Air Fryer Cauliflower

If you're craving a savory side dish or snack, make this air fryer cauliflower recipe! Spices like smoked paprika and cayenne fill it with bold flavor.

Air fryer cauliflower

This air fryer cauliflower recipe is about to become your new favorite veggie side dish! It’s crispy on the outside, tender in the middle, and seasoned to perfection with a blend of savory spices. I love regular roasted cauliflower, but I have to admit—this air fryer cauliflower recipe is on another level.

What makes it so delicious? Before I cook the cauliflower florets, I dredge them in a quick panko coating. It crisps up beautifully in the air fryer, giving the cauliflower an irresistible crunchy texture.

I love this cauliflower on its own as a side dish or snack, but it stands up well to dipping sauces too. Break out the tartar sauce, chipotle sauce, or vegan ranch… You really can’t go wrong!

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 florets will burn on the outside before they’re tender inside.
  • Panko bread crumbs – They create the crispy coating.
  • Spices – Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, and salt add smoky, savory flavor.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – It supplies richness and helps the cauliflower crisp up in the air fryer.
  • Egg – The binder! It helps the crispy coating stick to the florets.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

How to Cut Cauliflower

The first step in this recipe is cutting the cauliflower.

  • Start by removing the coarse leaves from the base of the head.
  • Next, use a sharp knife to cut the cauliflower in half vertically.
  • From there, use your hands to break apart the florets.

Aim for small to medium pieces so that the cauliflower cooks evenly.

Hand dredging cauliflower florets

How to Air Fry Cauliflower

Once you’ve broken apart the florets, it’s easy to cook cauliflower in the air fryer!

First, make the seasoning blend. Whisk together the panko, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and salt in a shallow dish. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg.

Next, bread the florets. Dip each one in the egg, then roll it in the panko mixture to coat. Repeat until all the florets are breaded.

Then, air fry! Drizzle the cauliflower florets with olive oil, and arrange them in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Work in batches if necessary. If the basket is too crowded, the cauliflower won’t get crispy.

Air fry at 370°F for 9 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower, season to taste, and enjoy!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Recipe Tips

  • Have a wet hand and a dry hand. If you’ve made my eggplant Parmesan or air fryer zucchini chips, 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. It doesn’t hurt to have kitchen towels or paper towels handy to wipe off your fingers, either.
  • Don’t skip the olive oil. Without it, the vegetables won’t get nearly as brown and crispy! Keep in mind that even with the oil, this air fried cauliflower is heads and shoulders lighter than regular fried cauliflower.
  • 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

What to Serve with Air Fryer Cauliflower

This crispy air fryer cauliflower is a fun, easy 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 or chipotle sauce. Pick just one, or try a few!

Easy air fryer cauliflower with tartar sauce

More Favorite Air Fryer Recipes

If you love this crispy cauliflower, try one of these easy air fryer recipes next:

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Air Fryer Cauliflower

rate this recipe:
4.98 from 74 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves 4
This air fryer cauliflower recipe is a quick and easy side dish or snack! Seasoned with a blend of savory spices, it's crispy and delicious.

Ingredients

Instructions

  • On a rimmed tray, mix the panko, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, 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.
  • Season to taste and serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.

Notes

This recipe is best on the day it's made, but leftovers will keep for up to 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in the air fryer at 300°F or in the microwave.

 

76 comments

4.98 from 74 votes (55 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Hank S
    12.11.2023

    3 stars
    The cayenne ratio is too high. We had to tame it down with sour cream, and we don’t usually shy away from spicy.

  2. Abe Bailey
    09.22.2023

    I don’t have the brand air fryer mentioned, and don’t have access to the brand of eggs listed. Can I still make this?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.27.2023

      yep! It should work with any air fryer and any brand of eggs.

  3. Debbie Ritchie
    01.17.2023

    an they be made ahead of time for dinner

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      01.20.2023

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

  4. Nancie Ward
    03.17.2022

    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
      03.17.2022

      I’m so glad you loved them!

  5. Cecilia
    02.16.2022

    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
      02.17.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  6. Kathy
    02.09.2022

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

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.10.2022

      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!

  7. Kandi
    01.21.2022

    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
      01.22.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  8. Monika
    01.20.2022

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

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.20.2022

      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.

  9. Rachel
    01.04.2022

    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
      02.14.2022

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

  10. Elena
    12.09.2021

    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
      12.10.2021

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

  11. Monica
    10.26.2021

    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?
    Thanks!!
    Monica

  12. Lorraine Koch
    08.27.2021

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

  13. Lynda Cooper
    07.27.2021

    Can you use a actifry to make these?

  14. Jayde
    07.25.2021

    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
      07.25.2021

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

  15. Jana
    07.20.2021

    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
      07.21.2021

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

  16. Melissa
    06.22.2021

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

  17. Kristina
    06.19.2021

    5 stars
    its absolutely delicios! thank you for the recepie

  18. Georgia
    06.02.2021

    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
      06.03.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  19. Paula
    06.02.2021

    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
      06.03.2021

      I’m so glad you both loved it!

  20. Katrina Smits
    03.13.2021

    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
      03.14.2021

      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.