Why You Should Cook Eggplant In The Air Fryer

If you own an air fryer, you already know its advantages regarding health, time, and flavor. If you don't have one, we at Mashed reserve the right to revoke your Mashed membership card until you do the right thing. We just want what's best for you, after all. There is no excuse for a home cook not to have an air fryer — they are (mostly) affordable; make meal prep easier; and come in all sizes to accommodate singles, couples, or families.

Mashed recipe developer Miriam Hahn is a fan of making eggplant in the air fryer for baba ganoush. She removes the skin and chops it into small pieces before cooking it in the air fryer and then pureeing it. Hahn says the result from the air fryer is the same as if you cook it in the oven — without excess oil. It's just one reason why an air fryer is a better method of cooking eggplant (and most things, really).

Crispy outside, creamy inside

If you were to roast eggplant in the oven or fry it in a pan, it would need to be doused or cooked with oil in order to be crispy. Cooking eggplant in the air fryer means you're cooking mostly oil-free (other than a spritz of oil on the fryer basket). There are other benefits. When you cook eggplant in the air fryer, it comes out crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Put it in the fryer, set the timer and it's done. There's less heat in the kitchen and clean-up is easier too.

A member of the nightshade family (along with tomatoes and potatoes), eggplant is a fruit, not a vegetable. Its peel is high in anthocyanins — the chemical that gives eggplant its rich purple color. Anthocyanins also provide several health benefits such as vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber (via Livestrong). The entire eggplant is a great source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium, and can help lower cholesterol and regulate high blood pressure. However, if you are making baba ganoush, remove the peel for smoothness, says Hahn.

There are many types and shapes of eggplant, the most common being Globe, Japanese, Nadia, and Chinese. Depending on what dish you are making — ratatouille, eggplant parm, or baba ganoush — you can place them in the air fryer in strips, slices, or halves.

To salt or not to salt

To cook, wash a medium eggplant, slice off the ends, and cut into quarter-inch chunks. Salt the eggplant and let it sit for 15 minutes. Flip the eggplant slices and repeat, according to Air Fryer Eats. To make eggplant parmesan in the air fryer, preheat at 400 degrees F. Slice the eggplant into half-inch thick rounds, dip it in egg and then roll the slices in breadcrumbs. Then place the slices in the fryer basket for about 5 minutes, then flip the slices and cook for another 5 minutes. Add sauce and cheese if desired, then cook another 2 to 3 minutes.

There are other cooking websites that say it's OK to forego the salt on your pre-cooked eggplant — including Los Angeles Times food writer Russ Parsons agrees. Salting your eggplant can remove some moisture and help with texture, but it doesn't affect bitterness. Salt helps when frying, but it's not necessary if you are grilling or roasting eggplant.

An eggplant's bitterness develops with age (per Iowa State University). For example, vegetables from a local farmer's market will be fresher and less bitter. If you get it from the grocery store, don't let too much time pass before using it.