Looking to learn how to make the best crispy Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan?
This homemade Air Fryer Eggplant Parm recipe is one of my favourite quick & easy dinners to prepare when a craving for Italian comfort food hits.
After travelling to Southern Italy and visiting some of the world’s best Italian restaurants I was excited to develop a recipe for classic Eggplant Parmesan in my trendy new air fryer. The results were nothing short of perfection!
The healthy vegetarian dish features thick eggplant slices that are coated with egg, breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. They’re topped with tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella and cooked in the air fryer until the cheese has melted and is bubbling with glee.
You can serve Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan as an appetizer or main course on an Italian menu with a fresh salad and your favourite pasta or risotto.
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What Is Eggplant Parmesan?
Eggplant Parmesan is an Italian dish traditionally made with fried, sliced eggplant layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked in the oven.
The origin of the dish is claimed by the Southern regions of Calabria, Campania, and Sicily. Other variations found outside Italy may include chicken, veal, or another type of meat cutlet.
There are several theories about the origin of the dish. Most frequently its invention is attributed to either Parma, Sicily or Naples.
According to author Pino Correnti the word parmigiana derives from the Sicilian word for damigiana, a wicker sleeve used both for wine bottles and the hot casserole in which the dish would be prepared and served.
Clifford Wright traces the origin of parmigiana to Naples. The ancestor of the modern dish appears in Vincenzo Corrado’s cookbook “Il Cuoco Galante” from 1786. His recipe described Italian eggplant seasoned with butter, herbs, cinnamon, other spices and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which was then covered with a cream sauce of egg yolks before being baked in an oven. The modern version with Parmigiano-Reggiano and tomato ragu as key ingredients appears several years later in Ippolito Cavalcanti’s cookbook “Cucina Teorico-Pratica” which was published in Naples in 1837.
According to Wright this suggests that the dish evolved in Naples during this time frame, which coincided with the increasing popularity of the tomato in Italian cuisine.
We love making Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan as it is healthier (no deep frying required) and significantly speeds up the cooking time.
Travel to Italy by Cooking Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey, France, Malta and Italy.
What I love most about traveling to Italy is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. The dishes in Tuscany (Florence, Pisa, Volterra, Saturnia, Pitigliano, Sorano, Montalcino, Siena) are unique from what you’d find in Venice, Modena, Milan, Rome and the Amalfi Coast.
Once back home from an Italian holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the regional flavours of Italy and can impress friends and family by making this easy Air Fryer Eggplant Parm recipe!
Best Air Fryers
An air fryer is a small countertop convection oven designed to simulate deep frying without submerging the food in oil. A fan circulates hot air at high speed, producing a crisp layer via browning reactions.
In 2010, Philips introduced the Airfryer brand of convection oven at a consumer electronics fair in Berlin. It used the patented Rapid Air technology, though the term air fryer is now used generically.
Early air fryers were barrel-shaped, though more recently, many have come to resemble toaster ovens and pressure cookers, offering additional functions like toasting, baking, dehydrating and rotisserie.
A decade after their launch, Air Fryers are now one of the trendiest kitchen appliance. They are particularly popular with gourmands living in condos or apartments in big cities like Toronto as they reduce the number of appliances taking up space in your kitchen.
- Hamilton Beach: I tested this recipe with a Hamilton Beach toaster oven-style air fryer. They are an excellent option for those looking for an affordable air fryer and I particularly like mine as it allowed me to replace my toaster, dehydrator and rotisserie. It’s also easier to spread food out and make it crispy by using a baking tray rather than a basket.
- Instant Vortex: This popular air fryer is brought to you by the inventors of the popular Instant Pot. It’s 6 quart capacity features an easy to clean tray that air frys, roasts and bakes.
- COSORI: This 5.8 quart air fryer is an 11-in-1 cooker featuring a nonstick basket and helpful shake reminder setting.
- Ninja: This premium brand is the perfect option for those looking to invest in a heavy duty stainless steel air fryer. The product has been designed to look similar to an Instant Pot, with the top of the air fryer flipping backwards so you can easily lower a basket filled with food.
- NuWave: This sleek digital air fryer features a traditional removable basket and reaches temperatures up to 390 F.
My Family Loves Healthy Air Fryer Eggplant Parm
My family loves Italian food.
The running joke in Oakville is that the city’s favourite dish is gnocchi. There is a high concentration of fine dining Italian restaurants as well as pizzerias in downtown Oakville.
Whenever we dine out at an Italian restaurant as a family someone always orders a breaded cutlet, like Veal or Chicken Parmesan. We also love dishes like Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich and Egyptian Dukkah Crusted Chicken.
If you’re looking to enjoy more Meatless Mondays or trying to cut back on your weekly meat consumption Eggplant Parmesan is one of the most popular vegetarian entrees on an Italian restaurant menu.
When my family bought an Air Fryer we wanted to test out some of our favourite recipes to see how they’d turn out. After making this homemade Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan recipe we were amazed at how quick & easy the dish was to prepare at home.
You avoid having to use a deep fryer while still producing the desired crispy breaded exterior.
How To Make Crispy Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan
Our air fryer eggplant parmesan recipe is quick & easy to make, ready to serve in under 30 minutes.
There are two ways to air fry eggplant parm, which depends on the style of device you are using.
- Traditional Basket: air fryers with a removable basket are still the most common. In order to make Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan in these machines, place the breaded sliced eggplant in the basket in one layer. Ensure the pieces are not touching so they get crispy and not soggy.
