Air Fryer Zucchini
When produce is in season, I love to use a simple preparation to really highlight the wonderful flavors of that produce. With summer approaching in the North East, we have plenty of produce growing. One of my favorites is zucchini. When cooked, the sugars in zucchini begin to caramelize giving the vegetable a mild but sweet flavor. A preparation I have been making quite often is my air fryer zucchini, using only salt, pepper and olive oil. Making the zucchini in the air fryer also gives the dish a nice crisp – perfect for any meal!
Please scroll down to see my How to Use an Air Fryer – What is an Air Fryer Introduction.
How to make air fryer zucchini
To make this air fryer zucchini, begin by preheating the air fryer to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. While the air fryer is preheating, slice the zucchini into your desired shape (I suggest rounds or wedges). From there, place the zucchini in a bowl, adding the olive oil, salt and pepper and mix. Pour the mixture into the air fryer for 15-20 minutes, tossing halfway through. There you get the perfect side in just minutes!
In addition to olive oil, salt and pepper, you can also add any spices you like! Other variations include adding a spicy kick with crushed red pepper, or paprika, garlic powder, and chili powder for a take on BBQ flavored air fryer zucchini! Take this recipe and run with it, there are so many different flavor profiles to choose from!
Serve it up!
Another way I enjoy the air fryer zucchini is on a sandwich. As a kid, I always used to put potato chips on my sandwiches to add a crunchy element, and this air fryer zucchini works just as great!
Let me know how you serve up your air fryer zucchini on Instagram @ChefAbbieGellman, or in the comment section down below!
Health benefits of air fryer zucchini
One health benefit zucchini provides is its antioxidant content. Two specific antioxidants that zucchini has are lutein and zeaxanthin.1 Antioxidants, like lutein and zeaxanthin, have protective benefits for cells.2 These two antioxidants are most often associated with the eye.3 Their roles include enhancing vision, reducing risk of age-related macular degeneration, and fighting against damage to the eye.3
Benefits of eating zucchini go beyond just their antioxidant content. To read more on other health benefits of zucchini, check out my post on oven “fried” squash!
For more veggie sides like my air fryer zucchini, check out my Roasted Acorn Squash, my Superfood Spinach Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Citrus Dressing, and my Healthy Corn Fritters!
- Petre A. 12 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Zucchini. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/zucchini-benefits. Published February 19, 2019. Accessed May 22, 2020.
- Klemm S. Antioxidants – Protecting Healthy Cells. EatRight. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/antioxidants-protecting-healthy-cells. Published March 3, 2020. Accessed May 22, 2020.
- Eisenhauer B, Natoli S, Liew G, Flood V. Lutein and Zeaxanthin—Food Sources, Bioavailability and Dietary Variety in Age‐Related Macular Degeneration Protection. Nutrients. 2017;9(2):120. doi:10.3390/nu9020120
Have you heard about the air fryer?
You may have seen commercials advertising air fryers, or you may have seen them lining the aisles of your local Target, Walmart or Bed Bath and Beyond. With different models on the market, you may be asking yourself, “what is an air fryer?” According to the Kitchn, the air fryer works as a convection oven, however, the fan that circulates the air spins quicker.1 The process of air frying differs from traditional frying as in the air fryer, all portions of the food are cooked at the same rate versus needing to turn the food to cook all sides.1 Additionally, air frying usings less oil than traditional frying, which brings me to my next point!
Why use an air fryer?
As I previously mentioned, air frying uses a lot less oil, which reduces calories and saturated fat making whatever we cook healthier, without impacting the taste or texture! When we traditionally deep fry foods, as little as 8 percent or as much as 25 percent of the oil will be absorbed into the foods.2 This is in the form of saturated fat, which also adds 9 calories per gram of oil absorbed. Research has shown that a diet high in saturated fat can lead to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and death.3 By using the air fryer, you can use an oil high in polyunsaturated fat (i.e. olive oil), and the excess oil will fall to the bottom of the air fryer. In fact, the American Heart Association presidential advisory notes that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat results in about a 30% reduction of heart disease.4 Cooking in the air fryer allows us to enjoy some of our favorite (now not-so-guilty) guilty pleasures.
Air Frying Tips
- Use a light coating of oil (or oil spray) on either the basket and food item to achieve the golden-brown exterior of the food item you are cooking. This also imparts great flavor to the food.
- Do not over-crowd the air fryer. This can lead to uneven cooking, and/or soggy texture of the food item.
- Check the appropriate cooking times and cooking temperatures, as these factors will differ from cooking food items in a standard oven.
- A rectangular air fryer allows for easier spacing of the food items (and more food cooked at once) compared to the air fryers that are more circular.
- Franke S. How Does an Air Fryer Work? Kitchn. https://www.thekitchn.com/how-do-air-fryers-work-265185. Published May 1, 2019. Accessed May 9, 2020.
- Dunford N. Deep Fat Frying Basics for Food Services – Oklahoma State University. Deep Fat Frying Basics for Food Services | Oklahoma State University. https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/deep-fat-frying-basics-for-food-services.html. Accessed May 9, 2020.
- Souza RJD, Mente A, Maroleanu A, et al. Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ. August 2015. doi:10.1136/bmj.h3978
- Sacks FM, Lichtenstein AH, Wu JH, et al. Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;136(3). doi:10.1161/cir.0000000000000510
- air fryer
- 1 pound 1 large or 2 medium sized zucchini, sliced into rounds or wedges
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Optional: other spices you like!
- Preheat air fryer to 425 degrees F.
- In a bowl, add zucchini, salt, pepper, oil, and other spices you like and mix well.
- Pour mixture into air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes. Toss or flip over the zucchini and cook for another 5-10 minutes depending on your preferred level of golden brown and crispiness.