stuffed eggplant parmesan

I might be deeply ambivalent about:
* fall (less the weather cooling off and more how long it insists up staying cooled off for; doesn’t 8 months seem excessive?),
* stuffed vegetables (the good ones are great but the bad ones a very underseasoned-rice-in-green-peppers-cooked-until-soggy-and-gray, you know?),
* and eggplant parmesan (mostly the staggering amount of effort made to fry and crisp rounds of eggplant only to burrow it in crisp-cancelling sauce and cheese, why)

what you'll need

… but this dish manages to enlist parts of all three and it exceeded every expectation. I first spied a version of this on The Kitchn. I liked that you get all the flavors of a great eggplant parmesan including a crunch on top but with a lot less work. You could actually make this on a weeknight. The ingredient list is pretty short. Plus, we’re at that perfect cooking point in the year, when almost everything is not just in season but bountiful at the markets but it (occasionally) cools off enough that baking things in the oven is appealing again. It never lasts long enough and this is such a fun way to celebrate it.

make sure they fituse a paring knife to shape the hollowa melon baller or spoon workshollowed eggplantsif you can't make your own, storebought is fineroasted, sauce in panprepare filling ingredientsadd sauce to the fillingassembly timeready to finish

I had a (kind of rare) urge to add meat to it for more protein and balance, and did so in the filling, but you could either skip it or swap in lentils or vegan sausage crumbles if you’d like to keep it meat-free. I’m not crazy about jarred tomato sauces and added directions to make an easy one of your own; it has virtually no prep and can simmer for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the filling. I found it needed more cooking time than suggested, fewer breadcrumbs, more seasoning, and a little less cheese, and made these adjustments below. But here’s the one I didn’t write in: I really think you should double this dish. As written, it might serve two to three, four if there’s a side dish or two, but it’s not much more work to double it and the ingredient levels make more sense. I expect it to freeze really well, so you can consider it a gift to yourself later this winter if you don’t finish it the first or second night, but spoiler: you absolutely will.

stuffed eggplant parmesan


Six months ago: Perfect Meatballs and Spaghetti
One year ago: Flapjacks
Two years ago: Tomato Bread + A Bit About Spain
Three years ago: How to Julienne and Plum Squares with Marzipan Crumble
Four years ago: Caponata and Zucchini Rice and Cheese Gratin
Five years ago: Chocolate and Toasted Hazelnut Milk and Herbed Tomato and Roasted Garlic Tart
Six years ago: Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
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Eight years ago: Peach Butter, Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint, and Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Nine years ago: Grape Foccaccia with Rosemary and Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto
Ten years ago: Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies
Eleven years ago: Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee, Bourbon Peach Hand Pies and Raspberry Breakfast Bars and Braised Romano Beans
Twelve years ago: Hoisin Barbecue Sauce and Lemon Layer Cake
Thirteen years ago: Silky Cauliflower Soup and Summer Squash Soup

Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

If you’d like to make your own tomato sauce, here’s how I do it: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pot over medium, add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a pinch or three of red pepper flakes, and a little dried oregano, if you wish. Cook for one minute. Add a 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (it will splatter, be careful) and stir. Cook at a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until you get the saucy consistency you want. This yields 3 cups.

  • 2 medium eggplants (about 3/4-pound each); use more if fairytale (small) eggplants
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 pound ground sausage meat (I use mild Italian pork or chicken)
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato marinara sauce, prepared (use your favorite brand or the recipe in Notes)
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 2 tablespoons panko-style breadcrumbs
  • 6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) low-moisture mozzarella, coarsely grated, divided
  • 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) finely grated parmesan, divided

Prepare your eggplant: Heat oven to 400°F. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Use a paring knife to outline a 1/2-inch border all around the eggplant half, then use a spoon or melon baller to remove the eggplant flesh, being sure not to cut through the bottom as you create boats out of the eggplant halves. Rub each half with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange halves cut sides up in a lasagna pan, 9×13-inch baking dish, or 3-quart casserole dish and roast until eggplant is tender and browned at edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. Leave oven on.

Make the filling: While the eggplant roasts, prepare the filling. Chop the scooped-out eggplant flesh into about 1/2-inch chunks and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add sausage meat and use your spoon to break it up and cook it just until no longer pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add chopped eggplant, season the mixture well with salt and black pepper, and cook, stirring as needed, until eggplant is soft and wants to stick to the pan, about 7 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of prepared marinara sauce and a bit of the basil and warm through. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and mix in half the mozzarella and parmesan.

Assemble and finish: When eggplant boats are soft, remove them briefly from their dish and pour remaining 1 cup prepared marinara sauce in the bottom and stir remaining basil into it. Arrange eggplant boats back in dish and stuff them with as much filling as you can (you’ll probably have a little extra which can be baked in a smaller dish). Sprinkle stuffed eggplants with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil and pinch of salt over the breadcrumbs and stir to evenly coat the crumbs, then sprinkle them over the cheese.

Bake stuffed eggplants for 10 minutes, just to marry the flavors, and then run under your broiler until brown and blistered on top, anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how robust your oven is.

