Cheesy Eggplant Casserole with Ground Turkey

GF

Comfort food made healthy, this cheesy eggplant casserole layers eggplant with protein-rich turkey and mozzarella. The best part? It bakes up in 30 minutes!

As I was planning for recipes this fall, I realized I didn’t have that many casserole recipes on my site. Time to change that! I love making casseroles for a hearty, family sized meal. We love leftovers so I often make a casserole like this for just the two of us and we enjoy leftovers for a couple of nights. It’s the best.

Baking dish of a cheesy eggplant casserole topped with cheese and fresh parsley.

This is also the perfect recipe to bring to new parents or friends and family that are in need of a meal. It feels like baby girl is going to make her arrival any day now and I know I’d happily accept this meal when I’m running on empty!

You can bring just this casserole or whip up a simple side salad to pair with it for a complete meal.

Spatula lifting a slice of cheesy eggplant casserole out of the casserole dish.

What Does Eggplant Taste Like?

If you’ve never tried eggplant before, don’t be scared! You will love eggplant in no time. It has a really mild flavor and when cooked properly, takes on the surrounding flavors of the dish. You can leave the skin on or peel it if you prefer. I find that the skin gets really soft when eggplant is baked in a casserole like this so I never take the time to peel it.

Eggplant is a super simple vegetable to work with. One thing to note with eggplant is that it holds a lot of water. In order to make sure the casserole doesn’t end up soupy or extra watery, you simply sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices ahead of time to pull the water from it.

Casserole dish with turkey meat sauce layered with slices of eggplant.

Ingredients in Eggplant Casserole

  • eggplant – when picking an eggplant, make sure yours is firm but not hard. It should be smooth and shiny, not dull which means its turning bitter and it should be a rich, dark purple color with even coloring and no streaking. Eggplants are full of moisture so after slicing be sure to sprinkle with salt and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • turkey – a lean protein option, but ground beef will work too. You can also use tofu or mashed chickpeas for a vegetarian option.
  • marinara sauce – I look for marinara sauce with no sugar added. Three brands I like are Muir Glen, Rao’s Homemade and Primal Kitchen.
  • cheese – we’re using shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  • spices – a little salt, black pepper and Italian seasoning.
Sheet pan with slices of eggplant with salt on them, preparing for the casserole.

How to Make this Eggplant Casserole

Prep Eggplant Start by cutting your eggplant into slices. Place on a flat surface and sprinkle both sides with salt. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. This allows the water to be pulled out of the eggplant, making sure that the casserole doesn’t end up super watery. Blot the eggplant slices with a paper towel.

Make Sauce To make your sauce, sauté your garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat and then add the ground turkey along with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Break up the turkey as it cooks. When the turkey is no longer pink, add the tomato sauce to the pan and stir to combine.

Build Casserole It’s time to build your casserole! Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Spread a little turkey sauce into the bottom of the pan and add a layer of eggplant slices. Top with half the turkey sauce mixture, add another layer of eggplant and top with the remaining turkey sauce. Sprinkle on mozzarella cheese.

Bake – Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. The tinfoil keeps the cheese from getting too browned! Remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes.

Serve Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Serving of cheesy eggplant turkey casserole on a plate with a green salad.

How to Serve

This casserole is hearty and filling on its own, but here are some serving suggestions:

More Casserole Recipes You Might Enjoy!

Turkey Eggplant Casserole

4 from 52 votes
Comfort food made healthy, this cheesy eggplant casserole layers eggplant with protein-rich turkey and mozzarella. The best part? It bakes up in 30 minutes!
Baking dish of a cheesy eggplant casserole topped with cheese and fresh parsley.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant
  • sea salt and pepper,, to taste

Turkey Sauce

  • ½ Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper
  • ½ Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 24 oz jar of marinara sauce, any flavor
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • grated parmesan cheese,, to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Cut the eggplant widthwise (into rounds) about 1/4-1/3 inch thick. Brush, rub or spray a little olive oil on each side of the eggplant slices and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking stone. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 10-15 minutes, or until eggplant is hot and starting to cook down. Remove from oven.
  • Meanwhile, heat ½ Tablespoon olive oil in large sauté pan. Once hot, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add ground turkey into the pan, season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cook, breaking turkey apart until turkey is cooked through and no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add sauce to the pan and combine. Remove from heat.
  • Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread a little of the turkey sauce into the bottom of the pan and then add a layer of eggplant. Top with half the turkey sauce mixture. Add another layer of eggplant, top with the remaining turkey sauce mixture. Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake eggplant dish uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Cheese should be melted and bubbly. Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes and serve
  • Serve with grated parmesan and toasted bread.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of recipe Calories: 210kcal Carbohydrates: 10g Protein: 19g Fat: 10g Sodium: 460mg Fiber: 3g Sugar: 3g
Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: eggplant casserole

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Recipe Rating




    34 comments
    1. j.
      November 7, 2021 AT 2:23 pm

      5 stars
      Turned out amazing. Definitely don’t skip pre-salting and pre-roasting the eggplants! I added extra Italian seasonings and fennel, plus ricotta cheese for extra richness. Big hit in the household and am making it again tonight!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 8, 2021 AT 12:41 pm

        Woo! So happy to hear everyone enjoyed this recipe. Thanks so much for the review! I really appreciate it.

    2. Jan
      August 22, 2021 AT 7:01 pm

      4 stars
      I really liked the recipe. Next time I would peel the eggplant. The tough skin did not seem to add flavor to the dish and made it a little difficult to eat.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 24, 2021 AT 12:30 am

        Thanks for the feedback, Jan! And thanks for trying this recipe – I so appreciate it!

    3. Connie Losee
      July 31, 2021 AT 8:46 pm

      5 stars
      Easy to make and good. However I would add more seasoning than recipe calls for. I did not have ground turkey so had to substitute hamburger. Also had to sub onion for.garlic because I forgot to get it. Still turned out well. Can’t wait to make it again with the right ingredients.

    4. Yailyn
      December 20, 2020 AT 6:58 pm

      5 stars
      Tried this tonight and OH MY LANTA. It was a hit! Definitely going to put this on our menu rotation for dinners!💛

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 20, 2020 AT 11:35 pm

        Woo!! That makes me so happy to hear. Thanks for making my recipe and for comin gback to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    5. Nathalie C.
      October 25, 2020 AT 5:04 pm

      3 stars
      I just made this recipe last night – I think I may have sliced my eggplant too thick – they were hardly cooked when I took them out. I added a full can of stewed tomatoes and some chick peas and am cooking it some more today.I’ll let you know how it turns out.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 25, 2020 AT 11:52 pm

        Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that, Nathalie. How’d it turn out once you cooked it some more?

Parchment paper lined with protein balls.

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