You don't want to miss this Slow Cooker Eggplant Parmesan. It will have everyone thinking you spent all day in the kitchen. Cheesy and delicious with a fraction of the effort of traditional Eggplant Parm. Perfect for easy entertaining. I've used gluten free breadcrumbs, but if your family isn't gluten free any breadcrumbs will work. Or skip the breadcrumbs altogether for a low carb alternative.
One of my husband's favorite dishes is Eggplant Parmesan.
Typically, I make it only four or five times a year, because...it's a process. One that I don't particularly enjoy.
I adore my slow cooker, so a few weeks ago when he asked for it, I started thinking - would it be possible to make Eggplant Parm that resembled my traditional dish in my slow cooker?
Was it even possible that Crockpot Eggplant Parmesan could taste anything like the original?
I wasn't entirely convinced it would work, but when organic eggplant went on sale, I decided to give it a try.
I am thrilled to report that it was a smashing success.
This is perfect for the occasions when you are called to entertain and need a dish that just looks and tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen.
Ingredients for Making Slow Cooker Eggplant Parmesan
- Eggplant: Choose eggplants that are firm without any blemishes. Cut off the stem and slice the eggplant into rounds that are about ⅓-inch thick.
- Salt: This will help to draw out the moisture from the eggplant so that it doesn't end up watery in your dish.
- Eggs: whisk together the eggs and milk in a bowl.
- Breadcrumbs: You can use regular or panko breadcrumbs. Both gluten-free and regular will work.
- Parmesan: If you are vegetarian, make sure you use a rennent-free parmesan.
- Italian Seasoning: It is super-easy to make your own if you don't have it. Just mix together 1 teaspoon each of dried basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and parsley.
- Marinara Sauce: Choose a good quality sauce with no added sugar. I like to use my Crockpot Marinara.
- Mozzarella Cheese: Shredded or sliced, your choice. I like to use Daiya because it melts well.
- Basil: This is for topping the finished dish. Choose fresh basil if you can find it.
Do Not Skip Salting the Eggplant!
Tips and Tricks
- Make sure your eggplant slices are cut to a fairly even thickness so that they will cook evenly.
- One thing you want to keep in mind when making this is that the time it takes to cook will depend largely on how thick you cut the Eggplant. Taste it at about 6 hours and if you have cut too thick turn it up to high until it is cooked through. (Every slow cooker is slightly different, so make sure you keep an eye on it toward the end.)
- Don't skip patting the eggplants dry after you sweat them. Use paper towels or a clean dish cloth.
- Want a touch of heat? Add black pepper and red pepper flakes when you add the Italian seasoning.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does eggplant Parmesan taste like?
Eggplants are a bit of a chameleon, taking on the flavors of whatever ingredients are around them. They readily absorb spices.
Because of this, and eggplant parmesan recipe will taste like the other ingredients in it - cheese, marinara, Italian seasoning, and breadcrumbs. The flavor profile is similar to Chicken Parmesan, though the texture is softer.
Should you peel eggplant for eggplant Parmesan?
This is a matter of personal preference, but I do peel mine. The taste of the peel of young eggplants is relatively mild, but as they get a bit more mature, the skins can have a bitter flavor and may also be tough.
Why is it necessary to salt the eggplant?
Salting eggplant pulls the moisture out of it and prevents the dish from being runny. Even if you don't like salt, don't skip this step! If you do, or if you don't salt well, the resulting dish will be soggy.
Can I fry the eggplant and finish in the slow cooker?
Yes, by all means! If you have the time you can cook the eggplant by frying or in your Air Fryer. Reduce the cooking time to 2-4 hours.
How do I make keto slow cooker eggplant Parmesan?
The most important thing is to make sure you choose a keto marinara sauce. Many brands have added sugars. You can skip breading the eggplant all together if you like! Many traditional eggplant Parmesan recipes don't have breading and the resulting dish will still be delicious. If you like, you can roast the eggplants in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes before adding them to the slow cooker. This step is completely optional!
I generally thing of Eggplant Parmesan as a complete meal by itself. If you want a side dish, some things that work well are:
- Gluten Free Focaccia
- Green Beans
- Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
- Garlic butter pasta is a nice side. Just mix garlic, butter, and cooked spaghetti noodles and serve with the eggplant on top of it.
The eggplants most commonly used for Crockpot Eggplant Parmesan are the large deep purple globe eggplants. Those are the ones I recommend using. You want to look for firm eggplants that are glossy and free from any bruises. The larger the eggplant, the more bitter it will be. So, it is a good idea to pick smaller ones.
Eggplants are not friends with the refrigerator. Buy them no more than a few days before you plan on using them, and store them away from direct sunlight on the counter or in the pantry.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe:
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More Crockpot Recipes to Try
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa is the perfect way to mix up Taco Tuesday. I recommend doubling the salsa so that you can re-purpose it the next day.
- These Chipotle Meatballs are super-easy to make and work equally well as an appetizer as they do for the main course.
- Slow Cooker Beef Fajitas are so simple and delicious - they deserve to become a habit.
- Spicy Crockpot Almonds are a delicious nibble you will turn to again and again. So ridiculously good!
Slow Cooker Eggplant Parmesan
- 4 pounds eggplant
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ cup milk of choice
- 1 ½ cup gluten free breadcrumbs
- 3 ounces vegetarian Parmesan cheese or vegan Parmesan
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning make sure it is gluten free
- 4 cups marinara sauce use a low-sugar brand like Rao's
- 16 ounces mozzarella cheese sliced or shredded Daiya
- fresh basil for topping
- Peel eggplant and cut into ⅓ inch rounds. Layer in a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Allow to sit for 30 minutes and then pat dry. (If you aren’t a fan of salt you can rinse and pat.)
- Spread ½ cup of sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Whisk together the eggs and milk in a shallow bowl. Stir together breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl. Dip eggplant in egg mixture and then in the breadcrumbs.
- Layer ⅓ of the slices in the slow cooker. Top with 1 cup sauce and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers two more times. Cook on low for eight hours.
- If desired, top with fresh basil leaves.