Crispy Air fryer eggplant parmesan is a lighter, healthier alternative to classic fried eggplant Parmesan. This eggplant parmesan is crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and so flavorful with no oil used!
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Eggplant parmesan is a popular Italian/American dish. While the classic method requires deep-frying the eggplant, our crispy air fryer eggplant parmesan is cooked in a fraction of the time and uses no oil. This healthy version doesn't compromise on the flavor though and is similar to deep fried version without the extra calories.
When I first tasted Air fryer eggplant parmesan, I can't believe how delicious it is. Even my kids who need to be coaxed to try eggplant didn't realize they were eating an eggplant dish. Since there were no protests and only empty plates, this recipe made it's way into dinner rotation. This dish was inspired by my Air fryer Eggplant recipe because roasted eggplants in the Air fryer are great to use in curries, salads or grain bowls. If you love to roast vegetables in the Air fryer check my Air Fryer Recipe Collection for more favorites.
The eggplant slices are coated in a seasoned breadcrumb mixture with parmesan cheese and air fried until crispy. The breaded eggplant is then topped with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. It's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside bursting with the myriad flavors of spices, herbs, tomatoes and cheese.
The ingredient list might seem long but it's a pretty straightforward and a simple recipe. Follow along with the step-by-step instructions and you'll see how easy it is to make and trust me, it's well worth it. This recipe takes about 10 minutes to prep and another 8 to 10 minutes to cook. So quick if you're looking for a meatless side dish or appetizer. No need to salt the eggplant so that saves you bit of time and work and read along to know the why behind it.
Why We Love Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan
- Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside
- Healthy dish with no oil used. The eggs provide plenty of fat.
- Perfectly seasoned with a seasoned breadcrumb mix and parmesan cheese.
- No salting the eggplant so it's quick to make.
- Makes a great meatless main course or a side dish.
- Eggplant - Choose a large or medium eggplant that's firm, shiny, dark purple in color and has no soft or brown spots.
- For Seasoned Breadcrumbs:
- Parmesan cheese
- Italian seasoning
- Garlic powder
- Black pepper
- All-purpose flour
- Marinara Sauce
- Mozzarella cheese
- Basil leaves
How To Make Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan
Scroll below for the printable recipe card and ingredient measurements.
Even though the ingredient list seems long making the eggplant parmesan is pretty straightforward and relatively easy. Here's how to do it.
Rinse and pat eggplant dry. Cut both ends off. Then cut the eggplant into ½-inch thick slices. Pat each slice dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
Preheat air fryer to 380F.
Mix breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika in a shallow bowl. Lightly whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. Set up the dredging station by having bowls of all-purpose flour, eggs and breadcrumbs mixture together. Dredge the eggplant slice into the flour and shake the excess off.
Take the floured eggplant slice, dredge in the egg and in the bread crumbs, pressing the bread crumbs into the eggplant as you dredge it. I don't spray oil on the breaded eggplant because the egg has enough fat to keep it crispy. You can use a non-aerosol sprayer like EVO Sprayer to spritz some oil to the Air fryer basket and eggplant.
Place the eggplant in the preheated air fryer. You can place as many slices as it fits in your Air fryer basket or tray in a single layer and cook in batches. Air fry for 8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Flip the eggplant and top with marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and sliced basil leaves. Air fry for 1 to 2 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Remove the eggplant from the Air fryer and cook the next batch. You can cover the cooked eggplant to keep it warm. After the last batch you can place all the eggplant in the Air fryer and warm it for a one or two minutes. Serve warm topped with fresh basil and sprinkle of parmesan cheese and more marinara if you prefer.
Do You Need to Peel The Eggplant Before Cooking?
The peel enhances the flavor and isn't bitter. It holds the flesh together and is crispy when cooked. So it's not necessary to remove the peel but it's up to you. The recipe works with the peel or not. But if you must, you can peel it completely or several strips around the eggplant.
Should You Salt the Eggplant Before Cooking?
It's not necessary. A lot of recipes will instruct you to salt the eggplant before cooking to reduce bitterness and excess moisture. They don't breed eggplants to be bitter anymore and patting the eggplant slices dry with a paper towel draws out the excess moisture. This step isn't necessary and saves you time and effort.
Substitutions for Eggplant Parm
These Air fryer Eggplant Parmesan is fairly simple and inexpensive to make as it uses common pantry staples. You can make the following substitutions to suit your needs.
- Gluten free - use gluten free breadcrumbs and gluten free flour.
- Low carb/ keto friendly - use almond flour instead of breadcrumbs and for all-purpose flour, use Lupini flour to tapoica flour.
- No breading - omit the breading altogether for no breaded eggplant parmesan. It'll still be delicious.
- Italian seasoning - use oregano instead.
- Spicy - to make it spicy, add cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
- Marinara sauce - use seasoned tomato sauce instead. Or use my Roasted Vegetable and Tomato Sauce to add more veggies in.
What To Serve With Eggplant Parmesan
I could eat this Air fryer healthy eggplant parmesan on it's own all day long. It's one of my favorite meatless dishes. Here are some ways you can serve this amazing recipe:
- They can be served as a vegetarian side dish with any meat, chicken or seafood dish for an easy weeknight dinner.
- Serve them with a salad or cut up in a salad.
- They'll be delicious on a bed of your favorite pasta and sauce.
- Serve them with a favorite dip. I'd like a spicy mayo or sriracha dip.
- Serve them with more marinara sauce.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Reheat eggplant parmesan in the Air fryer at 350F for a few minutes until warm and crispy.
Freeze - cooked eggplant parmesan without the sauce and mozzarella cheese in a freezer bag in the freezer for 3 months. Reheat in the Air fryer at 390F for 8 to 10 minutes until crispy. You can then flip the eggplant and top with marinara and mozzarella cheese and cook until the cheese is melted.
More Air Fryer Recipes You'll Love
- Air Fryer Roasted Eggplant
- Air Fryer Zucchini Chips
- Air Fryer Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers
- Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
For more Air fryer recipes, check my Air Fryer Recipe Collection.
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Crispy Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan
- 1 eggplant large
- ¾ cup breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoon parmesan cheese grated
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup marinara sauce
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese grated
- fresh basil leaves chopped or slices
- Rinse and pat eggplant dry. Cut both ends off. Then cut the eggplant into ½-inch thick slices. Pat each slice dry with a paper towel.
- Preheat air fryer to 380F.
- Mix breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika in a medium bowl. Lightly whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. Set up the dredging station by having bowls of all-purpose flour, eggs and breadcrumbs mixture together.
- Dredge the eggplant slice into the flour and shake the excess off. Then dredge in the egg and in the bread crumbs, pressing the bread crumbs into the eggplant as you dredge it.
- Place the eggplant in the preheated air fryer and air fry for 8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Flip the eggplant and top with ½ tablespoon marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and sliced basil. Air fry for 1 to 2 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Remove the eggplant from the Air fryer and cook the next batch. You can place as many slices as possible in your Air fryer basket or tray in a single layer. You can cover the cooked eggplant to keep it warm. After the last batch you can place all the eggplant in the Air fryer and warm it for a one or two minutes. Serve warm topped with fresh basil and more marinara if you prefer.
- Store - leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
- Reheat - in the Air fryer at 380F for a few minutes until warm and crispy.
- Freeze - cooked eggplant without the sauce and mozzarella cheese in a freezer-friendly container in the freezer for 3 months. Reheat in the Air fryer at 390F for 5 to 6 minutes until crispy and top with marinara and mozzarella cheese. Cook until cheese is melted.