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Slow cooker eggplant parmesan makes the Italian classic so easy. It might even be better than the original!
Are you still getting eggplant where you live? I tend to think of eggplant as a summer vegetable, but it actually does better when it’s a little bit cooler out.
Of course, “a little bit cooler” here probably means it’s regular summer for the rest of the country. Still, eggplant tends to peak right about now, which means I’ve been cooking up a bunch of it.
Although sometimes I like to go extremely simple and make grilled eggplant, there’s no denying how well eggplant goes with tomatoes. That makes sense, considering they are in season at the same time.
Eggplant has a meaty texture, similar to portobello mushrooms, so they’re a great choice for meatless mains.
I’ve made eggplant parmesan plenty of times before, from the super-traditional to the hand-held variety of eggplant parmesan subs, but I don’t get tired of it. Considering I had never experienced it until I was in college, it’s a bit surprising that I enjoy it so much!
The only thing I don’t enjoy is how long it takes to make. That’s where this slow cooker eggplant parmesan steps in. Although there is still a bit of prep work, there’s no messy frying or standing over the stove as you cook panful after panful before you even get the food into the oven with the sauce.
Now, because the expectation of eggplant parmesan is for it to have a crisp exterior, you wouldn’t think the slow cooker version would work.
But in fact, cooking it low and slow means the tomato sauce cooks up and gets extremely rich and savory, the coating crisps up, and the eggplant softens into itself.
An added bonus for this recipe is the pesto that is whisked into the egg dip. You only need a little bit to add a ton of flavor, and if you have time to make up your own pesto, all the better!
And you know what? If you manage to have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day, especially piled on top of a piece of crusty bread.
how to make eggplant parmesan in the slow cooker
Making this in the slow cooker does require a bit of prep work, but the results are worth it. You can save time by using a jarred sauce.
If you have time, however, I highly recommend Marcella Hazan’s simple sauce, which I’ve included in the instructions below. It’s so delicious and easy!
I recommend peeling the eggplant before slicing it. Removing the smooth peel will help the coating have a better surface to stick to, and we all know that crispy coating is the best part of eggplant parm.
After you have dipped all of your eggplant slices into the coating, layer them with the tomato sauce and cheese in your slow cooker. You’ll get more crispy edges if you have a wider slow cooker, but a round slow cooker works just as well.
If you’re looking for more slow cooker dinner recipes, try my friend Wendy’s crockpot mac and cheese!
Even if you’re not a fan of eggplant, I encourage you to try this recipe for slow cooker eggplant parmesan. It just might change your mind!
Slow Cooker Eggplant Parmesan
- 48 ounces canned tomatoes, crushed or whole variety such as San Marzano
- 1 yellow onion, halved
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup pesto
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, divided
- 2 medium eggplant, about 2 1/2 pounds total, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 8 ounces Italian cheese blend
- 1 pound spaghetti, or other dried pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh basil, for garnish
- In a large saucepan, combine the tomatoes, onion, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes. Break up any large tomato chunks with a spoon, remove onion, and set aside. (This can be done a day ahead to save time.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, pesto and milk. In a second bowl, toss bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of Parmesan.
- Set aside 1/2 cup of the sauce. Coat slow cooker bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon 1/2 cup of the sauce on bottom of slow cooker.
- Dip each eggplant slice in egg mixture, then bread crumb mixture, and place on a cutting board. Layer one-third of the eggplant slices into slow cooker (about 8 pieces). Top with 1 cup sauce and 2/3 cup Italian cheese blend. Repeat twice. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 1/2 to 6 hours.
- During last 30 minutes of cooking time, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook 10 minutes. Drain and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan and the olive oil
- Heat reserved sauce gently in microwave or saucepan. Serve alongside eggplant and spaghetti. Garnish with basil, if using.