Slow cooker eggplant casserole is an easy and great recipe made with fresh eggplant, portabella mushrooms, sauce, and lots of cheese. This vegetarian dish is a perfect dinner that works as both the main dish and side course and will quickly become a fan favorite!
What do you call layered slow cooker recipes with lots of cheese (but no cottage cheese or ricotta), eggplant (sliced round, not long, and noodle shaped), portabella mushrooms, and sauce? It's not a slow cooker eggplant lasagna or eggplant parmesan recipe, it’s sort of a casserole - or eggplant bake. Whatever it is, I call it a DELICIOUS recipe!
To make this amazing crockpot eggplant recipe you will need:
- Eggplant - Two medium or possibly one large eggplant should suffice, depending on the size and shape of your slow cooker. The fresher the better - freshness is what makes this one of the best eggplant recipes.
- Portabella mushroom caps - The exact quantity will depend on the size and shape of your slow cooker and your mushrooms. I recommend having 6 on hand to be safe. And again - the fresher the better! Mushrooms add a nice earthy flavor to this dish and help keep it low calorie despite all the cheese!
- Grated Parmesan Cheese - fresh grated parm always tastes best, but you can definitely use what you have on hand for this
- Marinara Sauce - fresh or from the jar, both work well
- Mozzarella cheese - thin sliced deli mozzarella is best here. Not fresh mozzarella.
- Basil - fresh chopped basil is best
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Non-stick cooking spray of choice
Begin by peeling off the skin of the eggplant (this is optional if you enjoy the skin) and slicing. When slow cooking with eggplant, one of the first steps is to place in a colander over the sink and sprinkle liberally with salt. This is a great way to draw out some of its natural moisture and to remove any potential bitterness in the eggplant. After allowing it to drain for 30 minutes or so, wipe off the salt and any excess water with paper towels.
Next you are going to layer your dish similarly to how you would layer lasagna. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of your sprayed slow cooker, then add a layer of each of the following: eggplant, sauce, grated parmesan and spices, and sliced mozzarella.
Repeat all four layers, but with portabella mushroom in the place of eggplant slices for the second round. The third round will be an exact duplicate of the first - with layers of eggplant. Be sure the final product ends with the remaining sauce and a nice thick layer of cheese on the very top.
Total cooking time will be 4-6 hours, until all vegetables are cooked through.
This excellent recipe is basically a complete meal on it's own. It is great served with a nice thick loaf of a crusty Italian bread. However, it is also makes a great side dish for simple chicken recipes such as pizza chicken or apricot chicken. My absolute favorite way to serve this dish is the way I did last night- alongside Italian roast sandwiches!
The best thing about this recipe is how well it keeps. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in air tight containers or bags for 3-4 days. Storing in meal sized portions makes for easy reheat and eat future meals. Leftovers can also be frozen for up to 3 months and easily reheated in the microwave.
😉Hints & hacks
- Have everything on the shopping list besides fresh basil? That's ok, you can mix 1 tablespoon of dried basil in with the parmesan, garlic powder and onion powder mixture instead.
- You may have extra liquid in the dish after you start removing pieces from your slow cooker. That is ok! It's just water from the eggplant and portabella. The dish will still be delicious! If you are bothered by it, next time let your salted eggplant sit for a longer period of time to make sure as much water drains out as possible.
- Slow cooker liners are an optional but helpful hack whenever using a crockpot. They allow you to cook with little to no cleanup. I like to buy mine in bulk for a better per-piece price.
- In the market for a new slow cooker? I love my new one!
- Fun Fact: The mushroom used in this recipe can be spelled Portobello OR Portabella. For consistency purposes, The Mushroom Counsel has officially adopted the spelling Portabella
More Slow Cooker Vegetarian Recipes
Eggplant naturally has a lot of water in it. Salting and allowing it to sit and drain for a while before cooking will draw out some of the water as well as remove some of the natural bitterness some eggplant may have. This dish can come out pretty watery as it is, so salting in advance helps to cut down on some it that.
Both the salt and the any excess fluid it draws out should be wiped off of your eggplant before you cook with it.
This is an optional step, but it is meant to help prevent the dish from sticking and to help make serving it easier.
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Lazy Slow Cooker Eggplant Casserole Recipe
- 6 quart or larger slow cooker - or 3.5 quart or larger casserole style slow cooker
- Knife and cutting board
- crockpot liner (optional)
- non-stick cooking spray of choice (I prefer olive oil)
- 1 large eggplant
- 6 portabella mushroom caps
- 24 oz. marinara sauce
- 1 lb. sliced mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- peel eggplant and slice into slices that are about 1-inch thick. Thicker slices (such as 2-inch slices) will take longer to cook
- lay eggplant in a colander and toss with salt. allow to sit for 30 minutes or so.
- pat eggplant with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture
- remove stem from portabella mushrooms, if applicable
- place grated parmesan, garlic and onion powder together in a small bowl and stir to combine
- spray slow cooker with non-stick spray
- spread a few tablespoons of sauce around bottom of slow cooker
- add a layer of eggplant
- cover with thin layer of sauce
- sprinkle with a layer of the parmesan mixture
- sprinkle some chopped basil on top
- next, place of layer of sliced mozzarella until fully covered
- repeat this 5 step sequence with portabella caps in place of eggplant (sauce - portabella - parmesan mixture - basil - sliced mozzarella)
- repeat the 5 step sequence again with eggplant this time (sauce - eggplant - parmesan mix - basil - mozzarella)
- Be sure to finish with a layer of cheese on top.
- cover and cook. slow cooker time should be 4-6 hours on low until all vegetables are fully cooked through
- cut into squares and enjoy a wonderful slow cooker meal!
- Peeling the eggplant is optional. You can cook and serve with the skin on.
- The number of layers may vary based on the size and shape of your slow cooker. If you have a very deep slow cooker, you can add a 4th layer, if you choose.
- When you cut this dish, you may see extra liquid laying in your slow cooker. The amount will depend on how long you allowed your eggplant to dry. This is normal and will not effect the flavor. If I have leftovers to store, I drain the extra liquid prior to storing.
- See above instructions for additional information on how to prepare eggplant for cooking
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