Soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, this air-fryer eggplant pairs well with any pasta dish, and it hits the spot as a snack after a long day.
If you love cooking with eggplant but don't always have room in our schedule for a time-consuming ratatouille, you're in luck. Eggplants hold up quite well in the air fryer. And they cook quickly, too! If you've tried air-fryer french fries and air-fryer zucchini fries, it's time to add eggplant air-fryer fries to the list.
Air-Fryer Eggplant Ingredients
- Eggplant: The eggplant is the star of the show here! Choose one that feels slightly firm to the touch but not hard like an acorn squash. One that's too soft or mushy means it's gone bad.
- Parmesan cheese: Parmesan cheese makes everything better, doesn't it? Buy a wedge of fresh Parmesan, and grate it yourself before dipping the eggplant fries in the coating. It adds some time, but you'll be able to taste the difference in quality.
- Eggs: Eggs act as the glue that holds the coating to the eggplant.
- Cooking spray: Fries without those golden, crispy bits can hardly be considered fries. Spritzing the coated eggplant with cooking spray will give them that quintessential golden hue and extra crunch.
Step 1: Set up your station
Preheat your air fryer to 375°F. While it preheats, whisk eggs in a shallow bowl (or any dish that makes dipping easy). In another shallow bowl, combine the cheese, wheat germ, Italian seasonings and garlic salt.
Step 2: Chop the eggplant
Trim the ends of the eggplant. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut the slices lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips. Once you have the right fry shape, dip them into the eggs, and then roll them in the cheese mixture to coat all sides.
Editor's Tip: Be careful and consistent when cutting your fry shapes. Too thin and they might cook up too crispy; too thick and they might not cook all the way through.
Step 3: Cook the fries
Working in batches, arrange the eggplant fries in a single layer on a greased tray in your air-fryer basket. Spritz the tops of the air-fryer eggplant fries with cooking spray, and cook for four to five minutes or until golden brown. Turn the eggplant fries, spritz again, and cook them for another four to five minutes or until golden brown.
Step 4: Serve
Serve the fries immediately with pasta sauce on the side.
- Panko breadcrumb-coated eggplant fries: Our recipe doesn't call for any breadcrumbs, but if you love super-crispy foods, add panko breadcrumbs to your cheese mixture. We recommend panko instead of regular breadcrumbs because they are drier and will result in a crispier fry.
- Spicy eggplant fries: To add a kick to these fries, add some Cajun seasoning to the coating and crushed red pepper flakes to the pasta sauce.
- Graffiti eggplant fries: If regular eggplant is just too bitter for your liking, try swapping in graffiti eggplant. The beautiful striped fruit is a bit sweeter than its classic cousin.
How to Store Air-Fryer Eggplant Fries
Air-fryer eggplants are best served fresh. If you cooked up a particularly large serving of eggplant fries, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Any longer than that and they might begin to wilt or get soggy from the Parmesan coating.
When you're ready to serve the leftovers, reheat them in the air fryer to revive their crispiness.
Eggplant Air-Fryer Tips
Should you peel eggplant before frying?
Eggplant skin can become more bitter with time, so if you're cooking an older eggplant, feel free to peel it before frying. There's no need to peel a younger, fresher eggplant, and it makes the prep a lot easier!
Should you soak eggplant before cooking?
While you might have seen this done elsewhere, soaking eggplant slices in saltwater before cooking isn't a necessity. Some people choose to take this extra step to remove bitterness from the eggplant. If you purchase a smaller, younger eggplant, it won't be as bitter as a larger, more mature eggplant, and you can skip the brining process.