Cheesy Eggplant Casserole

published Jul 21, 2022
Eggplant Casserole Recipe

With layers of herbed ricotta cheese, quick homemade marinara, meaty yet super creamy and tender eggplant, and a gooey cheesy top, this eggplant casserole is a must-make dinner.

Serves6 to 8

Prep30 minutes

Cook1 hour

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A photo of a square dish of baked eggplant casserole, that looks similar to lasagna, cut into squares with a few pieces missing.
Credit: Laura Rege

If you like eggplant Parmesan, then this eggplant casserole is a must-try and a fun switch-up from the expected. The layers of herbed ricotta cheese; quick homemade marinara; meaty yet super-creamy and tender eggplant; and a gooey, cheesy top live up to the iconic dish but also stand alone as a unique, tasty side or main. Roasting the eggplant rounds in the oven first with olive oil rather than frying them lightens up the casserole and lets you work on making the other layers of the casserole at the same time. Cut the casserole into big pieces and serve as a vegetarian main or portion it out smaller and serve as a side dish.

With a few adaptations, you can make this dish all throughout eggplant season and beyond, adjusting the flavor slightly so it feels different each time. Use another melty cheese instead of mozzarella, such as nutty Gruyère or Swiss, Monterey Jack, or even cheddar. Or use parsley or cilantro instead of basil. For a sped-up version, if you have a homemade marinara or jarred marinara that you already know and love, swap in 2 cups of that and skip making one from scratch.

Do You Peel Eggplant for Casserole?

Peeling eggplant is not necessary. The skin starts off chewy when the eggplant is raw, but turns super-tender as it bakes on the sheet tray and then again in the casserole. 

Do You Really Need to Salt Eggplant?

No, you don’t have to salt your eggplant. Most of the time, salting eggplant is not necessary, especially with commercial-grown grocery-store varieties which have been bred to remove bitterness. There can be recipes where salting the eggplant increases the creamy texture and milds out the flavor, but often such a marginal difference that it’s a step you can skip. 

What Is a Good Seasoning to Put on Eggplant?

Salt and pepper of course, but eggplants also take well to just about any savory spice in the spice cabinet or fresh herb. Sweeter spice like cinnamon and nutmeg pair beautifully with eggplant but should be used in small quantities so they don’t overpower the dish. 

Eggplant Casserole Recipe

With layers of herbed ricotta cheese, quick homemade marinara, meaty yet super creamy and tender eggplant, and a gooey cheesy top, this eggplant casserole is a must-make dinner.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 1 hour

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    whole peeled tomatoes

  • 4 cloves


  • 2 1/2 pounds

    eggplant (about 2 large)

  • 6 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided, plus more for the baking dish

  • 3 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1 bunch

    fresh basil

  • 1 small bunch

    fresh oregano

  • 8 ounces

    low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)

  • 1 (15- to 16-ounce) container

    whole milk ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)

  • Whole nutmeg, or a pinch of ground nutmeg

  • 3

    large eggs


  1. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 425°F. Meanwhile, place 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes and their juices in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until the tomatoes are finely chopped, about 6 (1-second) pulses. Mince 4 garlic cloves.

  2. Trim and slice 2 1/2 pounds eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Arrange the slices in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Brush lightly on both sides with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and season all over with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Roast, rotating the racks and flipping the eggplant slices halfway through, until tender and light golden-brown, about 30 minutes total.

  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened (about 2 cups), about 15 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

  4. Pick and coarsely chop the leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil until you have 1/2 cup. Pick and coarsely chop the leaves from 1 small bunch fresh oregano until you have 2 teaspoons. If needed, grate 8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese on the large holes on a box grater (about 2 cups).

  5. Place 1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese and 3 large eggs in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Add the basil, oregano, half of the mozzarella, a few grinds of freshly grated nutmeg or a pinch of ground nutmeg, the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and stir to combine.

  6. Drizzle an 8-inch square baking dish with olive oil and brush all over. Arrange 1/3 of the roasted eggplant rounds in the dish. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the eggplant. Dollop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the sauce and smooth the top. Repeat layering the remaining eggplant, marinara, and ricotta mixture two more times.

  7. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella evenly over the top. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake on the lower rack until golden brown and bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with more torn or small fresh basil leaves before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The casserole can be assembled, wrapped, and refrigerated before baking up to 2 days in advance. Let sit at room temperature while the oven is heating. Uncover and bake according to instructions, adding a few more minutes bake time.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.