Air fryer eggplant will be your new favorite side dish. Crispy eggplant tastes fried (without all the mess and excess oil)!
Have you gotten on board with the air fryer craze yet? Honestly, I think it’s here to stay and I love finding new foods to toss in my basket.
Eggplant in air fryer means no mess compared to deep frying, and it’s obviously healthier to fry with air! I’ll never give up potatoes, but crispy eggplant can adapt to so many flavorings – pair it with any dinner this week!
I love to make smoky eggplant the most. There’s just something about a classic smoky barbecue flavor when sharing a meal. These will be amazing next to the burger of your choice. “Frying” it in this way keeps it from being the mushy mess that some people expect from cooked eggplant.
Ingredients for Air Fried Eggplant
Super basic here – that’s what I love about air frying veggies!
- Eggplant: This powerhouse veggie has lots of fiber and antioxidants.
- Oil: Even in the air fryer, you need a little oil to get the perfect crunch.
- Seasoning: Always salt! And then, the sky’s the limit when it comes to seasonings!
I love using spice blends to amp up the flavor. Eggplant is a nice blank base for whatever you want to toss it in. I offer up Smoky Garlic, Mexican, or Italian options here.
How to make Crispy Eggplant
Dice, toss, fry. Nothing is simpler. It will be pretty hands-off while you attend to your main dish.
Step 1: Prep
Cut eggplant into large 1-inch cubes. Toss them together in a large bowl with salt, then arrange over paper towels. After 30 minutes, pat dry and add to a clean bowl.
Step 2: Flavor
Add your flavoring of choice to the bowl (along with the oil) and stir or toss to coat.
Step 3: Air Fry
Add the eggplant in a single layer to the basket of your fryer, working in batches if necessary. Toss a few times during cooking to promote even browning. Once crispy, enjoy!
Why salt? Salting raw veggies like eggplant helps draw out some of the excess water content. The salt will draw out the water (you’ll see it beading up) and then you’ll either rinse or pat dry depending on recipe. This way you will get crispy veggies when cooked instead of steaming them.
Sky’s the Limit: Looking for more seasoning options? Try the savory options from my Popcorn Seasoning post.
Leftovers: Go ahead and make a big batch. They won’t be crispy if you pack them for lunch to microwave, but they will still taste good! They can also be added to a salad, or if you’re home, give them a quick reheat in the air fryer.
Eggplant is a blank canvas, so depending on how you season it, this recipe can really be paired with anything!
- Vegan Sloppy Joes are begging for a crispy side.
- Butternut Squash Risotto is the perfect creamy pairing with crispy eggplant.
- Vegan Tofu Bolognese would be amazing poured over this eggplant then topped with your choice of mozzarella.
Air Fryer Eggplant
- 1 eggplant
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp oil 30 mL
Flavor Options (choose one)
- Smoky Garlic: 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder
- Mexican: 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder
- Italian: 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- Prep: Cut eggplant into ½ to 1 inch large cubes. Add them to a bowl along with salt, stirring to combine. Lay out a few layers of paper towels and spread eggplant cubes onto them. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to draw out excess moisture, then pat them as dry as you can.
- Flavor: In a large bowl toss together eggplant, oil, and your chosen flavor.
- Air Fry: Add eggplant to your air fryer, in as single of a layer as possible (you may need to work in batches). Air fry at 400°F (204°C) for 15 minutes, jostling the pan every few minutes, until golden brown and crispy!