Can you fry eggplant in an air fryer? You sure can! These air fryer eggplant fries are made with delicious pork panko, so they are low carb, keto, and gluten-free. You’ll love how quick this eggplant fries air fryer recipe comes together, and it has only 6.9 grams of net carbs per serving! Get the flavor of your favorite restaurant's fried eggplant fries with only 12 minutes of air frying!
Hey, all! We recently discovered a local restaurant that makes the best deep-fried eggplant fries. Holy yum, they are DELICIOUS.
Crispy with tender insides, a bit of Parmesan for the umami factor, and warm marinara sauce on the side for dipping. It’s definitely one of my favorite appetizers of all time.
Lucky us, Parmesan eggplant fries are the perfect contender for an air fryer adaptation. These air fryer “fried” eggplant fries will give you that restaurant experience you crave without deep frying. (I think I am in love.)
If you haven’t tried making fries with eggplant yet, now is definitely the time. I was amazed at how much my pickiest family member LOVES these. He is always quick to gobble them up.
Hard to believe we’re getting some veggies in with this one! They’re almost too delicious to be packed with so many nutrient benefits. Let’s jump in, shall we?
Why should you make eggplant fries in air fryer? Like I said, they are pretty darn delicious, and the nutritional benefits are not too shabby either:
- Baked eggplant sticks, not fried: Eggplant fries are typically deep fried, and eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge! You can skip all that added oil by using your air fryer to bake eggplant fries instead.
- Low carb and keto friendly: Are you using a very low carb diet for blood sugar control or weight loss? These air fryer eggplant fries have only 6.9 grams of net carbs per generous serving! They are a great way to enjoy breaded eggplant fries without going into refined carb overload.
- Gluten free air fryer eggplant fries: Since we’re using pork rind crumbs instead of bread crumbs, these eggplant fries are also gluten free. They’re a great option for those avoiding gluten due to celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and so on.
- Veggie-packed appetizer: Yes, botanists, I know that eggplants are technically fruits. However, the MyPlate model treats them as part of the veggie group, so I’m calling this one a vegetable appetizer. Many people can benefit from increasing both fruit and veggie intake. Whatever we’re categorizing it as, eating more eggplant is probably a good idea.
- Great for picky eaters: Did you ever notice that picky eaters tend to do better with breaded foods? Particularly if a dip is involved? Try this recipe with the fussy eaters in your household, and they might just start eating eggplant!
Here’s what you need to make keto eggplant fries:
- Baby eggplant (about 12-14 ounces total)
- Large eggs
- Pork panko
- Garlic powder
- Parsley (dried)
- Oregano (dried)
- Basil (dried)
- Thyme (dried)
- Rosemary (dried)
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Warm marinara sauce (for dipping)
If you’ve checked out my keto Air Fryer Chicken Schnitzel post, you probably already know about my love for pork panko. Made of crushed pork rinds, it’s a really tasty substitute for bread crumbs made with white flour. Ooooh, so delicious.
Another benefit of using pork panko is that you won’t need to use cooking oil spray. The pork rinds provide plenty of fat so your food should not stick to the air fryer basket or tray.
My local stores haven’t yet caught on yet to the wonders of pork rind bread crumbs, so I buy them on Amazon. This brand of pork panko is my current favorite, and the one that I use to develop my recipes. Since this product is pretty high in fat and salt, there’s no need to add more to this recipe.
The kitchen equipment you need for air fried eggplant fries is pretty basic. A good knife and a peeler will help you make the eggplant strips. You don’t NEED to peel the eggplant, but your fries will turn out more like the restaurant ones if you do.
You’ll also want to have a couple of medium-sized bowls on hand. One for eggs and another for the low carb panko breading.
Finally, you’re going to need an air fryer to make this recipe. Your Ninja Foodi, Breville, Philips, Cosori, Nuwave or whatever brand you have should work. That said, you may need to tweak the cooking times if you’re using a different air fryer than I am.
I developed this recipe with my 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. It comes with two baking trays. If you have a small fryer with an air fryer basket, you might need to split this recipe into multiple batches.
🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Eggplant Fries
Time to make keto eggplant fries in the air fryer! Start by preparing your eggplants.
Cut both the stem and blossom end from the eggplant(s). Peel the purple skin from the eggplant and cut it into fries.
I cut the eggplant into ½-inch thick slices that are about 4-4½ inches long. Try to get your eggplant sticks uniform for more even cooking. If you make the slices much bigger or smaller than I did, it will alter the cooking time.
Next, get out two medium sized bowls. Whisk two eggs together in one of the bowls. In the other bowl, stir together the pork panko, Parm, spices, and dried herbs.
Dip each eggplant fry in the eggs and then coat it in the pork panko mixture. Put the fries in a non-touching single layer on your air fryer trays.
Don’t crowd your fries! I needed to use both of my air fryer trays for this recipe. Cooking the fries in multiple batches with adequate spacing will yield better results than overcrowding them. The air needs to be able to freely circulate in the air fryer to properly crisp the fries.
⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long to air fry eggplant fries? I cook eggplant fries for a total of 12-13 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Start by putting the eggplant parmesan fries in the air fryer for 5 minutes at 375F. Then switch the position of the trays in the air fryer oven (no need to flip the fries) and cook an additional 5 minutes at 375F.
