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Love Indian samosas but hate deep-frying? Try this air fryer samosa recipe. With a crispy exterior and a delicious spiced potato filling, this air fried vegetable samosa recipe tastes and looks just like the deep-fried ones.
What is samosa?
The classic samosa is triangular in shape and consists of a flaky pastry filled with a savory stuffing – often containing potatoes, peas, and spices, although meat may be included.
The pastry is then deep-fried in oil, drained, and served to hungry customers. It’s a popular street food with many variations based on the region it is made.
Apart from India and other countries in Southeast Asia, it is popular in North and East Africa, many Arab countries, Portugal, and Brazil, although it is known by various names.
While most Indians believe Samosa (pronounced suh·mo·suh) originated from India, shockingly, it is not. Its roots have been traced back to the Persians all the way to the 9th or 10th century when it was referred to as sanbusaj .
Some references in old Arab cookery books also call these minced meat-filled triangles sanbusak, sanbusaq, and sanbusaj (all derived from the Persian word sanbosag). These snacks were carried by merchants when they ventured out for trading.
Eventually, as these merchants traveled to Southeast Asia, the samosas made their way into India, then known as samsas, named because of their pyramid-like shape.
They became popular in India during the 13th or 14th century thanks to the chefs in the royal kitchens in Delhi. These chefs, who originally came from the Middle East and Central Asia, made samosas containing meat, ghee, onions, and other ingredients.
As the food traveled across India, the original became more of a guiding post as each region added its own special touches. As a result, the classic Indian samosas have become incredibly diverse.
The quintessential samosa, sometimes called potato samosa or vegetable samosa contains a spiced stuffing filled with potatoes and green peas. It’s wrapped in a dough made from all-purpose flour mixed with butter or ghee and deep-fried until crispy. This form is a traditional Indian style and is the most popular worldwide.
If you want to learn more, check out this fascinating article on the history of samosa.
You may know samosa by some of its alternative names and, of course, variations, including:
- Aloo samosa or potato samosa – where it is stuffed with potatoes and sometimes peas.
- Punjabi samosa – regional variation from Punjab.
- Vegetable samosa
- Chicken samosa
- Chamuças – Portuguese version made with chicken
- Lukhmi (Hyderabad) is made with minced meat – far crustier than the traditional samosa.
- Shingara (Bengal region) – the filling is made with potatoes, peas, and cauliflower (during the winter) and potatoes and peanuts (rest of the time)
- Somsa – popular in Kazakhstan. It is typically baked and has a crumblier crust.
- Sambusas (Africa) – filled with spiced meat (chicken/beef).
- Sambusak (Arab countries) – filled with feta cheese, onions, minced chicken, meat, and spinach.
About this recipe
Having grown up in Mumbai (Bombay), I have probably consumed samosas every single week of my life. They were made fresh by street food vendors whose stalls you could find at every corner of the city and, of course, the college cafeterias.
Those piping-hot vegetable samosas were definitely hard to miss and even harder to resist.
When paired with hot masala chai, these roadside snacks tasted just divine.
I always wanted to make samosa at home, but to be honest, deep-frying is not my thing. I hate the mess it causes, and then I have to deal with a large vat of oil.
Having been obsessed with my air fryer lately, I thought this would be a good recipe to adapt. It just took a little bit of tinkering with the temperature, and I was able to nail the recipe.
The result was a crispy samosa with a flaky crust and a delicious savory potato filling without deep-frying. How satisfying!
I can’t wait for you to try this recipe and air fry samosas! These homemade samosas will be much healthier and tastier than the ones you find in Indian restaurants in the US.
Reasons to love this recipe
- Tastes just like the deep-fried version without all the calories.
- If you hate deep frying as I do, you’ll love making it in the air fryer – No mess and no fuss.
- Perfect for a crowd – Great for parties as you can prep ahead.
- It’s easy to reuse any leftover filling in sandwiches or bread rolls.
Here’s what you need to make the recipe
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) – The oven-style ones usually take more space but what’s unique about this Ninja one is that it flips vertically for easy storage on the countertop. Most importantly, it is perfect for families of 4 or more.
- Potatoes are a classic ingredient in Punjabi samosa and are boiled separately before being added to the stuffing.
- Green peas – Another traditional ingredient, but you can leave them out if you prefer.
- Cooking spray – to coat the outside of the samosas when air frying.
- Flour – All-purpose flour works best to make Indian samosa dough. You can use whole wheat if you prefer, but they will not be as flaky.
