Mark Bittman’s Eggplant Parmesan Recipe (2024)

By Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman’s Eggplant Parmesan Recipe (1)

Total Time
An hour, or a little more (sadly)
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This is the most minimalist eggplant Parmesan imaginable, really an eggplant gratin with tomatoes. You cook the eggplant in abundant oil. Yes, you can broil it or bake it, but I really think the taste of eggplant slices that have had oil boiled right through them is dreamy. Make a 15-minute tomato sauce of fresh or canned tomatoes, onion and olive oil, then grab a gratin dish and layer the eggplant, sauce and Parmesan. Do this two or three times, and that's it. Bake until it's bubbly and golden brown. It's great hot or at room temperature, so it's perfect for a potluck.

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Yield:4 to 6 servings

  • Olive oil as needed
  • 2pounds eggplant, preferably small ones but in any case, firm
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1medium onion, chopped
  • 2pounds fresh plum tomatoes or one 28-ounce can, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Chopped parsley for garnish, optional

Ingredient Substitution Guide


  1. Step


    Put ⅛ inch of oil in your largest skillet (the bigger the skillet, the faster you can get through sautéing the eggplant) and turn the heat to medium. Start trimming and slicing eggplant: ½-inch slices, or maybe ⅜-inch, but not as thin as ¼ inch. When the oil shimmers, add the eggplant; you can crowd them as long as they don't overlap. Season with salt and pepper and cook, turning as necessary, until nicely tender and browned on both sides; drain on paper towels. Add more oil when necessary.

  2. Step


    Cook the onion in the remaining oil; when it's tender, add the tomatoes and some salt and pepper and cook at a lively simmer until saucy, 10 or 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 400.

  3. Eyeball your eggplant and your baking dishes and pick a nice dish that will work. I like a big oval gratin dish for this. Add a layer of eggplant, then tomato sauce, then cheese, then eggplant, tomato sauce, cheese. That will probably do, but you can make more layers if you like. Bake until the cheese is melted and the whole thing is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot or at room temperature.



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Cooking Notes


I brushed the eggplant on both sides with oil and baked it in half pans for about 25 mins/side at 375 degrees turning once. I cooked them and made the sauce the day before. I used very little sauce when assembling and served some on the side. Since everything was cold it needed to bake for about 45 mins--time for two co*cktails! Delicious and simple. Served two people for two dinners along with a green salad. This is delicious cold too. Great summer first course for six.


I cook eggplant slices, seasoned with olive oil, salt & pepper on my Panini grill - no mess, fuss or turning and it uses less oil. I use this grill for onion slices, peppers, etc.

We always love Mark's recipes. They are simple and delicious.

lynn rogers

No thank you. I have eaten/cooked Southern Italian/Siciliano all my life and we pretty much never salt our eggplant. And they come out fantastic. That has become much an urban cooking myth. Old eggplants with big seed clusters, THAT is what makes for bitter eggplant.


Try putting the eggplant in a very very hot cast iron frying pan. This will seal the eggplant and it will not "grab" the oil so readily.


If you select small, young eggplant, the salting and draining step are not necessary. As eggplant grows it becomes more spungy and will absorb more oil. Aging also affects the potential bitterness. While there is a real temptation to reduce the amount of oil, you should just try the luxury of having it cooked in oil, it is so silky, a special treat. I would rather reduce the serving size and enjoy it as it has neen prepared for generations of Mediterranian cooks.

Karen L Davis

This received real kudos: "Best eggplant parmigiana I've ever had," echoed around the table. Followed a contributor's suggestion to bake rather than saute the eggplant first but did it at 400 degrees rather than 375. Made the sauce with wonderful summer tomatoes. So easy for such wonderful taste. This is definitely a keeper.


I've always prepped eggplant before cooking by peeling, slicing, heavily salting, resting (for an hour) and rinsing. This does not make the dish salty, and I've been told it prevents bitterness. Thoughts? I'd love to skip this step if it's not necessary. Note, I have eaten eggplant that's been bitter and NOT a fan.

Frank Labriola

Back in the old “Neapolitan” Bensonhurst days the best "cooks" fried the eggplant twice and always in good, but not extra virgin olive oil. The second frying had Nanny and Mom dip the par-cooked slices in a slurry of beaten eggs, 50/50 grated parmigiana & pecorino, chopped Italian parsley, ground black pepper (no salt required). Then back to the medium-hot oil until golden. then drained very well on paper towels or flattened brown paper grocery bags. Layer and bake as Mark shows.


I use the Asian eggplants as they don't need to be peeled or salted. They have no bitterness, the skin is very tender, and the seeds are usually tiny. I cut them lengthwise for bigger slices. They've become readily available in recent years, and the price has come down accordingly. I particularly like the Orient Express variety if it's available. That's also the easiest variety to grow if you want to grow your own.


Always best to peel the skin off the eggplant (it can be bitter). As for the cheese, yes, many Italians use grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano instead of layers of sliced Mozzarella --- even on pizza, which is quite delicious!

