a stack of crispy eggplant, tomato, mozzarella, arugula salad, piled high on a white plate with a red tomato, basil, and parmesan cheese block in the background

Crispy Eggplant Caprese Stack

  • Author: Stephanie
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes + 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Pan Frying
  • Cuisine: Italian


This eggplant caprese stack is visually and tastefully awesome! With crispy panko encrusted eggplant, stacked high with mozzarella, tomato, and a citrusy arugula salad. The perfect appetizer to kick your meal off!



  • 1 large eggplant, peeled, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt, divided
  • 2 cup Italian panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup high smoke point oil for frying 
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Caprese Ingredients

  • 1 large tomato, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
  • 8 ounce mozzarella, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, whole
  • 3 handfuls arugula
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • Garnish:
    • Freshly shaved parmesan cheese
    • Olive oil
    • Balsamic glaze



  1. Line a baking sheet with paper towel and place sliced eggplant side by side. Sprinkle 1/2 the kosher salt on one side, then flip the eggplant slices and salt the other side. Let the eggplant rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to draw moisture out [see note]. After 30 minutes are over, rinse eggplant slices in a colander, and pat dry [see note].
  2. In separate bowls, place the panko breadcrumbs, beaten egg, and all purpose flour. Grab one of the eggplant slices and coat in the flour, lightly shake to remove excess. Next, dip each slice in the egg wash. Finally, place in the panko breadcrumbs and coat each side, pressing the breadcrumbs to adhere. Set aside and repeat with remaining slices.
  3. In a cast iron skillet, over medium heat [see note] once the oil is shimmering add 2-3 slices of eggplant careful to not overcrowd the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Carefully remove from the oil and set on a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil. Add small pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Repeat and cook remaining eggplant slices.

Caprese Stack

  1. In a medium bowl, add the arugula, olive oil, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper, toss to combine.
  2. On a plate, lay down some of the arugula salad, then place an eggplant slice, stack on top tomato slice, followed by mozarella slice, 2-3 fresh basil leaves, another eggplant slice, tomato, mozzarella, basil, and one last eggplant slice. Top with more arugula salad, then garnish with freshly shaved parmesan cheese, drizzle of olive oil, and balsamic glaze.
  3. To serve, carefully slice down the middle, or divide top half and bottom half to serve guests. Enjoy!



  • Salting the eggplant helps to: draw excess moisture out, remove bitterness, and season the eggplant from the inside out.
  • Ensure eggplant slices are fully dried, or breading will not adhere properly.
  • Shallow pan frying over medium heat allows you to develop a golden brown crust without burning the breadcrumbs and cook the food through. 

Keywords: crispy eggplant, breaded eggplant, caprese salad, caprese stack, eggplant caprese