Serve: Let eggplant rest for 5 minutes before serving, spooning some extra sauce from the pan over each.

Do ahead: You can assemble this dish up to two days before baking it, and it also reheats well, keeping in the fridge for 2 to 4 days (the smaller length of time if you assembled it two days earlier). I haven’t frozen this dish but expect it to freeze well.

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200 comments on stuffed eggplant parmesan

    1. Kat

      I’d love to make this for a vegetarian friend who is coming over. Would you substitute anything for the meat (mushrooms? Zucchini?) or just omit? Thanks!

      1. Vegetarian meat substitutes have come an incredibly long way! My fiancee is a vegetarian (I’m not) and I really love field roast sausages. They cook up beautifully ground or whole, and they’re easy to find in large grocers

        1. Lisa K.

          I’m making this next week when it’s
          cooler and I’m using frozen sauce and meatballs to fill. I’m making the rice stuffed tomatoes this week. I’ll be back with my review.

    2. I made a vegetarian version for dinner and I’ve found a new staple for our house! I replaced the meat with about a half cup of wild rice and three Morningstar Farms breakfast sausage patties, baked and then chopped up. I didn’t make a single other change (although I did use store bought tomato basil pasta sauce) and we were over the moon for this. I sometimes don’t love eggplant and I am thrilled to have a wonderful use for it! Thank you Deb!

    3. Kirsten

      I made a veg version by adding some leftover zucchini and bruschetta that were in the fridge in with the chopped up eggplant and mixing it with ricotta before stuffing the boats. Turned out great and my non-veg husband even said it was “not bad,” which is high praise from him!

      1. Alexis

        I made a veg version with lentils – just cooked the lentils separately as per normal and mixed them in after the eggplant stuffing had cooked. It was delicious! Likely to become a new staple.

      2. miriam sulfaro

        Hi Deb,
        Love your stories, writing and of course your recipes. I worked up the courage to bake for the first time in my life last summer with your peach pie with crepe fraiche. It was fantastic.
        I love all the ingredients in this recipe and will try it. In the past , I just usually use what I have on hand.
        The only thing I do differently is I roast the flesh & then scoop it out after roasting. I then add it to the other ingredients to meld the flavors. I find this gives the flesh that wonderful roasted flavor,
        Thank you for all the wonderful recipes.

  1. Charlotte in Toronto

    Oh yes! I was hoping that this wouldn’t be a vegetarian version! You made all my dreams come true. Looks perfect. Thanks for this.

    1. , For vegetarian add cooked beans, shredded carrots, sliced zucchini, sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced onion, to the spaghetti sauce. I use my homemade spaghetti sauce for recipes calling for tomato sauce, store bought sauce works great. I sometimes put chia seed and ground flax in sauce for extra nutrition.
      (2 tbsp of each)

  2. Anne Farrell

    One thing I like to add to eggplant parmesan is dollops of ricotta cheese in the layers. I am going to make this and try that addition. And “yes” to the mild italian sausage!

      1. Anne

        I made it, and it was indeed delicious. I put a bit of the tomato sauce at the bottom of the “boat,” then the filling, then a dollop of good-quality fresh whole milk ricotta, then a bit more filling, then parmesan cheese, then an oval slice of mozzarella, then breadcrumbs. The dish still requires a bit of work, but totally worth it!

  3. Deanna Wells

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who gets annoyed when recipes call for jarred tomato sauce. They’re all so expensive and sweet here I always make my own, which is virtually identical to yours. I’ve made the other stuffed eggplant you posted and adore it…do you think the hollowed out boat method would work with that recipe as well? I think it might, and would make assembly so much easier.

    1. Carswell

      When it comes to jarred tomatoes sauce I always buy Italian passata. It is just crushed tomatoes – no sweeteners and no flavours. It is usually a little thinner than a can of crushed tomatoes.

      I never purchase premade/flavoured sauces.

    2. Elena

      I’ve always made my own “gravy” but once I found Rao’s marinara and haven’t looked back. It’s better than my Dad’s but I’d never tell!!

    3. Ellen

      Rao’s is expensive, but worth the cost mostly…and I try to buy it on sale. Use the marinara–it’s all purpose and delicious. I don’t like sweet sauce either and agree most bottled sauces are too sweet. Try Rao’s if you’re out of time and homemade sauce.

  4. Lena

    It’s not eggplant parmesan without ricotta filling. Although this does seem a good way to make this a lot easier to make on a weeknight. Reminds me in a way of Greek “papoutsakia” which is a variation of Moussaka, except for cooking the eggplant in individual pieces.

    1. MaryAnne

      I have had a ton of eggplant parmesan throughout my life and in various countries and never encountered ricotta (hence the parmesan in the name). However, I added a dollop on top and loved it.

      1. han4shin

        But this requires the eggplant be baked once without the filling and once with the filling- so if I plan on freezing it, should I skip baking the empty eggplant too?

