Air fryer zucchini is quick, easy, healthy, and versatile! I'll show you two different ways to enjoy air fryer zucchini, one with seasoned panko breadcrumbs and one without oil or breadcrumbs. This healthy zucchini recipe is ready in under 15 minutes and special diet-friendly! Vegan and gluten-free, with low-carb and low-fat/oil-free options.
We all have those days... when you know you need to eat your veggies but you're tired, hungry, and SO not in the mood to cook. Enter air fryer zucchini!
To keep this recipe quick and fuss-free, we chop the zucchini into bite-size pieces instead of taking the time to thinly slice it like you would for zucchini chips.
No kidding, aside from eating it raw, I can't think of a simpler way to prepare zucchini than in the air fryer.
Chopping and seasoning the zucchini takes LESS time than it takes for the air fryer to preheat. That's my kind of air fryer recipe!
Choose Oil-Free or Breaded Air Fryer Zucchini
I'll show you how to make light and healthy oil-free zucchini seasoned with lemon juice and a pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Or if you're in the mood for a bit of texture and different seasonings, you'll stir together a quick breading with gluten-free panko, oil, and a pinch of Italian seasoning.
Thanks to the natural "tackiness" of zucchini flesh, the vegan breadcrumb mixture magically sticks to the cut sides of the zucchini... no egg needed!
- zucchini - one large zucchini will usually serve two people as a side dish, depending on appetites. Most air fryers can accommodate 1 or 2 zucchinis at a time. So if you'd like to prepare more than 2 servings you'll likely need to work in batches. You can also use this recipe to cook yellow squash in the air fryer.
- oil, optional - if you'd like to include a breading, you'll need a neutral, high-heat oil such as avocado.
- lemon juice, optional - if making the oil-free version, you'll need a small squeeze of lemon, about 2 teaspoons per zucchini. The natural sugars in the juice caramelize in the air fryer for wonderful flavor.
- spice/seasoning blend, optional - Italian seasoning is great with the breading; sometimes we like to use Cajun seasoning for a little kick of cayenne and paprika!
- panko breadcrumbs, optional - I used Ian's gluten-free panko breadcrumbs; substitute any other variety you have on hand; note whether the breadcrumbs you use are salted and/or seasoned and adjust accordingly.
- salt and pepper
See the recipe card below for quantities and full instructions.
How To Air Fry Zucchini
The photos below show how to make the breaded version with oil. If you're preparing the oil-free lemon version the process will be even easier!
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F, and stir together the breadcrumbs, seasonings, and oil. For oil-free, you'll still preheat the air fryer the same way then skip ahead to step 2.
- Toss the chopped zucchini with the seasoned breadcrumb mixture. For oil-free, toss with lemon juice and a few pinches of garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Spread in a single layer in the air fryer and cook for 6 to 7 minutes or until golden and tender (but not mushy).
- If you prefer zucchini slightly more firm than soft, increase the air fryer temperature by 5 degrees and decrease cook time to 4 or 5 minutes.
- As always, cook time may vary depending on the air fryer. Be sure to keep a close eye on it the first time you try any new air fryer recipe.
I use the 6-quart Vortex air fryer by Instant Pot. If you're using a smaller air fryer do the best you can to not overcrowd the zucchini during cooking.
In addition to an air fryer, you'll need a knife and a large bowl to toss the zucchini with the seasonings.
Air fryer zucchini makes a great snack. Enjoy it plain, or with your favorite salad dressing or dipping sauce. Try this nut-free vegan ranch!
It's also a great healthy side dish to serve with any meal year-round. Enjoy with your favorite burger, like these vegan mushroom-barley burgers or smoky jackfruit burgers.
Air fryer zucchini is also great with pasta. Pile it on top of spaghetti with marinara, cauliflower alfredo, or your favorite vegan mac and cheese for an extra boost of fiber and nutrition.
How to Store
Air fryer zucchini is best enjoyed immediately. So this isn't a side dish to prepare in advance. But if you do have some leftover that's okay! As with any cooked vegetable it will keep in the refrigerator for several days. Reheat in the air fryer or briefly in a microwave.
Air fryer models vary quite a bit. I recommend starting at 400 degrees F (204 C), and after your first batch decide whether you'd like to adjust the temperature slightly.
It depends on the recipe. Some are written to create crispy zucchini chips while others are for tender zucchini, more similar to steaming or roasting. This recipe creates tender bites of zucchini, either plain or with a crispy breading.
This depends on the size of the zucchini(s) and what else you're serving, but in general one extra large zucchini serves 2 people. Note: air frying is a great cooking method for zucchini when you're preparing food for just one or two people.
It's important not to over-cook zucchini in the air fryer (no one likes mushy vegetables!). So keep a close eye on it during cooking, especially around the halfway mark.
Air fryers vary A LOT, so you may find you need to slightly adjust the cook time to get perfectly air fried zucchini every time! Also, have fun with it and try different seasonings.
More Quick Air Fryer Recipes
Visit our Air Fryer Category for more ideas like air fryer edamame, blistered shishito peppers, and our favorite breaded vegan "chicken" nuggets!
Air Fryer Zucchini 2 Ways
For the breaded version:
- 2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed - choose ones that are dark green and firm
- 3 tablespoon gluten-free panko breadcrumbs, plain or seasoned - I used Ian's brand
- 1 tablespoon high-heat oil, such as avocado
- ¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning blend (or Cajun spice, pictured) - if using pre-seasoned breadcrumbs can reduce or omit; see NOTES
- several pinches of salt and pepper - adjust if using seasoned/salted breadcrumbs
For the oil-free version:
- 2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- rounded ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- several pinches of salt and pepper
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Wash and dry the zucchini. Cut in half length-wise, then cut each of those in half again so you have 4 long pieces. Line them up, and cut across, creating approx. ¾-inch bite-size pieces.
For breaded zucchini:
- In a large bowl combine the panko, oil, seasoning, and salt and pepper. Toss the chopped zucchini with the seasoned breadcrumb mixture.
- Arrange in a single layer in the air fryer and cook for 6 to 7 minutes or until golden and tender. Serve hot.
For oil-free zucchini:
- Toss the zucchini with lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Arrange in a single layer in the air fryer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until tender. Serve hot with an extra squeeze of lemon if desired.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.
Simple, which is exactly what I wanted. I made the oil-free lemon version for me and my wife. Good way to use up all the zucchini this summer!