If you love to pluck the darkest, crispiest veggies right from the pan, Air Fryer Broccoli is for you!
Deeply charred and ultra crispy, this is broccoli at its most addictive.
The way we were chowing down on it reminded me of the way I felt the first time we tried Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts.
How can a vegetable taste THIS GOOD?!
Thanks to the air fryer’s high-powered convection fan, it makes the food you cook in it wicked crispy in a fraction of the time.
I’ve been working my way through our usual weeknight sides, trying them out in the air fryer instead of the oven. This full list of air fryer recipes includes everything we’ve tried so far, plus yummy main dishes too.
Since I relied for a while only on Grilled Broccoli because of its ease and signature flavor, I hadn’t quite gotten around to trying broccoli the air fryer yet. But that changed the day I overheard a woman speaking with a passion—a passion one typically does not associate with vegetables—about how incredible it tastes.
“Broccoli in the air fryer is SO GOOD!” she clamored. “The kids couldn’t stop eating it!”
Excited Air Fryer Broccoli Lady, you were so very right.
The air fried broccoli hardly made it to our plates—we inhaled most of it right out of the air fryer basket!
How to Cook Air Fryer Broccoli
Cooking perfect broccoli in the air fryer is quick, easy, and versatile!
The only hurdle is figuring out how to make the broccoli insides tender before the outsides burned. The air fryer roasts the broccoli so quickly, my first few batches were black outside but still hard inside.
The answer: add water to the air fryer to help the broccoli steam as it cooks. Taa-daa!
- You do not need to steam broccoli before air frying. Rather, add a few tablespoons of water to the air fryer prior to cooking. As the water evaporates, it will help the broccoli soften a little.
- Chop the broccoli florets SMALL (think broccoli bites). This will give the insides a chance to tenderize before the outsides completely char.
Broccoli cooked in the air fryer will still be quite al dente inside. We love it this way, but if you prefer broccoli a little softer on the inside (but not mushy!), this oven Roasted Broccoli might be a better option for you.
- Broccoli. High in fiber, packed with vitamins, and low carb, broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse. Air frying it is a healthy way to enjoy it, and makes it outrageously addictive.
- Olive Oil. While you can make air fryer broccoli with no oil, I find that the broccoli doesn’t caramelize quite as nicely, nor does it taste as satisfying. Fortunately, you only need a small amount of olive oil to ensure the broccoli cooks properly in the air fryer.
- Seasonings. Salt and pepper are the classic. I also like to add garlic powder for a little extra somethin’ somethin’. Bonus: garlic powder won’t burn in the air fryer.
- Toppings! This broccoli is tasty just as it is right out of the air fryer, but there’s still room to gussy it up a bit to make it extra special. See below for topping ideas.
- Chop the broccoli florets and season.
- Preheat the air fryer, then add the broccoli and water.
- Air fry the broccoli for 4 minutes, then toss the florets. Continue cooking 4 to 8 minutes more, tossing every few minutes. Top as desired and ENJOY!
How to Make Frozen Broccoli in the Air Fryer
You can put frozen broccoli in the air fryer! Like this Roasted Frozen Broccoli, it doesn’t become *as* crisp as fresh broccoli, but it’s still tasty and a total time saver.
- Add the frozen broccoli florets to the air fryer at 400 degrees F and air fry for 5 minutes (this will allow the broccoli to thaw a bit and the seasonings to stick).
- Remove the florets to a mixing bowl and toss with the oil and seasonings.
- Return to the air fryer and cook 6 to 10 additional minutes, tossing a few times throughout, until it is crisped to your liking.
Toppings and Variations
- Air Fryer Broccoli Parmesan. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan over the air fried broccoli after air frying.
- Air Fryer Broccoli and Cheese. While the broccoli is hot, sprinkle on a few handfuls of a melty cheese, such as cheddar or gruyere.
- Lemony Air Fryer Broccoli. Top the cooked broccoli with grated lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Spicy Air Fryer Broccoli. After the broccoli is out of the air fryer, toss it with a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Balsamic Air Fryer Broccoli. Drizzle the cooked broccoli with balsamic glaze or an aged balsamic vinegar.
- To Store. Refrigerate the broccoli for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm the broccoli in the air fryer or a regular oven at 350 degrees F.
- To Freeze. While the broccoli will become mushy when frozen, it can be done! Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Meal Prep Tip
Chop the broccoli florets and store in the refrigerator up to 2 days in advance.
Crispy air fried broccoli makes a tasty addition to pastas like this Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff and Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken, salads like Quinoa Chickpea Salad and Apple Walnut Salad, and even grilled cheese like the Roasted Broccoli Cauli Grilled Cheese in The Well Plated Cookbook.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Air Fryer. This is the model I own and love.
- Measuring Spoons. Easy-to-use and store magnetic measuring spoons.
- Good Quality Chef’s Knife. One of my most loved kitchen tools.
Tell everyone you know! Once you try this recipe, you’ll be an Excited Air Fryer Broccoli Person too.
Air Fryer Broccoli
- 1 pound broccoli florets cut into small, evenly sized pieces (about 4 to 5 cups florets, 2 small heads, or 2 pounds with stalks attached)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar optional; helps with caramelization
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest from about 1 medium lemon
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1/2 medium lemon
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Place the florets in a mixing bowl and top with the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and sugar. Toss to coat, making sure to rub the florets evenly with the oil and spices to prevent burning.
- Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F according to the manufacturer’s instructions (for my air fryer that is 3 minutes preheat time).
- Add the water to the bottom of the air fryer (it will hiss and splatter). Add the broccoli (if adding toppings, keep the bowl handy and don’t wash it yet). Let cook for 4 minutes.
- Remove the basket and with tongs, toss the broccoli. Return it to the air fryer and continue cooking for 4 to 8 additional minutes, until crispy outside and tender when pieced with a fork. The cook time will vary based on your air fryer, so keep an eye on it and toss the broccoli every few minutes to promote even crisping.
- Serve immediately, or if adding toppings, transfer the broccoli back to the mixing bowl. Top with the lemon zest, lemon juice, Parmesan, and/or red pepper flakes. Stir to coat. Serve hot.
- TO STORE. Refrigerate the broccoli for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT. Rewarm the broccoli in the air fryer or a regular oven at 350 degrees F.
- TO COOK FROZEN BROCCOLI IN THE AIR FRYER: Add the frozen broccoli florets to the air fryer and air fry for 5 minutes (this will allow the broccoli to thaw a bit and the seasonings to stick). Remove them to the bowl, then toss with the oil and seasonings. Return to the air fryer and cook 6 to 10 additional minutes, tossing a few times throughout, until it is crisped to your liking.
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