What Molly’s Eating: Saucy Air Fryer Eggplant

Amanda Peterson, RDN, LD | Molly Mills, RDN, LD
August 06, 2020
Eggplant parmesan on a plate

I had someone tell me this week that they don’t like eating healthy because they prefer their food to be “saucy.” Well, this recipe is especially for all of you saucy-folks out there. Admittedly, my husband and I have no less than 5 sauces on the table with most meals. Our go-to options include a good quality marinara and vinegary hot sauce. If you think “healthy eating” has to be bland, dry and boring, I hope this recipe changes your mind.

What is an air-fryer?

This recipe uses an air-fryer to cook the eggplant, which makes it quick to prepare and is great for browning that beautiful cheese. It has grown in popularity over the past year as a healthier alternative to deep-frying because it uses hot air instead of oil to cook the food. For this recipe, I recommend using an air fryer that has a rack to help evenly cook the eggplant and brown the cheese. If you don’t have an air-fryer, no worries – you can use your oven instead.

What makes a good quality marinara?

 I’m glad you asked! It’s all about the ingredients. Look for a marinara with ingredients such as plum tomatoes, olive oil, onion, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Bonus points if the plum tomatoes are from Italy’s San Marzano region as these have a naturally sweet flavor with low acidity. Avoid sauces that include sugar or high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list to help limit intake of added sugars. 

How do I make it?

To make 1 serving, you will need:

  • Eggplant (4 slices cut ~1/2 inch thick)
  • 1.5 oz (~2 slices) of cheese (I used sliced pepperjack because it is what I had available, but mozzarella or parmesan would work well)
  • 4 Tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) of your favorite marina sauce
  • Basil (optional)


  • Lightly spray eggplant slices with cooking oil
  • Place eggplant on air fryer rack
  • Turn on air fryer, setting to 375°F for 10 mins (alternatively, roast eggplant in top rack of oven at the same temperature)
  • After 10 mins, add 1 tablespoon of sauce to each eggplant round and top with ½ slice (or 0.4 oz) of cheese each
  • Close air fryer and cook for another 5 mins at 375°F or until cheese is beginning to brown
  • Remove eggplant from air fryer, garnish with chopped basil (if using)
  • Enjoy! And, feel free to serve with an extra side of marina for dipping.

Nutrition information (for 1 serving or 4 eggplant slices as prepared above)

Note: Nutrition information will vary depending on your choice of marinara sauce and cheese. The nutrition information below is based on the ingredients I used. 

Total calories: 250

Protein: 10g

Fat: 16g total (made up of 11g unsaturated, 5g saturated, 0g trans)

Total Carbohydrates: 13g

Total Sugars: 5g (naturally occurring from tomatoes, no added sugar)

Fiber: 6g