If you love a good eggplant parmesan or an eggplant lasagna, then you will fall in love with this easy to make gluten free, keto recipe. With in season sliced eggplant rounds, stuffed with herb filled ricotta cheese and dredged in pork rinds, it makes the perfect keto friendly snack, appetizer or meal!
Comfort food is my specialty and this recipe hits that criteria perfectly! As a previous lover of all things regular lasagna, I wanted to create a healthier, low carb recipe that was easy to share, as well as reheat (cause I love a good leftover or meal prep that pulls double duty during a busy week).
I was inspired to make a keto low carb eggplant lasagna that would take less time and be easy to serve as an appetizer or pair as a side with my Keto Meatballs! I also loved that I could make a keto style eggplant parmesan sandwich for myself (definitely wasn’t feeling like sharing here) as well.
Grab the recipe below and read all the tips and techniques for getting this incredibly indulgent ricotta stuffed eggplant dish!
- One Mixing Bowl
- Two Shallow Dishes
- Measuring Cups/ Spoons
- Two Baking Sheets
- Paper Towels
- Spoon or Spatula
Let’s break down the ingredients, the prep (super important to the success of this recipe), and the different approaches to cooking these addictive little eggplant bites!
Eggplant Rounds- Eggplant is a great pasta sub for low carb eaters and eggplant lovers alike. This recipe works really well with one medium sized eggplant cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Eggplant is prone to oxidization (browning) and also needs to be sweated to remove excess moisture for this recipe to be successful. More details below to follow!
Sea Salt – This is a crucial component to extracting the extra water out of the eggplant.
Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese- Ricotta makes up the bulk of the filling for these eggplant bites.
Parmesan Cheese- Adds a strong cheese flavor to the filling! Grate your own for better results. While I’m partial to the pungent flavors of a good parmesan, a mozzarella cheese is a decent sub here as well. I also add a little parm to the crumb coating too!
Fresh Parsley- Adds color and flavor to the filling like a traditional lasagna filling.
Eggs- This acts as a binding agent for both the ricotta filling and the breading for dredging the outside “breading”.
Pork Rind Crumbs- A zero carb “bread crumb” option that gets so much crispier than say almond flour and doesn’t have the overpowering flavors of coconut flour. Pork rind crumbs remind me a lot of classic panko style bread crumbs and this is a great substitute.
Dry Italian Seasoning – Season the pork panko crumbs with a good Italian blend and maybe a splash of garlic powder to amp up the flavor.
Tomato Sauce – This makes a great dipper when serving appetizer style or to slather over the top when you make it into an eggplant parmesan sandwich. Use a lower carb sauce like Rao’s or something without added sugars.
The Eggplant: Remove as much excess moisture from the eggplant before adding the filling and dredging to prevent a super soggy mess. Do this by:
- Placing paper towels down onto a baking sheet
- Add sea salt over the top to help draw out the water
- Add a second layer of paper towel to soak up the moisture from the top
- Place the second baking sheet over the top and add some plates or bowls to the top to press down and add weight. Let the eggplant rest like this for about 30 minutes.
- After the 30 minute mark, press down
Combine the filling ingredients (ricotta, egg, parm, and parsley) together in a bowl and mix well. After the rounds have sweated, add a heaping tablespoon or two to the top of each round and smooth it out evenly on one side of the round with a butter knife.
Lay the rounds out onto a baking sheet or tray and put them in the freezer to set. This is important to do before dredging so the filling stays put and its easier to coat and cover! I froze mine for about 30 minutes or so.
“Bread” The Eggplant-
Once you remove them from the freezer and the filling feels solid to the touch, set the rounds aside. Use two shallow dishes to dredge and coat the rounds; egg wash in one and the seasoned pork rind crumbs in the other.
Coat completely in the egg wash and then place into the dish with the pork rind crumbs and press down to coat firmly and evenly. Once they are all coated, the NEED to go back into the freezer for round two!
Freeze them until the breading is solid. This makes it easier to bake, pan fry, or air fry without the filling oozing out!
There are a few different ways to cook these eggplant rounds, here’s the scoop on a few different methods and how to approach them.
The Air Fryer: This is my favorite method personally and the one I suggest if you have one. Just 8 minutes at 375 F is the perfect amount of time to get a crispy golden brown coating and perfectly cooked eggplant.
Baking: If you plan on baking, place on an elevated cooling rack to help heat the eggplant from above and underneath (no one wants soggy breading). Bake at 425 F for 12 minutes and then broil for some nice color on top if desired.
Pan Searing/Frying: Heat a frying pan to medium high heat and add a little swirl of a high smoke point oil (avocado is my go to) and sear face down first, about 4-5 minutes per side. Use a spatula and non-stick pan to carefully flip the eggplant rounds over to finish cooking.
There are a few ways to serve these ricotta stuffed eggplant rounds!
Appetizer- Place the rounds on a plate, sprinkle and garnish with fresh basil and some more parmesan cheese on top! Place a small bowl of tomato sauce on the side for dipping and serve to friends and family.
Eggplant Parm Sandwich – If I’m not in the mood to share or I have a decent amount of leftovers, I like to make a keto or low carb friendly eggplant parm sandwich, Use two chaffles for zero carb buns or my go-to store bought keto buns as an option too!
Add 2-3 rounds, some more fresh basil, and melt some provolone or mozzarella over the whole thing! Add a slather of tomato sauce or tomato relish and you have the perfect sandwich.
Crispy Keto Ricotta Stuffed Eggplant Rounds
- 1 Medium Eggplant
- Sea Salt
- 6 oz. Ricotta Cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 3 tbsp. Fresh Parsley
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 Egg
- 2 Eggs
- 1.5 cups Pork Rind Crumbs
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese for breading
- Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds. Place on a paper towel lined baking sheet and sprinkle sea salt across the top. Place paper towels over that and another baking sheet. Add bowls or plates to weigh down the pan to extract excess water for 30 minutes.
- While the sliced eggplant is sweating, combine the ricotta, parmesan, parsley, and one egg together in a bowl and set aside.
- Remove the paper towels off of the eggplant and wipe away the excess salt. Spread a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture over the top of each round and spread it evenly across the eggplant with a butter knife. Repeat with all the eggplant slices.
- Place the ricotta layered eggplant rounds onto a baking sheet and place it into the freezer to set.
- Once set, add the two eggs to a dish and then combine the pork rinds, 1/4 cup of parmesan, and the Italian seasonings in a separate dish. Coat each piece of eggplant in the egg wash and then in the pork rind mixture. Press down as needed to coat evenly.
- Place each round back onto a baking sheet and into the freezer again to set, about 30-45 minutes.
- Cooking Methods-
- The Air Fryer: This is my favorite method personally and the one I suggest if you have one. Just 8 minutes at 375 F is the perfect amount of time to get a crispy golden brown coating and perfectly cooked eggplant.
- Baking: If you plan on baking, place on an elevated cooling rack to help heat the eggplant from above and underneath (no one wants soggy breading). Bake at 425 F for 12 minutes and then broil for some nice color on top if desired.
- Pan Searing/Frying: Heat a frying pan to medium high heat and add a little swirl of a high smoke point oil (avocado is my go to) and sear face down first, about 4-5 minutes per side. Use a spatula and non-stick pan to carefully flip the eggplant rounds over to finish cooking.
- Serve on a plate as an appetizer or with low carb keto buns as a keto eggplant parmesan sandwich!