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Crispy Air Fryer Eggplant | Sweet Peas and Saffron

Crispy Air Fryer Eggplant | Sweet Peas and Saffron

This air fryer eggplant is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside! Coated in a crispy parmesan-panko breading, it cooks through in just 5 minutes, and is great served as a snack or a side dish.


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By now, we’ve established that the air fryer is such a great way to roast up your favorite vegetables such as carrots or asparagus. Not only do they cook in a faction of the time, but they get golden and perfectly tender.

hand holding air fried eggplant dipped in marinara sauce

To make this air fryer eggplant, I initially tested cubing the eggplant and roasting it in a little oil. Unfortunately, the eggplant became chewy and unpleasant.

Instead, we coat it in a mixture of parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs and oregano and the results blew us away! Crispy on the outside, yet soft on the inside. Even my husband Ben (who lists eggplant as one of his top 5 food dislikes) enjoyed these!






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Reasons you’ll ♡ this recipe

  • it has the BEST texture: crispy on the outside, soft on the inside
  • it cooks through in just 5 minutes
  • you can serve as a side dish or snack

Recipe video

Watch the video below to see exactly how I prepped this air fryer eggplant. It’s so easy! You can find more of my recipe videos on my YouTube channel.

Ingredient notes

ingredients (labelled) for air fryer eggplant
  • eggplant- I used standard-sized eggplants; you could also use Chinese eggplant, or even baby eggplants. Reduce the cook time and pull them out of the air fryer when the breading is golden and crispy
  • flour- the flour helps the egg and panko stick to the eggplant. In place of all purpose flour, you can try gluten-free or almond flour. Neither have been tested but I think they would both work great!
  • Panko- these are Japanese seasoned breadcrumbs and are the key to the crispy texture on the eggplant. You should be able to find them near the regular breadcrumbs in the grocery store. If you can’t find them, regular breadcrumbs will still work, but will be less crispy. For low carb, consider using pork rinds.
  • parmesan- I recommend freshly grated parmesan cheese as it provides the best flavor to this recipe.

Step by step directions

sliced eggplant on cutting board

1. Slice eggplant- After washing and patting dry, slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick rounds.

three bowls with flour, eggs, and panko

2. Prepare breading mixture- In three shallow bowls, add the 1) flour 2) beaten eggs and 3) panko, parmesan cheese, oregano and salt.

3. Bread the eggplant- Place the eggplant in the flour. Turn to coat several times until the eggplant is fully coated in flour. Use tongs to gently shake off excess.

Next, place in the egg mixture. Use a second set of tongs to carefully turn the eggplant until it is fully coated in the eggs. Hold it above the plate to allow excess egg to drip off.

Lastly, place in the parmesan/panko mixture. I find it easiest to use a spoon to gently press the breadcrumbs onto the egpplant, then turn it over a few times until fully coated.

Place breaded eggplant slices on a clean plate and repeat with remaining slices until they are all coated.

overhead view of eggplant in air fryer

4- Cook- Heat your air fryer to 400°F. Spritz the breaded eggplant slices with oil and arrange in the air fryer in a single layer. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the slices are golden brown and crispy *.

*depending on the model of air fryer, you might want to flip them over; Philips air fryer had good circulation on both sides without flipping, whereas Cosori was better when flipped.

stack of air fryer eggplant

FAQ

Do I need to salt my eggplant before cooking?

No, it is not required for this recipe. Salting the eggplant helps get rid of extra moisture when making recipes like eggplant lasagna. In this recipe, the moisture in the eggplant actually helps with the deliciously soft texture under the breading.

Do I need to flip the eggplant?

It really depends on the model of air fryer you use. Keep an eye on them as they cook, and use your judgement about flipping.

Philips models seem to have great air flow from top and bottom and did not require flipping, whereas Cosori had less air flow from the bottom and benefitted from a flip. You can also cook in an oven-style air fryer.

How do I serve this recipe?

They are great served as is, but you could serve with a dipping sauce such as marinara, ranch dressing or even tzatziki.

tray with air fryer eggplant and bowl of marinara

Storage and reheating

Due to the crispy outside and soft inside, these air fryer eggplant rounds are best served fresh. With that being said, you can store them for 24-48 hours and reheat in the air fryer:

  • Cool completely, then store in an air tight container (be very gentle when handling to avoid knocking the breading off)
  • Heat air fryer to 350°F. Add eggplant rounds (carefully) to the basket, and fry for 3-5 minutes, until warmed through and breading is crispy again.

Recipe variations

  • Eggplant fries- instead of rounds, slice into 1/2 inch thick sticks, and use the same breading method. Cook for 5 or so minutes, until crispy and golden.
  • Eggplant parm– top cooked eggplant rounds with thinly sliced mozzarella and a spoon of marinara sauce; place on a baking sheet and broil for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is melted.
  • low carb- consider swapping the flour for almond flour and the panko for pork rinds
  • egg-free- try using melted regular or vegan butter (note- I haven’t tested; this post gives some other great ideas!)

More easy air fryer recipes

☆ Did you make this recipe? I’d love to hear how it turned out! Leave me a review and star rating in the comments below. Your reviews help so much!

hand holding air fried eggplant dipped in marinara sauce

Print Recipe

Crispy Air Fryer Eggplant Rounds

Course: Side Dish

Cuisine: American

Diet: Low Fat

Calories: 208kcal

Servings: 4 servings (see note 1)

This air fryer eggplant is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside! Coated in a crispy parmesan-panko breading, it cooks through in just 5 minutes, and is great served as a snack or a side dish.

Prep Time20 mins

Cook Time10 mins

Total Time30 mins

Notes

1- 3-4 eggplant rounds per serving
2- you should be fine to replace all purpose flour with gluten-free or almond flour
3- depending on the model of air fryer, you might want to flip them over; Philips air fryer had good circulation on both sides without flipping, whereas Cosori was better when flipped.
Storage & reheating

  • Cool completely, then store in an air tight container (be very gentle when handling to avoid knocking the breading off)
  • Heat air fryer to 350°F. Add eggplant rounds (carefully) to the basket, and fry for 3-5 minutes, until warmed through and breading is crispy again.

Nutrition

Serving: 3rounds | Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 635mg | Potassium: 351mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 251IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 208mg | Iron: 2mg













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