Crispy Air Fryer Onion Pakora (Bhajiya)

Note: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

When it comes to Indian comfort foods, crispy pakoras or bhajiyas top the list. This air fryer pakora is just as delicious as deep-fried but without all the oil!

A plate of pakora, with several dipping sauces on the side.
Air Fryer Onion Bhaji (Onion Pakoda)

When it is pouring outside, it is natural to crave something crispy, crunchy, and comforting, like samosas or pakodas. I do too! But the process (and mess) of deep frying makes me shy away from making it.

Thankfully, all that has changed – thanks to the air fryer!

I love using the air fryer for making all kinds of healthy comfort foods (like chicken 65, homemade French fries, and chicken wings). So I thought, why not try making pakoras in too.

I am glad I did, as this has to be one of my favorite things to make in the air fryer. Now, whenever it gets rainy, I can whip up a batch of onion bhajiya and enjoy it guilt-free with my family.

What is a pakora

As soon as the monsoon season hits in India, you’ll find a lot of street-food vendors selling pakodas or vegetable fritters with ginger chai or masala chai. College students or folks just getting out of work hoard these stalls to get their fix for this crispy food.

Pakoras are made by deep-frying veggies coated in a spiced gram flour batter. They are savory, crispy, and served with either green (dhania chutney) or tamarind chutney.

Popularly called pakodi, pakoda, bhaji, and bhajiya, it can be served as an evening snack or an appetizer.

This addictive street food is also a good way to use up odds and ends of vegetables you may have in your pantry and is a delicious way to avoid food waste.

Different types of pakoras

You can make pakodas of anything that you can think of – bread, paneer, chicken, veggies such as potatoes, onions, cauliflower, the list is endless. The most popular ones are the bhajiyas made from onions and potatoes.

Onion pakodas as called pyaz (Hindi word for onions) or kande (onions in Marathi) ka pakoda. You may also know it as onion fritters.

Batter for pakodas

The batter for pakodas can be thick or flowy, depending on the veggies used.

For onions, my mom used to make a thick, sticky batter to hold them together. In contrast, while making potato or alu pakodas, the batter consistency would be slightly thinner to coat those finely sliced potatoes completely.

Air fryer vs. deep-fried pakoras

The biggest difference between air fryer pakora and deep-fried pakora is the cooking process and the amount of oil used. Traditional deep-fried pakoras are submerged in many inches of oil, come out crisp, and must be drained of excess oil before serving.

Alternatively, air fryer bhajiya are made with a small amount of oil in the batter and a light coating of cooking spray once inside the air fryer. As a result, this preparation method is much easier to clean up and uses significantly less oil.

This makes air fryer onion fritters a delicious, healthy, and easy snack to make at any time of year.

I know you must be wondering: Are air fryer pakodas crispy like the deep-fried ones? They can come very close to the deep-fried ones in texture when cooked right. You just need the right recipe!

A plate of pakora with sauce in the background.
Air Fryer Onion Pakoda

Reasons to love this recipe

  • Uses very little oil – since the original is deep-fried in oil, you will love how little oil this air fryer onion pakoda uses!
  • Just as delicious and crispy as the deep-fried version.
  • No need to heat up the kitchen or mess up the stove – all the hard work is done inside the air fryer.
  • Comes together in less than 30 minutes, making it perfect for a quick snack or serving to guests.

Here’s what you need to make the recipe

Ingredient notes/swaps

  • Onion – You can use whatever type of onion you like best – red, yellow, or white.
  • Spices – A selection of spices adds flavor, heat, and balance to your pakora. You will need carom seeds, fennel seeds, coriander, cumin, and turmeric.
  • Ginger – Some freshly grated ginger adds a warm, comforting flavor.
  • Chilies – To add some heat, you will need some Indian or Thai chilies (Bird’s Eye).
  • Herbs/greens – Optionally, add finely chopped cilantro or dried Kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves) for a flavor boost.

For the Pakora Batter:

  • Bengal gram flour (Besan) – This flour made from split brown chickpeas is a classic ingredient in onion pakora and gives it a signature taste. Note: Chickpea flour is made from garbanzo beans and is different.
  • Rice flour – The addition of rice flour is common in South India and helps create a crispy result.
  • Oil – A small amount of oil is used to create crispiness. It is far less oil than is used in deep frying, so air fryer pakora is a healthier alternative.
  • Yogurt – The addition of yogurt to the batter creates a soft interior.
The ingredients needed to make pakora.
Ingredients for Air Fryer Onion Pakodas

Tools

You’ll need an air fryer to make this recipe. Here are the two that I recommend 


TIPS

  • Slice the onions into thin, even slices so that it cooks quickly.
  • Cook at the right temperature. If the temperature is very high, the interior will be uncooked.
  • 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.
  • Use rice flour for crisp pakoras: You can substitute rice flour with corn starch.
  • Spraying the pakoras with oil halfway through allows them to brown nicely in the final stages of cooking.
  • Besan or Bengal gram flour turns bitter if it is close to its expiry date. For best results, use a fresh batch.
  • Get the consistency of the batter right. Let the onions sit for 10-15 minutes. It’ll ooze out the moisture, and then add water, if needed.

Variations to try

There are many different ways you can create variations of this recipe.

  • Amchur powder (dry mango powder) – add 1/4 teaspoon to the batter.
  • Add finely chopped herbs and leafy greens to the batter such cilantro, curry leaves, mint leaves, spinach, methi leaves etc.
  • Asafoetida – can add a pinch. Aids in digestion but skip it for a gluten-free version
  • Skip yogurt for a vegan version.

How to prep ahead

Make the bhajis and refrigerate them, and you can reheat them before serving. I would advise against making the batter ahead of time. This is because even when refrigerated the onions will continue to lose water and will make the batter runnier.

