Crispy air fryer eggplant chips with a golden brown parmesan crust layered on top of a pool of tangy, rich roasted capsicum sauce. Transforming eggplant chips into a healthier side dish option that is easy to make without using much oil at all!
- Why You’ll Love This Side Dish
- Healthy Alternative To Chips
- How Does The Air Fryer Work?
- How To Make Eggplant In An Air Fryer
- Recipe Overview
- How to Make Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce
- How to Make Air Fryer Eggplant
- Variations and Substitutions
- How to Serve
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why You’ll Love This Side Dish
I have always been a fan of thick eggplant chips. I often order it as a side dish option when I eat out. However, I have not been game enough to make it at home.
The reason being eggplant is like a sponge. It soaks in oil very quickly. Unfortunately, I don’t have the capacity to deep fry eggplant chips quickly at home so that it doesn’t absorb a tonne of oil.
So, what recipe did I try as soon as I bought an air fryer? Eggplant chips, of course!
However, I didn’t want to serve air fryer eggplant on their own, so I decided to give it a more sophisticated look with a roasted red pepper sauce as an accompaniment.
The result? A delicious and healthier eggplant air fryer recipe packed with amazing flavours and worthy of serving at any dinner party.
Healthy Alternative To Chips
One of the most popular side dishes has to be hot potato chips. Classic fish and chips, steak and chips, chicken and chips, and the list goes on.
However, as much as we love those hot addictive crispy strips, deep fried potato chips are not considered a healthy side dish. We can’t eat it all the time.
So, is there a more healthy alternative to chips?
Sweet potato fries or chips tend to be the first alternative that comes to mind. Other vegetables to consider include parsnips, zucchini, green beans and eggplant.
These vegetables generally have fewer carbs than potatoes and varying nutritional benefits. However, the deep fry technique, unfortunately, does not make any of them healthier.
Therefore it is not the ingredient but the cooking technique that makes chips more or less healthy.
We rarely deep fry our chips at home. It requires a lot of oil, and there is too much splatter involved. So instead, I usually would put our chips in the oven. However, no matter what I did, “baking” chips just don’t quite do the trick.
Alas, we succumbed to the air fryer.
How Does The Air Fryer Work?
This popular cooking equipment holds a heating mechanism and a fan in the top. Once you start the air fryer, hot air rushes down and circulates around the food to cook it. The rapid circulation of the hot air will crisp up the food in the basket, similar to deep frying.
An air fryer uses little to no oil in cooking; therefore, it is considered healthier compared to using oil to deep fry your food.
How To Make Eggplant In An Air Fryer
I wanted to create a crispy parmesan cheese crust in my eggplant air fryer recipe, so the air fryer eggplant is similar to thick eggplant chips. The air fryer is fantastic for this as it created a golden brown crust that was crunchy with a soft centre, and the eggplant chips did not feel oily at all.
You can also make other air fryer eggplant recipes that don’t involve a parmesan cheese crust.
Another popular way to make eggplant in an air fryer includes coating eggplant chunks with your own spice blend and roast in the air fryer. The result will be crispy aromatic eggplant pieces with a soft middle.
Another great recipe to try is the eggplant parmesan air fryer version. Slice eggplant into thin rounds, coat with breadcrumbs and then air fry.
Once it is done, add tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top. Cook for a few more minutes, and you have eggplant parmesan (or eggplant parmigiana) air fryer version done.
There are many ways to make eggplant in an air fryer; you just have to be creative!
Flavour/Texture: Crispy crust with a soft centre, everything air fryer eggplant chips should be. The roasted red pepper sauce complements well with tangy, rich flavours.
Ease: There are two components, air fryer eggplant and roasted red pepper sauce in this side dish, and they do take some effort to complete. However, I would not say they involve challenging cooking techniques—just more about managing the different aspects simultaneously.
Time: You can cook both components at the same time, or you can prepare the roasted red pepper sauce in advance. You can even make the sauce the day before if you like.
These are the ingredients you need in Air Fryer Eggplant:
Red bell peppers / capsicum: Red bell peppers are also known as capsicum in Australia. For this recipe, select a large pepper.
Garlic: Together with red peppers, I roast 2 garlic cloves.
Tomatoes: To add more flavour and sweet acidity to the roasted red pepper sauce.
Extra virgin olive oil: A good quality extra virgin olive oil to help baste the red pepper for roasting and to finish off the sauce before serving.
Worcestershire sauce: Originated from Worcester, England, this popular condiment is made from vinegar, molasses, anchovy, garlic, tamarind, sugar and salt. I love adding it to tomato-based sauces as it adds a unique tangy, umami flavour.
