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Southern Eggplant Casserole is a delicious way to enjoy fresh garden vegetables. With a cheesy filling and rich, buttery crumb topping, this easy recipe is a satisfying vegetarian dinner or a simple side dish to round out any meal.

Serving of eggplant casserole in a blue and white bowl with fresh parsley garnish on top

Eggplant is at its peak from July through October, so this is a perfect time to take advantage of the beautiful purple veggie. There are any number of ways to prepare an eggplant casserole recipe, but today we’re whipping up a Southern Eggplant Casserole — the cheesiest, most delicious version!

Southern Eggplant Casserole

In general, a “casserole” is any food that is cooked and served in the same dish. Casseroles typically include three main components: a base that provides the main flavor and texture of the dish (in this case, the eggplant), an extender that helps thicken the dish (here it’s the Ritz cracker crumbs), and a binder or liquid that holds it all together (such as the milk and eggs).

While every home cook likely has her own favorite variation, a typical Southern Eggplant Casserole includes the following ingredients:

  • Cooked eggplant (often combined with garlic, celery and onion);
  • Cheddar cheese;
  • Eggs (to help the casserole set);
  • Buttery crumb topping (the Ritz crackers are key!)

Definitely a winning combination!

Front shot of southern eggplant casserole with a silver serving spoon on a wooden table

How to make Eggplant Casserole:

This easy casserole is ready for the oven in about 20 minutes. Let’s get started!

Fresh eggplant on a wooden table

Step 1: Boil Eggplant

Peel and dice the eggplant; then boil the pieces in a pot of salted water just until tender (about 5-6 minutes). Drain the eggplant well and set aside.

Peeled diced eggplant on a cutting board

Step 2: Prepare Cracker Crumb Mixture

In a bowl, stir together the Ritz cracker crumbs, the melted butter and the grated cheese.

Ritz cracker crumbs mixed with butter and cheddar cheese

Step 3: Sauté Celery, Onion and Garlic

In a skillet, cook the celery, onion and garlic just until tender. I typically do this at the same time the eggplant is boiling. Working on all of these different components simultaneously helps the casserole come together really quickly.

Sauteed celery and onion in a skillet

Step 4: Combine Ingredients

In a large bowl, combine the cooked eggplant, cooked celery mixture, eggs, milk, salt and pepper.

Filling for eggplant casserole in a large mixing bowl

Step 5: Assemble Casserole

Gently stir in half of the cracker crumb mixture, and transfer to an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish.

Process shot of making eggplant casserole

Sprinkle the remaining cracker crumb mixture on top.

Front shot of eggplant casserole in a baking dish before it goes in the oven

Step 6: Bake Casserole

Bake the casserole (uncovered) in a 350 degree F oven for about 25 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the topping is golden brown and the filling is hot and bubbly. The eggs in the filling cook through and help it set, so you shouldn’t end up with a runny casserole.

Side shot of a baked eggplant casserole in a green dish

What to serve with Eggplant Casserole:

Eggplant has a really hearty, meaty texture, making it a very satisfying ingredient for a vegetarian dinner recipe. Serve this casserole as an entrée and pair it with a light, crisp green salad.

If you choose to offer the eggplant casserole as a side dish, here are a few main course options to serve alongside:

Overhead image of a baked southern eggplant casserole in a square dish

Preparation and Storage Tips — Eggplant Casserole with Cheese:

  • Prep Ahead: You can assemble the casserole in advance and keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours before baking. Allow to come to room temperature on the counter for at least 30 minutes before putting the dish in the oven.
  • Leftover Eggplant Casserole will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Do not freeze this casserole. The vegetables and eggs will become watery and mushy when thawed.

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations:

  • Any good melting cheese will work in this recipe. Cheddar is a classic choice, but you can also use American, mozzarella, gruyère, fontina, provolone or any combination of these.
  • I used an eggplant that was about 1 lb. here, but you can use a larger eggplant if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Salt the cooking water really well before adding the eggplant. This is a great opportunity to season the eggplant.
  • Ritz crackers add so much buttery, salty flavor to the dish. I don’t recommend substituting with plain breadcrumbs. You can use crushed saltines, crushed Corn Flakes or other crushed butter crackers in a pinch.
  • Serving a larger family as an entrée? Double all of the ingredients and prepare the casserole in a 9 x 13-inch dish.
  • Feel free to add other vegetables to the casserole, too. You can sauté sliced mushrooms or bell peppers with the celery and onion, for example.
Overhead image of a bowl of southern eggplant casserole with the full casserole dish nearby

More eggplant recipes that you might enjoy:

Serving of eggplant casserole in a blue and white bowl with fresh parsley garnish on top

Eggplant Casserole

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings 6 – 8 (as a side dish) or 4 as an entree
Calories 348.9 kcal
Southern Eggplant Casserole is a delicious way to enjoy fresh garden vegetables. This easy recipe is a satisfying vegetarian dinner or a simple side dish!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (1-lb.) eggplant, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups total)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
  • 1 ½ cups Ritz cracker crumbs (about 37 crackers total)
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch or 9-inch square casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add diced eggplant and cook just until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Drain well.
  • In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, melted butter and grated cheddar cheese. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the celery, onion and garlic to the skillet and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Combine celery mixture with the eggplant, milk, eggs, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Gently fold in half of the cracker crumb mixture. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  • Top with the remaining half of the cracker crumb mixture.
  • Bake, uncovered, for about 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the casserole is hot and bubbly. Allow the dish to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Any good melting cheese will work in this recipe. Cheddar is a classic choice, but you can also use American, mozzarella, gruyère, fontina, provolone or any combination of these.
  • I used an eggplant that was about 1 lb. here, but you can use a larger eggplant if that’s what you have on hand. More eggplant will not impact the recipe.
  • Salt the cooking water really well before adding the eggplant. This is a great opportunity to season the eggplant itself so that it has great flavor in the dish.
  • Ritz crackers add so much buttery, salty flavor to the dish. I don’t recommend substituting with plain breadcrumbs. You can use crushed saltines, crushed Corn Flakes or other crushed butter crackers in a pinch.
  • Serving a larger family as an entrée? Double all of the ingredients and prepare the casserole in a 9 x 13-inch dish.
  • Feel free to add other vegetables to the casserole, too. You can sauté sliced mushrooms or bell peppers with the celery and onion, for example.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the casseroleCalories: 348.9kcalCarbohydrates: 19.4gProtein: 9.9gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 13.6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3.6gMonounsaturated Fat: 7.8gCholesterol: 114.6mgSodium: 370.9mgPotassium: 293.1mgFiber: 2.1gSugar: 5.8g
Keyword: eggplant casserole, eggplant recipes, Southern eggplant casserole
Course: Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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