Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

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If you’re looking for an easy weeknight dinner, try this vegan eggplant Parmesan recipe. It features an egg-free breadcrumb crust, homemade cashew ricotta, and fresh basil. Pair it with wheat or gluten-free pasta for a dish that’s hard to resist.

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan in a white dish with fresh basil garnish
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

If you love Italian food, you’ll want to add this vegan eggplant Parmesan recipe to your dinner rotation.

The dish features seasoned breaded eggplant smothered with marinara sauce and tangy cashew ricotta It’s also topped with vegan mozzarella cheese and fresh basil to round things out.

Like traditional eggplant Parmesan, this recipe can be served with your favorite pasta or bread. You can even pair it with potato gnocchi or spaghetti squash pasta. Enjoy each serving with a simple side dish, such as this chickpea and cucumber salad.

Key Ingredients

  • Eggplant. Of course, you can’t eggplant parm without eggplant! You’ll need one large eggplant or two small/medium ones.
  • Breadcrumbs. You can use panko or standard breadcrumbs (plain or Italian) depending on what you have on hand. If using breadcrumbs, skip the dried herbs in the recipe. If you eat gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free breadcrumbs.
  • Cashews. Cashews are the base of the vegan ricotta cheese. If you don’t want to make ricotta from scratch, buy a store-bought version instead.
  • Marinara sauce. Use your favorite brand or a homemade version.
  • Pasta. This recipe uses spaghetti, but feel free to use whatever pasta you have on hand.

How to Make Breaded Eggplant

Breaded eggplant is the “meat” of this pasta dish. However, it also tastes great in sandwiches, so feel free to make this recipe for other meals.

Process for cutting, coating, breading, and frying the breaded eggplant for Eggplant Parmesan
  1. Slice the eggplant into ½-inch rounds. Optional: If you find eggplant to be bitter, liberally salt the raw eggplant. Let sit for 15 minutes then pat dry. “Sweating” the eggplant will make it less bitter.
  2. In a bowl, combine the milk, flour, and apple cider vinegar to create a batter. Whisk well.
  3. n a separate bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and dried herbs. Toss until evenly combined.
  4. Dip each slice of eggplant into the batter, covering each side completely.
  5. Coat each side with breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.
  6. In a large pan over medium heat, warm oil. Fry the eggplant for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip and repeat. Continue with the remaining eggplant. You’ll likely have to work in batches or use more than one pan.  

How to Make Cashew Ricotta

If you’re in a pinch, you can use store-bought vegan ricotta or skip it completely. However, if you have the ingredients and time, follow these steps to make cashew ricotta.

Process for making vegan ricotta from cashews for Eggplant Parmesan
  1. Place the cashews in a heat-safe container, like a Pyrex measuring cup. Pour boiling water into the container, making sure to cover the cashews completely. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the cashews.
  3. In a blender, combine the soaked cashews and remaining ingredients. Pulse until creamy but slightly chunky, pausing to scrape the sides as necessary.
  4. Taste the cashew ricotta. Add more nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, or apple cider vinegar, if needed.

How to Make Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Once you’ve prepared the breaded eggplant and cashew ricotta, it’s time to make vegan eggplant Parmesan. Here’s how to assemble the dish:

Process for laying breaded eggplant and baking it for Eggplant Parmesan
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Make the pasta according to the package’s directions.
  2. In a large 3-quart casserole dish, add 1/3 of the marinara sauce in an even layer. Add a layer of breaded eggplant.
  3. Spread cashew ricotta on the eggplant, then add vegan mozzarella shreds. Add another layer of eggplant, followed by cashew ricotta and marinara sauce. Top with mozzarella.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the mozzarella is slightly golden brown. Garnish with basil, if desired, and serve with the cooked pasta.
Fully cooked eggplant parmesan in a white casserole dish

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

  • Bake the eggplant. If you’d rather bake the breaded eggplant, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, then bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. The eggplant is ready once it’s tender and the coating is golden brown.
  • Top with cashew Parmesan. Add a generous sprinkle of vegan cashew Parmesan cheese for even more cheesy goodness.
  • Use bread instead of pasta. For a sandwich spin on this dish, use your favorite bread instead.
  • Make eggplant Parmesan stacks. If you’re looking for an appetizer or side dish, turn this recipe into eggplant stacks. Simply use smaller, thinner eggplants and serve on their own.
Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I store leftover Vegan Eggplant Parmesan?

Yes. Store leftover Vegan Eggplant Parmesan in an air-tight container. Enjoy it within 3 to 5 days.

Can I freeze it?

You can, but it likely won’t taste as fresh when it’s thawed and reheated. The eggplant can also become soggy, especially if you use cashew ricotta. If you choose to freeze leftovers, wrap it well and enjoy within 3 months.

Can you make it without cashew ricotta?

Definitely. The cashew ricotta is tasty, but not necessary.  