If the fries are not tender enough in the middle at this point, switch the position of the air fryer trays one more time. Air fry them 2-3 more minutes at 375F.
Sprinkle the eggplant fries with grated Parmesan cheese and let them cool a bit before trying to pick them up. They’re pretty hot!
👪 How to Serve Eggplant Fries
You definitely want some warm marinara sauce on the side for dipping with these! Want to extend these low carb eggplant fries out into a full meal? Try serving them with some spaghetti squash and additional marinara sauce. This Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash is ready in under 30 minutes!
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). There are probably no surprises here, but breading things in crushed pork rinds really bumps up the calories. Even though it is a low carb keto recipe, these breaded eggplant fries are not your best bet for a food that supports a healthy weight.
If you want low calorie eggplant fries, I recommend air frying eggplant without breading. Try them with different seasonings, such as Everything but the Bagel Seasoning, chili powder, Cajun spice, or lemon pepper. These won’t taste like classic eggplant fries, but I bet you could come up with something pretty tasty!
Instead of having these as a snack, I incorporate them into a meal with lots of high-volume, low-calorie veggies. Serve them with big side salads filled with non-starchy veggies. Alternatively, serve them up with spiralized squash noodles and marinara sauce. Both of these ideas will help you to create a low-calorie meal that also happens to be keto friendly.
The combination of pork panko and parm in these eggplant fries provides more protein than you get in classic eggplant fries. That’s why I’m not recommending adding more protein to the meal. That said, some grilled chicken breast might be another tasty meal addition here to help fill you up.
For the carb lovers who want a high calorie meal, add some whole grain pasta and pasta sauce on the side. You could also throw in some garlic bread if you really wanted to carb load. Make it a full Italian-inspired feast!
To make vegan air fryer eggplant fries, use whole grain panko bread crumbs in place of the pork panko. You’ll also need to use your favorite vegan Parmesan substitute in place of the Parmesan cheese, and use flax “eggs” in place of the eggs. These won’t taste exactly the same as this recipe, but should work if you want completely plant-based eggplant fries.
Some people prefer to salt or soak eggplant before cooking to help draw out its bitterness. I always skip this step. I don’t think the extra time it takes produces a big difference in my eggplant dishes, but YMMV.
Hmmm... I think I’m personally offended by this question! Haha Eggplant is a nutrient-rich and healthy food for most people. I would not say it's bad for you! If you are on a special diet, such as low carb, keto, vegan, gluten free, or low calorie, eggplant can be a great fit. That said, some people claim that the solanine in eggplant and other nightshade veggies worsens their autoimmune disorder symptoms. I highly recommend checking in with your dietitian or physician before undergoing an elimination diet that removes a lot of foods.
Look for an eggplant that is shiny and slightly firm, with no mushy spots. I prefer smaller eggplants, as I’ve noticed that they tend to be less bitter than large eggplants. Small eggplants work perfectly in this eggplant fries recipe. A green stem on your eggplant can be an indicator of freshness.
👩🏻🍳 More Air Fryer Fries Recipes
You can make vegetable fries with a lot more than just eggplants! If you’re looking for more fries recipes for the air fryer, check these out next:
- Air Fryer Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
- Healthy Air Fryer Frozen French Fries
- Air Fryer Home Fries
- Air Fryer Jicama Fries with Cilantro-Lime Dipping Sauce
BTW, if you’re specifically after air fryer eggplant recipes, this Air Fryer Eggplant Parm is not to be missed! YUM!
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All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
"Keto" recipes on the web may not be appropriate for those using ketogenic diets as part of their medical nutrition therapy. That includes this recipe.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Eggplant Fries (Keto, Low Carb, Gluten Free)
- 2 baby eggplants (12-14 ounces/340-397 grams total)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup pork panko
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese (for topping)
- warmed marinara sauce (for dipping)
- Cut the stem and blossom ends from the eggplants. Peel the purple skin from the eggplants.
- Slice the peeled eggplant into ½-inch (1.27 cm) thick slices that are about 4-4½ inches (10-11 cm) long. Try to make them all about the same size for more even cooking. Cutting thicker or thinner eggplant sticks will alter the air frying time.
- Whisk two eggs in a medium-sized bowl.
- In a second bowl, stir together the pork panko, ¼-cup Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary.
- Dip each eggplant fry in the eggs and then coat it in the pork panko mixture. Put the fries in a non-touching single layer on your air fryer trays. Cover all of the fries.
- Tip: Don't crowd the fries on the air fryer trays! Cook them in multiple batches if needed.
- Put the eggplant parmesan fries in the air fryer for 5 minutes at 375°F (190°C). Then switch the position of the trays in the air fryer oven and cook an additional 5 minutes at 375°F (190°C). You shouldn't need to flip the fries.
- If the eggplant fries are not tender enough in the middle at this point, switch the position of the air fryer trays one more time. Air fry them 2-3 more minutes at 375°F (190°C).
- Sprinkle the eggplant fries with the remaining 2 teaspoons of Parmesan. Let them cool a bit before serving with warm marinara sauce.