Eggplant

Breaded Eggplant Cutlets

March 28, 2019
22 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

Chicken cutlets get a lot of credit. They can be turned into a sandwich, chopped up and sprinkled on a salad, or broiled with mozzarella and tomato sauce for a quickie chick-Parm. But what if you don’t eat chicken? Or what if you do eat chicken but don’t want it?

That’s where this crispy eggplant comes in. With a crispy crust and juicy center, these cutlets are just as addictive as their chicken counterparts.

Of course, we already know that eggplant loves being breaded and fried. Such is the foundation for classic eggplant Parmesan, where eggplant slices are dredged in flour, egg, and crumbs. But after you do all that work, you have to do a lot more work (simmering tomato sauce, grating cheese, baking, cooling) to complete the casserole. And come dinnertime, that crispy-crunchy eggplant is crispy-crunchy no more.

I thought about this a lot a couple months ago. My husband and I were having some friends over and wanted to make eggplant Parmesan. Which means we spent the whole day, well, making eggplant Parmesan. The end result? Great. But what we couldn’t get over was that the pre-Parm, just-fried eggplant cutlets were even greater.

These eggplant cutlets take a few tips from eggplant Parm (lots of, ahem, Parmesan) and the rest from KFC-style fried chicken (black pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, hot paprika). Salting the eggplant slabs beforehand ensures a creamy interior and panko breadcrumbs keep things extra-crispy.

Between you and me? I’d eat an eggplant’s worth of these with a glass of red wine and call it dinner. But, just like chicken cutlets, there are a million and one ways to show them off. Eat with a couple sides (like sautéed greens and potato salad). Turn into a sandwich. Chop up and add to a salad. Cover in tomato sauce and mozzarella and broil until bubbly. Dip in ranch dressing like an oversized nugget. You can’t go wrong. Here are 12 ideas to get you started:

Sandwiches
- Sourdough bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo
- Ciabatta with mozzarella, roasted peppers, and pesto
- Baguette with spicy mayo, pickled vegetables, and cilantro

Salads
- Caesar: romaine, white anchovies, capers, topped with chopped cutlets
- Milanese: arugula, olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan, all piled atop the hot cutlets
- Cobb: swap out the chicken and use eggplant cutlets instead
- Ranch: iceberg, carrots, radishes, and celery, topped with chopped cutlets

“Composed” Plates
- Katsu-style: white rice, tonkatsu sauce, lemon wedges
- Rigatoni with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs, topped with chopped cutlets
- Top with tomato sauce and mozzarella, broil, blanket with grated Parm
- Cover in a mushroom-Marsala sauce and serve atop buttery spaghetti
- Serve with coleslaw and bacon-sautéed kale or collards —Emma Laperruque

Watch This Recipe
Breaded Eggplant Cutlets
  • Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ounce Parmesan (ungrated)
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Cut off the top of the eggplant. Use a peeler to remove the skin. Cut lengthwise into ½-inch thick slices. Sprinkle both sides of each eggplant slice with salt. Line a rimmed sheet pan with paper or kitchen towels. Add the eggplant slices in a single layer. Top with another layer of kitchen or paper towels. Set another sheet pan on top. Let the eggplant slices hang out (aka, drain their excess water) for 30 to 60 minutes; the full hour is preferable, but not necessary if you’re pressed for time.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the dredging station: Add the flour to a shallow bowl or rimmed plate; season with a pinch of salt. Add the eggs to a shallow bowl; season with a pinch of salt and whisk with a fork until smooth. Add the Parmesan to a food processor and process until a fine meal forms. Add the panko, black pepper, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, hot paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the food processor, then pulse until combined. Try a bit and adjust the seasoning to taste.
  3. Combine the oils in a large cast-iron skillet. Set on the stove over medium-high heat.
  4. While the oil is heating up, bread the eggplant slices: Dry each one with a paper or kitchen towel. Dredge both sides in flour, then egg, then seasoned panko. Set on a separate plate.
  5. To test if the oil is hot enough, add a panko crumb to the pan. It should immediately sizzle—not sink to the bottom, not burn. When it’s hot enough, add a couple breaded eggplant slices (don’t overcrowd or they won’t brown properly). Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until deeply golden brown.
  6. Transfer the just-fried eggplant to a paper towel–lined plate to sop up any extra grease, then transfer to a wire rack to stay crispy.
  7. Fry the remaining eggplant slices in the same way. These are best served hot.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Hannah
    Hannah
  • Elan Blu
    Elan Blu
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
  • Anne Halson
    Anne Halson
  • Chris Cummings
    Chris Cummings
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

29 Reviews

Hannah August 28, 2020
I made this yesterday. Then I made pizza tonight with them. God it was good! The eggplant was farm fresh, so was the tomato sauce, and the basil I got, and the spinach from up the street. But I think I’m in love with breaded eggplant.
 
Elan B. October 26, 2019
Does this dish re-heat well? How would you reheat to keep crispy?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. October 27, 2019
Hi Elan! Breaded cutlets are always their best (and crispiest) when just fried. But if you have leftovers and want to reheat them, I would do so in an oven (anywhere from 375°F to 425°F) or directly in a skillet.
 
fletchycat July 10, 2019
This was delicious. Tasted exactly as described. I did use pre-grated Parmigiana because that's what I had on hand and it was slightly less that what recipe specified but it was still the best eggplant I have ever made. Thank you.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. July 10, 2019
Yahoo!
 