      1. Hillary

        We really enjoyed this! My husband declared it the best vegetarian meal ever! I used some lentils instead of sausage and threw in some chopped mushrooms to the filling. I also made the homemade tomato sauce in the notes. Will definitely make again! I had large eggplants and an ice cream scoop was a great tool to scoop out the eggplant.

  5. Cait

    Have you tried ATK’s Eggplant Parm recipe? Swap in panko for regular bread/breadcrumbs and rather than assembling it all in a casserole dish and baking (again), just pull the fried/breaded eggplant rounds from the oven and stack, layering with mozz slices/sauce. Each person gets their own crispy, saucy, cheesy mini tower of deliciousness.

  6. Charlotte

    I have made something similar and just called it stuffed eggplant (although my SIL has a fancy greek name for it). I also do something very similar (without the tomato sauce but with some spinach and cream cheese) to stuff portobello mushrooms. We look our stuffed veggies around here.

      1. Grace

        I left out the meat and it was delicious. I made your sauce and it’s the best! I hate bottle sauce and only sauce I ever liked was my mother’s that she cooked all day with pork neck bones and meatballs so I am thrilled to find a quick and easy sauce. Thank you for your recipe.

      2. Made this without the sausage- amazingly delicious, one of those dishes that’s better than the sum of it’s parts! And it was as beautiful as your photo Deb❤️

  7. Very tasty Deb! I’d never really cooked with eggplant before this so I was glad to try something new. I was really happy with the outcome but mum didn’t know about eating the ‘skin’ (she hadn’t eaten eggplant before either).

  8. Allison

    Yes yes yes! Hooray for a new eggplant recipe! I cannot wait to try this. I’ll use the Rao’s marinara probably instead of making my own sauce. Can’t wait for this meal!

    1. Jill

      You can work this out on something like MyFitnessPal – it’ll let you link the recipe website and then you can edit as needed. It’s really quick and easy :)

  9. Diane

    I love eggplant and will definitely plan to make this! I make eggplant parm using my George Forman grill – a Panasonic press would work as well. Prep the slices with egg wash and flour and crisp them on the grill. No mess, not oily and they stay crisp when layered with the sauce and cheese.

  10. brooklynjen

    If anyone has made this vegetarian without a meat substitute, I’d love to hear if it worked well or if it needs something more to break up all the eggplant. I love the idea of this as a lighter, easier alternative to all that breading and frying. Thanks!

  11. Kathy

    Does everyone know how to choose eggplants? The female ones have many more seeds than the male ones. Look at the bottom of the eggplant: female eggplants have a slit and males have a sort of round dot. Since seeds can be bitter, you want to pick the males for cooking.

    1. Michelle de Lima

      Sorry, but there’s no such thing as a male eggplant. All fruits are the swelled ovary of a plant, so they are the female plant part. They all have seeds; some are just more mature and therefore have larger and more noticeable seeds as well as a tendency to bitterness.

  12. Susan

    Our neighbor gave us two eggplants and I used what I had on hand to make this: ground beef, jack cheese, and pecorino Romano. I boiled some pasta to mop up the pan sauce. Lovely, and PRESENTATION, too.

    1. Rachel

      I bet it would get pretty mushy if you peeled the eggplant. FWIW, we didn’t eat the skins, just scraped the inside from them with spoons. My husband even suggested that you could do this without the eggplant shells in the first place. Maybe you could peel the eggplants, chop up all the flesh and just make the filling, inside a casserole dish? That’s actually what I might do next time, save some prep time. :)

  13. Kathy Kelsey

    I made this last night, but instead of eggplant, I happened to have purchased 2 baseball size round zucchinis. It worked out perfectly. My husband loved it.

  14. Kathryn Platt

    I made this last night. It was so easy. I may never make eggplant parm the old way again. BTW It took as little longer for the skins to get soft. Also I used gluten free bread crumbs. The sausage was good, but we concurred it didn’t need it.
    Great recipe.

  15. amatheso

    I tried this this week–SO Amazing! It smells and tastes just like lasagna. I’ve also never understood chicken or eggplant parmesean–why bother breading the food if you’re going to drown it in sauce? Makes no sense. I’m glad we are on the same page. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Rachel

    Made this last night, delicious! Took a fair bit longer than anticipated since I doubled the recipe and thus had to double the prep work. I’m not the fastest cook in the business, so I started cooking at about 4:15 and everything was ready by about 5:30 or so.
    The homemade marinara was a great idea and so easy (I used one 28oz can and one 14 oz can to accommodate the doubled recipe).
    We’re trying to eat less meat, so I used Beyond Meat hot italian sausage and it tasted great.
    A keeper, and even toddler approved!

    1. Sherryn Adair

      Beyond Sausage is the way to go. On another note, my stepdaughter and I each made this and the boats were tough and disappointing. I think I’d salt the boats, leave them sit for 30 min to soften then roast. May also depend on ripeness of eggplants.

  17. Maria

    It’s almost ready to take out of the oven! My whole kitchen smells amazing and I’m sure it will be delicious! I was craving eggplant Parmesan but didn’t want to do all the work and then I saw this on Instagram…problem solved! Thanks.

