Air Fryer Broccoli
Air Fryer Broccoli is a crave-worthy side dish! Learn how to make the best crisp-tender broccoli in just a few easy steps. Works perfectly with fresh or frozen broccoli!
When I first tried air fryer broccoli, I was not all that impressed. The edges crisped too much and ended up tasting burnt and dried out by the time the centers became tender. I thought perhaps it might be best to stick to my tried and true Oven Roasted Broccoli recipe.
But, not being one to give up easily in the kitchen, I was determined to figure out how to make air fryer broccoli that is every bit as delicious as roasted broccoli. After some experimentation, I figured out the secret to perfect air fryer broccoli: add a bit of water to the bottom of the air fryer basket.
This simple step will ensure that your broccoli turns out crispy on the edges without tasting burnt. The water allows the broccoli to steam cook as well as crisp up, so you get the perfect balance of crispy edges and crisp-tender centers.
My second tip for the best air fryer broccoli? Sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese, partway through the cook time. The Parmesan adds a pop of cheesy flavor, making this broccoli so irresistible!
Cooking veggies in the air fryer is one of my favorite ways to add an easy side dish to our meals. Our other go-to healthy air fryer recipes include Air Fryer Cauliflower, Air Fryer Asparagus and Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries. Enjoy this crispy broccoli with Honey Garlic Instant Pot Chicken Breasts, Baked Chicken Tenders or Chicken Parmesan.
- Broccoli: If you want your air fried broccoli crispy on the edges, then fresh broccoli is best. Frozen broccoli turns out softer after air frying, but it’s every bit as delicious.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil adds flavor and keeps the broccoli from being too dry.
- Salt and Pepper: Use salt and pepper to taste, for flavor.
- Water: Adding a tablespoon of water to the bottom of the air fryer basket adds just enough moisture to keep the broccoli from drying out and burning as it becomes tender.
- Parmesan Cheese: The Parmesan cheese is optional, but adds delicious flavor!
Other Seasoning Ideas: Change up the flavors of your broccoli so it never gets boring. Toss the broccoli with garlic powder or Italian seasoning when you add the Parmesan cheese. After air frying, you can sprinkle on lemon zest or crushed red pepper flakes.
Find the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
How to Make Air Fryer Broccoli
- Cut the broccoli into florets. Cut large florets in half and very large florets into quarters.
- Drizzle the broccoli with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to evenly distribute the seasonings.
- Add 1 tablespoon of water to the bottom of the air fryer.
- Put the broccoli in the air fryer, with the pieces in a single layer.
- Air fry at 370° F for 5 minutes.
- Toss the broccoli and then sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese. We add it partway through the cook time so that the cheese doesn’t burn.
- Air fry for 3-5 more minutes, until the broccoli is crisp-tender.
- Serve immediately, with extra salt, pepper and Parmesan as desired.
Air Fryer Broccoli Recipe Tips
- Cut the broccoli into similarly sized pieces so that it cooks evenly. Aim for 1-inch pieces so that the insides will become tender before the edges burn.
- Add a tablespoon of water to the bottom of the air fryer basket to prevent the broccoli from drying out and burning. If cooking the broccoli in batches, add another tablespoon of water before each batch.
- Don’t crowd the air fryer basket. The broccoli cooks best if it is in a single layer with a bit of space between each piece.
- Different air fryer models may cook differently, so adjust the cook time as needed.
How to Cook Frozen Broccoli in the Air Fryer
My family loves air fryer frozen broccoli! Because frozen broccoli has more water content, it turns out softer and less crispy than fresh. My kids and I love the softer texture. In my experience, frozen broccoli has great flavor since it’s often frozen at the peak of freshness.
To air fry frozen broccoli:
- While I don’t preheat the air fryer for fresh broccoli, I do preheat for frozen broccoli. This way, the frozen broccoli starts to cook and crisp as soon as it hits the hot air fryer basket and is less likely to become soggy. Four minutes of preheating at 370° F is all you need.
- You do not need to add water to the air fryer basket when cooking frozen broccoli. Since the broccoli itself already contains some extra moisture, adding more water isn’t necessary.
- Once the air fryer is preheated, toss the frozen broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then immediately add it, frozen, to the hot air fryer basket.
- The cook time for air fryer frozen broccoli is the same as for fresh. You can add Parmesan cheese after the first 5 minutes of cook time, the same as for fresh broccoli.
More Air Fryer Recipes
Air Fryer Broccoli
- 1 pound broccoli (see note for frozen broccoli instructions)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Cut the broccoli into florets. Cut large florets in half and very large florets in quarters. The pieces should be approximately 1-inch in size.
- Place broccoli florets in a bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the broccoli. Toss to coat. Sprinkle on salt and pepper and toss to evenly distribute.
- Add 1 tablespoon water to the bottom of the air fryer. Place broccoli in a single layer in the air fryer (cook in batches if needed). Air fry at 370° F for 5 minutes. Then toss broccoli and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese. Air fry for 3-5 more minutes, until broccoli is crisp-tender. If cooking a second batch, add another tablespoon of water to the bottom of the air fryer first.
- Serve immediately, seasoned with more salt, pepper and/or Parmesan as needed, to taste.
- To Air Fry Frozen Broccoli: Follow the same recipe instructions, with these modifications: Preheat the air fryer at 370° F for 4 minutes before adding the frozen broccoli. Do not add water to the air fryer basket.
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