Easy Eggplant Parmesan (30 minutes)

This easy Eggplant Parmesan recipe has no breading, no frying and no pre-salting. It’s unfussy, healthy and simply delicious. Good shortcuts cut the time down to 30 minutes. Make it on the grill or in the oven.

Even though it’s much lower calorie than the typical Italian-American version, it still tastes like rich comfort food with its blend of melty cheese, basil pesto mixed into tomatoes and soft creamy eggplant.

piece of eggplant parmesan  on plate

Authentic Italian Eggplant Parmesan actually doesn’t use breading so, like our version, it’s gluten free. It does, however, fry the eggplant in oil.

This recipe, instead, uses a grill to avoid frying and to cut down on cooking time. Grilling the eggplant takes about 6 minutes instead of 20 minutes in the oven. And using the grill instead of the oven to ‘bake’ the eggplant Parmesan also reduces cooking time. I did provide oven instructions in the recipe, though, for those who don’t have a grill.

All in all, in about 30 minutes you can create a yummy vegetarian lunch, dinner or buffet dish. Serve it with some warm crusty bread, over pasta or with a simple salad.

Tips for Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant tips

  • Bigger is not better. Choose 2 medium-small or 1 medium-large eggplant for this recipe. Large mature eggplants tend to be more bitter and have more seeds. Look for an eggplant with a green stem that is firm, smooth and not bruised.
  • I know some cooks feel they have to pre-salt the eggplant to reduce bitterness, but I find if you buy smaller eggplants, especially in season, bitterness is not a problem.

Tomato Tips

  • Choose tomatoes that are firm, glossy and heavy for their size – not too soft and no bruises.
  • If you can’t get good tomatoes or they are out of season, buy canned whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano. Canned tomatoes are picked at the height of the season and make a great substitute. For this recipe use one 28-ounce can which will give you about 2 cups drained tomatoes.
  • Never refrigerate tomatoes.
  • I add a pinch of sugar when sautéing the tomatoes to enhance their flavor.
  • And check out what do do with tomatoes for many other recipe ideas.

Calorie Tips

  • No breading and frying reduces the calories substantially, but if you want to go even further, just reduce the amount of cheese or use low fat Mozzarella.
  • I also spray instead of brushing the eggplant slices with oil. I don’t suggest drizzling oil as the eggplant will soak it up and you’ll end up using much more.

Pesto Tips

  • Fresh homemade Pesto is amazing and only takes a few minutes to make. Try our Classic Basil Pesto. Don’t be afraid to use a store-bought pesto though as I often do for this recipe.

Tailor To Your Taste

  • When sautéing the tomatoes, try adding olives, capers and/or red chili flakes for heat.
  • I like a more rustic version that leaves some chunkiness in the tomatoes. You can puree them or even use a marinara sauce instead (another shortcut!).
  • Add extra fresh chopped basil to the tomato layer or additional pesto when assembling the dish for a stronger basil flavor.

How to make easy eggplant parmesan (no breading, no frying)

eggplant, plum tomatoes, pesto, fresh basil, mozzarella, Parmesan
Ingredients: eggplant, fresh tomatoes, pesto, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese
Eggplant on Grill for Eggplant Parmesan
Spray eggplant with and grill for a few minutes per side.
Chopped tomatoes with Pesto for Eggplant Parmesan
Make sauce by sautéing fresh tomatoes in a skillet with a pinch of salt and sugar. Turn off heat and stir in pesto.
Assembled Eggplant Parmesan on pan (not cheese on top yet)
Line a pan or skillet with foil or parchment. Make two layers starting with sauce. Then eggplant-sauce-cheese. Repeat.
Fully assembled Eggplant Parmesan on pan ready to bake
End with cheese on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Eggplant Parmesan baked on Grill
Cook on grill (or see oven instructions) with lid closed for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Let it sit 5 minutes before serving.
piece of eggplant parmesan on plate p2


  • This recipe uses a number of shortcuts – that don’t compromise taste – to cut down on time and effort.
  • All shortcut options are noted in the recipe.

Make Ahead

  • Make and assemble the Eggplant Parmesan up to a day ahead. Refrigerate it covered.  Grill (or bake) just before serving.