Kassem Allie

Try this. "Bake" 3 large whole eggplant outside on gas grill, prick several times with fork, until charred then scoop out meat leaving skin behind. Mix in some ricotta then layer with a spicy marinara and a mix of Parmesan and muenster finishing with a mix of the two. Baked foil covered 10 min at 475 then uncovered 5 mins. Gratin deluxe sans the ton of oil.

lynn rogers

Some of us like the skin on the eggplant and grew up eating this dish, caponata, and pasta alla norma with skin on. I don't find it bitter. Helps to get very fresh eggplants.

Carlo Blandeburgo

Yes this is an old Sicilian recipe that has been in my family forever. No need for onions it will interfere with the subtle taste of eggplant. A basil topping is the most appropriate. Easy on the basil. Most Italian vegetable dishes come from Southern Italy the agricultural area for the nation. And it has been, historically, the poorest part of Italy veggie dishes were economical. Sicily being a dominant farming area is also the largest provider of vegetables.


Marcella Hazan, the Julia Child of Italian cooking, disagrees. Her recipe for eggplant parmesan in "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" includes ½ cup of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano. She includes mozzarella and fresh basil and dredges the eggplant slices in flour before frying, but otherwise the recipe is similar to this one. As for parmesan being sour, that's a new one on me.


I just find that eggplant soaks up a ridiculous amount of oil. Also wondered about salting first -- generally recipes suggest that to draw out the water. Any tips for minimizing the amount of oil used?


This has become a weeknight dinner regular. So easy to assemble. I usually add a little herbes de provence but it doesn't even need that to be flavorful. Proof that starting with fresh, quality ingredients results in an elegant, simple and delicious dish.


Loved the finished dish. I made some adjustments to fit my needs. I roasted the eggplant instead of frying brushing the slices with olive oil to make ahead. Also let the canned tomatoes simmer for a while. In assembling I found I was short on eggplant for the number of people I was feeding so added a layer of cooked spinach. A favorite all around.


2 lbs of eggplant cooked down to so little (in the oven) that I used a tiny 6x8 pan to get the three layers. We were only 2 people so it was a fine amount with a salad and bread, but I was glad I didn’t try this for a larger group first!


The recipe turned out like an oil slick be sure to thoroughly drain the eggplant and limit the oil used to cook.

Margaret Morrissette

This is one of my favorite recipes during farmers market season. I like its simplicity both in calories and freshness. I respect the old school recipe of breaded eggplant and layers of mozzarella cheese but this recipe sings of a fresh alternative. I followed the recipe on my 1st venture which turned out perfect. Since then I've thrown in mushrooms and garlic with the sauce. I use fresh Roma tomatoes in season for the sauce. In winter I've made it using canned tomatoes or slow roasted tomatoes.


Cut eggplant thicker, at least 12”. Go easy on the Evoo. Like the tomato sauceUsed Pecorino/Romanoand probably would have been better with Parm.Nonetheless less good


These are excelent! Some notes:- Oven: 204 C; Servings: 5 as main, 6 as side dish- Tomatoes: 800-850 grs.; if tomato sauce too acid, add a pinch of sugar;- Eggplants: 5 medium- Parmesan: About 300-350 grs.- Olive Oil: A LOT (eggplants really absorb it!)- Time: More like 2hrs (1hr30 for frying + 30 mins in oven). Last 3-4 mins in grill mode, to brown cheese. - Rub baking dish with garlic before assembling eggplantsSuccess!

Wingin' it

I've made this several times, sometimes frying in a pan, sometimes roasting in the oven. Today I decided to do the eggplant in my toaster oven on the air fryer function. Tossed the slices with a good glug of olive oil and salt and pepper. Did them in two batches, about 10 minutes each at 425. Worked really well and a lot easier than frying in a pan, not to mention less oil intensive.


Lovely! Easy and delicious.


Wowza. This will definitely be in regular rotation. No changes to the recipe. I browned the eggplant slices in a cast iron pan (no sticking). Generous portion of grated parmesan - 5 ounces total. 2 smallish eggplant were perfect.


After slicing the eggplant into 1/2" slices, I lay them on top of a cooling rack and place that into a cookie sheet. I then generously sprinkle the eggplant with salt and then place another cookie sheet on top with a couple of heavy rocks on the top sheet. I leave the weight on top of the eggplant for 1 hour. I then thoroughly rinse all the salt off of each slice of eggplant and place on a kitchen towel to dry. I am then ready to cook in the oil.


Before cooking eggplant slices in oil, I brushed both slides of each eggplant slice lightly with egg whites. This helped the eggplant slices to not soaked up too much oil while cooking.


I’ve been making eggplant parm for decades, and this was every bit as good as more time consuming and elaborate preparations. I did add a little mozzarella because I had it in the fridge, and a pinch of red pepper flakes because…well, just because

Mike K

Help! This is a great recipe, and very tasty. However, much of the olive oil that was soaked into the eggplant is "liberated" during baking, drowning the finished product. I've tried both sautéing the dried eggplant, and eggplant first marinated in olive oil. The latter method turns out less oily, but still not optimum. Any help or suggestions is welcome!


Agree with the baking tip. So much oil if you dry the eggplant.

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Mark Bittman’s Eggplant Parmesan Recipe (2024)


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