This air fryer eggplant parmesan is a healthier, lighter version of the traditional recipe. It's oil free and, thanks to the air fryer, the eggplant comes out crispy and golden.
What Is Eggplant Parmesan?
Eggplant parmesan is a classic Italian dish. In it's traditional form it's made like a casserole; it's very similar to lasagna, but fried eggplant slices are used instead of pasta. Layers of crunchy fried eggplant, marinara sauce and cheese are stacked on top of each other, and result is the ultimate comfort food.
We're going to make a much simpler and lighter version of this classic dish. Air fryer eggplant lasagna is made with no oil, and because the cheese is vegan, this recipe is dairy free, and hence has fewer calories.
- Eggplant: One of the easiest ways to tell if an eggplant is ripe is to press it gently with your fingers. If the skin doesn't bounce back and an indentation remains, it's probably not ripe enough. You don't need to peel your eggplant.
- Flour: We're using flour to create a batter. All purpose flour works well here.
- Italian Seasoning: Italian seasoning is typically a combination of a variety of herbs including oregano, basil, thyme and parsley.
- Garlic Powder: Garlic powder has a much less assertive taste than garlic cloves, and it's just the ticket for this eggplant parmesan.
- Onion Powder: Onion powder has a unique sweet and savory flavor that you can't get from fresh onions.
- Panko Bread Crumbs: Panko breadcrumbs are lighter and flakier than normal breadcrumbs. They produce a nice crispy texture.
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese: You can either buy the powdered variety or the hard cheese. If you buy the hard cheese, you'll need to grate it quite finely.
- Plant Based Milk: Almond milk is what I used, but feel free to use whichever plant based milk you have on hand.
- Marinara Sauce: Use your favorite brand of marinara sauce - they are all vegan.
- Spaghetti: Spaghetti is the perfect choice for this recipe, but you can use any pasta you have on hand.
- Basil: Basil adds a touch of spicy/sweetness, plus it adds a lovely color.
- First of all, wash the eggplant, cut off the top, and slice it into ¼ inch pieces. Put them in a colander and sprinkle with salt on both sides. Cover the slices with a paper towel, and weigh them down with something heavy. A small cast iron pans works well. Salting the eggplant removes excess moisture, which means your air fryer eggplant parmesan will come out crispier.
- Preheat your air fryer to 190C (370F).
- While the eggplant is draining, prepare your "dredging station."
- Put the panko breadcrumbs, vegan parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the breadcrumbs are very fine, and the parmesan cheese is finely shredded and blended into the breadcrumbs. Transfer this mixture to a shallow bowl.
- Now, add your flour to a shallow bowl.
- Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour and set them aside on a plate.
- Pour your plant based milk into the flour and stir until a batter forms. Dunk the eggplant slices into the batter and then into the panko breadcrumb mixture.
- Spread them out in a single layer in the air fryer. Bake for 8 minutes, flipping once at the half way point.
- Put your pasta onto boil.
- Add a tablespoon of marinara sauce to each slice and sprinkle the vegan mozzarella cheese shreds over the top. Bake for a further 2 minutes. Heat the remaining marinara sauce in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Put your pasta in serving bowls and top with the remaining marinara. Put the eggplant parmesan on top of the spaghetti and garnish with fresh basil!
Did You Make This Recipe?
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you don't need to. As a matter of fact, the skin is full of healthy antioxidants.
That's why we salt the eggplant slices. Salt draws out the excess liquid, which means that you'll end up with crispier eggplant.
Yes, spread the cooked eggplant slices out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze them for two hours. Transfer them to an airtight container, where they'll stay fresh for 3-4 months.
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Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan
For The Air Fryer Eggplant
- 1 large eggplant cut into ¼ inch slices
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoon vegan parmesan cheese finely shredded
- ½ tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup plant based milk
For The Topping
- 1½ cups marinara sauce
- ½ cup vegan mozzarella shreds
- ¼ cup vegan parmesan
- 4 oz spaghetti
- handful fresh basil for garnish
- Cut the eggplant into quarter inch slices, sprinkle with salt and place in a colander, topped with a paper towel and weighted with a heavy item. Allow the eggplant to drain for for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the air fryer to 190C (370 F).
- Put the flour, Italian seasoning, onion powder, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Put the panko breadcrumbs and vegan Parmesan cheese in a separate bowl.
- Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour and set aside on a plate.
- Put the panko breadcrumbs, vegan Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, onion powder and garlic power in th bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is a fine crumb. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
- Add the plant based milk to the flour and stir until a batter forms. Dip the eggplant slices in this batter, and then in the panko breadcrumbs.
- Spray with olive oil and cook in the air fryer for 8-10 minutes, flipping once half way through.
- Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package.
- Add a tablespoon of the marinara to each piece of eggplant and top with vegan mozzarella.
- Top the pasta with the remaining marinara sauce. Serve the eggplant on top of the pasta. Garnish with basil.