Crispy and crunchy, this air fryer cauliflower is ready under 20 minutes! Served alongside a tangy dipping sauce, this is the appetizer or side dish you won’t be able to get enough of!

crispy crunchy golden brown air fryer cauliflower on large plate with dipping sauce

Never have I ever loved cauliflower so much until this recipe.

It’s true – the crispiness of this cauliflower is next level and the air fryer browning it brings out its natural sweet flavor. If you’re just like meh about cauliflower, I’m telling you this recipe is about to rock your veggie world.

It only requires a few minutes of prep time and only 10-15 minutes of cook time which means you’ve got an appetizer or side dish ready in 15-20 minutes!

You can serve the cauliflower plain or toss it with your favorite sauce or pair it with a dipping sauce. I’m including the recipe for the tangy, creamy dipping sauce I made to pair with this that is a match made in heaven. With only 4 ingredients, you can whip it up while your cauliflower is air frying.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Notes on Ingredients

Cauliflower: If you use a head of cauliflower, try to find a small to medium head or you’ll likely have some cauliflower leftover (or you can just toss it with more olive oil and seasonings). If you’re in a rush, you could grab pre-cut bagged cauliflower florets which will save you a few minutes of prep time.

Olive oil: In order to crisp up properly, the cauliflower will need some oil. I used olive oil but you could use any other neutral vegetable oil or even avocado oil.

Paprika: Adds a boost of mild smoky flavor. 

close up crispy crunchy golden brown air fryer cauliflower with parsley garnish

How to Make Air Fryer Cauliflower

Step 1: Chop the cauliflower into florets.

Step 2: Toss the cauliflower with olive oil, garlic powder, paprika and salt.

Step 3: Set air fryer to 375 degrees F. Place cauliflower in a single layer in the air fryer so there is some space between florets.

Step 4: Cook (in batches) until cauliflower is browned and crispy, tossing every 3-5 minutes, about 10-15 minutes total.

Step 5: Serve immediately, while hot. Optional: serve with dipping sauce or toss with sauce of choice.

step by step air fryer cauliflower in clear bowl, olive oil, garlic powder, paprika, salt

Expert Tips

  • Do not overcrowd the air fryer with cauliflower. This will interfere with each piece getting crispy. You want to make sure there is space between each floret.
  • Smaller florets will brown quicker than larger florets so try to cut evenly sized large florets.
  • Because cauliflower can burn easily, check and toss the basket every 3-5 minutes to ensure even browning.
  • The second batch (and subsequent batches) may brown quicker than the first since the air fryer will have been preheated. I found that my first batch took about 15 minutes to brown while the second batch was closer to 10 minutes.
close up air fryer cauliflower floret in pink dipping sauce with parsley garnish in wood bowl

Recipe FAQs

Can you air fry frozen cauliflower?

Yes! And you don’t need to thaw it first. Just toss frozen cauliflower with olive oil and spices and cook from frozen. It may just need a little longer to cook so if it’s still soggy after 10-15 minutes, keep checking it every 3-5 minutes or so.

What sauces can you serve this with?

I love my tangy special sauce, which I’ve included in this recipe but this recipe is also fantastic tossed with some Buffalo sauce!

What can you pair this with?

This can be an appetizer for a gathering or a delicious side dish. As a side dish, you could pair with a protein like my air fryer whole chicken or slow cooked salmon and some kind of starch like my air fryer baked potato or roasted potato salad with herb vinaigrette.

Why is my cauliflower not crispy in the air fryer?

You likely overcrowded the air fryer and need to space your florets further apart in a single layer or you just need to cook them longer!

What air fryer do you use?

I use a Phillips XXL Air Fryer which has a 3lb / 4 qt capacity. I did a lot of research and asked colleagues and friends for recommendations and this one came out on top. (Affiliate link – at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase)

crispy air fryer cauliflower on grey plate with parsley garnish and dipping sauce and raw cauliflower

For more cauliflower recipes, check out mine below!

close up crispy air fryer cauliflower on grey plate with parsley garnish dipped in tangy sauce

If you like this recipe, please be sure to give it a 5 star rating below. If you make it, share it on Instagram and tag me @karalydonrd and I’ll re-share it with my followers! If you want to save this recipe for later, be sure to pin it on Pinterest!

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up close crispy crunchy golden brown air fryer cauliflower white background with garnish

Air Fryer Cauliflower


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (11 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5)
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  • Author: Kara Lydon
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Crispy and crunchy, this air fryer cauliflower is ready under 20 minutes! Served alongside a tangy dipping sauce, this is the appetizer or side dish you won’t be able to get enough of!


Ingredients

Scale
  • Small to medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets or 12 ounces cauliflower florets (about 4 1/2 to 5 cups florets)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the optional dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder and salt until evenly coated.
  2. Place florets in a single layer, evenly spaced out, in air fryer.
  3. Set air fryer to 375 degrees F.
  4. Cook cauliflower, checking and tossing every 3-5 minutes, until browned and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. Optional: serve with dipping sauce or toss with desired sauce.

For the optional dipping sauce:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, ketchup, dijon mustard, smoked paprika and salt until combined. Serve alongside air fryer cauliflower.

Notes

  1. Do not overcrowd the air fryer with cauliflower. This will interfere with each piece getting crispy. You want to make sure there is space between each floret.
  2. Smaller florets will brown quicker than larger florets so try to cut evenly sized large florets.
  3. Because cauliflower can burn easily, check and toss the basket every 3-5 minutes to ensure even browning.
  4. The second batch (and subsequent batches) may brown quicker than the first since the air fryer will have been preheated. I found that my first batch took about 15 minutes to brown while the second batch was closer to 10 minutes.
  5. If using frozen cauliflower, you don’t need to thaw it first. Just toss frozen cauliflower with olive oil and spices and cook from frozen. It may just need a little longer to cook so if it’s still soggy after 10-15 minutes, keep checking it every 3-5 minutes or so.
  6. This cauliflower is delicious served alongside my dipping sauce but is also fantastic tossed with some Buffalo sauce!
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Air Fryer

Keywords: air fryer cauliflower, how to make cauliflower in the air fryer

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6 Comments

  1. So great! Perfect with chicken, I added coriander, paprika, cumin and salt. WOW

  2. Debra Henderson

    just made this and YUM! dipped in a ranch dressing mixed w buffalo sauce. will make this again fo sho!

  3. Katrine Spark

    Just made this for lunch, had it with a chipotle mayo from costco.
    Cauliflower was amazing!!
    I didn’t use olive oil, instead a sprayed with non stick olive oil spray. Super crunchy and awesome.