If you enjoy grilled romaine salads, try this easy air fryer version! The lettuce crisps up in just a few minutes and you can add your favorite toppings.
Of all of the things to use your air fryer for, I am not sure you ever pictured lettuce joining the party.
But if you’ve ever had a grilled romaine salad, you will understand where I am coming from here. While crisping up a whole or half head of lettuce might seem like a questionable thing to do, romaine actually holds up well here, getting nice crispy edges and keeping some “bite”, as the base for a tasty warm salad.
From there, I just cover the halves in toppings and dive in with a knife and fork! I love the effect of having toppings just loaded right on top of the lettuce, it makes this salad that feel like a whole, complete meal, and every bite can be a little different.
Ingredients & Toppings
My perfect salad won’t be the same as yours, so follow this loosely and adapt it to your own needs!
- Romaine: I wouldn’t stray from romaine. It’s just got that extra heartiness that makes it work when warmed up, I tried this once with little gem lettuce and it wilted a little too much.
- Crispy air fried chickpeas: my choice of protein today, air fried in cajun seasoning for a nice kick. There are lots of other proteins you can air fry, such as halloumi cheese or even vegetarian nuggets / faux chicken products; this salad works especially well with something crispy.
- Tomatoes: cherry, grape or plum tomatoes for a sweet, juicy kick.
- Crumbled blue cheese: you could go for feta if you prefer.
- Chives: If you leave these out, you may want to add some onion to the salad, it just needs a hit of that allium flavor.
- Avocado: A must for any salad.
- Ranch dressing: or another creamy dressing of your choice. I splurged for some imported Hidden Valley Ranch because I like its thickness here.
Tips and Variations
- It’s critical that your lettuce goes into the air fryer completely dry, and that the air fryer is preheated, to help avoid the lettuce wilting. It’s still possible that some of the smaller leaves in the core will get a little wilted – if that happens just remove any leaves that aren’t appealing (it’s happened to me once or twice, but not consistently).
- You don’t have to leave the romaine halves intact – you could cut them into quarters if you want to stretch the salad a little further. You can also chop the lettuce up and mix the salad in a bowl. I’ve seen this done in other air fryer recipes but it’s not my preference because the leaves can end up too wet from the dressing and may wilt.
More Light Air Fryer Meals
Air Fryer Salad with Romaine
- 1 head of Romaine lettuce
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado, sliced
- ¼ cup blue cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 Tbsp chives, chopped
- ranch dressing, to taste
- First, prepare the chickpeas. Toss them in olive oil (just enough to coat) and a few shakes of cajun seasoning, and a few grinds of salt and pepper. You can air fry them directly in the air fryer basket but you may want to use a small baking tray inside the basket, so that you don't need to clean it out before you can cook the lettuce.
- Air fry at 200C / 390F for 8-10 minutes, until crispy and browned. (These times assume the chickpeas are in a pan, they may cook quicker if they are put into the air fryer basket directly.) Set aside.
- Prepare the lettuce. Slice it in half and brush or spritz a very light coat of olive oil over it. Add some grinds of salt too if you wish.
- Air fry for 200C / 390F for 3-4 minutes, until the outer leaves are starting to crisp.
- Now assemble your salad! Place the lettuce halves on a plate and load up with toppings: