Air fryer crispy cauliflower bites is an easy to make, tasty snack or appetiser with tender cauliflower and perfectly crunchy outer covering. The recipe shared here is vegan, has no eggs and made using very little oil in air fryer.
These air fryer breaded cauliflower florets can be enjoyed with ketchup, buffalo sauce, bang bang sauce, mayonnaise or any dip of your choice. It is also a great option for parties, super bowl or game day snacks and it is healthy-ish too as instead of deep frying it is baked in air fryer.
The air fryer cauliflower recipe is:
- Low oil
- Kids friendly
- Vegetarian / Vegan
- Easy to make snack or appetiser
- Also a great option as vegetable side dish
Air fried Cauliflower Ingredients:
Cauliflower: Always go for a fresh firm cauliflower with no black or brown spots. If a cauliflower is stale, its florets will not be very densely packed and it will have also have an off smell.
Seasoning: These crispy cauliflower bites are seasoned with garlic powder, paprika and black pepper. You can also use other seasonings like onion powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder or cayenne pepper powder.
Bread Crumbs: I like to use panko breadcrumbs for extra crispiness but plain bread crumbs also work fine in this recipe
Flour: A batter of plain flour and water acts as egg substitute in this recipe and helps the panko breadcrumbs stick to the cauliflower. We will also be adding all the seasoning to it as this way each floret will get equally coated with spices.
If you want to keep the recipe gluten free, then you can even use gluten free flours like chickpea flour, cornstarch or rice flour instead of regular flour.
Oil: Don’t skip the oil entirely while air frying snacks, as it helps in making the snacks crispy while preventing them from drying out. Use olive, canola, avocado or any cooking oil of your choice.
Parmesan: It is an optional ingredient (I have not used it here). If you like it, then mix parmesan with panko and then use it for coating cauliflower.
At my home, everyone loves any dish with cauliflower and this recipe is latest addition to the list. It tastes so good with some creamy dip like sriracha mayo or chilli lime mayo. Apart from snack or appetiser, the breaded cauliflower can also be served as side dish, in salads or buddha bowl.
How to make breaded cauliflower in air fryer?
There are 3 main steps to make cauliflower in air fryer-
- Pre-cooking / Parboiling (boiling for 4-5 minutes)
- Breading it by dipping in batter & breadcrumbs
- Spraying oil & air frying
Parboiling may seem like an extra step to you but personally I recommend it as this gives the perfect tenderness to cauliflower with crispy coating. Without this precooking step, sometimes the exterior gets cooked completely while the cauliflower still tastes raw.
On increasing the cooking time, the cauliflower gets cooked from inside but the outer covering tastes too dry. So for me, with parboiling there is a perfect balance of taste and texture.
Can I use frozen cauliflower for this recipe?
Yes you can use the frozen cauliflower after thawing it completely. If it is precooked, then skip the boiling step. Spread the florets on kitchen towel and dab them dry before cooking. If it is raw, then boil it first before using.
Can I air fry cauliflower without breading?
If you want to make lighter version, skip the breading part and simply toss the florets in olive oil, salt, black pepper or any seasoning of your choice and air fry. This version of cauliflower also tastes yummy and is a great to add in salads, curries or for making dishes like aloo gobi.
More air fryer vegetable recipes:
- Air fried Onion Rings
- Air fryer Zucchini Fries
- Air fryer Roasted Carrots
- Air fried Parmesan Green Beans
- Air fryer Roasted Sweet Potato Cubes
- Cauliflower (medium size)- 1
- All purpose flour (or Plain flour)- 1 cup
- Water- 1 cup
- Salt- 1 tsp
- Garlic Powder- 1/2 tsp
- Smoked Paprika / Red Chilli Powder- 1 tsp (to taste)
- Crushed black pepper- 1/2 tsp
- Bread crumbs (panko / regular)- 1 cup
- Oil – 2 to 3 tbsp
Chop the cauliflower florets in bite sized pieces using a sharp knife. You can even tear the big florets into medium pieces with hands.
Boil water in a deep pan with 1/2 tsp salt. Add these florets in it and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain them over a colander to get rid of all excess water and let them dry completely. You can even spread them on a kitchen towel to let them cool quickly. Keep aside.
Add flour, salt, paprika, garlic powder, crushed black pepper in a mixing bowl. Add water gradually while whisking continuously so that there are no lumps. Make a smooth lump-free batter. Keep it aside.
Prepare the breading station by placing three bowls on kitchen counter-one with parboiled cauliflower, second with the batter and third with bread crumbs. Mix 1/4 tsp salt, black pepper, (& parmesan if using) in bread crumbs.
First add 3-4 florets in the batter and turn them with fork or spoon to coat them evenly from all sides. Lift them one by one with a fork while tapping the fork gently on the side of bowl and transfer on sieve so that all excess batter gets dripped. Transfer 1 or 2 florets in breadcrumb bowl and toss gently till coated on all sides. Repeat this for all florets.
Set the air fryer for preheating at 200°C (400°F) for 4 to 5 minutes. In the mean time spray some oil on breaded cauliflower. If you don’t have spray bottle, you can lightly dab some oil on them using silicon brush.
Brush some oil on air fryer basket. Transfer the cauliflower florets in preheated air fryer basket while arranging them in a single layer. Air fry at 200°C (400°F) for 11 to 13 minutes. Flip the pieces after half time and spray or dab some more oil on them.
Air fry till all florets turn golden brown in colour.
Garnish with some fresh herbs and serve with any mayo or any dip of your choice.
(Dip recipe: I have served these crispy cauliflower bites with chilli lime mayo. To make it, mix together 4 tbsp mayo, 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 to 2 tsp sriracha or any chilli sauce.)
1. If you are making large quantities, then air fry them in small batches. Keep the cauliflower in single layer in air fryer basket while leaving some gap between them for air circulation.
2. Don’t cut the cauliflower bites too small as this way you will taste more of breading part & lesser cauliflower.
3. Please don’t skip spraying or dabbing oil on florets as it makes them golden brown and crispy (without drying form outside).
It is almost impossible to have any leftover crispy cauliflower (at least in my home) but if there is still any, it can easily be stored in airtight container in fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Reheating breaded cauliflower in air fryer:
You can reheat it in both microwave or air fryer. Howevere, In microwave the outer covering gets soggy so air fryer is a better option. To reheat, air fry the florets at 180°C (360°F) for 3 to 4 minutes.
Can I skip parboiling step?
If you like slight crunch in cauliflower you can skip boiling step. However for fully cooked texture, I would recommend doing it.
Pin for later:
Can I bake crispy cauliflower in oven?
Yes. Preheat the oven at 200°C (400°F). Line the baking tray with parchment paper. Transfer florets on it while leaving some space between them for proper heat distribution. Spray oil over them and bake at 200°C (400°F) for 25 to 30 minutes.
Can I make them on stovetop?
Yes, you can deep fry them. Heat oil in pan and add the florets to hot oil. Fry on medium high heat till they are golden brown from outside. Once done, transfer them on a tissue paper to get rid of excess oil. Serve hot.
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