  18. Julie

    I made this last night with spicy Italian turkey sausage, and added a minced red bell pepper to the onion and eggplant mix just because I had it. Amazing. This is in the rotation!

  19. I made this mostly as described, using browned ground turkey and having had to sub shredded Mexican blend cheese for the mozzarella because I thought we would have pizza tonight. (And I chunked up a zucchini and added it so that it got used instead of tossed to the chickens days later.) Instead, we had this leftover and reheated at 300F until bubbly. My goodness was it good! Great idea for using up the very big and beautiful eggplants that are coming in right now. Perfect with chewy garlic bread and cold apple cider, which is also coming in at the local market. Yay fall dinners! Yay Deb! ❤️

  20. Eliza

    This is delicious if you arent comparing it to eggplant parm. It was easy to make and is a very presentable dish. It would be easy to make it ahead but I think they might lose too much structure if frozen.

  21. I did it last night, could have spend a little more time roasting the eggplants as the bigger ones were a bit underdone, especially close to the stem.

    I skipped the sausage but added a little smoked paprika and dry red peppers to the filling, it was delicious this way!

  22. This looks delicious! We’ve cut back a lot on our meat consumption and are starting on building our ‘meatier’ vegetable repertoire. I got a bunch of aubergines from the local market for a veg moussaka recipe and with the leftovers, am going to give this a go as the vegetarian option with lentils. Thanks!

  23. Allison

    Thank you for this recipe! I love eggplant farm but have been SO resistant to making it–too much work! I can’t wait to try this version.

    1. I am not fussy on eggplant but love using it this way. slice eggplant lengthwise, put on cookie sheet, brush both sides with oil, salt and pepper, bake 350 for 30 min. Use in lasagna instead of noodles my neighbour says it’s the best lasagna she has ever had. I also use 1 lb of cottage cheese mixed with 2 eggs and 1 package of spinach mix and use in 1 layer.
      Meat Sauce (or veg)
      Mozzarella cheese grated
      Cottage cheese mixture
      Mozzarella cheese
      Bake 350 for 1 hour.

  24. Nicole B.

    I made this tonight and thought it was very good. For those looking for vegetarian alternatives to the sausage – I made it with Tofurky Italian sausage (don’t be fooled by the name, it’s made from vital wheat gluten, not tofu :D ).

  25. Maro

    dinner success! this was delicious, and way easier than traditional parm. my only note for next time is to make sure that the edges of the eggplant boats get enough salt to soften — ours were a bit firm and bland. but everything else was so so good. we added a bit of shredded cabbage to our “stuffing”, and some leftover homemade ricotta (also from SK recipe) to the bottom of the boats — it was delicious.

  26. TERESA

    Hi Deb.! I’m an Australian born Italian now living in Italy. I made this dish yesterday and it is definitely one of the best stuffed eggplant recipes I’ve ever tried. So if it’s officially “approved” by an almost authentic Italian, then you truly deserve a standing ovation!!

  27. Anna E Bean

    OH. MY. GOODNESS. I made this the other night for dinner, and I’m in LOVE. Thanks for creating an “eggplant parm” recipe that I can make on a weeknight without frying the ENTIRE kitchen!

  28. Amber D.

    Made this last night with some eggplant from my husband’s grandmother’s garden. We loved it! My husband was especially fond of it, because eggplant Parmesan is his favorite food. It was very easy to make and looked so pretty out of the oven.

  29. Nancy H

    I made this, and it was delicious. It was far easier (and healthier) than frying the eggplant. Next time, I would use more tomato sauce in the bottom of the cooking pan, as we would have liked to put more sauce on the eggplant when serving. I had a big “Smitten Kitchen” weekend, with the eggplant Friday night, crispy chickpeas for lunch on Saturday, monkey bread on Sunday morning, and baking confetti cookies (a family favorite) on Sunday afternoon for a bake sale. Thanks so much for all the wonderful recipes, Deb. Smitten Kitchen is my “go to” website for creative, delicious, and manageable recipes.

  30. 22pclark

    Talk about serendipity! So tired last night we didn’t cook the eggplant or the pork sausage, and now, when we’re on our way to the Cape and need something quick and tasty for dinner, here it is! Thanks, and thanks again!

  31. Lin

    Made this for dinner last night with farmer’s market eggplants, basil, & locally made mozzarella…bliss. My husband loved it! I found your website when my daughter was 2 or 3 (she’s 14 now OMG) and I find new things to make ALL the time. I love your approach. Thank you for continuing to rock it out so I can try to do the same.

  32. Jennifer

    That was all kinds of yummy, and popular! I was thinking we’d miss a carb with it (and wondered if I should make pasta) but in the end I made toast (I was thinking garlic toast, but that seemed too involved — I’m sure it’d be fantastic) and salad, and it looked and felt like a complete meal.

    I cut back the sausage to 2/3 lb, and substituted chopped mushrooms for the remainder. I’d use hot italian sausage next time (rather than mild), but otherwise — yum!