More eggplant recipes

And check out our 25 Meatless Monday dinner ideas.

piece of eggplant parmesan on plate
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4.83 from 40 votes

Easy Eggplant Parmesan (30 minutes)

This easy Eggplant Parmesan recipe has no breading, no frying and no pre-salting. It's unfussy, healthy and simply delicious. Good shortcuts cut the time down to 30 minutes.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
resting time5 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Main Vegetarian dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4


  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant (1 medium-large or two medium-small ones)
  • 1 1/2 pounds Plum or Roma tomatoes (about 4-5 tomatoes) Note 1
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil, divided (or 1 tbsp plus oil spray)
  • 1/3 cup Basil Pesto Note 2
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch sugar
  • 6 ounces Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced (or 1 1/2 cups shredded)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Garnish: chopped fresh basil about 2 tbsp


  • HEAT BBQ GRILL to 450-500 F/232-260c. This will be Medium-High heat on larger grills and High on smaller grills. See Note 3 for oven instructions.
  • GRILL EGGPLANT: Slice off both ends of eggplant. Cut off purple skin if you like, but not necessary. Cut 1/4 inch slices. Brush (don't drizzle) both sides of each slice with olive oil. Alternatively, spray both sides with an oil like Pam. This will use less oil. Lightly sprinkle with salt. Grill for 3 minutes per side or until eggplant is browned and tender.
  • SAUTE TOMATOES: While eggplant is grilling, roughly chop tomatoes. Heat a sauce pan to medium high and add 1 tablespoon oil. Squeeze some of the juice and seeds from tomatoes, then add to sauce pan. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper (about 1/4 tsp). Add a pinch of sugar to enhance the flavor if desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, about 6-8 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in Pesto.
  • ASSEMBLE EGGPLANT PARMESAN: You will make 2 layers. Line a pan (that can go on a grill) with foil sprayed with oil, or parchment (Note 4) – for easy cleanup. I use a 9 x 13" baking pan (it will only cover the middle – about half – or a 10" cast iron skillet.
    Layer 1: Place 2 tablespoons tomato mixture on the bottom (covering about 10 inches by 8 inches). Start with a layer of eggplant (use half the slices, slightly overlapping), top with half the tomato mixture, then half the Mozzarella.
    Layer 2: Repeat for 2nd layer. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
  • GRILL EGGPLANT PARMESAN: Place pan on grill. Close lid. l lower the heat to low or medium on the grill under the pan. Grill, uncovered for 10-12 minutes until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown on top. Sprinkle with chopped basil. Let sit 5 minutes to set, then serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  1. To use canned tomatoes instead of fresh: Drain a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes (use San Marzano if possible). Squeeze tomatoes over sink or bowl to get rid of some of the water and seeds. Sauté as per recipe instructions. 
  2. To make homemade Pesto: Use a store bought basil pesto or make our 5 minute Classic Basil Pesto: Process in food processor until smooth: 1 cup packed Basil leaves, 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/4 olive oil. (makes 1/2 cup).
  3. To bake Eggplant Parmesan (instead of grilling):
    • Bake eggplant slices: Place oiled/sprayed eggplant slices on a large pan and bake them for 20 minutes in a 450F oven, turning once half way through. 
    • Bake assembled Eggplant Parmesan: After assembling, bake uncovered in oven heated to 450F for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and started to brown. Let sit for 5 minutes to set. 
  4. Parchment Paper: Most is good up to temperatures of 425-450F, but Cooks Illustrated use it at temperatures up to 500F. Don’t let it overhang too much over the pan (it it turns brown on edges, though, don’t worry).
  5. Make Ahead: Make and assemble the Eggplant Parmesan ahead. This can be done a day ahead and refrigerated.  Grill (or bake) just before serving. 
Nutrition values contain full fat cheese. You can reduce fat and calories by using lower fat cheeses. 


Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 568mg | Potassium: 825mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 2214IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 350mg | Iron: 1mg
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4.83 from 40 votes (37 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. Holy Cow! I just made this and it was excellent. I didn’t have a grill to use so prepped and cooked it in the oven, worked great. Thank you.

  2. 5 stars
    It came out beautiful! Used good buffalo mozzarella. smells heavenly too. Grill pan works wonderfully for the eggplant.