Crispy Air Fryer Cauliflower
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This crispy recipe for air fryer cauliflower is an easy side dish with no breading. Ready in just 25 minutes, this will become your new favorite way to eat cauliflower! Tastes great with ranch or ketchup.
This recipe for crunchy air fryer cauliflower was inspired by my recipe for air fryer buffalo cauliflower. The original recipe is spicy, and the perfect air fryer cauliflower wings recipe for vegetarians.
But I wanted to create something that could be consumed every day as a simple side dish.
Cauliflower is a delicious and healthy vegetable that can be served in so many ways and with so many different flavor options. It works well in everything from this easy vegan recipe for crispy cauliflower bites to delicious Indian dishes like the always popular Aloo Gobi curry.
This simple recipe has no breading and is seasoned with a blend of spices that complement the simple flavor and texture of cauliflower perfectly.
Roasting in the air fryer gives a crispy exterior and a soft interior that will make cauliflower your new favorite vegetable. The addition of parmesan cheese makes this air fryer cauliflower parmesan recipe absolutely irresistible.
For fun and variation, you can air fry cauliflower any way you like – chop it into large florets for cauliflower wings, or cut it into strips to make cauliflower fries. The possibilities are endless, and the air fryer makes it all easy and ready in less time than using the oven.
Reasons to love this recipe
- Requires just a few simple ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand!
- They are ready in just 25 minutes, including the time it takes to prepare the cauliflower florets.
- They are keto-friendly, gluten-free, low carb, and vegetarian.
- Seasoned, roasted, and crunchy cauliflower is a great way to get picky eaters to consume more healthy vegetables.
Here’s what you need to make the recipe
- Cauliflower – You will need one cauliflower head, cut into florets. You can also buy the pre-cut cauliflower florets in the produce section of your local grocery store.
- Oil – Use your favorite cooking oil. I recommend avocado oil or olive oil.
- Seasoning – This fried cauliflower recipe uses salt, turmeric powder, garlic powder, ground black pepper, and smoked paprika for flavor.
- Parmesan cheese – the addition of cheese makes everything a little more savory and delicious. Use nutritional yeast for a vegan option.
How to pick cauliflower
When selecting which head of cauliflower is best for a recipe, look for ones that are tight, white, and compact. They should be free from bruising, browning, or wet spots. Be on the lookout for any orange spots, as those indicate spoilage and should not be used if you want the best results.
You’ll need an air fryer to make this recipe. Here are the two that I recommend
- Basket style (Phillips 7 QT, 1725W) – easier to flip food but cooks a smaller amount (2-3 servings).
- Oven-style (Ninja Dual Heat Air Fryer – 1800W) – This one takes more space but can bake, broil, toast, warm, dehydrate, and even has a rotisserie feature. Holds more food – perfect for families of 4 or more.
- Chop the cauliflower the same size for even cooking.
- No overcrowding – Always arrange food in a single layer and cook in batches if needed.
- Toss or flip the food halfway during cooking to make sure the food is cooked evenly.
- Make sure to pat the rinsed cauliflower florets dry otherwise they won’t crisp.
- All air fryers don’t work the same – you may need to increase/decrease the cooking time depending on your model.
How to season cauliflower
- Buffalo cauliflower – Hot sauce, butter, garlic powder, black pepper. See my recipe for air fryer buffalo cauliflower for more details.
- Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for vegan
- Indian twist – Use garam masala or chaat masala
- Mexican / Italian – To mix it up, season with taco or Italian seasoning
Meal prep and storage
One of the things I love most about these roasted cauliflower bites is how easily they can be used for meal prep. This recipe stores very well, making it a great option for making dinner ahead or preparing healthy meals for the week in advance.
Prep ahead: Cut the cauliflower 3 days in advance and refrigerate in an air-tight container.
Store: Save the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days.
Freeze: Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. No need to thaw before reheating.
Reheat: To reheat, cook the cauliflower wings in the air fryer at 375°F for about 2-3 minutes to reheat. Serve immediately.
Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable and can be served with so many different main dishes and side dishes. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Air fryer chicken 65 – This healthier version of the classic Indian-style appetizer is so good that it will disappear in seconds!
- Juicy air fryer chicken wings – This easy-to-make snack or main dish comes together in 30 minutes and pairs perfectly with crispy roasted cauliflower.
- Chicken burrito bowl – A side of crunchy air-fried cauliflower is the perfect side dish to this easy Chipotle copycat recipe.
Frequently asked questions
Most air fryer recipes can be made without oil, but a small amount of oil does make the food taste better and brown more evenly. If you choose to, you can leave the oil out of most recipes, but keep in mind that the result will not be as crispy.
If your cauliflower had water droplets, it may not crisp up as well during air frying. To prevent this, pat your cauliflower dry before adding. A lack of crispiness may be due to overcrowding, so be sure to add your cauliflower in a single layer for the best results.
Yes, as long as you add your cauliflower to the air fryer while still frozen (do not thaw).
Broccoli takes about 8-10 minutes to cook while cauliflower takes about 14 minutes. If you want to cook them side by side, you can set the air fryer to 375°F and remove the broccoli at the 10-minute mark while you continue to cook the cauliflower for an additional 4 minutes.
Other air fryer side dishes to try
- Roasted air fryer broccoli
- Air fryer roasted sweet potatoes
- Crispy air fryer potato wedges
- Air fryer bhindi masala
- Air fryer green beans (Asian style)
Air Fryer Cauliflower
- ½ head cauliflower ~ 1 lb
- 3 tablespoons oil avocado or olive
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder optional
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika room temperature
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- Remove the leaves from the base of the cauliflower. Cut around the stem to remove it. Discard both the leaves and the stem.
- Cut the cauliflower in half. Use your fingers to break the cauliflower into florets. Make sure to cut off any large stems – they won't crisp.
- You'll need only half a head of cauliflower for this recipe. Save the remaining half of the florets for another recipe or double up this recipe.
- Rinse the cauliflower florets in water and pat them dry completely.
- To a large bowl, add oil, salt, turmeric powder, garlic powder, ground black pepper, and smoked paprika. Mix till well combined.
- Toss in the cauliflower florets and coat them completely.
- Place parchment paper in the air frying basket. Arrange the cauliflower florets in a single layer – don't overcrowd. Depending on the capacity of your air-fryer, you may need two or more batches. [Note: If you are using a basket-style air fryer, you can coat the basket with a cooking spray instead of using parchment paper]
- Air fry for about 14 minutes at 375°F. Pause the air frying at around 7 minutes and rotate the tray to ensure even cooking. If using a basket-style air fryer, shake the basket to toss the cauliflower.
- Top it with parmesan cheese and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
- Serve hot with ranch or dressing of your choice.
Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.