  33. Howard Cowan

    My wife and I enjoy your carefully thought-out work. Everyone who cooks probably has his or her version of marinara. Here’s mine, gleaned from forty years of cooking to impress women, as well as ideas from others:
    12 to 14 slightly overripe plum tomatoes, halved width-wise and juice and
    seeds squeezed into small food processor
    Approx. twelve large leaves fresh Genovese basil
    Enough fruity extra-prudish olive oil to cover bottom of 12 inch fry pan
    Enough dried oregano to leave a couple flakes on each piece of cut tomato
    One-half tsp. freshly ground pepper
    Zero garlic, salt, or onion
    Cut tomato each tomato half into about four pieces, peel side down.
    Sprinkle liberally with pepper and oregano while oil warms over low heat.
    Add tomatoes to oil and heat to simmering. Lower flame to “center flame low”
    on gas stove. You may add one-third of chopped basil now, but if you wait until
    the last minute or so, the basil maintains its fresh color. Add processed liquid
    and seeds (they will be pink and somewhat thickened.)
    Cook at a low simmer for about ten minutes. Just before serving add the
    remaining chopped basil–at least three or four tablespoons–and a small piece
    of fresh unsalted butter to swirl in.
    This sauce emphasizes the sweetness of the tomatoes. If served over pasta,
    top generously with finely-grated fresh Reggiano Parmesan to compensate for
    absence of salt.

  34. Jen

    This was the best thing I’ve made in a while. Super simple but so much flavor. It’s got all the Italian flavor and cheesiness that you want. I used veggie sausage and wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you for this! I’m going to make it again next week!

  35. Ann Mayers

    I made this today and it was great. Love the flavor and the crunchy top. All the flavors without all the frying, etc. – I’ll make it again for sure.

  36. Lynn C

    Excellent recipe – very user friendly!! I used ground turkey breast, seasoned it liberally with salt, black pepper, and sparingly with red pepper. Otherwise, the recipe remained the same. Will be on repeat when time doesn’t permit the full-blown eggplant parm recipe!

  37. Andrew

    This is an incredible, restaurant level recipe. Considering how good and healthy it is and how simple it is to make, I see this being served at many gatherings. I’ve eaten it every day for dinner this week and I cannot wait to share it.

  38. terrific recipe. Mostly stayed with the recipe tho I beefed up the onion jalapeno and garlic and threw in some tabasco to boot. Thanks for a really creative dish.

  39. floragal

    I was surprised how undercooked this was even baking for 30 minutes. I guess it depends on how thick your eggplant are but recommend keeping them in there for as long is it takes to get them really soft in that first step. Also looks like Deb uses much more cheese as mine did not look that cheesy at all and I followed the recipe exactly as written.

    Sausage and basil add a lot to this. Thanks!

  40. Peter

    Utterly splendid. After cooking eggplant with sausage, onion, and garlic, there was a terrific fond on bottom of pan. Transferred pan contents to a bowl and deglazed pan with vermouth, then added marinara sauce and basil before returning contents to pan.

  41. curram

    Made this tonight. Next time I would either bake the eggplant shells much longer or just dice the whole eggplant and make a casserole or just use it as a pasta sauce.

  42. Laura in CA

    Made this tonight with lentils instead of meat and it was amazing! Literally, Deb, you and I must have the same taste buds and food preferences because every single recipe you post, I know I can just make it and I will love it at the highest level that one can love a dish – and this dish did not disappoint.

    1. Laura in CA

      After seeing some comments above about undercooked eggplant boats, I wanted to add that I unintentionally left mine in the oven for past 30 minutes (maybe an additional 15 min? but it could have been even more). I thought my eggplant “boat” was perfect – soft, easy to scoop, not al dente at all.

  43. Diana

    Made this tonight with one large eggplant for me and my kids. Used two crumbled breakfast sausage patties for the meat- all I had on hand. Served it with dinosaur shaped noodles for the kids. Everyone ate it and liked it, especially my 13 month old. Totally satisfies an eggplant parm craving with way less effort and maintains crunch!

    1. Emma

      I loved this! It’s definitely going to become a regular. I doubled it and froze a lot of individual leftover servings – had one today and I can attest that it reheats great!! My only change would be to double the sauce next time. There was plenty I just really love tomatoes.

  44. HollyA

    I made this last night and did not care for it. My husband started it, so it’s possible he didn’t exactly follow the recipe, but the end result was a thick, unappealing mush. I liked the flavors, but I think I would make it with crusty bread and turn it into a melt next time to improve the texture. My 14 month old liked it though. From the comments I seem to be in the minority, but this was not a keeper for me. I love this site and cook off of it multiple times a week, so you don’t think I’m just a downer!

    1. mmkms

      I make a version of this with ground lamb, crumbled feta cheese, cooked rice, sweet red pepper, mushrooms and fennel seed. It’s delicious!

  45. catherine

    A quick easy meal to put together in an hour.
    I found this to have more meat than I wanted but everyone else thought delicious – including my eggplant hating husband.
    made the quick tomato sauce too and it was a snap
    Will make again for sure

  46. Diane

    Hi Deb,
    This recipe sounds awesome! I have one question, though. Is it necessary to put salt on the eggplant before making the recipe? I was always taught that you need to salt the eggplant to draw out the bitter flavor.

