Stuffed Eggplant Parm: A Quick and Healthy Twist

Stuffed eggplant parmesan

Confession: Classic Eggplant Parmesan is something I have never cooked at home. While I love the crunch, ooze, and tang of the traditional version, which originally hails from Southern Italy, it’s too fussy and not as nutritious as I like for everyday eating. Enter this quick and healthy Stuffed Eggplant Parm. It’s my lighter, everyday spin on a beloved dish that takes under 20 minutes of hands-on-time and is a new favorite everyday main.

stuffed eggplant parm with crusty bread and wine

Baking the Eggplant to Perfection

The first step is to cut your eggplant in half lengthwise and get it in the oven to bake. The idea is to cook it until the vegetable is very tender and it’s juices begin to appear across the top. The recipe calls for medium-size conventional Italian-style eggplant, but you could use a smaller eggplant or different variety if you like (mini eggplant parm on fairytale eggplant would be awfully cute, no?). You’ll just have to scale down the cooking time and number of eggplant when using a smaller or thinner variety.

Top Your Stuffed Eggplant Parm with Ease

Since the whole point here is ease, all you do is brown ground turkey or chicken in a skillet, then add bottled marinara sauce. That’s it. Of course, you can use your own homemade sauce, but for weeknight cooking I almost always have bottled Rao’s in my cupboard. For a plant-based version, use two cups of cooked cannellini beans instead of ground turkey.

stuffed eggplant parm

Crunchy and Cheesy Goodness

Once you spoon your meat sauce over the eggplant, finish each one with grated cheese. I prefer sharp Cheddar to the more traditional Mozzarella, but feel free to go the traditional route if that’s your preference. Then, finish the whole thing with a little Parmesan cheese followed by Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (essential for the requisite crunch).

Serving Suggestions for Eggplant Parmesan

This eggplant is essentially a one-dish meal. That said, I’d recommend serving it with a warm, crusty baguette or whole-grain levain, since the mashup of ingredients is begging to be sopped up with bread. A bright, leafy salad with this dressing would also pair well for a complete meal. A few other thoughts:

  • I figure two eggplant halves is about right if serving as a main course. Kids and those with smaller appetites might be happy with one half.
  • This would also be a nice option on a buffet, say a spread of Italian favorites, in which case you might figure 1/2 eggplant per person.
  • If taking a meal to a friend, this is a good bet, since it transports and reheats with ease.
  • For gluten-free friends, use gluten-free panko and season it with 1 teaspoon each Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and a big pinch kosher salt.

If you like this Stuffed Eggplant Parm, you might like:

Baked Tofu Parmesan

Vegetarian Zucchini Tofu Lasagna

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Baked Pumpkin Pasta with Kale and Bacon

Broiled Eggplant with Marinara

Stuffed eggplant parmesan
3 from 2 votes

Weeknight Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

I consider this Stuffed Eggplant Parm a lighter, easier version of the Italian classic. It's a dish you can manage in under 20 minutes of hands-on cooking time and is excellent served with crusty bread and a leafy salad on the side.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 449 kcal
Author Katie Morford


  • 4 medium eggplant (about 12 ounces each)
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the eggplant
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey or ground chicken (or 2 cups cooked white beans)
  • 2 cups bottled or homemade marinara sauce
  • 2 cups coarsely grated sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned panko or breadcrumbs (or plain panko with 1 t Italian seasoning blend, 1/4 t garlic powder, a big pinch salt)
  • Olive oil cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

  2. Cut the stem off each eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Lightly brush the cut side of each eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and a dusting of freshly ground black pepper. Bake until the eggplant begins to appear juicy and is quite soft (you can slide the tip of a knife right in), about 1 hour.

  3. While the eggplant bakes, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. When the oil is hot, swirl it around the pan, then add the ground turkey. Cook until the turkey is done, stirring it regularly and breaking it into crumbles. Add the tomato sauce, stir well, and remove from heat. (If you want a little spice in your sauce, add a few pinches of red chili flakes).

  4. When the eggplant is done, spoon the marinara sauce over each half. Sprinkle the Cheddar and Parmesan over the top, followed by the Italian breadcrumbs. Lightly spray the breadcrumbs with the olive oil cooking spray (no worries if you don't have oil spray it in your pantry).

  5. Bake until the cheese melts and the topping begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. You can put it under the broiler at the very end to brown further, if desired.

  6. Serve warm.


10.25.2023 at5:05 PM #

Anne Marie

How can I print from here? Not seeing how. Thanks I’m advance!

10.25.2023 at5:05 PM #

Katie Morford

Hi Anne Marie, Under the photo in the recipe there is a little Print icon. You should be able to click that!

10.26.2023 at8:10 AM #

Anne Marie

I looked and looked and not seeing. Thanks for responding! I see a save icon. I will figure something out. I so want to try this recipe! 🙂

10.26.2023 at8:10 AM #

Katie Morford

I looked at the recipe on my phone and you’re, right there is no print button. I only see it on my laptop. I will see about getting that remedied.

10.29.2023 at6:27 PM #

Pam Hochman

looks great! Do you bake cut side down or up?

10.29.2023 at6:27 PM #

Katie Morford

I’ve been doing it cut-side-up.

01.20.2024 at1:02 PM #

Deanna Green

I’d love to try this, but how can I print this from my cell phone. Thx.

01.20.2024 at1:02 PM #

Katie Morford

Hi! There should be a tiny printer icon on the right side near the top of the recipe.

02.12.2024 at11:41 AM #


This looks like my way of cooking eggplant parm! I find eggplant parm to be a little overwhelming, and I like that this is a little quicker and easier to prepare.

04.01.2024 at12:09 PM #


This seems like more of a “topped” eggplant recipe than stuffed. I’m kinda wondering if I could scoop out the flesh after it’s cooked and mix it with the sauce then put it all back in and top with cheesy breadcrumbs. Thanks for inspiring a hopefully successful endeavor!!!

04.01.2024 at12:09 PM #

Katie Morford

Yes, I think that would work. You may want to let it cook a little longer until the flesh is really tender enough to scoop. Let me know how it goes.

04.03.2024 at7:49 PM #


Ground bird… No thank you. Ground beef or pork if you’re going to use animal protein! And Cheddar with ANY tomato sauce… Just doesn’t cut it… Fontina if mozzarella isn’t flavorful enough…

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