Air Fryer Crispy Cauliflower

Family-FriendlySide DishAir FryerCauliflower

Crispy cauliflower for the win, thanks to your air fryer! Make the cauliflower even tastier and crispier with spices, a little egg, and a light coating of breadcrumbs. Perfect as an appetizer or a side dish.

Photography Credit: Nick Evans

Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables. Whether roasted, made into pizza crust, or tossed in a vegetable curry, I love how versatile it is. And this Air Fryer Crispy Cauliflower is my new favorite way to eat it!

An air fryer is a great way to get extra crispy cauliflower, of course, but you can also bake the cauliflower instead. Either way, this cauliflower works great as a hearty vegetable side or served with spicy blue cheese dip as an appetizer. Yum!

THE TRICK TO EXTRA-CRISPY CAULIFLOWER

Cauliflower will get a little crispy if you just fry or bake it without any breading, but to get it super crispy, a light breading is key. Toss the cauliflower with spices, add it to an egg mix, and then coat it with breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs help keep the spices on the cauliflower and amp up the crispy outer coating.

Also, you can’t go wrong with an air fryer if you want super crispy cauliflower. It quickly sears the cauliflower and creates a beautiful crust. It also cooks quickly and is pretty easy to clean up.

This crispy cauliflower is best to eat as soon as possible out of the air fryer, so it’s warm, and the breading is crispy. It’s okay to let it sit for a few minutes while you finish another batch, but if it sits for too long (over 30 minutes) it starts to lose some of its crispiness.

Hortizontal photo with a white fluted platter sitting vertically on a marble background. The platter has golden air fried cauliflower heaped on the bottom with a few leaves of lettuce and above is a small bowl of creamy dip swirled with hot sauce. To the right of the platter is the air fryer with a few fried cauliflower inside.

NO AIR-FRYER? NO PROBLEM! MAKE CRISPY CAULIFLOWER IN THE OVEN

To make crispy cauliflower in the oven, spread the cauliflower in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes in a 350˚F oven. Rotate the cauliflower once while it’s baking to ensure it cooks evenly.

I don’t think the oven version gets quite as crispy as the air fryer version, because you are missing that intense direct heat, but it’s still darn good.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH CRISPY CAULIFLOWER

You can serve this vegetable as a side dish to any protein, like pan-seared chicken or pork chops. But my favorite way to eat crispy cauliflower is as a hearty appetizer with a quick spicy blue cheese dip. The flavors go great together, and it’s a nice addition to an appetizer spread.

Thumb and forefinger holder air fried cauliflower that has been slightly dipped in a creamy sauce. The sauce is in a fluted bowl and swirled with hot sauce.

SUGGESTIONS AND SUBSTITUTIONS

  • If you don’t want to do the breading, just toss the cauliflower in olive oil and add the spices. It’ll still okay to roast or air fry and get some crispy edges.
  • If you’re gluten-sensitive, use gluten-free breadcrumbs or cornmeal to coat the cauliflower.

MORE AIR FRYER APPETIZERS

Air Fryer Crispy Cauliflower Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6

To cook without an air fryer: Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread the cauliflower florets out on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until cauliflower is crisp. Rotate the cauliflower once during baking so they cook evenly.

Ingredients

For the blue cheese dip:

  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • Dash of hot sauce

For the crispy cauliflower:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 large eggs + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • Nonstick spray, for air fryer

Special equipment:

Method

1 Make the blue cheese dip: Stir together ingredients in a medium bowl. Keep in fridge until needed.

2 Prepare the cauliflower: Cut the cauliflower into florets. It’s okay to have a few different sizes, but try to make sure there are no florets bigger than about 1 1/2 inches.

Chopped raw cauliflower on a wooden cutting board.

3 Bread the cauliflower: In a medium bowl toss florets with salt, chili powder, and garlic powder. In a separate small bowl, add eggs and water and whisk together. Add the egg mixture to the bowl with the cauliflower and toss to coat. Once the cauliflower is coated with the egg mixture, toss with breadcrumbs and coat well.

Cauliflower florets in a mixing bowl and coated in spices. A fork is inside the bowl with the cauliflower.

3 Air-fry the cauliflower: Spray the basket of an air fryer with nonstick spray and place as many cauliflower florets in the basket as will fit in a single layer. Return the basket to the fryer and cook at 350˚F for 7 minutes. Then flip the florets and fry for another 7 minutes.

Repeat until all cauliflower is done.

Cauliflower florets fried in an air fryer. Golden air fried cauliflower florets inside a black air fryer.

4 Serve! Serve cauliflower immediately once all batches are done, or serve on a rolling basis as the batches come out of the fryer. Cauliflower is best right out of the fryer! Serve with the blue cheese dip as an appetizer or side dish.

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Nick Evans

Nick has been writing delicious recipes for the home cook for almost a decade. He lives in Denver, CO and embraces a delicate balance of diaper changing, trail running and beer drinking. His website is Macheesmo and his first book is Love Your Leftovers.

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3 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Lynne

    We wanted to recreate a deep fried cauliflower side from a local restaurant. This recipe was quick, easy and full of flavor and a bit healthier than the deep fried version. I didn’t have any spay oil, so brushed a bit on after cooking for 5 minutes. The breading was surprisingly sturdy (i.e. it didn’t just fall off). A new favorite. Thanks Nick!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Miranda

    I’ve never used the convection setting on my oven before – would this be the kind of recipe that would benefit from it?

  3. Jeff McNeal

    I’ve been making something like this for years, except I use whipped egg whites (meringue) that I dip the par cooked florets then coat in corn flake crumbs in. I haven’t tried baking and have been only deep frying. The cornflake crumbs go so well with the cauliflower. I usual just make a simple cheddar sauce for dipping.

Platter of golden air fried crispy cauliflower heaped on the right of the platter. A small bowl of creamy dip swirled with hot sauce is placed next to the cauliflower on the platter. The cauliflower is resting on a few leaves of lettuce.Air Fryer Crispy Cauliflower