- Ghee – Incorporating this popular fat into the dough makes for a crispy, delicious exterior.
- Carom seeds – also known as ajwain, can be found at your local Indian grocery or online.
- Salt – Just a bit of salt to prevent the dough from being bland.
- Water – You’ll add a tiny amount at a time to form a stiff dough.
- Cooking oil – I like avocado oil because of its neutral flavor, but you can also use ghee or olive oil.
- Indian or Thai green chilies – Also known as Bird’s Eye, add heat to the air-fried samosa.
- Ginger – Adds a warm, comforting flavor and perfectly compliments the spices collection.
- Spices and seasonings – Asafoetida, carom seeds (ajwain), cumin seeds, fennel seeds (saunf), cumin powder, coriander powder, dry mango powder (amchur), turmeric powder, salt, pepper, garam masala (optional) and some fresh chopped cilantro (or coriander leaves).
How to fold samosas
Full instructions are included in the recipe card, but here is the summarized version of how to fold the pastry for veggie samosas:
- Divide the dough into golf ball portions and roll it into a ball. Flatten the ball and roll it into an oval sheet, then cut it in half horizontally.
- Dab the cut straight edge with water.
- Shape the rolled samosa pastry into a cone making sure one edge overlaps the other.
- Fill the cone with stuffing until it is 3/4ths full.
- Pinch the circular side in the center, creating an overlapping edge. Dab the edges with water.
- Press the opposite edges together to seal them.
- Place the samosa on a cutting board or flat surface, and press it gently to flatten the base enough that the samosa can stay upright.
- Brush with oil, repeat with remaining dough, then cook and enjoy.
Tips for a crispy crust
- Use ghee to make the stuffing and the dough for the best-tasting samosas.
- For a crispy pastry – Mix the ghee with flour, salt, and carom seeds until it resembles bread crumbs. Add water as needed to make a pliable but firm dough.
- No overcrowding – For best results, always arrange the samosas in a single layer and cook in batches if needed.
- Don’t roll the dough too thin – If the pastry is too thin, it will tear when you put in the filling. Make sure they are evenly rolled too.
- Use oil to roll the dough (if needed) – do not use flour because it will stick to the pastry, making it impossible to dust it off.
- Let the stuffing cool completely because the steam from the potato filling will cause the samosas to not crisp.
- You can also make these samosas from store-bought puff pastry sheets, but I haven’t tried them yet.
Dipping sauce for samosas
The best way to savor these delicious samosas is with chutneys. Here are my favorite ones.
Don’t have the chutneys handy? Serve it with ketchup instead.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can make frozen samosa in an air fryer, although the temperature and time depend on the particular brand and size. For Haldiram frozen cocktail or mini samosas (you can find them in Indian grocery stores), air fry at 400ºF for 10 minutes.
It is best to leave the samosas frozen and add them to the air fryer straight from the freezer. This will give them the best chance to crisp up and have a similar texture to that of deep-fried samosas.
If you want to keep your samosas crispy, brush ghee or oil on the outside before air frying. This small amount of oil will help them to crisp. Once they are done, keep them in the open air, and do not store them in a covered container until completely cooled. Any condensation will prevent them from staying crispy.
Yes. Samosas will reheat much better in an air fryer compared to a microwave. Just add them to an air fryer that has been preheated to 350ºF and cook them for 2-4 minutes or until crisp. Serve with your favorite chutney.
If your samosas are not crispy, it may mean that the fat (ghee) was not incorporated into the dough properly and/or the dough was not stiff. Next time, work the dough until very stiff. Make sure to brush the outsides of your prepared samosas with ghee or oil.
Yes, you can use whole wheat flour to make the samosa dough. Just know that the samosas won’t be as flaky as those made with all-purpose flour.
Air fryer Vegetable Samosa
Veggies for the stuffing
- 4 medium-sized potatoes, diced
- 1.5 cups water
- ¼ cup green peas optional
Spices for the stuffing
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ⅛ teaspoon asafoetida optional
- ½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
- 1-2 Indian or Thai green chilies (Bird's eye) chopped
- 1 inch piece ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon dry mango powder (amchur)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder optional
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garam masala optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
Making the dough
- Combine flour, carom seeds, salt, and ghee in a medium-sized bowl.
- Rub the ghee into the flour using your fingers until it is combined and resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add water in small increments, a tablespoon at a time and knead till the dough is stiff and pliable.
- Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Add 1.5 cups of water to the steel insert of the Instant Pot. Place a trivet over it.