Eggplant: Choose a large globe eggplant or two small eggplants for this recipe so you can cut thick strips for the eggplant chips. Look for shiny, smooth skin on the eggplants and ones that are heavy to hold. Do not buy any eggplants that have brownish blemishes.
Plain flour / Egg: Both are used to help the eggplant chips stick to the parmesan breadcrumb.
Breadcrumbs: The breadcrumbs I normally have in my pantry are panko breadcrumbs. However, you can use whatever kind you have available.
Grated parmesan cheese: I usually grate my own parmesan cheese as I store a block in my fridge for various kinds of recipes (and not just pasta!) You can, however, also use store bought grated parmesan if it is easier.
Parsley: I like adding chopped parsley to my parmesan breadcrumbs for a touch of freshness and aroma.
Salt and Pepper: To taste
How to Make Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce
Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F.
Place red pepper and 2 cloves of garlic (skin on) on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with some olive oil to coat the red bell pepper.
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until red bell pepper skin is charred and the flesh has collapsed.
Remove from the oven and cool down.
Peel the charred skin off the roasted red pepper. Remove the stem and scrape off any excess seeds. Place roasted red pepper flesh into a saucepan.
Squeeze the roasted garlic from the skin and add to the saucepan.
Chop tomatoes into small chunks and place in a saucepan as well.
Add vegetable stock/water, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to the roasted red pepper and chopped tomatoes.
Using a stick blender and blitz everything together until smooth.
Over medium heat, bring the roasted red pepper sauce to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the sauce.
Once the sauce is a thick consistency, remove from heat.
How to Make Air Fryer Eggplant
While the red pepper sauce is roasting, you can prepare for the air fryer eggplant chips.
Cut eggplant into thick strips. Mine were approximately 2cm thick and 10cm in length.
Set up a dredging station with 4 plates like a production line to crumb eggplant chips (which is the same process I follow for my crumbed fish).
Place plain flour on the first plate.
In the second plate, whisk 2 eggs.
On the third plate, mix breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and salt and pepper together.
The 4th plate to place fully crumbed eggplant chips.
When ready, take one eggplant chip and place into flour—roll the chip around so that it is fully coated.
Then move it to the next plate and roll it in a whisked egg.
Finally, transfer to parmesan breadcrumb mix and fully coat eggplant chips.
Once done, place crumbed eggplant chips on a plate ready to be fried in the air fryer.
Repeat the process until all eggplant chips are crumbed.
If required, preheat the air fryer for 3 minutes at 200°C or 400°F. Depending on your air fryer, you may or may not need to preheat the air fryer. For me, it works better when it has been preheated.
Remove the air fryer basket and spray once over with cooking oil. Do be careful as the basket is now hot.
Place eggplant chips in the basket on a single layer. Do not overcrowd the basket. Make sure there is some space in between the eggplant chips so that hot air can circulate.
Spray eggplant chips with cooking oil.
Replace basket into air fryer and cook eggplant for 5-6 minutes or golden brown.
After 5 minutes, turn eggplant chips around and give them another spray of cooking oil. Fry for another 5-6 minutes until golden brown.
Repeat the process until all eggplant chips are fried using an air fryer. I had to do two batches in my 3.2L / 3.4 Qt air fryer.
Once all eggplant chips are fried, return them into a basket and fry for another 3-4 minutes to reheat and crisp up.
On a large serving dish, scoop roasted red pepper sauce on the bottom.
Stack air fryer eggplant neatly in a tower on top of roasted red pepper sauce.
Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on the roasted red pepper sauce around the air fryer eggplant stack.
Variations and Substitutions
Alternative cooking methods: If you don’t have an air fryer, you can deep fry eggplant chips or even bake in the oven.
To deep fry, heat 3 cups of vegetable oil in a saucepan. Fry in hot oil until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, turning them as they cook.
To bake in the oven, spray eggplant chips with cooking oil. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, flipping each side for a golden brown crust.
Vegan option: Omit parmesan cheese if you wish to have a vegan air fryer eggplant recipe. Increase the breadcrumbs to make sure you have enough to coat all the eggplant chips.
Gluten free variation: Substitute regular plain flour and breadcrumbs for gluten free options. You can also use almond flour if that is available.
Canned tomatoes: I have made this roasted red pepper sauce with 1 can of whole tomatoes as well—no need to add vegetable stock or water before blitzing. You can adjust afterwards.
