Affordable and versatile, eggplant is a great low carb Summer vegetable. When in season we eat it as a crispy snack, a low carb dip, and as a meat substitute. It’s especially great in Italian dishes like eggplant lasagna or this keto eggplant Parmesan recipe. While chicken Parmesan is the standard, eggplant’s somewhat meaty texture makes it a great stand-in.
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Who doesn’t like stacks of crispy eggplant coated in keto breading, topped with Marinara, fresh Mozzarella cheese, basil, and Parmesan? My family loves it!
To Salt or Not To Salt?
Although I found it unnecessary to salt the sliced eggplant in my keto eggplant lasagna recipe, I did salt the eggplant for this recipe. The difference being that the eggplant slices in the lasagna recipe are layered with wet ingredients and baked together. They are supposed to be soft like a noodle.
I prefer crispy eggplant for low carb eggplant Parmesan. To achieve maximum crisp salt the eggplant to draw-out excess moisture. Then, wipe the slices dry with a paper towel. Follow standard breading procedure to coat the eggplant and bake the rounds in the oven. Of course, what you use for your keto bread crumbs is important, too.
NOTE: You can also pan fry the eggplant rounds and transfer to a wire rack. While it takes more time, the eggplant is super crispy and more flavorful.
What’s the best low carb keto breading or bread crumb substitute?
The low carb keto bread crumbs I use for this dish are the same I use for my Crispy Eggplant Rounds, Low Carb Chicken Parmesan and Keto Fried Green Tomatoes recipes: crushed pork rinds mixed with grated Parmesan cheese and seasonings. It’s the best low carb keto breading because it gets nice and crispy just like a proper panko bread crumb coating. (See below for vegetarian options.)*
Two pork rind brands I like are Baken-ets or Mac’s, which I get in the grocery store. I also like Utz brand which I find at Costco in a big plastic container. All three pork rind brands are affordable and delicious.
To make pork panko, grind the pork rinds into dust in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or crush them in a bag with a rolling pin or meat mallet. Remove any large or hard pieces that refuse to break down or you might break a tooth! Joking.
Large Slices or Rounds?
How you slice the eggplant for eggplant Parmesan is up to you. One large eggplant (about 1 ¼ pounds) is enough for four people. To learn how to select an eggplant and how to slice an eggplant (lengthwise) read my post on keto eggplant lasagna. Slicing large, thick pieces somewhat mimics a chicken cutlet and looks nice on a plate.
Slicing the eggplant into thinner rounds is fun for stacking. It also requires more breading, bumping-up the protein macro in the recipe. If you can only find large eggplant, consider cutting thicker slices and not stacking. With thicker slices cooking time may increase.
Bake in Oven, Air Fryer or Fry in a Skillet.
I prefer to cook keto eggplant Parmesan in the oven. Place the crumbed eggplant on a greased metal sheet pan and bake at 400F for 6-8 minutes per side. Top with keto tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and return to the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, stack and serve!
Convection/Toaster Oven Air Fryer:
In Summer, it’s convenient to cook eggplant Parmesan in an air fryer convection toaster oven. These countertop ovens are perfect for serving two people. Follow the instructions for baking in a conventional oven, but reduce the heat to 375F. If cooking in a mesh basket, spray the tops of the breaded eggplant rounds with cooking spray and don’t flip the eggplant during cooking.
Basket Type Air Fryer:
It’s easy to cook eggplant parmesan in an air fryer with a pull-out basket. Preheat to 360F. Spray breaded eggplant rounds and place sprayed-side-down on mesh-basket, then spray tops. Cook for about 8 minutes. Add sauce and cheese and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Best for serving two people or you will have to cook the eggplant in batches.
FRYING PAN/ SKILLET:
Cooking eggplant Parmesan in a pan or skillet is traditional. Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. When hot, add a tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat. Place the breaded eggplant into the skillet and cook a few minutes per side until crowned and crisped. Spoon over sauce and cheese turn off heat and place a piece of foil over the pan to trap heat until the cheese melts.
Serving, Storing, Freezing and Reheating
I serve my keto eggplant parmesan with a nice green salad with homemade dressing. I especially like this crumbled blue cheese vinaigrette, which is best enjoyed right away. Cover and store any leftovers in the refrigerator up to 5 days. It will lose its crispness upon refrigeration. The eggplant Parmesan can be frozen, but will not be crispy upon thawing and reheating.
To reheat, warm a leftover serving in the microwave or cover with foil and reheat in a 350 oven or convection air fryer for 20-30 minutes. Can also reheat in a drawer-type air fryer for several minutes at 350F.
No matter the way you cut it or how you crisp it, keto eggplant parmesan is a great low carb Italian dish!
Other Low Carb Keto Italian Recipes
- Low Carb Focaccia
- Low Carb Meatballs
- Vegetarian Keto Lasagna with Mushroom Ragu
- Low Carb Chicken Parmesan
- Keto Tomato/ Marinara Sauce
- Filet Mignon Steak Pizzaiola
- Italian Sausage Peppers and Onions
- Keto Chicken Florentine
- Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake
Keto Eggplant Lasagna Stacks
- knife & cutting board
- forks and spoons
- wide shallow bowls or plates for breading procedure
- large rimmed sheet-pan or cookie sheet
- tongs or spatula for flipping the eggplant
- 1 1/4 pounds eggplant sliced into rounds 1/2 inch rounds
- 1 large egg beaten with 2 tsp. water
- 1 tsp salt (to salt the eggplant)
- 4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese slices (or 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup Keto Tomato Sauce (or Rao's Marinara)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (for sheet pan)
Low Carb Keto Breading
- 1 cup pork rind panko (1 oz)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (cheap stuff in a can) (2 oz/56 g)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- Slice the eggplant into 8 rounds 1/2 inches each. Place in a colander and sprinkle salt on each side. Let sit 10 minutes to draw out some moisture. Then give them a quick rinse.
- While eggplant sits, mix the breading ingredients and place on a rimmed plate or shallow bowl. Beat the egg with water in a bowl large enough to accommodate an eggplant round.
- Blot all the moisture off of the surface of the eggplant slices with paper towels. Line a sheet pan with foil and spread with 1 tablespoon of oil.
Method (See Air Fryer & Pan Frying instructions in post.)
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Pick up a slice of eggplant and dip it into the egg, covering both sides completely. Let any excess egg drain off then put the eggplant into the keto breadcrumbs. Scoop the mixture on top of the eggplant (I use my fingers) and gently pat it in place. Flip the eggplant slice to make sure both sides are coated evenly. Place onto the sheet pan and repeat, coating all of the eggplant.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes per side, until the coating is crispy and golden brown.
- Remove the eggplant from the oven. Spoon sauce over each eggplant round. Top each with one slice of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Return to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted. Stack and serve.
Storing and Reheating
- Cool Eggplant Parmesan before covering and refrigerating. Can freeze, but it will not be crispy when it thaws. To reheat, warm a leftover serving in the microwave or cover with foil and reheat in a 350 oven or convection air fryer for 20-30 minutes. Can also reheat in a drawer-type air fryer for several minutes at 350F.