    1. deb

      I don’t salt eggplant; I know some people swear by it. I haven’t found bitterness to be an issue (some say it’s been bred out) but if you’re more comfortable salting, you absolutely can.

  47. John L

    This blew me away. Thank you so much for sharing! I made it with only 2 ‘boats’ and made extra sauce which was great reheated the next day. Used Textured Vegetable Protein instead of meat. HIGHLY recommend

  48. Johanna

    I made this last night and it is quite good. I messed up by taking the eggplant mixture off the stove and into the eggplants a bit too soon – I rationalized that if the eggplant was already super mushy on the stove it would be even mushier in the oven so stuffed the shells w “al dente” eggplant. LOL. To anyone else thinking this – I highly recommend cooking until totally soft, by the time everything was melty and brown the eggplant still wasn’t there. I have leftovers so gonna run it in the oven a bit longer when I get home tonight.
    I like the presentation but echo what others have said about casserole vs the shells. The eggplant skin is edible of course but after being baked that long i dont know… theres something unappetizing about them. They don’t taste any different from the filling really tho so that’s probably more a matter of personal preference.

  49. Mary

    I made a double recipe of this tonight using half mushrooms, half Italian chicken sausage in the filling and it was great! Also, I don’t own a melon baller or a small ice cream scoop, but a grapefruit knife worked great to help hollow out the eggplants. Thank you, Deb!

  50. This is WONDERFUL! I was so worried, since I substituted so much. Celery and carrot instead of garlic, parsley instead of basil, and yet, it was so tasty and easy! I will definitely make this again!

  51. Carol

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe. I must have made it at least ten times since it was posted. We had a bumper crop of beautiful eggplant in our garden this year, so I had an opportunity to test-drive many eggplant recipes – this one was the winner, hands-down. A real crowd-pleaser, and it does, in fact, freeze really well. I think of you with gratitude every time that I make it.

  52. Ella

    I’ve always been an eggplant skeptic but I think this may have converted me. It’s delicious. We’ve made it once with sausage and once vegetarian with some mushrooms chopped small and sautéed, and both versions were so tasty and hearty! Thanks for this!

  53. MaryAnne

    This is one of my all time favorite Smitten Kitchen recipes to make. I’m a huge eggplant lover and this recipe never fails. It’s so fun to play around with the cheeses, meats, and veggies. I have added various combinations of mushrooms, spinach, soy chorizo, ricotta, asiago, romano, olives, swapped ground turkey or chicken for sausage, etc. I especially love that it requires no breading of the eggplant. This recipe is always a hit in my family and such a comfort food that is easy to make very healthy.

  54. Serena

    Have made this four times now and it is probably one of my all time fave SK recipes. I’ve made some tweaks over time that make it work better for us, but it’s also great as written and is amazing meal prep as time in the fridge improves its taste (though admittedly, not the texture of the topping).

    1) I may be missing something, but the sauce in the pan didn’t do much for us. Instead, I add a bit more (to taste) when mixing the stuffing and then dollop a bit on top underneath the cheese.

    2) The cheese in the stuffing seemed to add calories but no extra flavor, so I just put a mix of part skim mozz and micro-planed parm on top of each eggplant (I find you really don’t need much). Don’t skip the breadcrumbs though!

    3) I usually double the recipe but only use .75 lbs of sausage and use .75 lbs of diced mushrooms (which I add in after the onions when making the stuffing) to up the veggie content. I don’t overfill the eggplant boats but even then we don’t ever have much “extra” filling.

    4) Next time I make it, I’d probably scale back the EVOO (i’m not sure i really need that much in the onions or any when baking the eggplant boats) and potentially go half pork sausage and half turkey sausage to keep the flavor but reduce the fat content.

    5) I usually use Rao’s Spicy Arrabiatta instead of making my own sauce and we like the extra flavor it provides. Sometimes I’ll put a dash of fish sauce in as well to up the umami.

  55. David


    I did double the recipe – so glad I did, will be perfect for some leftovers. Also, my family is a big “Sauce Family”, so doubled that up as well.

    The “stuffing” was just delicious. I used (believe it or not) ground “Beyond Meat” to keep this a “Meatless Monday” dinner, also added in a good amount of chopped mushrooms, that made it even heartier. I might use this as a great rag for pasta.

    My eggplant “boats” were probably the weakest element. I cooked them for about 30 minutes and thought they were soft enough, but probably could have used 10 more minutes. Also, we love the “charred” taste of eggplant, and the boats were just kind of “eggplanty”.

    But overall – this was a winner!

  56. Anne Farrell

    I’ve made this several times and it’s superb. My one suggested addition: whole-milk ricotta into the eggplant boats before the rest of the filling. DELICIOUS.

  57. Meg

    I made this last night. It was very yummy! Only critique is I wanted more cheese! I’m thinking next time I will add some ricotta to get the extra cheesiness I want. Also I don’t much meat so I subbed TVP spiced with fennel, oregano, and red pepper flakes for the sausage.