- Add the diced potatoes in a steamer basket. Place the steamer basket over the trivet.
- Close the lid and set the vent to sealing position.
- Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, wait for 5 minutes and then release pressure by moving the vent to the venting position. [Note: the potatoes are done if they can be easily mashed]
- Carefully remove the steamer basket and set it aside.
Making the stuffing
- Add oil to a wok kept over medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add cumin seeds. When they start to sizzle, add asafoetida, green chilies and ginger. Sauté them for about 10 seconds.
- Add steamed potatoes and peas, fennel seeds, cumin powder, coriander powder, dry mango powder, ground black pepper, garam masala (if using) and salt.
- Cook for about 3-4 minutes to allow the potatoes to absorb the spices. Mash the potatoes as it cooks. Note: You don't have to completely mash it just enough so that there aren't any pointy edges.
- Add the chopped cilantro and mix well. Let the stuffing cool completely.
Making the samosa
- Take a small portion of the dough (roughly the size of a golf ball). Place the portion between the palms of your hands and shape them into a ball. Note: Make sure the remaining dough is covered with a clean, damp cloth so it doesn't dry out.
- Flatten the ball and roll it into an oval shape (approx 7 inches long X 5 inches wide)
- Cut the rolled sheet into half.
- Dab the edges with water.
- Shape the sheet into a cone making sure one edge overlaps the other.
- Hold the cone between your thumb and the rest of the fingers as shown in the picture below.
- Carefully put the stuffing in the cone till it is 3/4th full.
- Pinch the circular side right in the center to create an overlapping edge.
- Dab the inside edges of the cone with water. Press the opposite edges of the samosa together to seal them.
- Press along the edges to seal it tight.
- Place the samosa on a flat surface and press it gently to flatten the base such that the samosa can stay upright.
- Brush the samosa with oil till it is completely coated. Line the air fryer tray with parchment paper. Arrange the samosas on the tray without overcrowding them.
- Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
Air frying the rolls
- Set the air fryer at 375°F. Let it preheat for about 5 minutes.
- Place the tray in the air fryer. Cook it for 10 minutes at 375°F.
- Brush the samosas with oil and cook them again for 10 minutes.
- Depending on the air-fryer, the samosas may need additional time to turn golden brown. Increase the temperature to 400°F and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Note: The time for the samosas to brown may vary depending on the air fryer, so adjust the cooking times accordingly.
- Transfer the samosas to a plate – don't overcrowd. Note: The samosas will continue to brown as it cools down.
- Serve hot with green chutney, tamarind chutney or ketchup.
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.
Variations to try
- Add cashews and raisins to the tempering.
- It can be stuffed with other fillings such as shredded chicken, lamb, etc.
- Skip the green peas.
- For a vegan version, skip ghee and use oil such as avocado, sunflower, or any vegetable oil will do.
- Instead of using store-bought coriander and cumin powder, you can use crushed cumin and coriander seeds. Make sure to dry roast them till they are aromatic and then crush them using a mortar and pestle to a coarse powder.
How to prep ahead
Whole samosas: Fill the samosas but don’t air fry them. Place them on a baking sheet and flash-freeze them for about two hours. Transfer them to an air-tight container and freeze them for about a month. No need to thaw them before air frying.
Filling: Alternatively, you could make the filling, refrigerate it for 2-3 days or freeze them for a month.
Dough: The dough can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. Let it come to room temperature before rolling it.
If you have any leftover air-fried samosas, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. For the best quality and crispiest results, allow them to cool to room temperature before transferring them to the container. Any warmth will become condensation and cause them to become soggy.
When you’re ready to reheat, preheat your air fryer to 350ºF and cook them for 2-4 minutes or until crisp and heated through.
Repurposing leftover samosas
- Use any leftover potato filling in sandwiches or bread rolls.
- Mash the filling and use it to make aloo paratha.
- Make aloo samosa chaat – To do so, break the cispy samosas into half and serve it in a bowl or plate of channa masala topped with sweetened yogurt, chopped onions, bhujia and drizzle with cilantro and tamarind chutney.
Other easy appetizer recipes to try
These air fryer samosas are one of my favorite appetizers to make. Here are a few more easy air fryer recipes for you to try :
- Air fryer chicken 65 – This healthier version of the classic Indian-style appetizer is so good that it will disappear in seconds!
- Air fryer onion pakoda
- Air fryer chicken tikka
- Juicy air fryer chicken wings – Juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside; these air fryer chicken wings are finger-licking good!