Teresita April 20, 2019
Almost don’t want to share .....so there will be some left! Cauliflower gnocchi !! Mushroom risotto......
Cooked chicken breasts for quick pack lunches......fig and cranberry crackers.....i take my weight watchers scanning app and have lost 35 lbs eating better than ever since I started shopoing at TJs
 
chelly April 19, 2019
I haven’t made this particular recipe yet, however when I make eggplant parm I add melted butter(cooled) to my egg wash. It makes the panko crunchy when baked.
 
Daisy8s April 19, 2019
Any thoughts about freezing and reheating? Would you refry or is there enough oil they could be done on a baking sheet?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 19, 2019
Hi! I haven't tried freezing and reheating these, but here's what I would do: Heat the oven to 375°F. Add the frozen cutlets to a lined sheet pan. Bake until warmed throughout, flipping halfway through. If you give it a try, please let me know how it goes!
 
Anne H. October 28, 2019
What about freezing them before you cook them,?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. October 29, 2019
Hm! I haven't tried freezing before cooking with any cutlet (eggplant or otherwise) and am not sure how that would work out... Curious to hear if other people have tried this method!
 
Diana April 17, 2019
Delicious. I followed reviewer gandolf’s directions for baking the eggplant and they were perfection. I like spicy flavors so next time I may add pepper flakes or finely minced jalapeños. Yum.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 17, 2019
Wow, so cool to hear they work out well baked, too! Thank you, Gandalf, for reporting back on that technique!
 
pvanhagenlcsw April 7, 2019
Exceptional flavor. Crunchy on the outside and soft and mellow inside, How much of a problem is it if devouring all of it is my only option? I will manage with the help of some grilled homemade sourdough. Ah yes. Looking forward to the summer eggplant shortly to appear at the farmer’s market.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 7, 2019
So glad you enjoyed—thanks!
 
Christina April 3, 2019
I made this last night and it would have been delicious except, OH SO SALTY!!!
Obviously I made a mistake somewhere (too much salt). I generously salted (coated) and left on paper towel covered baking trays for 1 hour, then patted dry and dredged.
Can someone explain (as if to a child!) how much salt I should have used?
Thank you!
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 4, 2019
Hi Christina! Sorry to hear that the cutlets were too salty for your taste. Salt preferences vary a lot between people and I personally prefer for food (especially fried food!) to be highly seasoned. I just adjusted the salting step in the recipe to be a little more customizable. If you'd like, you can also skip the salt in the breading altogether, if that tastes better to you. Hope this helps!
 
Kayla May 20, 2019
Salting the eggplant is necessary to draw out the water from it. If you skip this then the eggplant will turn soggy instead of crispy. You can salt it heavily to draw the water out and once the water has been drawn out rinse the salt off.
 
Rebecca April 1, 2019
I wonder if I can modify these for Passover. Any idea if I can swap out the flour and panko for something gluten free?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 1, 2019
Hi Rebecca! One idea: matzo meal instead of flour and crushed matzo instead of panko.
 
Dieselle April 2, 2019
They make KP panko. I would substitute matzoh cake meal for the flour.
 
Dieselle April 2, 2019
You could also use matzoh meal instead of the panko.
 
Chris C. April 19, 2019
None of the responses to this request are gluten free unless I'm really wrong about matzoh? If I were trying to go gluten free I might use King Arthur gluten-free "flour" for dredging and then I'd look for a good crisp gluten free cracker (something that's pretending to be a soda cracker - maybe Glutino or if you can find it the German brand Schar) and turn it into crumbs in my food processor.
 
Fran D. April 19, 2019
They make a gluten free panko. I have bought it at Wal-mart.
 
gandalf April 1, 2019
Any thoughts on whether this could be baked, instead of fried, beginning with Step #5? Just curious.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 1, 2019
Hi Gandalf! Hard to say. Most times I've tried to adapt a breaded-anything to the oven, I haven't liked the crust as much as when it's pan-fried. If you wanted to bake this recipe, I'd recommend drizzling the outside with a little oil to encourage browning. If you give it a go, let me know!
 
gandalf April 2, 2019
Thanks! I like things pan-fried too; in fact, I like them too much! So I always try to think whether a recipe could lend itself to baking/roasting instead of frying.

I have mixed oil with panko in the past for an exterior when baking, so perhaps that is the way to go. I will try to give it a shot in the near future, and let you know how things turn out.
 
Diane April 3, 2019
Try it in an Air Fryer
 
gandalf April 15, 2019
Well, I finally got around to making them; and, after following all of your steps up to the frying, I baked them instead at 400 F for 10 minutes on each side (total 20 minutes). I thought they turned out well, and had a good consistency for both eggplant and breading; but my wife (like @Christina above) complained that they were too salty, although I didn't think so at all. So next time perhaps I will try to drain the eggplant slices without sprinkling them with salt, unless there is a salt-free method that will drain the eggplant slices.