Crispy air fryer cauliflower is tender with golden, crunchy bits! Ready in under 20 minutes, it's oil-free and so simple to prep.
Just like roasted cauliflower, cauliflower cooked in the air fryer gets golden caramelized bits that are so flavorful!
For this recipe, we add panko breadcrumbs which crisp up, adding the most unbelievably crispy texture to the cauliflower.
Reasons you'll ♡ air fryer cauliflower
- it's oil-free and healthy
- you can have it on the table in 20 minutes
- it's unbelievably crispy, with golden caramelized edges
Wondering exactly how to cook this cauliflower recipe? Watch this 1-minute video for step by step instructions! You can find more recipe videos on my YouTube channel.
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Ingredients you'll need
- cauliflower- my small basket-style air fryer fits 4-6 cups of cauliflower florets, which is perfect for a family of 4. Cut them into equal-sized florets so they cook through evenly
- egg white- required for the breadcrumbs to stick properly to the cauliflower
- garlic powder- adds garlic flavor to the cauliflower without the risk of burning (which fresh cloves can do)
- salt- to enhance the flavors
- panko breadcrumbs- are seasoned Japanese breadcrumbs. They crisp up while cooking and give a crispy crunch to every bite of cauliflower
Coat the cauliflower in three steps
The specific order in which you add the ingredients to the bowl with the cauliflower is important to distribute the flavors and breadcrumbs evenly.
- egg white- start by tossing the cauliflower florets in the egg white. Toss it up for 1-2 minutes until you are satisfied that they egg white has evenly coated the cauliflower.
- spices next- next, add the garlic powder and salt. Sprinkle them over rather than dumping in one place. Toss for another 30 seconds or so until spices are evenly distributed.
- panko last- finally, add the panko. Give the cauliflower a brief stir until the Panko is evenly distributed.
Do not shake until after 10 minutes
After the cauliflower is evenly coated, we add it to the basket. When testing the recipe, I noticed that if I shook the cauliflower frequently during the initial cooking stages, the Panko breadcrumbs fell off and ended up below the basket. Letting the cauliflower cook for a full 10 minutes before turning it helped the breadcrumbs stay put.
When the ten minutes were up, I used tongs to gently separate any cauliflower that was stuck together, and move the cauliflower on the bottom to the top of the pile.
Step by step directions
Scroll to the recipe card for ingredient quantities.
- Toss the cauliflower first in the egg white, until thoroughly coated, then in the garlic powder and salt, and finally in the Panko breadcrumbs.
- Heat air fryer to 390°F/200°C. Add cauliflower to the basket.
- Cook for 10 minutes, flip, then cook for 3-4 more minutes, until crispy and cooked to your liking.
- how much cauliflower you can fit in your air fryer will depend on the model. I could fit up to 6 cups in mine, but 4 cups cooked more evenly.
- if you increase the amount of cauliflower, you may need to adjust the cook time. Again, this will depend on your model. Keep an eye on it!
- during testing I tried adding parmesan cheese; this resulted in slightly less crispy cauliflower; we also did not enjoy the flavor as much as with plain Panko breadcrumbs. But if you' like to try, use ¼ cup parmesan for 4 cups of cauliflower
- the egg white is crucial to getting the Panko to stick; oil did not work well. If you are looking for an egg-free alternative, it is possible that aquafaba will work, though I haven't tested (drop me a comment if you do try!)
- cauliflower can be cut into florets up to 1 week ahead and stored in the fridge
More air fryer recipes
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Ultra Crispy Air Fryer Chickpeas
- Honey Lime Air Fryer Shrimp
- Breaded Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Air Fryer Tofu
- 4 cups cauliflower (cut into 1.5 inch florets)
- 1 egg white
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Heat air fryer to 390°F/ 200°C.
- In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the egg white. Mix for 1-2 minutes until the cauliflower is evenly coated.
- Next, sprinkle the garlic powder and salt over the cauliflower. Toss with a spatula until spices are evenly distributed.
- Add the panko, and mix until the cauliflower is evenly coated.
- Dump the cauliflower into the basket.
- Cook for 10 minutes without shaking or moving the cauliflower.
- Toss the cauliflower gently, prying apart any florets that have stuck together, and moving cauliflower from the bottom to the top.
- Cook for 2-5 more minutes, until cauliflower is done to your liking.
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