Crispy, garlicky, cheesy broccoli at lightning speed… air fryer broccoli is a revelation! You will be amazed at how well your air fryer cooks vegetables. This broccoli is the perfect place to start.
And so begins my love letter to the air fryer, my new favorite toy in the kitchen. Do you have one yet?
I say “yet” as though it were inevitable. Maybe it should be.
Here’s the thing. I have been intrigued by the idea of an air fryer for quite some time, in fact I used to own a real deep fryer, but realistically? I felt that a gadget which just allows me to make healthy versions of deep fried treats is not going to get a lot of use around here.
Because I am toooo busy these days for many fun little kitchen projects, ya know? I need gadgets that help me make real food for the dinner table.
Butbutbut… the air fryer does do that! The more I read about these devices, the more I could see the potential that an air fryer might offer me in my own household.
It’s not making food that you’d usually expect to be deep fried, it’s usually for making food that would otherwise be roasted or baked. Like this broccoli!
But it cooks much more quickly, and with a really awesome texture. That is the genius of the air fryer in my particular kitchen.
So I am going to be sharing some of my favorite vegetarian air fryer recipes with you as we go along here, I will not let them overtake the blog because I know that not everyone is interested. But I will throw the odd one into the mix for my fellow enthusiasts who can enjoy them.
And if you’re considering getting one yourself, maybe my recipes will help you decide if it’s right for you.
The beauty of making broccoli in the air fryer
Do you like roasted broccoli? Duh. Well air fryer broccoli is like roasted broccoli, but it takes around 3 minutes for the fryer to pre heat and then around 5 minutes to cook. It is fast. And it tastes better.
I am generally averse to making too many components to any one dinner (I go into a tailspin when there’s too many logistics to organize) but this is so achievable it will simply help me to eat more broccoli. Which is always a good thing.
I also love the texture and find it superior to any roasted broccoli I’ve made in the oven. It’s al dente, it’s crispy, and the garlic and parmesan you coat it with are going to make it soar.
“I could just eat a giant mound of this broccoli”, Mr. Veggie said to me when I first made it. If you’ve never tried broccoli that made you feel this way, you’ll need to try this now. Like, right now.
How to make air fryer broccoli parmesan
The basic idea is that we will prep the raw broccoli by coating it lightly in an olive oil, garlic and parmesan mixture. Then we’ll throw it in the pre heated air fryer basket, and away we go.
When we are mixing the broccoli in with the mixture, we want to kind of smush that garlicky cheesy stuff into the broccoli florets. Get it all wedged in there so it doesn’t just drop right off the broccoli while it’s cooking.
You’ll lose some of the coating – it’ll fall off the broccoli and go through the grate in the basket. But that’s OK! You’ll keep enough of it for good flavor.
Aaaaand five minutes later – you’re done.
Vegetarian Parmesan Alternatives
I have been called out in the past for including parmesan in my vegetarian recipes so let’s discuss.
Parmesan cheese uses animal rennet as an ingredient (it has to in order to be called parmesan) so it is technically not a vegetarian friendly food even for lacto-ovo vegetarians who eat dairy products. Which is me.
So that block o’cheese you see down there is not technically parmesan. I use vegetarian friendly alternatives, which are more or less the same thing but have to have a different name. Something like “Italian hard cheese”.
It’s completely interchangeable in recipes so I use the term parmesan for ease of understanding.
If you’re in the UK and like to avoid animal rennet, I recommend Twineham Grange Vegetarian Hard Cheese. It’s still cheese that uses cow’s milk (not vegan cheese), it just doesn’t use animal rennet.
Serving Suggestions for your Air Fryer Broccoli
- Side dish for, well, anything.
- I particularly like it alongside a big hearty bean or grain salad, like this Tricolore Salad I posted last week (this is how I’ve been eating it.)
- Atop some creamy pasta or mac and cheese.
- In a bowl, with a dip. Why not.