  58. PJ

    This was an excellent recipe. I used a good jarred marinara, a vegan crumbled meat substitute and fresh mozzarella (since that’s what I had in the fridge) but otherwise followed everything exactly and it came out delicious. Will definitely be making it again at some point.

    However, and I say this respectfully – while it’s a great dish in its own right, it is nowhere near a substitute for eggplan parmesan if that’s what you happen to be craving. Nor is it appreciably any less work: my oven and rangetop were in use just as much and the prep dirties as many bowls, if not more.

    It’s still relatively easy enough to be a “weeknight” recipe (whatever that means these days), but just a heads up in case anyone was hoping, like me, to find a less labor-intensive way of getting an eggplant parm fix. (I happen to love that dish precisely because of the way the crispy eggplant breading soaks up all the sauce and cheese and somehow magically becomes much more than the sum of its parts – and while this dish comes kind of close, it’s a different beast entirely.)

  59. Jane Jolis

    This. Was. Delicious.
    Made without breadcrumbs bc trying to stay away from carbs and it wasn’t noticeable at all. So delish. Thank you!!

  60. RebeccaC

    Looooved this. Love the sausage. Love the crispy breadcrumbs on top. Used tillamook mozzarella and parm blend and it was delicious. Will make again.

  61. Lyssa A

    Best eggplant parm I’ve had in my entire life. I love that it isn’t fried, so there’s less oil than usual eggplant parms; and the skin-on canoes were full of flavor and honestly my favorite part. I used lentils; will make again very soon! Thank you!!

  62. Marlene

    This is SO delicious – everyone in my family loves it! Thank you for a great recipe!

    Btw, I use mild Italian ground turkey (from Publix).

  63. Lauren in Connecticut

    Excellent. Even proved a hit with my super-picky man. I doubled the meat and found that all the filling still miraculously fit. Like some others said, I think the fairly large amount of cheese in the filling is unnecessary. Next time, I plan on cutting back on the cheese and adding some extra sauce for serving on top. Also planning to try making it with meatloaf mix instead of sausage in the future, since we’re not the biggest sausage fans. Can’t wait to serve this to friends soon.

  64. Monica

    Yet another winner of a recipe! I added a bag of spinach after the eggplant and before the marinara sauce, and used chicken sausage. The flavors really come together and gave this composed dish a wow-factor.

  65. Adam A.

    Made this on Sunday, and it was delicious. Put the leftovers in the fridge, reheated, and enjoyed again on Thursday – amazing!!! Another winner. Thank you Deb!!!

  66. Kate

    Made this last night. Like a couple other posters I saw, I did just over 25 minutes on the boats and should have done more — didn’t know exactly what consistency to feel for, but the boats (especially skins) were a bit tough. That said, the filling was absolutely delicious. I may try this again, just skinning the eggplant and only making the filling, and baking it with some cheese as-is. Yum. Thanks Deb!

  67. Laura Ramirez

    I have made this recipe and substituted one cup of cooked green French lentils and a few chopped mushrooms for the sausage (I am vegetarian). Still just as tasty and very healthy.

  68. Jaclyn Herr

    I know you said you haven’t frozen but hoping for advice – If you were making this dish in advance and freezing it for an easy weeknight meal, would you still roast the eggplant first, or just assemble without roasting and bake everything from frozen?

  69. Corie

    Excellent! Made this tonight and loved all the flavors. I doubled the amount of bread crumbs sprinkled on top of the eggplants, but otherwise followed the recipe as it was written. I will definitely make again!

  70. Victoria Watkins

    Yum- this is like one of my (Greek) childhood favorites “pappoutsakia” or little shoes, a Greek staple and so delicious (yes double this recipe it’s even better next day!)

    Thank you, once again, for inspiring what I cook this week!

  71. Emily Topham

    I saw this in a recent newsletter and instantly had an urge to make it! The need for an ambitious project synergized nicely with not having had eggplant for a while. The fact that my nearest grocery store sells sausage meat in 1-pound packages sealed the deal: I followed your suggestion and make a double batch! It took me three hours, but boy howdy was it worth it! I’m not the biggest fan of Italian sausage, but it works brilliantly here. Dinner for today and tomorrow, with the rest (a lot, I live alone) away to the freezer! Another delicious notch in my belt of V-Day weekend cooking projects.

  72. Mairi

    Wonderful recipe, thank you! Huge in flavour, indulgent and delicious, without all the faff of frying slices in oil and layering an aubergine parmigiana – looks more contemporary too I think? Only teeny variation is that I start by roasting the aubergines whole, and I haven’t done it with the sausage.

  73. Melanie

    Hi, I love your recipes and have been following you for the last year or so. Thank you! I do have a request though. Could you please make your recipes printable?

    1. deb

      Thank you! There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL or ⌘ + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template. We will definitely make it easier to find when we next redesign.

  74. Sarah

    Made this last night and loved it! Easy enough to make on a weekday night. I used Morningstar vegetarian Italian sausage crumbles. The only change I made was that I doubled the breadcrumbs (I love breadcrumbs)! Looking forward to making it again and will make some to freeze for the winter. Thanks for the recipe!

