If you're a fan of crispy breaded eggplant, then you'll love this air fryer eggplant. This recipe is easy to make in just minutes with less oil than deep-frying or pan-frying. It's also vegan-friendly and can easily be made gluten-free with just one swap! Perfect as is, with a side of marinara, or make it Parmesan-style.Jump to Recipe
- Why make eggplant in the air fryer?
- Ingredients you'll need to make vegan air fryer eggplant
- How to make breaded eggplant in an air fryer
- Top tip
- Ideas for serving air fried eggplant
- Can I make eggplant Parmesan in the air fryer?
- Storing and reheating fried eggplant
- Frequently asked questions
Why make eggplant in the air fryer?
If you want crispy eggplant without having to drown it in oil, the air fryer is by far the way to go.
I literally remember learning to make eggplant Parmesan from my father and having to continually add oil to the pan because it just kept getting soaked into the eggplant.
Then there was the amount of paper towels needed to blot those suckers so they wouldn't be so greasy.
Ah, the good 'ole days...
Oh, who am I kidding?!
These are the good 'ole days now thanks to the magical invention of the air fryer!
Ingredients you'll need to make vegan air fryer eggplant
- Aquafaba - This canned chickpea liquid replaces the eggs that are traditionally used to make breaded eggplant. Find out more about aquafaba here.
- Panko Breadcrumbs - You can use gluten-free if needed; I used Ian's brand.
- Italian Seasoning
- Sea Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Olive Oil Spray - Be sure to use the non-aerosol, propellant-free type to avoid damaging your air fryer's non-stick finish. You can also use a spritzer bottle and fill it with your own oil if you prefer.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make breaded eggplant in an air fryer
Peel the eggplant and cut into ¼-inch thick round slices.
Combine the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper on a plate.
Add the aquafaba to a small, shallow bowl.
Dip each slice of eggplant into the aquafaba followed by the bread crumb mixture.
Place on a plate and continue until all of the slices are coated.
If your brand of air fryer comes with an elevated crisper plate/tray, be sure to insert it into the basket.
Lightly grease the crisper plate or bottom of the air fryer basket with the oil spray.
Add the eggplant slices to the air fryer in a single layer.
Depending on the size of your air fryer and your eggplant slices, you may have to work in batches.
Mine took 4 batches in my 5.5-quart Ninja air fryer.
Lightly spray the tops of the eggplant slices with the oil spray and air fry for 3-5 minutes per side until browned and crispy, flipping once.
Note that it will take less time with each recurring batch.
Don't cut the eggplant slices too thick or they won't get as crispy, but don't cut them too thin either or they can start to curl up when cooking. We find that ¼" is the perfect thickness.
Ideas for serving air fried eggplant
This crispy eggplant is delicious on it's own, but it's also tasty with a side of marinara/tomato sauce or some vegan ranch dressing.
It's also perfect on top of your favorite pasta with some sauce and vegan Parmesan (I used Thrive Market brand) and/or a dollop of vegan ricotta on each piece such as our almond ricotta, cashew ricotta or sunflower seed ricotta.
It also pairs well with some roasted spaghetti squash topped with some sauce.
Can I make eggplant Parmesan in the air fryer?
Yes, it's easy turn this recipe into eggplant Parm!
Once the eggplant is done air frying, simply spoon some marinara or tomato sauce onto each eggplant slice, top with some vegan mozzarella shreds and continue to cook for about 2 more minutes to melt the cheese.
Feel free to use traditional mozzarella if you are not avoiding dairy or are not vegan.
Storing and reheating fried eggplant
Store leftover eggplant slices in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
To keep them crispy, leftover eggplant slices are best reheated in a 350° F air fryer for a few minutes until thoroughly warmed.
You can also reheat them in the toaster oven or conventional oven until heated throughout, but they won't crisp up as well as in the air fryer.
Microwaving is not recommended.
Frequently asked questions
Instead of egg, we used aquafaba (the liquid found in a can of chickpeas) to dip the eggplant in to keep this air fried eggplant vegan-friendly.
Yes, if you are not vegan or avoiding eggs, you can substitute 2 eggs, beaten, for the aquafaba.
It takes about 6-10 minutes to air fry one batch of breaded eggplant slices in a 390° F air fryer.
We like to peel the skin as we feel it gets crispier without it, and we prefer the flavor without it. But if you'd like, you can leave the skin on.
The eggplant should be cut into round slices that are of the same thickness for even cooking. For this recipe, we sliced ours into ¼-inch rounds.
The best way to keep fried eggplant from getting soggy is to make it in the air fryer! Eggplant tends to soak up oil, but using the air fryer allows you to use less oil while at the same time, allowing the eggplant to get crispy.
Air Fryer Eggplant
- Peel the eggplant (if desired) and cut into ¼-inch thick round slices.
- Combine the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper on a plate.
- Add the aquafaba to a small, shallow bowl.
- Dip each slice of eggplant into the aquafaba followed by the bread crumb mixture. Place on a plate and continue until all of the slices are coated.
- If your brand of air fryer comes with an elevated crisper plate/tray, be sure to insert it into the basket. Lightly grease the crisper plate or bottom of the air fryer basket with the oil spray.
- Add the eggplant slices to the air fryer in a single layer. Depending on the size of your air fryer and your eggplant slices, you may have to work in **batches.
- Lightly spray the tops of the eggplant slices with the oil spray and air fry at 390° F for 3-5 minutes per side until browned and crispy, flipping once. Note that it will take less time with each recurring batch.
(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs and other helpful information for this recipe)
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