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. francine

    can you spray with a canned cannola oil spray

  2. Sarah

    Just made this for lunch, had it with a chipotle mayo from costco.
    Cauliflower was amazing!!
    I didn’t use olive oil, instead a sprayed with non stick olive oil spray. Super crunchy and awesome.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. clare

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!!! I wouldn’t change a thing. I served it with romesco sauce and it was wonderful.

  4. Yummy

    I want to suggest to use plain yogurt for sauce. Drizzle little bit of salt and dried or fresh mint leaves in the yogurt.

  5. Sue

    5 stars
    These are great! Timing worked well & it was the first thing we cooked in our new air fryer. Will definitely be making these again!

  6. Michael

    Has anyone tried this with frozen cauliflower? Would you thaw them first or start from frozen and increase the cooking time?

    Looks delicious!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Michael, I haven’t tried but I worry that it would be too watery and that the frozen florets would be too small.

      • Michael

        Thanks for your thoughts — and the quick reply — they were helpful. I was determined to make this with what I had on hand (frozen) so I decided to thaw, drain and pat dry the cauliflower. I kept the air-fry to 9 minutes since, as you pointed out, the frozen florets are rather small, but they would have benefited with another couple of minutes. The end result was still quite good.

        Overall, I don’t think the extra moisture was a problem. The main issue is that the coating-to-cauliflower ratio is higher on the smaller florets so the flavor balance is changed. Even though I only used half the called for cayenne, that was still the dominant flavor.

        I’ll have to try this again with fresh cauliflower, but I think a couple of small tweaks work for frozen as well. It was still delicious!

  7. Karen Lipsey

    This was incredible! Crispy on the outside, perfectly cooked inside. Loved the tarter sauce. I am going to try and make it again without the mayo.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      so glad you loved it!

  8. Marjorie Dion

    What is the air fryer temp foe cauliflower recipe

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Marjorie, 370°F, it’s listed with the full recipe at the bottom of the post in the recipe card.

  9. Leah

    Is there a way to make this gluten free if you don’t have GF panko bread crumbs? Do you have suggestions of other substitutes?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Leah, if you have some type of GF bread, you can make your own bread crumbs. I think GF panko would be the best bet for a crispy coating though.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I think a nutty coating also might work (ie, almonds pulsed in the food processor), but I haven’t tried so I’m not sure of the results.

    • Emily

      Crushed up Rice Chex make a pretty good GF panko substitute and are way cheaper than the stuff from GF specialty grocery companies.

  10. Fi - Devon, UK

    5 stars
    Omg these were delicious. Never know what else to do with Riverford cauliflower – other than cheese it. Not anymore since coming to your amazing website ! Oven baked florets as don’t have air fryer. Worked perfectly. Tartar sauce was also divine. Jarred the surplus sauce which lasted about a week in fridge.

  11. Jaime

    Do you by chance have the nutritional value for this recipe?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Apologies, I don’t calculate nutritional info.

  12. Sarah

    5 stars
    The outside was super crispy and the cauliflower was cooked through inside. Next time, I might try generous cooking spray instead of drizzling oil as someone else recommended just to make the oil distribution more even. But still delicious with the oil drizzle

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m glad you loved it!

  13. Nicholas

    5 stars
    omg, can I do the same with broccoli?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Nicholas, I haven’t tried but I think it would be just fine. You may have to adjust the cooking time, broccoli may cook faster.

  14. joann

    my kids like the cauliflower soft…does this turn out soft?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      The coating makes it crispy, not soft.

    • Sarah

      My actual cauliflower was soft and cooked through inside the breading and then the outside/breading was super crispy.

  15. Elsie

    Do you keep the cauliflower warm in the oven while cooking the other batches?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I don’t usually but if you wanted to, that would be a great idea.

  16. Andrea

    These look delicious! Would this work with a flax egg? If not, do you have another suggestion for an egg substitute?
    Thank you.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Andrea, I do 1 tablespoon flax mixed with 1/4 cup almond milk. Hope that helps!

  17. POS App

    wow, this looks so yummy. Very curious about it’s taste.

  18. CM

    Looks so tasty. And tempting me to get an air fryer! Could you spray them with olive oil before drizzling them instead? Would it be enough? I like the “evenness” of using the spray. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi, yes, you can spray – that would work out great. Just give it a generous spray 🙂

  19. Bridget

    Can these be baked in a regular oven and turn out as well? They sound delicious but I don’t have an air fryer.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Bridget, yep they can – bake them in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes.

  20. Karen Lipsey

    Any particular air fryer or oven/air fryer you recommend?

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.