Delightfully crispy, sweet and spicy air fried eggplant cubes. Easy to make with just a handful of ingredients and no breading, you will love the flavor and the versatility of this recipe.
This is my favorite way to make eggplant (aubergine), adapted to become an easy air fryer recipe!
In fact, this is one of the few ways to eat eggplant that I actually enjoy, rather than just tolerate, so I am keen to point out that this is a great one for people who are skeptical of eggplant. I get it! I am you.
We air fry our eggplant cubes it in a garlicky harissa honey glaze, so it’s crispy, sweet and spicy, and just amazing. There’s no bitterness or mushiness, which are easy traps to fall into with eggplant. It’s nothing complicated though – we just cut it into such tiny pieces it absorbs the flavor of the sauce really well, and there’s a lot of surface area for crisping up.
Ingredient & Recipe Tips
- I used a normal purple eggplant for this recipe, but I’m partial to graffiti eggplants when they are available – they are a little sweeter, which is especially good for eggplant haters.
- I specify a small – medium eggplant for this recipe. There is some regional variation in sizes of eggplants, but this is very flexible. If you have a small one, it will be more saturated in the sauce and the flavor will be more punchy. If you have a rather large one, the flavor will be more watered down. But either way is delicious.
- Sense check the spiciness of your harissa paste. Mine is fairly mild, but we use enough of it that the eggplant comes out moderately spicy. If your harissa paste has a real kick to it, you may want to reduce the amount of you use to 1 tablespoon.
- If you don’t have any harissa paste, you could consider something like chipotle or adobo sauce, or just a few shakes of hot sauce, but it’s really hard for me to give you the right quantity without knowing how hot or concentrated your sauce is.
- You can use set or runny honey for this. I use set, and while it might take a little more effort to whisk it into a sauce, it works fine.
- The size of your eggplant versus the size of your air fryer is also going to make a big difference to the cook time. I am giving a guide of 15 to 18 minutes, but keep checking on it, you may find your air fryer takes longer.
- You want to chop your eggplant into as evenly sized cubes as possible. Otherwise some will be ready before others, and you’ll end up with some undercooked OR some overcooked. I always say this, and yet mine are always a mess of different shapes and sizes 🙃 so don’t stress about it, it’s just something to aim for.
Soooo, you’ve got a pile of eggplant. This can be an easy side dish as it is, but if you’re looking to center a meal or more substantial appetizer around it, here’s some ideas:
- Mix into your favorite marinara sauce for a quick and easy spicy spaghetti sauce. (Or if you want to make something homemade, you can use this air fryer eggplant in my Harissa Eggplant Pasta recipe. It uses the same sauce as the roasted eggplant in that recipe, but means no oven is needed!)
- Add rice, stir fried kale and halloumi for a delicious bowl.
- Top a bowl of hummus with this eggplant, and scoop it up with pita bread.
- You can recreate this Halloumi with Spicy Eggplant (Aubergine) entirely in the air fryer if you also air fry the chickpeas and halloumi. It will all need to be done separately so this would work best if you have a dual-zone air fryer.
- Use it a topping for burgers (halloumi burgers or vegan burgers would work equally well) or even over avocado toast or pizza.
Spicy Air Fryer Eggplant
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for spraying / brushing
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 2 tbsp harissa paste
- 1 medium eggplant (aubergine), cubed
- Mix the olive oil, garlic, honey and harissa pasta together in a large bowl to form a sauce.
- Add the eggplant cubes and mix until they are all well coated in the sauce.
- Brush or spray the bottom of your air fryer basket with a light layer of oil, and scatter the eggplant cubes across it.
- Air fry at 360F (180C) for 15-18 minutes, until the pieces have reduced in size and turned crispy and a little bit charred on the edges. Shake it once or twice during the cooking process to get them cooking as evenly as possible.