Air fryer eggplant is going to be your new favorite side dish! It’s really simple to make, comes together in under 20 minutes, and goes with pretty much everything!
I can be kinda picky when it comes to eggplant. Sometimes I feel like it can be too “meaty” and thick. I really like it cut in pieces because the skin can be kinda annoying to cut once it’s cooked. Like I said, I’m kinda picky about it.
I ended up cutting the eggplant into pieces – a combination of triangles and rectangles about a half inch thick. This was the perfect thickness to make it soft and delicious once it’s cooked in the air fryer.
Health Benefits of Eggplant
Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a type of vegetable that is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. It is a good source of antioxidants, fiber, and several important nutrients, and has been linked to a number of health benefits like:
- Eggplant is low in calories and high in fiber, which can help you feel full and satisfied after eating it.
- Eggplant contains compounds that may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- May help with blood sugar control: Some research suggests that eggplant may help improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes.
- Eggplant contains antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation in the body, which is thought to be a contributing factor in the development of many chronic diseases.
- May improve brain function: Eggplant is a good source of nasunin, an antioxidant that is thought to have brain-protective effects.
Should I Keep the Skin on the Eggplant?
Whether or not to keep the skin on the eggplant is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer to keep the skin on because it adds texture and flavor to the dish, and it is also a good source of fiber. Others prefer to remove the skin because it can be tough and bitter, especially on older eggplants.
If you decide to keep the skin on the eggplant, be sure to wash it thoroughly to remove any dirt. You may also want to peel off any bruised or blemished areas of the skin.
If you decide to remove the skin, you can use a paring knife or a vegetable peeler to carefully remove it.
Why Air Fryer Eggplant is the way to go!
Eggplant is a versatile vegetable that can be prepared in a variety of ways, but cooking it in an air fryer takes the flavor and texture to the next level.
The high heat of the air fryer creates a crispy exterior while keeping the inside tender and juicy. The air fryer also eliminates the need for excess oil, making the dish healthier without sacrificing taste.
Whether you’re roasting slices of eggplant to top a salad or breading and frying them for a crunchy snack, cooking eggplant in an air fryer results in a delicious and satisfying dish every time. Plus, cooking in an air fryer is also super quick and convenient for busy weeknights!
Ingredients you’ll need to make this air fryer eggplant recipe
Eggplant. This is why you’re here, no? You love eggplant and are looking for fun new ways to make it! I’m telling you, once you make eggplant this way, you won’t be able to make it any other way. It’s just that good! I cut it into chunks because that’s how I like to eat eggplant but feel free to experiment with different ways to cut it!
Agave Nectar. To sweeten this baby up! If you prefer, you can use honey or maple syrup. Agave gives a slightly sweet flavor and is considered a healthier alternative to traditional sugar due to its low glycemic index.
Sesame Oil. I love the sesame flavor with this air fryer eggplant! Sesame oil is a good ingredient because it adds a rich, nutty flavor to dishes while also having various health benefits, such as being high in antioxidants and healthy fats.
Salt. I like to use kosher salt here.
Tamari or Soy Sauce. I usually have tamari on hand, but you can use whatever soy sauce you like! Soy sauce adds a salty and umami flavor to dishes, enhancing the taste of other ingredients and bringing depth and complexity to the overall flavor profile.
Hot Sauce. This adds a little heat to the sauce which is a fun balance to the sweet. If you don’t like any spice, you can leave it out. But if you like a little heat, use your favorite hot sauce!
Sesame Seeds & Scallions. This is purely for the pretty factor so don’t fret if you forgot to pick them up at the store 😉
How to make eggplant in an air fryer
Step 1: Prep
Cut. Cut your eggplant into 2 inch pieces that were about 1/2 inch thick. I did a combo of triangles and rectangles because I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to cook these. Experiment with cutting in rounds or strips or fries/spears if you like! If you don’t like the skin, feel free to peel off the skin off with a vegetable peeler before cutting.
Prep. Place the eggplant in a large bowl and toss with sesame oil and agave nectar. Place them in your air fryer basket or tray in a single layer. Make sure they aren’t touching. Sprinkle with the kosher salt.
Step 2: Air Fry
Air Fry. Place the basket or tray into a preheat air fryer and air fry for 8 minutes.
Step 3: Brush the eggplant
Whisk. While the eggplant is air frying, whisk together the sauce with the remaining sesame oil, agave, soy sauce, and hot sauce.
Brush. After the 8 minutes, if you are using trays, switch the trays so the eggplant cooks evenly. Brush the eggplant with the sauce. Air fry for another 5 minutes.
Flip. Use tongs to flip the eggplant and brush the other side with the sauce. Air fry for another 3 minutes.
Air Frying Tips
Don’t cut too thin. If you cut these too thin, they’ll overcook. If you like soft eggplant with crispy edges and a caramelized outside, cut them about 1/2 inch thick.
Don’t crowd it. Air frying is beautiful because it “fries” by circulating hot air around the items. Place the eggplant in a single layer and make sure they aren’t touching so the air can circulate around the pieces.
What to serve with this air fried eggplant
This eggplant goes with pretty much anything! Try this Horseradish Soy Salmon or this Juicy Whole Roasted Chicken. This air fryer eggplant would also be amazing alongside Easy + Creamy Chicken Marsala or this Instant Pot Beef Short Ribs!
More air fryer recipes to try
- Sweet & Crispy Air Fryer Bacon
- Crunchy Air Fryer Chickpeas
- Air Fryer Baked Potatoes
- Jerk Air Fryer Salmon + Mango Salsa
- Air Fryer BBQ Cauliflower
- Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower
- Ginger Soy Air Fryer Tofu
- Crispy Air Fryer Potatoes
- Ginger Soy Air Fryer Tofu
- Sweet Ginger Soy Air Fryer Chicken
- 1 large eggplant, cut in chunks or cubes
- 5 tablespoons agave nectar, divided (honey or maple syrup works too)
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 scallion, chopped
- sprinkle of white sesame seeds for garnish
- Preheat your air fryer (if it requires it) to 400F.
- Cut the eggplant into 2 inch pieces that are about 1/2 inch thick. I did a combo of triangles and rectangles.
- Place the eggplant in a large bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons agave nectar and 3 tablespoons sesame oil.
- Arrange the eggplant pieces in your air fryer basket or tray in a single layer. Make sure they aren’t touching. Sprinkle with salt.
- Place the basket or tray into a preheated air fryer and air fry for 8 minutes.
- While the eggplant is air frying, whisk together the sauce with the remaining 2 tablespoons agave nectar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, soy sauce, and hot sauce.
- After the 8 minutes, if you are using trays, switch the trays so the eggplant cooks evenly. Brush the eggplant with the sauce. Air fry for another 5 minutes.
- After the 5 minutes, use tongs to flip the eggplant and brush the other side with the sauce.
- Air fry for another 3 – 5 minutes until caramelized and golden-medium brown.
- Transfer to a plate or bowl and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
Food photography by Dalya Rubin.
- Serving Size: 1/4 batch
- Calories: 227
- Sugar: 23.5g
- Sodium: 560mg
- Fat: 13.8g
- Saturated Fat: 1.9g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 27g
- Fiber: 4.1g
- Protein: 1.6g
- Cholesterol: 0mg