Have you been wondering what to do with your air fryer other than making french fries? Try making this delicious eggplant air fryer recipe, Crispy Eggplant Parmesan Fries.
Eggplant fries are light, crispy on the outside, and the eggplant is slightly al dente inside. You’ll find the texture substantial enough that you won’t feel like you’re missing out on any of the calories or fats you might be trying to shave off.
Besides the addictive, crunchy texture, you’ll love the seasoning. These are seasoned with Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Seasoning and chili powder for a little spicy kick. It’s so flavorful that you won’t miss adding salt.
How Your Air Fryer Works
Before we talk about the eggplant air fryer recipe, let’s talk about how an air fryer works. It’s important that you have a clear image of how this process works to create the best outcome.
An air fryer, like a deep fat fryer, sits on top of your kitchen counter, plugs in, and cooks your food. The similarities end right there.
With deep fat frying, you immerse your food into a boiling pool of oil. So, even if your intention is to make delicious healthy vegetable chips or fries, the result is fattening.
However, an air fryer cooks your food in a manner that allows you to practically eliminate the need for oil. Here’s how it works.
The top of the air fryer (aka air cooker) houses a heating element and a fan. The heating coil produces heat, and the fan blows that warmed air evenly around the food. This give is a crisped outside edge similar to deep-fried food. To enhance the crispy effect, add one or two pumps of a high-quality, heart-healthy cooking oil like olive oil or avocado oil.
The food is satisfying, less fattening, and better for your overall wellness. You won’t even need to tell your family that you gave them a healthy food makeover.
Cook’s Essentials air fryer is the brand I own, and you can browse the different color air fryer options they have. The eggplant color purple air fryer looks nice!
Why eggplant fries?
You might wonder why you’d want to make eggplant fries. The truth is that eggplant is a very low-calorie fruit (yes, it’s a fruit, not a veggie).
One cup of cubed eggplant has only 20 calories, zero fats, and 2 grams of net carbs. While they are not especially packed with anyone valuable nutrient, they do offer fiber, folate, and potassium.
In trying to figure out what to do with an eggplant I needed to use up, I found that there are tons of eggplant recipes for the traditional eggplant parmesan. It’s a delicious dish, but heavy with cheese and usually served over pasta, making it even heavier.
This eggplant air fryer recipe allows you to get the big Italian flavors of eggplant parmesan without all those added carbs.
In short, you can enjoy these vegetable fries in moderation and remain relatively guilt-free in your enjoyment.
Use your air fryer to give classic Italian eggplant parmesan into healthy, crispy eggplant "fries". Dip in your favorite marinara.
- Eggplant, cut into "fries"
- 2 eggs + 2 tbl. cold water, whisked
- 2 cups of white flour
- 2 cups of unseasoned bread crumbs
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbl. Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning
- Pam olive oil spray in the pump, not aerosol
- grated parmesan cheese
- Wash the eggplant, Cut is into planks about 3 inches long and medium in thickness. Ensure fairly even cuts so that they eggplant fries cook evenly.
- Prepare your breading bowls. You want a bowl for the egg and cold water; one bowl for the flour and add the chili powder for a nice peppery bite; and a final bowl for the unseasoned bread crumbs and Mrs. Dash.
- Put each fry into the egg wash and then dredge in the flour and the bread crumb mixture. Place in the basked of your air fryer. Do not overload the fryer basket. Your food will come out crispier and cook more evenly if you leave enough air to circulate.
- Add 3 pumps of the Pam olive oil pump spray to the fries. You can choose your favorite oil.
- Air fry for 5 minutes on 400 degrees. Pull out your basket and give the fries a great shake. Replace and air fry for an additional 5 minutes.
- They should be a nice golden brown after 10 minutes. Your model might vary, so keep an eye on them towards the end of the cooking time.
- Sprinkle right away with Parmesan cheese for cheesy flavor.
- Use only oils from a pump sprayer when using your air fryer. Aerosol can non-stick sprays can damage your air fryer or even void your warranty.
- Like all cookware, cooking times will vary from model to model. Your air fryer might only take eight or nine minutes to cook and another model may even need up to 12 minutes.
- Save the stem and ends of the eggplant and crunch up your eggshells for your compost bin.
This eggplant air fryer recipe can be modified. If you’re gluten-free, opt for gluten-free bread crumbs and gluten-free all-purpose flour. You will still have the same result–satisfyingly eggplant fries to munch on.
Reduced Sodium Recipe Success
I am on a salt-restricted diet due to high blood pressure. You will notice that I have not added salt to the ingredients. I’ve found over the past 5 or so years that I can make food tasty without salt. How? When I omit salt from a savory dish I add two ingredients: chili powder and garlic (either fresh or powdered).
This savory blend balances out the “blandness” of ingredients like the breadcrumbs (which did have a tiny bit of sodium right out of the can) and flour in this recipe and most others that I cook. That is why I add that seasoning right into the breading mixture, to make sure it’s going to stick well to the eggplant fries.
Healthy recipes need not be boring.
Once you get the technique down, you can play with the flavor combinations with your eggplant recipes. While I chose the Italian staple eggplant Parmesan and marinara, here are a few other flavor profiles that I cn think of to try. (Once I do, I will update this post).
- Mexican seasoning and dip in a black bean salsa
- Mexican seasoning and top with freshly made guacamole
- Panko-breaded, ginger seasoned eggplant fries paired with duck sauce or soy-ginger glaze
- Curried eggplant fries in a dip of non-fat Greek yogurt and cilantro
- Cajun seasoned fries with low-fat sour cream
Batter vs. breading in the air fryer
Also, keep in mind that some eggplant recipes meant for baking or deep frying call for batter. Keep in mind that batters don’t work in an air cooker. Here’s the difference.
I breaded my eggplant fries. That was the method of dipping into egg, then into two dry ingredients.
A batter, on the other hand, would require you to immerse your eggplant into a thick, wet mixture, then drop it into hot oil right away to sear the outside and stop the batter from dripping off the food.
With an air fryer, you are slowly fanning dry heat around the eggplant. You will end up blowing batter all over the air cooker and end up with a giant mess that will squash your appetite.
Our advice? Convert eggplant recipes that call for batter into breading recipes when using the air fryer.
Other Healthy Recipes for the Air Fryer
Want to try frying some other fruit or vegetable chips or fries in the air fryer?
Here are some that would be delicious:
- Sweet potatoes fries (perhaps with a crushed pecan coating and maple or honey glaze?)
- Beets chips
- Zucchini fries
- Air fried banana chips encrusted with peanuts a la Elvis
- Carrot chips
- Kale chips dusted with Creole seasoning. Yes, we’ve talked about kale chips before here on Recipes and Me, but they were not air fried.
You can see where I am going here. Don’t limit yourself only to our eggplant air fryer recipe.
Use any veggie that’s sturdy enough to withstand the air fryer. A little trial and error in the kitchen is always just fine.
You will most certainly need to adjust temperature and cooking times depending on how thinly you slice your fruits and vegetables. Master these techniques, and you’ll have a whole new world of snack foods and appetizers at your doorstep.
We’d Love to Hear From You
Have you concocted your own air fryer recipes for vegetable chips or fries? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment to let us know about your results.