Air Fryer Cauliflower

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.

Air fryer cauliflower

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!

Cauliflower, panko bread crumbs, spices, and an egg

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.

Hand dredging cauliflower florets

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.

Breaded air fryer cauliflower on a tray

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:

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!

Easy air fryer cauliflower with tartar sauce

More Favorite Snacks and Appetizers

If you love this recipe, try one of these tasty snacks or appetizers next:

For more healthy snack ideas, check out this post. Then, click here to find 50 more of my favorite easy appetizers!

Air Fryer Cauliflower

rate this recipe:
4.96 from 65 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Serves 4
This crispy air fryer cauliflower is a fun, delicious snack or side dish!


  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 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.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Debbie Ritchie

    an they be made ahead of time for dinner

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Debbie, we like these best right after they’re cooked, when they have the best crispy texture.

  2. Nancie Ward

    5 stars
    These cauliflower bites are the bomb! I made them for lunch but used a good quality curry powder for the spice. The lemon was the perfect touch and brightened the flavor. Thank you! Love so many of your recipes!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved them!

  3. Cecilia

    5 stars
    Made this with Italian breadcrumbs and substituted the cayenne withe sirachi dry spice with a side of tzakiki sauce.. Best cauliflower I have ever had.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  4. Kathy

    Can you leave the egg out? I am vegan and would love to make this.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Kathy, here’s how to make it vegan: replace the egg with ¼ cup nut milk mixed with 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed.

      I hope you enjoy!

  5. Kandi

    5 stars
    These are sooo good! Super simple and quick but tasty as heck. Surprisingly filling too. 10/10 would air fry again.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  6. Monika

    If i don’t want any spiciness to it, would i just eliminate the cayenne and smoked paprika?? Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Monica, you can skip the cayenne. The smoked paprika isn’t spicy, it’s more smoky. You could try it without but it might be more bland.

  7. Rachel

    I couldn’t get the Panko to stick to the cauliflower even after dipping in the egg mix. The stuff just mixed with the Panko and so I was left with egg soaked cauliflower and a wad of wet Panko. I ended up using corn starch instead.

    • Laurie

      I put the Panko in a blender first so it was super fine and would stick perfectly

  8. Elena

    5 stars
    I never leave comments, but I made this dish tonight – love love love!!!
    I had it for dinner instead of an appetizer, even my picky, vegetable-hating 13-year-old son asked for seconds!
    I had to make some modifications, I used regular bread crumbs and added 1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan, I didn’t have onion powder so I doubled garlic salt instead. Last, but not least, I used avocado oil in a spray can from Trader Joe’s to spray those babies before putting them in an air frier, in my opinion it’s so much more convenient than drizzling and doesn’t add too much oil but just enough to create that golden crust. I wish I could upload a picture of the end result. Thank you for the recipe!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Elena, I’m so glad it was such a hit!

  9. Monica

    Hi Jeanine,

    I don’t have an air fryer (but love cauliflower!). Can i make the dish and cook in a regular oven? Would any adjustments need to be made to the recipe?

  10. Lorraine Koch

    5 stars
    My new go to snack. I just love this dish. Low on calories and healthy

  11. Lynda Cooper

    Can you use a actifry to make these?

  12. Jayde

    5 stars
    Absolutely loved the spices combination, these were a hit! I was wondering what your recommendations would be for making a batch and freezing for a quick snack (Say when Cauliflower is on sale )Thank you for a yummy recipe either way

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Jayde, I haven’t tried it, I’m not sure how crispy it’ll be when it thaws.

      • Daniel

        3 stars
        I’m used to roasting my cauliflower, which makes them tender-crisp in texture & develops a buttery and nutty flavour. This was the first time I tried air frying it (just got it a couple of days ago), and while the flavour of the spices was good, the texture was more rubbery. It felt more like I was eating a chicken nugget than a piece of cauliflower.

  13. Jana

    Really like this recipe. I learned the lesson of the oil drizzle. Forgot it on my first batch and added it on the second. What a difference! Will make again. Thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Jana, I’m glad you enjoyed the cauliflower!

  14. Melissa

    5 stars
    Yum!! So easy to make and delicious. I had 1 cup with green beans for dinner.

  15. Kristina

    5 stars
    its absolutely delicios! thank you for the recepie

  16. Georgia

    5 stars
    Such a delicious recipe!! I turned this into a meal with some rice, carrots and Asian greens and served with a chilli mayo sauce. Will definitely be making this again!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  17. Paula

    5 stars
    Very tasty! My husband is a kid about vegetables but he liked them! Used ranch instead of tartar, tasted like a restaurant appetizer. 😍

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you both loved it!

  18. Robyn

    4 stars
    Very tasty, however, I made them with GF Panko Bread Crumbs which just didn’t stick! I am wondering if a smaller bread crumb style would work better? Any thoughts?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Robyn, I haven’t tried this with GF panko, so I can’t say for sure.

      I wonder if your florets got fully coated with the egg? or the opposite – if your egg was too gloopy it could cause the coating to fall off. I’d try gently shaking some of the egg off before the coating so there’s just a thin layer. Another tip might be to use one hand for wet and one for dry so that your fingers aren’t causing it to fall off as you work.

      Also, make sure your cauliflower is dry before starting. I hope one of these tips helps!

  19. Katrina Smits

    5 stars
    It was really good! Did not have cayenne and used chunky blue cheese dressing for dip. Will definitely keep in lineup

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.