If you're craving a crunchy, salty, and super fun snack, make this air fryer cauliflower recipe! Smoked paprika and cayenne fill it with bold flavor.
This air fryer cauliflower recipe will make any evening at home more fun! As the seasons change, Jack and I are spending more time inside, which also means we’re watching more movies and TV. Lately, this air fryer cauliflower has been our go-to viewing snack. Health-wise, it’s definitely a cut above the average fries or chips (or fried cauliflower, for that matter), and taste-wise, it’s just as good. A simple panko coating infuses it with smoky, spicy flavor and gives it plenty of crunch. Eat one floret, and you’ll have devoured half a head of cauliflower before you know it!
Air Fryer Cauliflower Recipe Ingredients
You only need a few basic ingredients to make this recipe:
- Cauliflower, of course! Break it into small to medium-sized florets. If they’re too large, the outsides will burn before the middles cook through.
- Panko bread crumbs – They create the crispy coating.
- Spices – Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, and salt give this air fryer cauliflower an addictive smoky/savory flavor.
- Extra-virgin olive oil – It adds richness to the cauliflower and helps it crisp up in the air fryer.
- Egg – The binder! It helps the crispy coating stick to the cauliflower.
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
Air Fryer Cauliflower Recipe Tips
- Have a wet hand and a dry hand. If you’ve made my Eggplant Parmesan or Crispy Cauliflower Po’ Boy Sandwich, you know that things can get messy when you’re dredging veggies. I recommend having a wet hand and a dry hand to control the chaos. Use the wet hand to dunk the cauliflower in the egg wash and transfer it to the panko mixture. Then, use the dry hand to sprinkle it with the crispy coating and place it on the prepared baking sheet. It doesn’t hurt to have kitchen towels or paper towels handy to wipe off your fingers, either.
- Don’t skip the olive oil. It’s easy to forget to drizzle the breaded cauliflower florets with olive oil before you air fry them (I speak from experience), but if you can help it, don’t skip this step! Even with the oil, the air fried cauliflower is heads and shoulders lighter than regular fried cauliflower. And without it, the veggies won’t get nearly as brown and crispy.
- Work in batches. Make sure to arrange the cauliflower florets in a single layer in the air fryer basket, leaving a little space between each one. If they’re too crowded, they’ll steam as they cook, and they won’t crisp up. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you’ll likely need to work in batches.
Air Fryer Cauliflower Serving Suggestions
This air fryer cauliflower is a really fun side dish for veggie burgers or sandwiches. It’d be fantastic with any of these recipes:
- Best Veggie Burger
- Easy Black Bean Burger
- Portobello Mushroom Burger
- Quinoa Burger
- BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches
- Vegan Meatball Sandwiches
You could also enjoy the cauliflower on its own as a snack or appetizer. Whether you’re making it part of a larger meal or not, finish it with a squeeze of lemon juice and serve it with a tasty dipping sauce on the side. I especially love my air fryer cauliflower with tartar sauce, but it’s also yummy with vegan ranch dressing, chipotle sauce, romesco sauce, vegan cheese, or homemade Caesar dressing. Pick just one, or try a few!
More Favorite Snacks and Appetizers
If you love this recipe, try one of these tasty snacks or appetizers next:
- Air Fryer French Fries
- Baked Zucchini Chips
- Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
- Baked Sweet Potato Fries
- Steamed Bao Buns
- Homemade Taquitos
Air Fryer Cauliflower
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ heaping teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups small cauliflower florets
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Tartar Sauce, for serving
- On a rimmed tray, mix the panko, smoked paprika, garlic, onion, cayenne, and salt. In a small shallow bowl, lightly beat the egg.
- Preheat the air fryer to 370°F.
- Dip each cauliflower floret into the egg, coat with the panko mixture, then place onto a large plate. Drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil and place into the air fryer basket in a single layer with a little space between each floret. Don’t overcrowd the basket. Work in batches if necessary. Air fry for 9 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. The exact timing will depend on your air fryer. Repeat with any remaining cauliflower.
- Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.