How to Serve
Here are some main dishes that will go well with Air Fryer Eggplant:
Penne alla black garlic vodka: This air fryer eggplant side dish with roasted red pepper sauce is beautifully crumbed and oh so soft and creamy. The perfect side dish to be served with this hearty pasta recipe.
Coconut shrimp curry: A one-pan recipe made with a creamy and aromatic coconut curry sauce made from scratch. Curry and eggplant are a match made in heaven and would make such a great side dish. This air fryer eggplant side dish is crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside.
Crispy chicken cutlets: These thin-sliced chicken breasts are breaded then cooked right from frozen for the best meal prep entrée ever. These can be pan-fried or baked, and both cooking methods result in crispy, juicy chicken that is absolutely delicious. Add to the crispy, crumbly meal with these delicious sticks of air fryer eggplant served on a bed of roasted red pepper sauce. Yum!
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of air fryer do I need?
I have a standard 3.2L/3.4Qt air fryer at home. It will cook 600g frozen chips in one batch, and I have managed to cook roast pork belly plus roast potatoes in one go as well. However, some recipes need to be separated into two batches. It is also because I want to overcrowd the items.
I believe it will be better to have a larger air fryer for a family of 5, but unfortunately, I do not have enough bench space to accommodate. This smaller version works well enough.
No, there is no need to peel eggplant before cooking. I have never done this before in any of my eggplant recipes.
Some recipes call for the eggplants to soak in salty water before cooking. This process will help extract excess water from the vegetable.
And why do you need to do this? It will help reduce the bitterness that eggplant can have when cooked and also helps to hold the shape better when roasting.
I generally have not had problems with this and normally cook eggplant without salting or soaking, but you can if you find eggplant tastes better.
I am still learning to use the air fryer and love to experiment with other ingredients and air fryer recipes, but I have to say that thick air fryer eggplant chips will be coming back for sure!
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Air Fryer Eggplant with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F.
- Place red pepper and 2 cloves of garlic (skin on) on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with some olive oil to coat the red bell pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until red pepper skin is charred and the flesh has collapsed.
- Remove from the oven and cool down.
- Peel the charred skin, remove the stem and scrape off any excess seeds from the roasted red bell pepper. Place roasted red pepper flesh into a saucepan.
- Squeeze the roasted garlic from the skin and add to the saucepan.
- Chop tomatoes into small chunks and place in a saucepan as well.
- Add vegetable stock/water, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to the roasted red pepper and chopped tomatoes.
- Use a stick blender and blitz everything together until smooth.
- Over medium heat, bring the roasted red pepper sauce to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the sauce.
- Once the sauce is a thick consistency, remove from heat.
Air Fryer Eggplant
- Cut eggplant into thick strips approximately 2cm thick and 10cm in length.
- Mix breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and salt and pepper together.
- Take one eggplant chip and place into flour—roll the chip around so that it is fully coated. Then move it to the next plate and roll it in a whisked egg. Finally, transfer to parmesan breadcrumb mix and fully coat eggplant chips.
- Once done, place crumbed eggplant chips on a plate ready to be fried in an air fryer.
- Repeat the process until all eggplant chips are crumbed.
- Preheat the air fryer for 3 minutes at 200°C or 400°F.
- Remove the air fryer basket and spray once over with cooking oil. Place eggplant chips in the basket on a single layer. Spray eggplant chips with cooking oil.
- Air fry eggplant for 5-6 minutes or golden brown. After 5 minutes, turn eggplant chips around and give them another spray of cooking oil. Fry for a further 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Repeat the process until all eggplant chips are fried using an air fryer.
- Once all eggplant chips are fried, return them into a basket and fry for another 3-4 minutes to reheat and crisp up.
- On a large serving dish, scoop roasted red pepper sauce on the bottom.
- Stack air fryer eggplant neatly in a tower on top of roasted red pepper sauce.
- Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on the roasted red pepper sauce around the air fryer eggplant stack.
- Serve immediately.
- Do not overcrowd the air fryer basket. It is best to leave space between the eggplant chips so that the hot air has room to circulate.
- For the 3.2L / 3.4Qt air fryer, I completed the recipe in two batches.
- Omit parmesan cheese for a vegan air fryer eggplant recipe. Increase the breadcrumbs to make sure you have enough to coat all the eggplant chips.
- Substitute regular plain flour and breadcrumbs for gluten free options. You can also use almond flour if that is available.
- You can also substitute fresh tomatoes with 1 can of whole tomatoes—no need to add vegetable stock or water before blitzing. Adjust afterwards.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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