Oven baked to perfection, this oil-free Vegan Eggplant Parmesan is brimming with flavor. Seasoned with a delicious blend of Italian spices and baked with a crispy coating that is sure to remind you of all that traditional goodness, but with a healthy twist. Couple with marinara sauce and a sprinkle of Vegan Parmesan Cheese, this Italian classic is sure to please; the whole family will gobble them down!
Whole Food Plant Based, vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, gluten free, no highly processed ingredients.
Hi there, Ameera here!
This recipe has been a long time in the making. You may have been wondering why there aren’t any eggplant recipes on our site. We were wondering the same thing, so when Reader Diane brought it to our attention and requested a WFPB Eggplant Parmesan recipe, Mom and I got down to business.
Mom and I were mostly concerned that oven baking eggplants might be a tad bit challenging. As you know eggplants can sometimes be bitter, and they tend to hold a lot of water and it is very difficult for eggplant to not get soggy once they are baked.
Actually, even if you fried eggplant slices in oil, they will get soggy after a while, as well. They can only hold their “crispness” for so long before they release their moisture.
The key was to come up with a “glue” and “dredge” that will allow the dredge to stick to the eggplant slices. We felt that a mixture of tahini and water, creating a thin pancake like batter would work, and it did!
Plus, the little amount of tahini used to coat the eggplant creates a little bit of fat that “tricks” the brain into believing that it is very decadent all while keeping it healthy and wholesome.
Keys for Success
- If the eggplant has been refrigerated, remove them from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature. This helps eliminate condensation.
- If the tahini has been refrigerated, remove the amount you need for this recipe from the fridge and allow it to come temperature. You want free flowing tahini, not cold, thick tahini. It sticks better to the eggplant slices and allow for even coating of the dredge.
- Slicing the eggplant. We used a mandolin and used a ¼ inch cut. It worked perfectly. Don’t sweat it if don’t have a mandolin, just do you best to slice them thin.
- Bake them in a single layer. If you pile them up on top of each other, they steam rather than bake and they will be soggy.
- Take the necessary time to ensure that all the sides of the eggplant have been evenly coated in the dredge.
- If you want them very crispy, then place them under the broiler for about 3 to 5 minutes. We didn’t feel the need to do this, but if you want a super crispy outer coating, then this is an option.
- Eat them immediately. The eggplant slices will eventually become less crisp over time as the moisture will start to come out of the eggplant as they start to come to room temperature.
- Serve them with a great Marinara Sauce with a sprinkle of Vegan Parmesan Cheese and for an ultimate Italian spread, spaghetti.
Italian Taste Tester
Dad devoured this dish. He scored it a 10 out of 10 and said if he could score it higher, he would!
He loves this healthy version and said it rivaled any fried eggplant parmesan recipe that he has eaten. WOW!!! Thanks Dad!!!
I’ll let Mom tell you more.
Hi! Robin here!
I really can’t wait for our readers to try this incredible Vegan Eggplant Parmesan – so tasty!!
- Large baking sheet(s)
- Mandolin (optional)
Oven baked to perfection, this healthy, oil-free Vegan Eggplant Parmesan is brimming with flavor the whole family will gobble them down!
- 1 large eggplant, sliced ¼ inch slices *
- 3 – 4 tablespoons tahini *
- 4 – 6 Tablespoons water *
Crumb Coating Ingredients:
- ½ cup panko crumbs *
- 2 Tablespoons cornmeal *
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning (+/-)
- ¼ to ¾ teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
- pinch black pepper
- If the eggplant has been refrigerated, remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to making to allow the eggplant to come to room temperature. This allows the batter mixture to evenly coat the eggplant slices. The same applies to tahini that has been refrigerated. Remove the recipe amount and allow the tahini to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the oven rack towards the middle, avoiding the lower oven rack placement. If using two racks, keep them toward the center and upper position.
- Line a 14 x 20 baking sheet(s) with parchment paper, set aside.
- Place the Crumb Coating Ingredients into a large bowl, stir to combine, set aside.
- Make the batter by placing an equal amount of water and tahini into a small bowl – whisk together. It will turn the tahini a lighter white color and get very thick. Then add an additional tablespoon of water. This additional tablespoon should create a nice runny consistency. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, if needed to create a thin pancake type batter.
- Place the eggplant slices into a large bowl, drizzle the tahini/water batter over the eggplant slices. Use your hands to get the tahini batter on all sides of the eggplant slices. Wash your hands.
- Pick up and place one batter-coated eggplant slice into the crumb-coating bowl, sprinkle the crumb coating all over it, slightly press the crumb coating onto the eggplant, shake it off, then place it on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Continue until all the eggplant slices are coated with the crumb coating. You may need two large baking sheets. Do not overlap the slices on the baking sheets as they will steam instead of crisping up if they don’t have room to breathe.
- Bake in a 375 F oven for 20 to 21 minutes. See notes. If using two baking sheets, rotate half-way.
- Serve immediately with your favorite marinara sauce or use our Easy Healthy Marinara Sauce and topped with your favorite Vegan Parmesan Cheese or use our Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
Tips for Success:
- Refrigerated Eggplant: If the eggplant has been refrigerated, remove them from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature. This helps eliminate condensation.
- Unpeeled Eggplant: Do not remove the beautiful purple skin. Leave it unpeeled.
- Refrigerated Tahini: If the tahini has been refrigerated, remove the amount you need for this recipe from the fridge and allow it to come temperature. You want free flowing tahini, not cold, thick tahini. It sticks better to the eggplant slices and allow for even coating of the dredge.
- Eggplant Slices: We used a mandolin to slice the eggplants to ¼ inch. We had previously tried to hand slice them to ¼ inch, but we found the mandolin worked best for consistently even slices. If you don’t have a mandolin, use a sharp knife.
- Number of Slices: We got a fairly good number of slices when cutting the eggplant into ¼ inch thick slices. If you can’t get them that thin by hand (which is fine), then you may need to take several other factors into consideration. You may (or may not) need to reduce the tahini/water mixture by half, as well as the crumb coating mixture as you will be coating fewer slices of eggplant.
- Oven Baking Time: If you were unable to cut the eggplant into ¼ inch slices, you may need to increase your oven baking time as your slices are thicker. If you are unsure of the cooking time as your slices are thicken, then remove one eggplant slice at the 21-minute mark and taste test it for tenderness. Gauge time from there if not tender enough. You want a beautifully tender eggplant for this recipe.
*Large Eggplant: The eggplant we used weighed 1 lb.
*Cornmeal: We used Quaker Yellow Corn Meal. You can use your favorite cornmeal, just make sure it is a finer coarse grain.
*Panko Crumbs: We used Ian’s Gluten Free Panko crumbs for this recipe. It is oil-free; however, it does have a small amount of sugar in it. It is generally accepted by the Whole Food Plant Based community. If you do not need to be gluten free, feel free to use any panko bread crumbs of your choosing.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
*Storage: Use within 4 days.
- Place a dollop of marinara sauce on each baked eggplant slice, then sprinkle with Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
- Serve spaghetti topped with our Vegan Eggplant Parmesan and an extra dollop of marinara sauce on each eggplant slice and a sprinkle of Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
- Place and layer the baked eggplant slices (after they have been baked) into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Coat each layer with a thin amount of warm marinara sauce, then sprinkle each layer with Vegan Parmesan Cheese. Bake in a 375 F oven for 15 minutes just until heated through. You may want to do this with two eggplants (doubled recipe). If doubling the recipe, never double the sea salt. Just put a tiny bit of extra sea salt in.
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