  75. Anne

    Fabulous recipe! My husband declared it better than something similar he for lunch at a local cafe! Super tasty ! I did use tomato sauce with basil in it rather than fresh basil and chunky bread crumbs – otherwise I kept everything the same.

  76. Nicole

    Could I make this dish vegetarian? If so what could I substitute the meat with? I’m not a fan of fake meat.

    Thank you

  77. Tea

    I accidentally put sauce IN the eggplant boats in one pan, and none in the other pan, but the results were still delicious. Also, basil was omitted, jar sauce was used, and pepper salami was substituted for the sausage. As you can see, this recipe is forgiving of variations. I also used a mix of regular and Japanese eggplant. The latter is more tender, especially the skin. Yums all around. It’s a flavour and texture carnival.

  78. Debbie

    I made this tonight with sausage and it was a huge hit. So much easier than traditional eggplant parm. I’m thinking of adding chickpeas instead of sausage to serve to my Kosher friends. This is the first summer I’ve cooked with eggplant. What was I waiting for?

  79. Amy

    I have made this delicious dish as is and then frozen the leftover boats after cooking them completely. They freeze beautifully. Pop them Straight from the freezer into the oven.

  80. Lorri

    I usually buy one eggplant a year for SK’s ratatouille but got a lot with our CSA. I kept bookmarking eggplant parm recipes then realizing how much prep time they need! This recipe was a very happy discovery! It came together quickly and I’m looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow.

  81. Carol

    One of the things I like about this is the only ingredient we don’t generally have on hand is the eggplant. So not much planning, just pick up a couple of eggplants if they look good at the market and I know the rest is already at home. It’s an easy, tasty dish. I scooped up the extra sauce on the bottom of the baking dish and served the eggplant on top of it. Next time I think I’ll heat up more sauce, and add a side of pasta.

  82. Jenna

    I made this last night, swapping out sausage for ground beef, and it literally has me dreaming about having this every week. I really didn’t know if I liked eggplant before, but THIS….omg…we loved every single bite and I was mad when it was gone. Thank you for the enlightenment!

  83. Kristina Bronitsky

    For someone who can’t eat tomatoes but loves eggplant, is there another sauce you think could be used?

  84. Janie

    Absolutely delicious, fun to prepare, and great presentation. This has just become my go to eggplant parmigiana recipe. It’s tastier than the layered, time consuming traditional recipes, too. Thanks for your inspired recipes!

  85. Marla Greene

    I have made this recipe now 3-4 times. It is delicious and saves lots of calories by not frying the eggplant. Tonight I also scooped out a round zucchini and sautéed the scooped out zucchini with the eggplant stuffed both the eggplant and zucchini with the mixture. I don’t add sausage as I don’t eat meat. But the recipe does not miss it in my opinion.

  86. Allyson

    I prepped the stuffed eggplant parm today for tomorrow’s dinner. Smelled yum and came together pretty quickly. I used a spicy Italian sausage but I like that the meat isn’t the centerpiece and you can omit it. I try to make a few veg centric meals a week. Can’t wait to try the finished dish!

  87. Joy

    I was hesitant but went ahead and made this for dinner tonight. Not sure if my husband would like it but that just means more for me! I halved the recipe with one large-ish eggplant and ended up with 4 reasonable sized servings. I made the tomato sauce recipe that Deb shared in the notes with a hefty amount of red pepper flakes for a delicious bite that really compliments the eggplant and cheese. There was just enough sauce for the one eggplant as long as I wasn’t too generous with the portions; more sauce certainly would not hurt. I cooked 1/2 a cup of dry lentils to replace the meat and that seemed like a perfect ratio of lentil:eggplant when it was all mixed together. I was a little worried the filling would be bland with lentils rather than sausage so I drizzled the eggplant lentil mixture with about 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar while it cooked. Overall the meal turned out great. It was fairly simple to make and you don’t end up with layers of soggy breadcrumbs like some eggplant parmigianas. It might not be traditional but I’d definitely make it again!

  88. Jean

    I usually stick to Deb’s recipes as they never disappoint but today I did not have sausage or low moisture mozzarella. So, i used a package of diced pancetta and buffalo mozzarella. It turned out to be the best eggplant Parmesan I’ve ever made! I am pretty excited to find a recipe this good. Many thanks for it! The fairy tale size eggplants are perfect. Loved everything about this recipe.

  89. Gwen

    Made this recipe today, and my husband and I loved it. To keep things simple, I used salt-free Hunts tomato sauce, available in Canada, for the marinara sauce. With the addition of fresh basil, the sauce was very tasty and saved time. I replaced the sausage with lean ground chicken. Great flavours!

  90. I made the recipe as you described but added 1 cp of cooked freekah to mix in place of the sausage. We loved it. The Freekah gives you the chewy texture of ground sausage. I would imagine lentil would work but a looser texture. I didn’t add in any extra spice since I use my own homemade marinara that is spicy as it. I always have to order the Freekah online since I can never locate in my local stores.