- Toaster Oven Tray: modern air fryers featuring a glass door and tray configuration make it easy to prepare crispy eggplant parm in an air fryer at home. Arrange the eggplant slices in the basket in one layer then slide it into the top position before closing the door. You can watch the cheese melt and start to bubble through the glass and remove it just before it browns.
Join Dobbernationloves founder Andrew Dobson in the kitchen by signing up for a fun virtual cooking class! Classes begin with a cocktail that you can sip while preparing 2-3 recipes that are curated around a unique culinary theme. Check out our current Cooking Class Schedule!
Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan Recipe Cooking Tips
- Purchase a large Italian eggplant and cut it into thick slices the size of a hamburger patty. Don’t cut the slices too thin or they may burn in the air fryer.
- We’ve used Italian breadcrumbs in this recipe but you can substitute for panko.
- We’ve used shredded parmesan cheese in the breading but you can substitute for another hard Italian cheese like pecorino or asiago.
- We’ve used shredded mozzarella cheese but you can substitue for sliced bocconcini, mozzarella di bufala or burrata.
- If you are using an oven-style air fryer we suggest wrapping the bottom crumb tray in tin foil. This makes clean up afterwards easy as you will likely have mozzarella that melts and drips to the bottom of the air fryer.
What To Serve With Air Fryer Eggplant Parm
Air Fryer Eggplant Parm is a quick & easy Italian dish you can serve as an appetizer or vegetarian main course meal.
We often serve two or three slices as a light lunch with a fresh salad. For a heartier dinner pair with your favourite risotto or pasta recipe.
If you have leftovers they store in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 days. We often double the recipe to enjoy leftovers as an easy lunch or dinner later in the week. To reheat simply add the cooked Eggplant Parmesan to an air fryer basket and reheat for 3-4 minutes.
If you’re hosting an Italian-themed dinner party serve Air Fryer Eggplant Parm with some of our favourite regional recipes:
- Amaretto Disaronno Sour Cocktail
- Negroni Spritz Cocktail
- Italian Prosecco and Gin Cocktail
- Aperol Gin Cocktail
- Arugula Fig Burrata and Prosciutto Salad
- Traditional Tagliatelle alla Bolognese Pasta
- Lumache Rigate Snail Pasta with Garlic Butter
- Ndunderi Amalfi Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi
- Sartu Di Riso Italian Baked Risotto
- Maccheroni al Ferretto Pasta with Beef Ragu
- Vegetarian Gorgonzola Risotto al Radicchio
- Creamy Prime Rib Pasta
- Crispy Roast Chicken and Leek Risotto
- Easy Caprese Gnocchi Cheese Bake Casserole
- Fresh Fig Prosciutto Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Homemade Corzetti Pasta
- Burrata Bruschetta Crostini with Tomato Chutney
- Culurgiones Sardinian Cheese & Potato Stuffed Pasta
- Involtini di Pollo with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, & Cheese
- Healthy Vegetarian Mafalda Pasta Noodles
- Creamy Parmesan Ditalini Soup
- Instant Pot Short Rib Ragu
Our vegetarian Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Eggplants are a nutrient dense food that contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals and fibre in few calories. It’s a good source of manganese, folate, potassium, vitamin K and C.
Consuming dairy products (such as milk and cheese) provides health benefits — especially improved bone health. Dairy foods provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Eggs contain two vital nutrients that are not present in many foods: iodine and vitamin D. Eggs are also rich in tissue-building protein and vitamin B12, which helps your body manufacture blood cells.
Rich in a group of phytochemicals called carotenoids, tomatoes may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and provide protection against cancer. Tomatoes are also a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C.
The eugenol in basil can block calcium channels, which may help to lower blood pressure. The essential oils in the herb can help to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides. Basil also contains magnesium, which can help to improve blood flow by allowing muscles and blood vessels to relax.
You May Also Enjoy These Air Fryer Recipes…
- Air Fryer Pierogies Recipe
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- Easy Seasoned Air Fryer Bone In Pork Chops
- Easy Homemade Air Fryer Pizza Rolls
- Easy Frozen Sweet Potato Fries In Air Fryer
- Frozen Chicken Fingers Tenders & Strips In Air Fryer
- Easy Frozen Onion Rings In Air Fryer
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- Frozen Eggo Waffles In Air Fryer
- Easy Homemade Air Fryer Nachos
- Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread In Air Fryer
- Easy Homemade Air Fryer Popcorn
How To Make Crispy Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan
Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan
- Air Fryer
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- French knife
- baking sheet
- Shallow Bowl
- 1 Large Eggplant
- 2 cups Breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese shredded
- 1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 tbsp Chives chopped
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/4 tsp Ground Pepper
- 2 Large Eggs beaten
- 1 cup Tomato Sauce
- 1.5 cups Mozzarella Cheese shredded
- 1/4 cup Basil finely sliced
- Preheat air-fryer to 400 F. While the air-fryer is preheating you can dredge the eggplant.
- Setup a dredging station on your kitchen counter featuring eggs, breadcrumbs and sliced eggplant. Dredge each slice of eggplant into the egg, then the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the crumbs into the eggplant as you dredge them to ensure they adhere. Place the breaded eggplant slices back onto the baking sheet. Continue until you have breaded all of the eggplant.
- Once the air-fryer is preheated, spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray and place the eggplant pieces into the air-fryer, spray each with cooking spray. Close the basket and cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping each piece over and spraying the other side with cooking spray halfway through the cooking time.
- Remove air fryer eggplant parmesan, plate and top with freshly chopped basil. Serve hot.
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