If fried eggplant is your jam, you're about to be seriously amazed at what your air fryer can do! Crispy, breaded Air Fryer Eggplant has the same great crunch and flavor as its oil-laden predecessor, only less fat and fewer calories.
Thanks to a clever combination of Italian breadcrumbs and Panko, it comes fully enveloped in a gorgeously golden crust with a serious crunch effect. And, with the perfect temperature and cook time combo, you're guaranteed a buttery soft, tender interior!
ONE RECIPE, TWO WAYS!
Below, you'll find one recipe that can be used for crispy, crunchy Air Fryer Eggplant served two ways! Cut your eggplant into "fries," serve it with your favorite dip, and indulge in the ultimate healthy snack! Or, turn your eggplant into a full-blown dinnertime entree by slicing your eggplant into medallions and serving it topped off with marinara and melty mozzarella cheese!
Looking for more air fryer recipes to try? Add these Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks to your must-make list!
WHICH TYPE OF EGGPLANT DO I BUY?
When shopping for eggplant, you might have noticed this particular veggie comes in all different shapes, colors, and sizes! For this recipe, you can use either Globe or Italian eggplant.
Globe eggplants are the bigger, fatter eggplants, also known as American eggplant.
They're meaty in texture and tend to do extremely well under high heat scenarios, which makes them very well suited for the air fryer. Because of its large size, this is the eggplant we recommend using if you plan to make crispy Air Fryer Eggplant Fries!
Italian eggplants are smaller than the Globe variety and have a sweeter flavor profile to them. This is the variety most commonly used in dishes like eggplant parmesan, and it works especially well if you're planning to slice your eggplant into little medallions for Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan!
HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER EGGPLANT
Whether you're making crispy Eggplant Fries or medallions for Eggplant Parmesan, the breading process, the temperature, and the cook time all remain the same. The main difference is in how you slice it! Below is how you get crunchy, full-flavored breaded Air Fryer Eggplant!
- Preheat the Air Fryer - Preheat your air fryer to 400°F for about 10 minutes.
- Prep the Eggplant - Peel the eggplant and cut it into thick, ½" medallions. If you are air frying the eggplant for Eggplant Parmesan, you can stop there. If you are making Air Fryer Eggplant Fries, you'll want to cut those medallions into ½" thick slices.
- Ready the Dredging Station - You'll need three shallow bowls or trays. In the first tray, combine flour and salt. In the second tray, combine eggs and water. And, in the third tray, combine both panko and Italian breadcrumbs, salt, and garlic powder.
- Bread the Eggplant - Dip the prepared eggplant in the flour mix, then submerge it in the egg mix, and then thoroughly coat it in the breadcrumbs.
- Spray With Oil - Transfer the eggplant to a work surface and spray it all over, liberally and evenly, with a cooking oil such as avocado or canola oil.
- Air Fry - Place the eggplant in the air fryer basket in a single layer, taking care not to overcrowd the basket. Cook at 400°F for 6 minutes, and repeat as many times as needed with the remaining eggplant.
You'll find more instructions and tips below if you're planning on going the Eggplant Parmesan route!
FOR THE CRISPIEST AIR FRYER EGGPLANT, DO THIS!
- Make sure you preheat your air fryer! Not doing so will throw off your cook time and your perfectly golden, crispy, crunchy results!
- Another thing that will effect cook time is how thick you slice your eggplant. Thicker pieces will take longer to cook through, and smaller pieces, less time. Try to cut the pieces as close to a ½"-thick as possible!
- Don't rush the breading process. It's really important that you knock away any excess flour from dredging tray number one, or the egg mix in tray 2 won't stay put. If the egg mix won't stick, your breadcrumbs definitely won't stick. And last note on the dredging station, when it comes to that breadcrumb coating, don't be afraid to use a little pressure to get it to really adhere and stay put!
- Take care to mist the oil all over the breaded eggplant; this is not the time for drizzling! My go-to oil for this job is Chosen Avocado Oil Spray.
- Make sure you don't stack the eggplant in the air fryer basket. You want every inch of that breadcrumb coating to be exposed to the circulating air so it can crisp up!
HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER EGGPLANT PARM
If you're making Air Fryer Eggplant medallions for Eggplant Parm, you'll want to have about 1 ½ cup of store-bought or homemade marinara handy, as well as 8-ounces of fresh mozzarella, cut into medallions to match the size of the eggplant. Pat the mozzarella dry with paper towels to remove the excess moisture before using.
Once your Air Fryer Eggplant has been breaded and cooked until golden and crunchy, remove it from the air fryer and transfer it to a work surface. Top it off with a generous spoonful of marinara and mozzarella cheese.
Then, return the eggplant to the air fryer (about 3 or 4 at a time -- it's very important you cook in a single layer) and cook for about 3-5 minutes more. Once the mozzarella is melted, remove it from the air fryer, and feel free to serve it with a side of spaghetti noodles topped with more delicious marinara sauce and some homemade garlic bread!
HOW TO STORE AIR FRYER EGGPLANT
If you end up with leftovers, you can keep them either in the refrigerator or the freezer! And, surprisingly, if you want your breading to stay crispy, the freezer is actually the best option.
If you're planning to refrigerate the leftovers, transfer the eggplant to an airtight container, seal, and refrigerate it for up to two days.
To freeze leftovers, transfer the eggplant to a flat surface lined with wax or parchment paper (such as a large plate or a small baking pan). Then, put them in the freezer for about 2 to 4 hours. Once the eggplant is frozen, you can either transfer it to a freezer-safe, gallon-sized ziptop bag or a freezer-safe storage container.
The plastic bag will work great if you are storing Air Fryer Eggplant Fries, but if you are freezing Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan, you'll want to go the container route, and separate layers of eggplant parm with wax paper so they don't freeze together!
MORE AIR FRYER RECIPES TO TRY!
To say we love the air fryer around these parts would be a massive understatement.
Below are just a few of my favorite air fryer recipes. Bookmark your favorites in your internet browser and add them to your recipe lineup for next time!
- Air Fryer Pickles
- Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- Air Fryer Shrimp
- Air Fryer Onion Rings
- Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
- Air Fryer Chicken Legs
Crispy, breaded Air Fryer Eggplant has the same great crunch and flavor as fried eggplant! Cut your eggplant into "fries," serve it with your favorite dip or turn this Air Fryer Eggplant into Eggplant Parm by adding marinara and mozzarella cheese!
- 2 small Globe eggplants or 3 Italian eggplants,
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, separated
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- Nonstick cooking spray (Avocado, canola, or vegetable oil preferably in an aerosol can), about 2 tablespoons
- See notes if making Eggplant Parmesan
Preheat the air fryer to 400°F for 10 minutes.
Peel the eggplant and slice it into ½"-thick rings. Then, cut each slice into strips about a ½"-thick.
Have ready three shallow bowls or trays for a dredging station. In the first tray, mix together the flour and a ¾ teaspoon of salt. In the second tray, whisk together the eggs with 2 tablespoons of water. In the third tray, combine the Italian breadcrumbs, panko bread crumbs, ½ teaspoon salt, and garlic powder.
Fully coat each piece of eggplant in the flour and shake off the excess. Submerge in the egg mixture, allow excess to drip off, and then transfer to the tray of breadcrumbs. Coat thoroughly, applying gentle pressure as needed to ensure the coating adheres.
Transfer to a work surface and mist the tops and sides with the nonstick cooking spray. Flip and mist the other side.
Add a single layer of the eggplant sticks to the basket of the air fryer and cook at 400°F for 6 minutes. Remove and repeat twice more with the remaining eggplant.
If you're planning to make Eggplant Parmesan, you'll also need:
- 1 ½ cup marinara sauce
- 8-ounces of fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼" medallions and patted dry with a paper towel
- Once the eggplant has finished cooking, remove it from the air fryer and top with a generous spoonful of marinara sauce.
- Place the mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce and return the eggplant to the air fryer to cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Do not stack and take care to do this in a single layer.
- As soon as the mozzarella is melted, remove it from the air fryer and enjoy!