Can you air fry breaded eggplant? You bet you can! My air fryer eggplant parm recipe is a no oil version of classic eggplant parmesan. You’ll love how you can get your air fryer eggplant cutlets as crispy as you’d like, with no sogginess. And if you don’t have an air fryer? No worries! I’m also going to tell you how to make this parmesan crusted eggplant parm in the oven.
Air fryer eggplant parmesan? Um, yes please.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but eggplant parm is pretty much one of my favorite things. Making eggplant parm in the air fryer takes this delicious dish up another notch in my book.
Aside from being tasty, this recipe has a very practical use. Have you ever had a small leftover eggplant from your CSA box or leftovers from another dish? This recipe is the perfect way to use a baby eggplant!
These healthy eggplant parmesan bites can be worked into a full meal or use them as an appetizer. However you choose to serve them, I really think you’re going to like this healthy baked recipe.
This recipe is special because we’re air frying the breaded eggplant before topping with the sauce and cheese and air frying again. This helps to stop the breading from getting soggy, leaving you with eggplant parm perfection!
Don't you hate it when the edges of the eggplant get mushy with sauce? If so, you're going to like this recipe. That’s not going to happen here!
- Eggplant Parmesan Nutrition
- How to Air Fry Eggplant Parmesan
- Cooking Time and Temperature
- To Air Fry Breaded Eggplant
- To Oven Bake Breaded Eggplant
- How to Reheat Eggplant Parm
- Is it better to freeze eggplant parm before or after cooking?
- What are some good sides for eggplant parmesan?
- Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- Calories in Eggplant Parmesan
- Other Air Fryer Vegetable Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Eggplant Parmesan Nutrition
Why make this recipe when you can buy frozen eggplant parm? I hear you with this question.
I love eggplant parm so much that I have been known to snarf the microwave versions when I am short on time. However, the microwave eggplant parmesan meals really don’t stack up nutritionally to homemade eggplant parm.
For example, here is the ingredients list for a popular store-bought frozen eggplant parmesan:
“EGGPLANT, WATER, TOMATOES, CHEESE BLEND (MOZZARELLA CHEESE [PASTEURIZED MILK, CHEESE CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES], ROMANO CHEESE [PASTEURIZED PART SKIM COW’S MILK, SALT, CHEESE CULTURES, ENZYMES]), SOYBEAN OIL, BREAD CRUMBS (WHEAT FLOUR, SALT, YEAST), ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), SUGAR, ONIONS, SALT, SPICES, DRIED WHOLE EGGS, BLACK PEPPER, GARLIC POWDER”
Yes, this product definitely counts as an ultra-processed food! By making my eggplant parmesan bites instead, you can skip the soybean oil, refined flour, and sugar. (There’s only a little sugar in the microwave eggplant parm, but there’s really no need for it at all!)
White flour (AKA “enriched wheat flour”) is typically enriched or fortified because it is so depleted of nutrients. Instead of the white flour often used in eggplant parm, we’re breading our air fried eggplant parmesan with wheat germ.
We’ve also added ground flax and an assortment of dried herbs to the breading. Aside from the nutrient boost they provide, these ingredients also add great flavor.
What do you need to make my eggplant parmesan air fryer recipe? Here’s what to gather:
- A small eggplant (about 8 ounces; a baby eggplant may be perfect for this)
- Wheat germ
- Ground flax seeds
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Dried oregano
- Dried basil
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Marinara sauce
- Shredded mozzarella cheese (fresh mozzarella slices work too)
- Cooking oil spray
- Fresh basil for garnish
I am using a combination of wheat germ and flax seed for the breading. It’s true that wheat germ does count as a refined grain. However, it is essentially some of the “good stuff” that is removed from white flour.
I talked more about wheat germ in my baked popcorn chicken salad bowl recipe. If you want to stick to whole grains only, whole grain breadcrumbs should work well here. I’d try a whole grain panko for an extra crisp coating!
One more thing! If you have a bigger eggplant, you could make a more traditional eggplant parm versus these smaller bites. You may have to split the recipe up into batches if you can’t fit many large eggplant slices in your air fryer.
For a heartier meal, you’ll also want to add your favorite pasta to this meal, along with some more marinara sauce. The pasta shown in the photos is Tolerant Organic’s Green Lentil Rotini Pasta.
As always, feel free to experiment with ingredients you have on hand! Sometimes a small recipe substitution ends up becoming a new family favorite. You’ll never know unless you try!
There are two great ways to make this recipe, in the oven or in the air fryer. If you’re baking eggplant in the oven, you’ll need a large dark baking sheet.