Storage tips

Refrigerator – Allow to cool to room temperature and transfer to an airtight container. Leftover pakora will store for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Freezer – Allow your pakora to cool completely. Freeze on a baking tray until frozen, then transfer to a freezer bag. Label, seal, and store for up to 1 month.

Reheat – To reheat your air fried onion pakoda, preheat the unit to 375ºF according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the pakora and cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove and serve.

A hand dipping pakora into a dipping sauce.
Crispy Onion Pakoda

Serve it with

Air fried pakoras taste great with chai and chutneys such as this green and tamarind chutney. It can be served as an appetizer or snack with:

  • Chicken 65 – This healthier version of the classic Indian-style appetizer is so good that it will disappear in seconds!
  • Tandoori chicken – This quick and easy recipe makes the most flavorful and authentic chicken that is crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside.
  • Tandoori chicken tikka This quick and easy Tandoori chicken tikka recipe is a delicious appetizer dish that is slightly charred outside and succulent inside. Make this over the stovetop or air fry it. All it takes is about 30 minutes of cook time!
  • Samosas – This well-loved Indian pastry is filled with savory ingredients and is traditionally fried, but they can be baked or even air fried.
Pink circle with light bulb

Frequently asked questions

How do you cook frozen pakora in an air fryer?

If you want to cook your frozen pakora in an air fryer, preheat your model to 375ºF, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

How do you keep pakoras crispy?

The key to keeping pakoras crispy is by using rice flour in the recipe, and using oil to help crisp the fritters. Store any leftover pakoras with a paper towel after they have cooled to room temperature and reheat using an air fryer – this is the best way to crisp them up again after storage.

Are bhajiyas and pakoras the same?

They are the same thing, as pakoras have many regional names. Referring to the popular fried vegetable fritters as bhajiyas is common, as are other terms or spellings such as pakoda, pakora, and pakodi.

What kind of onions do you need for pakoras?

Any onion will work for making pakoras. Select red, yellow, or white onions, but make sure to slice them thin.

Air Fryer Onion Pakora Recipe

A plate of pakora, with several dipping sauces on the side.

Air Fryer Onion Pakora

No ratings yet
This air fryer onion pakora is just as delicious and cripsy as the traditionally deep-fried Indian snack, but with so much less oil.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 39 minutes
Servings: 20 pakoras
Diet : Vegetarian
Course : Appetizer
Method: Air fryer
Cuisine : Indian

Ingredients
  

  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced

Spices / Spice powders

Batter

  • 1 cup Bengal gram flour
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 tablespooon yogurt
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) or cilantro

Serve with

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Chop the onions into thin slices and place them in a large bowl.
    2 large onions
  • Using your fingers, separate the onion slices. Add salt, carom seeds, fennel seeds, coriander, cumin, chilli and and turmeric powder, along with grated ginger and green chilies.
    1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon carom seeds, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder, 1-inch piece ginger, grated, 1 Indian or Thai green chilies (Bird's eye), finely chopped
  • Use your fingers to massage the onions so that it is completely coated with the spice powders and salt.
  • Cover the bowl. Let the onion-spice mixture rest for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the onions to release moisture.
  • Add Bengal gram flour (besan), rice flour, oil, and yogurt to the onion mixture.
    1 cup Bengal gram flour, 1 tablespoon rice flour, 1 teaspoon oil, 1 tablespooon yogurt
  • Add cilantro or dried fenugreek leaves (if using). Combine it until all the onion slices are evenly coated with thick batter and bind together. If the batter is dry, add a tablespoon of water and mix well.
    3-4 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) or cilantro
  • Preheat the air fryer to 375°F for 5 minutes.
  • Line the air fryer tray with parchment paper.
  • Scoop about 1/4 cup portion of the batter and evenly place them on the parchment paper.
  • Set the timer for 14 minutes [see note]. Halfway during the cooking cycle (around 7 minutes), spray the pakodas with cooking spray.
  • The pakoras are done when the exterior coating turns golden brown and there are no signs of wet batter.
  • Sprinkle with chaat masala (if using) and serve hot with green chutney or tamarind chutney
    1 teaspoon chaat masala, green or tamarind chutney

Notes

Depending on your air fryer, the cooking time can change. Set the timer to 12 minutes and add more minutes as needed to get a crispy exterior.

Recipe tips

  • Slice the onions into thin, even slices so that it cooks quickly.
  • Cook at the right temperature. If the temperature is very high, the interior will be uncooked.
  • 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.
  • Use rice flour for crisp pakoras: You can substitute rice flour with corn starch.
  • Spraying the pakoras with oil halfway through allows them to brown nicely in the final stages of cooking.
  • Besan or Bengal gram flour turns bitter if it is close to its expiry date. For best results, use a fresh batch.
  • Get the consistency of the batter right. Let the onions sit for 10-15 minutes. It’ll ooze out the moisture, and then add water, if needed.

Pantry EssentialsGetting the right tools for your kitchen makes cooking more enjoyable and less frustrating. Here’s a list of kitchen essentials I own and recommend.

Disclosure: This recipe contains affiliate links to products we love and recommend. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition

Calories: 34kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 0.01mgSodium: 176mgPotassium: 77mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 34IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 0.5mg

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.

Did you make this recipe?Take a photo and tag @simmertoslimmer on Instagram for a shoutout!
Keyword : air fried, Air fryer recipes

Get dinner on the table faster!

Learn my meal planning + prepping secrets to make fresh Indian food without spending hours in the kitchen.

An overhead shot of Gujarathi kadhi along with rice, rotis and a side of lemon

FREE EMAIL COURSE

Simmer to Slimmer Logo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating