Eggplant Milanese, Eggplant Cutlets, Aubergine Milanese, or simply fried eggplant is an Italian staple. In fact, it's arguably the most perfect way to eat eggplant... Delightfully tasty and crispy on the outside and perfectly tender and juicy on the inside, Eggplant Milanese is an absolute treat. And it's actually quite easy to make.
This Eggplant Milanese Recipe will show you exactly how to make perfectly crispy little eggplant cutlets very time. I typically serve them as a main course alongside one of two other recipes on this site: Lemon Arugula Pasta Salad or Arugula Citrus Salad. But you can also serve them with a pile of simply-dressed greens, or on their own as part of an appetizer spread.
What is Eggplant Milanese?
The term Eggplant/Aubergine Milanese literally translates to "Eggplant of Milan". But it's really an adaptation of one of Milan's most famous dishes, Cotoletta, or "veal cutlet"... Veal Milanese as most Italian American restaurants call it.
So, when used to describe the dish here in the United States, "Milanese" typically refers to a thinly-cut, breaded, and fried piece of veal, eggplant, or chicken. And it's usually served with a simple arugula salad. It's really delicious.
Ingredients in Aubergine Milanese
This Fried Aubergine Milanese Recipe has very few ingredients. Similar to my Italian Style Chicken Cutlets Recipe, it relies on simple technique and good seasoning to make the most out of very few ingredients.
- 1 eggplant
- Breadcrumbs (Panko or regular, depending on how crunchy you want it to be)
- Grated Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese
- Fresh parsley (Or substitute with dry if you don't have fresh on hand)
- Dried Oregano
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil (I will turn you into someone who fries things in olive oil)
See recipe card for quantities.
Making Eggplant Milanese is actually quite simple compared to other fried dishes. Since each slice only takes a couple minutes to cook, and you can fry a few at once, the process is fairly quick. The most time-consuming part is dredging the eggplants. But it's worth it. You'll just love how crispy the exterior gets and how tender and juicy the inside is.
- Step 1: Place flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Then season the flour and breadcrumbs per recipe instructions. I use pasta bowls such as these ones for dredging. The wide shallow shape, is perfect.
- Step 2: Peel off HALF of the eggplant's skin in strips, and slice the eggplant into approximately 20 slices (¼ inch each).
- Step 3: Dredge each piece of eggplant in the flour mixture, then egg, then breadcrumb mixture. Arrange on a baking sheet and refrigerate for a half hour to let the dredge adhere to itself and to the eggplant.
- Step 4: Fry breaded eggplant cutlets in olive oil for a minute and a half on each side. Just until they turn golden, but not too dark.
- Step 5: Serve with a side salad and enjoy!
- Seasoning the flour and breadcrumbs sets Aubergine Milanese apart from other styles of fried eggplant. The classic trio of breadcrumbs, herbs, and pecorino really makes these fried aubergines Italian-style.
- Gently move the frying pan every so often to swirl around the oil. This will help maintain even heat throughout the pan and allow the eggplants to fry more evenly.
There are a couple ways you can modify this Eggplant Milanese Recipe to cater to certain diets.
- Gluten Free - Simply swap the flour and breadcrumbs for your favorite gluten free options
- Cheese Free - If you can't eat cheese, leave out the Pecorino. Instead add 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast to the breadcrumb mixture to replace the cheese flavor.
Variations on Eggplant Milanese
Some of my favorite ways to eat Aubergine Milanese are:
- Make it spicy: Ditch the salad and serve the eggplant cutlets with a Spicy Calabrian Chili Mayo dipping sauce. Just combine equal parts chopped Calabrian Chilis and mayonnaise.... Like an Italian spicy mayo. (Order Calabrian Chili Peppers on Amazon if you can't find them in stores)
- Fried Aubergine "Caprese": Take yourself to a different region of Italy, Capri, by turning your eggplant Milanese into a Caprese! Layer the eggplant cutlets with slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella for an appetizer that will absolutely wow at dinner parties.
- Kid Friendly: Make individual eggplant pizzas. Top each eggplant cutlet with tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and whatever other toppings your kids like! Then bake until the cheese melts.
Equipment needed to make Eggplant Milanese
- A Chef's Knife: There's not a single recipe on this site that doesn't require a good Chef's Knife. If you take cooking seriously and don't yet own an 8-inch chef's knife, you should really consider investing in one.
- In this Aubergine Milanese recipe, you'll use it to slice the eggplant and chop the parsley. I swear by my Wustoff 8 inch classic Chef's knife.
- An All-Clad Sauté Pan: I know, this is a frying recipe, and it's not a frying pan! It's better than that. It's truly just a perfect pan. You sorta have to have it to understand.
- Use it for sautéing, frying, braising, searing, making pasta sauces... the possibilities are endless. Plus, all-clad's quality is unbeatable. Here's the link.
Fried Aubergine holds up quite well in both the refrigerator and freezer. The side salad will not hold up as well once dressed, however. So only make as much salad as you plan to eat in one sitting.
In the Refrigerator
Allow the fried aubergine to cool, then place leftovers in a container and refrigerate for up to a week. When ready to eat the leftovers, reheat them in the toaster oven or regular oven just until they crisp up again.
In the Freezer
Eggplant Milanese tends to freeze well because the breading protects the inside of the eggplant. Wrap leftover pieces of fried aubergine tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them. When ready to eat, remove from plastic and toast in a toaster oven until crispy.
If you don't have a toaster oven, arrange frozen breaded eggplant cutlets on a baking sheet and heat them in a 450F oven until crispy.
Top Tips for Making Eggplant Cutlets
- Look for an eggplant that's firm and on the slimmer side. These will have fewer seeds and a more pleasant texture.
- Season the flour and breadcrumb mixtures well! This flavor combination is key to any Italian-style cutlet, as you can learn from my other amazing recipe, Italian Chicken Cutlets.
- When prepping the eggplant, peel off half its skin in strips using a vegetable peeler. The skin is edible, but can be hard to chew. But if you remove all of it, the eggplant cutlets can be too soft. Watch my video for how I peel eggplant on TikTok if you need more guidance.
Perfectly seasoned slices of eggplant, breaded and fried until lightly golden, and served with a pile of lightly dressed greens. An Milan-style classic Italian dish.
- 1 eggplant, half-peeled, and sliced into approximately 20 slices.
- 2 cups of breadcrumbs (See note 1)
- ¼ cup finely grated Pecorino cheese
- 1 cup of flour
- 2 Eggs, scrambled
- ⅓ cup of fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of Dried Oregano
- ¼ teaspoon of Cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper, divided
- Olive oil, for frying
- Your favorite arugula salad as a side dish/ topping
- Slice eggplant and chop parsley as described above. Then prepare the dredges. In one bowl combine the flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon (a pinch) of cayenne pepper. In the next bowl scramble 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon of water. In the third bowl combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, pecorino, and the other other half teaspoons of salt and pepper.
- Dredge the eggplants by coating each slice in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Align on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes. If serving with a salad, this is a great time to toss some arugula with a little lemon and olive oil.
- Over medium-high heat, heat a sauté pan or large frying pan with about a ½-inch coating of olive oil. Once hot, lower the heat to medium or medium-low to prevent burning. Fry eggplant cutlets in batches, about 3-4 at a time, for 90 seconds on each side. Just until they become lightly golden brown. (see note 2)
- Once cooked move eggplant cutlets onto a cooling rack set over sheet pan OR onto a platter lined with a couple paper towels to soak up excess oil.
- Serve with the arugula salad, or by itself. (see note 3)
- If you want an ultra crunchy eggplant Milanese, use Panko. If you want more of a subtle crunch, use regular breadcrumbs.
- It helps to move the eggplants around in the frying oil every so often so they cook evenly. Make sure there's enough oil under each slice by lifting the eggplant cutlets slightly with a fork to allow movement of hot oil underneath them.
- A simple pile of arugula dressed with oil, lemon, salt and pepper would be absolutely spectacular. however, I like to serve this dish with my recipe for Lemon Arugula Pasta Salad for a more hearty meal.
Keywords: eggplant milanese, aubergine milanese, fried aubergine, eggplant cutlets, breaded eggplant cutlets,