To make this healthy eggplant recipe in the air fryer, you’ll need an air fryer (of course). Make this eggplant air fry in your Breville air fryer, a Ninja Foodi, or whatever air fryer you happen to have. You may need to adjust the recipe cooking times slightly if you use a different air fryer than I do.
I developed this recipe in my 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. Its two baking trays fits this recipe perfectly.
How to Air Fry Eggplant Parmesan
Begin by rinsing your eggplant, slicing off the stem and blossom ends, and cutting it into ¼ - ½ inch slices. If you have a long eggplant that is a little over 8 ounces, cutting it into 16 slices should be perfect. Try to get the slices all about the same thickness for more even cooking.
If you normally salt and rinse your eggplant slices before cooking to remove bitterness, feel free to do so. I always skip this extra step, and I have no regrets about it.
Beat the egg in a small bowl. In a second bowl, stir together the wheat germ, ground flax, Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Dip each slice of eggplant in the egg and then in the wheat germ mixture. Aim to coat each piece of eggplant on all sides. After the eggplant has all been breaded, it’s time to bake or air fry!
Cooking Time and Temperature
You need to air fry the eggplant for a total of 16 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit and then 3 more minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oven baked eggplant parmesan cooks for 25-30 minutes in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
To Air Fry Breaded Eggplant
Spritz your air fryer baking trays or air fryer basket with cooking oil spray. Place the breaded eggplant in a single layer on the trays. I needed to use two trays for this recipe.
Mist the eggplant slices with more cooking spray. Put the trays in the air fryer oven and cook for 8 minutes at 375F.
Next, flip the eggplant pieces over and switch the position of the trays in the air fryer oven. Air fry for an additional 8 minutes at 375F.
Now, spoon a little marinara sauce on each piece of eggplant and top with a sprinkle of mozzarella and Parmesan. Air fry for 3 minutes at 350F to melt the cheese. Garnish with fresh basil.
To Oven Bake Breaded Eggplant
Preheat the oven to 400F. Spritz a large dark baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the breaded eggplant in a single layer on the sheet.
Mist the eggplant slices with cooking oil spray. Bake the slices in the top third of the oven for 10 minutes. Flip the slices, and bake an additional 10 minutes in the top third of the oven.
Next, remove the eggplant pieces from the oven and spoon on a little marinara sauce. Sprinkle some Parmesan and mozzarella on each breaded eggplant slice. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, giving the cheese time to melt. Garnish with fresh basil.
How to Reheat Eggplant Parm
The air fryer is a great way to reheat this eggplant parmesan recipe and keep the edges crispy. Try air frying leftover breaded eggplant for 2-3 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, reheat the eggplant in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until hot.
Is it better to freeze eggplant parm before or after cooking?
I’ve always frozen baked eggplant parm in individual servings that can be reheated when needed. However, Martha Stewart recommends freezing eggplant parmesan before baking. The main concern with either method is preventing the eggplant from getting too watery when it is thawed and heated.
What are some good sides for eggplant parmesan?
I could eat these eggplant parm bites all by themselves! If you need more to your meal, consider adding some pasta. We used a legume-based pasta made from green lentils that is packed with protein!
For a lower carb and much lower calorie option, consider serving the eggplant over Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash. You could also try spiralized zucchini or shirataki noodles.
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). These eggplant parmesan bites can make a light veggie-packed lunch or dinner by themselves. The cheeses add an adequate amount of protein to the meal.
To add more volume without packing on the calories, consider serving the bites over some lightly wilted spinach or other greens. You could also serve this parmesan eggplant over spiralized squash noodles.
If higher protein and energy is what you’re after, add a legume-based pasta and additional tomato sauce. These additions will add over 350 calories to the meal.
The legume-based pasta also adds a lot of plant-based protein, making the meal very filling (at least IMVHO). With the pasta, this eggplant parm offers a whopping 53.8 grams of protein per serving!
The reason the legume pasta is a “lean protein” while also being relatively high calorie is that it is not very protein dense. While lentils are a low-fat source of protein, they are packaged with a lot of carbohydrates. The carbs add a lot of calories to the pasta (unlike, for example, white fish, where most of the calories come from protein).
This doesn’t mean that the pasta is a “bad” or “unhealthy” choice. However, it does mean that it may be easy to overdo it if you are trying to create a calorie deficit for weight loss. On the other hand, if you’re having trouble maintaining or gaining weight, pasta may be a great addition to meals. Bon appetit!