Serving Suggestions for Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

If you’re looking for an easy weeknight dinner, try this vegan eggplant parmesan recipe. It features an egg-free breadcrumb crust, homemade cashew ricotta, and fresh basil. Pair it with wheat or gluten-free pasta for a dish that’s hard to resist.
Click stars below to rate, or leave a full review in the comments
4.91 from 10 votes
Print Rate it Now Pin Recipe
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: eggplant parm, eggplant parmesan, vegan eggplant parmesan
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 811kcal
Author: Kirsten Nunez, MS

Ingredients

Breaded Eggplant

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/2 cup plain non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour gluten-free, if needed
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs or Panko gluten-free, if needed
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cashew Ricotta

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews unsalted
  • 1/4 cup plain non-dairy milk plus more if needed
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

  • 8 ounces pasta gluten-free, if needed
  • 3 cups marinara sauce about 23 ounces
  • 2 cups vegan mozzarella shreds for topping
  • fresh basil for garnish

Instructions

Breaded Eggplant

  • Slice the eggplant into ½-inch rounds. Optional: If you find eggplant to be bitter, liberally salt the raw eggplant. Let sit for 15 minutes then pat dry. “Sweating” the eggplant will make it less bitter.
  • In a bowl, combine the milk, flour, and apple cider vinegar to create a batter. Whisk well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and dried herbs. Toss until evenly combined.
  • Dip each slice of eggplant into the batter, covering each side completely.
  • Coat each side with breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.
  • In a large pan over medium heat, warm oil. Fry the eggplant for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip and repeat. Continue with the remaining eggplant. You’ll likely have to work in batches or use more than one pan.  

Cashew Ricotta

  • Place the cashews in a heat-safe container, like a Pyrex measuring cup. Pour boiling water into the container, making sure to cover the cashews completely. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  • Drain the cashews.
  • In a blender, combine the soaked cashews and remaining ingredients. Pulse until creamy but slightly chunky, pausing to scrape the sides as necessary.
  • Taste the cashew ricotta. Add more nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, or apple cider vinegar, if needed.

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Make the pasta according to the package’s directions.
  • In a large 3-quart casserole dish, add 1/3 of the marinara sauce in an even layer. Add a layer of breaded eggplant.
  • Spread cashew ricotta on the eggplant, then add vegan mozzarella shreds. Add another layer of eggplant, followed by cashew ricotta and marinara sauce. Top with mozzarella.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until the mozzarella is slightly golden brown. Garnish with basil, if desired, and serve with the cooked pasta.

Notes

  • If using seasoned breadcrumbs, skip the dried herbs.
  • If you’d rather bake the breaded eggplant, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, then bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. The eggplant is ready once it’s tender and the coating is golden brown.
  • Add a generous sprinkle of vegan cashew Parmesan cheese for even more cheesy goodness.
  • For a sandwich version, serve this dish with your favorite bread. 
  • Nutritional information for this recipe is an estimate automatically calculated by the Spoonacular food database and does not include optional ingredients.
     

Recommended Tools & Products

Baking Sheet
Casserole Dish
Large pot

Nutrition

Calories: 811kcal | Carbohydrates: 96g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 2439mg | Potassium: 1749mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 1245IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 246mg | Iron: 10mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @CleanGreenSimple or tag #CleanGreenSimple!

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20 thoughts on “Vegan Eggplant Parmesan”

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you, thank you for this amazing recipe! My whole family LOVES it and my husband doesn’t even like eggplant!! So delicious, I recommend it to friends all the time!!

    Reply
  2. I am a recently converted vegan and am discovering loads of things that I like that I always thought I’d hate. Eggplant parm is one of those. I just made this and it rocks. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    Eating this right now. Husband and all three children are eating and liking! Newly vegan family, going on 3 weeks now. Thank you for posting this recipe.

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    Okay – I just tried this. OMG…it was so good! What really shocked me was how much the cheese sauce tasted like cheese — I really felt like I was eating something I shouldn’t be eating. Thank you SO much for posting this recipe. FYI – I had extra dredging liquids and bread crumbs leftover, so I dipped fresh spinach leaves in the liquid and then the bread crumbs, and then baked them on a silicone baking sheet for about 4-5 minutes. Then I took put them on a plate, and dipped them into the cheese sauce and ate them as an appetizer — they were awesome!

    Reply
  5. 5 stars
    Wow. I had never even cooked eggplant before! I made this recipe tonight and my family loved it. Even the skeptical meat eating members of the family! I am a recent vegan who is also unable to eat gluten. I have been trying new things and this will be a regular favourite dish to prepare. Thank you so much for posting such a wonderful recipe with such great pics! 🙂

    Reply
  6. 5 stars
    Just made this tonight, and it was AMAZING! Total comfort food. I skipped the broiling step and made a pesto quinoa instead of spaghetti. My husband hates eggplant and said it was good, I thought it was 5 star worthy 🙂

    Reply
  7. 5 stars
    This recipe was fantastic. I made a few improvised changes however. I blended some tofu into the “cheese” sauce. I also added lots of chopped and sauteed garlic into the tomato sauce. Finally, when I layered the eggplant, tomato sauce, and ‘cheese’ sauce into a casserole for baking, I added layers of fresh basil leaves as well.

    This dish was the hit of the party. People were blown away that it was vegan.

    Reply
  8. I had almost the same thing for dinner last night! Funny how you get cravings- breaded eggplant and marinara pasta is definitely one of those things for me. Your’s looks delicious too!

    Reply
  9. Oh my.. is it too bold to invite myself over for dinner? This looks FANtastic! I’ve been craving eggplant parm for ages. It’s always been my favorite Italian dish, even back when I ate meat!

    Reply
  10. You must have read my mind! Yesterday I purchased all of the ingredients for eggplant parm so I can post one of my most favourite meals on my blog this week. I must say that I will be trying your eggplant cutlets instead of my usual way of breading the eggplant. This recipe looks absolutely mouthwatering!

    Reply