplant slices sit like this for 30 minutes or so.
- Now rinse the slices very well to remove all of the salt, then blot them dry with towels.
Bread & Fry the Eggplant
- Mix up your batter in a bowl: whisk the milk together with some ground flaxseeds and salt.
- Mix up your breading in a second bowl: stir the breadcrumbs together with some flour, herbs, salt, and pepper.
- Now start heating up some oil in a skillet. Make sure it’s at least 1/8 inch deep.
- Add some flour to a third bowl for dredging your eggplant. Now dip a slice of eggplant in the flour to coat it.
- From the flour, transfer the eggplant slice to the bowl filled with batter. Dip both sides to coat them completely.
- Now dip the slice in the bowl with the panko mixture. Again, coat both sides completely.
- Transfer your eggplant slice to the hot oil in the skillet. Repeat the whole process for as many eggplant slices as you can fit without crowding the skillet.
- Fry the slices for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until the breading is golden and crispy.
- Transfer the eggplant slices to a paper towel-lined plate as they finish frying, and continue frying them in batches until they’re all done. Be sure to add oil to the skillet as it dries up!
Assemble the Casserole & Bake
- Ladle some sauce into the bottom of a baking dish. You can use a 9 x 13 inch dish, large cast iron skillet, or a couple of smaller dishes like I’m doing.
- Arrange some eggplant slices over the sauce.
- Top the eggplant slices with marinara sauce and vegan mozzarella.
- Arrange an additional layer of eggplant over the cheese, then top that off with some more sauce.
Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Tips & FAQ
- Can this recipe be made gluten-free? I think so! I haven’t tried a gluten-free version, but I think it would work. Just substitute a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend for wheat flour, and use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.
- Shelf-life & storage: Leftovers can be tightly sealed in the original baking dish, or transferred to a sealable container. Store them in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Always take precautions when frying with oil. Never leave it unattended. Never pour leftover oil down the drain (if you’ve got less than can be poured it’s fine to wash the skillet in the sink though). Instead, let it cool, pour it into a sealable container that you plan to dispose of, and place it in the trash.
- Your oil will get hotter as you cook your eggplant. Be aware of this and the fact that each batch of eggplant may cook faster than the last. Keep a close eye on it and turn down the heat if it starts to smoke.
- Handle your eggplant slices carefully after frying. The vegan breading is delicate and will break off your eggplant slices if you handle it too roughly.
- Can this recipe be made with baked eggplant? Possibly, but I’ve only tested the recipe with frying. If you give it a try with baked eggplant, please let me know how it turns out!
Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
For the Batter
- 1 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Breading
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Few dashes black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
For the Eggplant Parmesan
- Whisk all of the batter ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Stir the breading ingredients together in a separate small bowl.
- Place the flour for dredging in a third small bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Generously coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil (2 to 3 tablespoons) and place it over medium heat. Give the oil a few minutes to heat up.
- Grab an eggplant slice and dip each side into the flour to coat. Transfer the slice to the batter, coating each side, then to the breading, coating each side.
- Place the eggplant slice into the hot skillet. Repeat with additional slices, placing as many as will fit into the skillet without crowding.
- Fry the eggplant slices for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy. Transfer the slices to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Add oil to the skillet as needed, and repeat the frying process until all of the eggplant slices are used, working in as many batches as is needed.
- Ladle about one third of the marinara sauce onto the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Arrange about half of the eggplant slices over the sauce.
- Ladle another third of the sauce over the eggplant, then arrange the cheese on top.
- Arrange the remaining eggplant slices over the cheese, then top them with the remaining sauce.
- Place the dish into the oven and bake, uncovered, until bubbly, 25-30 minutes.
- Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Divide onto plates and sprinkle with cashew Parmesan, if you like. Serve.