Calories in Eggplant Parmesan
A serving of this eggplant parmesan is under 500 calories when used over two cups of spaghetti squash. Alternatively, a serving of this air fryer eggplant parm is 852 calories when you add lentil pasta and extra marinara sauce.
Classic eggplant Parmesan isn’t the healthiest choice because it is fried and eggplant becomes a veritable oil sponge when you fry it! Baking or air frying eggplant parm is a great way to reduce the amount of added oil. These cooking techniques lighten the recipe and help to make it a healthier choice.
To make keto air fryer eggplant parm, try substituting the wheat germ in this recipe for pork panko. I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet it would be delicious!
You could make this recipe into a gluten-free air fryer eggplant parm with no breading. The eggplant should cook in a shorter time than the breaded eggplant. That said, it doesn’t feel like true eggplant parmesan to me unless it has been breaded. I think of plain eggplant slices topped with sauce and cheese as more of an eggplant-based pizza.
Breading can become soggy in eggplant parm recipes when the eggplant is baked in the sauce. To make not soggy eggplant parm, let your breaded eggplant crisp up in the oven or air fryer first. Then top it with a measured amount of sauce and cheese, and bake just long enough to melt the cheese. Perfect!
No, don’t peel your eggplant unless it is extremely blemished and unsightly! You’ll save yourself some extra work and help reduce food waste in your kitchen by leaving the eggplant unpeeled.
Other Air Fryer Vegetable Recipes
Are you looking for other ways to cook vegetables in the air fryer? Your search is over! Check these out:
- Air Fryer Carrots
- Air Fryer Jicama Fries
- Brown Butter Sage Air Fryer Squash
- Air Fryer Radish
- Air Fryer Home Fries
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Eggplant Parm
- 1 small eggplant, cut into ¼-½ inch (0.64-1.27 cm) slices (8-9 ounce/227-255 gram eggplant, cut it into 16 slices)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup wheat germ
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- cooking oil spray of choice
Breaded eggplant toppings:
- ¾ cup marinara sauce (choose one with no added sugar and no added oil, if possible)
- 2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (57 grams; approximately ½ cup)
- 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese (for topping)
- fresh basil (for garnish)
Optional items to serve:
- 8 ounces legume-based pasta (227 grams or 4 cups of steamed spaghetti squash)
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- Note: Some people salt and rinse their eggplant slices before cooking to help remove the bitterness. I have never done this with the eggplants I purchase, but feel free to salt and rinse if you usually do.
- Rinse your eggplant and cut off the blossom and stem ends. Slice the eggplant into ¼-½ inch (0.64-1.27 cm) slices. I generally just cut the eggplant into 16 even slices, rather than worrying about precise measurements.
- After slicing your eggplant, beat the egg in a small bowl. Mix the wheat germ, flax, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and onion powder in another bowl.
- Dip each slice of eggplant in the egg and then in the wheat germ mixture. Try to coat the eggplant on all sides.
To Air Fry Eggplant Parm:
- Mist your air fryer baking trays or air fryer basket with cooking oil spray. Place the breaded eggplant in a single layer on the trays. I needed to use two trays for this recipe.
- Mist the eggplant slices with more cooking spray. Put the trays in the air fryer oven and cook for 8 minutes at 375°F (190°C).
- Next, flip the eggplant pieces over and switch the position of the trays in the air fryer oven. Air fry for an additional 8 minutes at 375°F (190°C).
- Now, spoon ½-1 tablespoon of marinara sauce on each piece of eggplant and top with a sprinkle of mozzarella and Parmesan. Air fry for 3 minutes at 350°F (175°C) to melt the cheese. Garnish with fresh chopped basil.
To Oven Bake Eggplant Parm:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Mist a large dark baking sheet with the oil.
- After breading all of the eggplant slices, mist them with the oil spray. Bake the slices in the top third of the heated oven for 10 minutes. Then flip them and bake an additional 10 minutes in the top third of the oven.
- Remove the eggplant slices from the oven and top each with ½-1 tablespoon of the marinara sauce. Distribute the shredded mozzarella cheese evenly between each slice, then add a pinch of the remaining Parmesan to each.
- Bake the slices for an additional 5-10 minutes, giving the cheese time to melt. Garnish with fresh torn basil.
To serve eggplant parm over pasta:
- Cook the legume pasta according to package directions or steam the spaghetti squash. Heat the marinara sauce on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- Divide the cooked pasta or spaghetti squash between two plates. Spoon on the warmed marinara sauce. Top with the cooked eggplant parmesan.