Impossibly Crispy Baked Eggplant

published Aug 9, 2021
summer
Baked Eggplant

You don't have to fry eggplant to make it crispy and flavorful.

Serves4

Prep25 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 40 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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slices of Baked Eggplant on plate with a lemon wedge and red sauce on the plate.
Credit: Perry Santanachote
Baked Eggplant

Yes, it’s possible to have crisp and flavorful eggplant by skipping the frying and baking it instead. In this recipe, panko-style breadcrumbs create a substantial-yet-light coating, while Parmesan adds a boost of flavor. We suggest serving your crispy eggplant one of two ways: with a simple tomato sauce or herbed labneh. If you’re going for the latter, simply substitute za’atar seasoning for the Italian seasoning.

What to Look for When Shopping for Eggplant

  • It’s heavy for its size.
  • The skin is vivid, smooth, and shiny.
  • The stem is green.
  • It feels slightly firm.
  • Small- to medium-sized eggplants are less bitter.

How Do You Prepare Eggplant Before Cooking?

Slice the eggplant and liberally salt the flesh to draw out excess water. Let the liquid drain by setting the salted eggplant in a colander for 30 minutes. Then, use a kitchen towel to squeeze out any remaining liquid before cooking.

Credit: Perry Santanachote
Baked Eggplant

Why Does Eggplant Taste Bitter?

Most commercial eggplants have been bred to be less bitter, but a farmers market eggplant or an old eggplant might have some bite. Salting the eggplant flesh prior to cooking not only extracts a lot of the eggplant’s water content, but it also helps to tame the bitterness. 

How Do You Keep Eggplant from Getting Soggy?

Eggplant has many pockets of moisture, which release liquid when cooked. If you coat it with breading, it’ll get soggy and slide off. Again, you need to sweat the eggplant by salting it and letting it sit for at least 30 minutes to extract that liquid, then rinse and pat dry before coating it. Your eggplant will turn out crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Baked Eggplant

You don't have to fry eggplant to make it crispy and flavorful.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 40 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium globe or Italian eggplant (about 1 pound)

  • 1 tablespoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 2 cups

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 ounce

    freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 teaspoon

    Italian or za'atar seasoning

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1/3 cup

    loosely packed fresh parsley leaves

  • Marinara sauce or labne, for dipping (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut 1 medium eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Sprinkle the slices with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and place in a large colander set over a bowl. Let sit until the eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons of liquid, 30 to 45 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the center of the oven and place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack. Heat the oven to 425°F. Place 1/2 cup all-purpose flour in a shallow bowl. Place 2 large eggs in a second shallow bowl and whisk to break them up. Place 2 cups panko breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon Italian or za'atar seasoning, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a third shallow bowl and whisk until combined.

  3. Firmly press the eggplant slices between layers of paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible. Working with 1 slice at a time, dip in the flour until well-coated, then shaking off excess. Dip into the eggs and let the excess drip off. Finally, dredge in the panko mixture, pressing to make sure the crumbs adhere. Place the breaded slices in a single layer on a plate.

  4. Remove the heated baking sheet from the oven. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and tilt until the bottom of the baking sheet is evenly coated. Place breaded eggplant on the baking sheet in a single layer.

  5. Bake until well-browned and crisp on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Flip the slices and bake until crispy all over, 10 to 20 minutes more. Meanwhile coarsely chop 1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves.

  6. Sprinkle the parsley over the baked eggplant and serve with marinara sauce or labne for dipping.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate the baked eggplant slices in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat, place the slices on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Alternatively, heat up the slices in a nonstick pan over medium heat until crisped up.