Why You Should Use A Light Hand When Seasoning Air Fryer Broccoli

The air fryer is an invention that has quickly captivated the masses. Despite the fact that an air fryer might seem like a tiny countertop oven, the appliance does so much more than just bake. Able to cook anything from a basic chicken breast all the way to a grilled cheese sandwich, the sky's the limit for this nifty little appliance.

Using a high-powered fan, Expert Reviews explains that the air fryer works by rapidly circulating hot air around food that's placed in the frying basket. Prompting the Maillard reaction through a sort of convection-style cooking, foods become crispy and golden, much like they would in a deep-fryer, but without all the extra oil required. However, the process does result in different textures and even tastes than traditional deep-frying. 

Naturally, given the unique capabilities of an air fryer, certain recipes may need to be modified. Aside from adjusting cook times and the quantity of ingredients, the amount of seasoning used should also be adapted when working with an air fryer — especially when it comes to veggies. Believe it or not, broccoli is actually one vegetable that requires a bit more discretion. 

Air-frying results in a lot of flavor on its own

While boiling can be bland, other options like roasting and frying do the exact opposite for vegetables. Since the air fryer marries two very flavorful cooking methods together, air-fried foods tend to have bigger and bolder flavors — so rather than loading your broccoli with spices and seasonings, you'll want to use a light hand.

The New York Times explains that the high-heat and moisture-free environment of an air fryer allows veggies to properly crisp up and caramelize, resulting in a concentration of flavor just through the cooking process. Therefore, Good Housekeeping recommends tossing vegetables like broccoli with a touch of oil and a modest sprinkle of seasoning as the florets will char significantly as a result of the air fryer, already packing a punch of flavor. 

Additionally, because the appliance cooks food in a fraction of the time, Delish explains that broccoli florets can be especially susceptible to burning, namely when they're cut into small or uneven pieces — so just imagine what that might do to an overload of seasonings. Even adding too much sauce to foods destined for the air fryer can increase the probability of burning, cautions The Manual. Rather than weigh broccoli down with all that extra moisture, save saucy dressings like miso bagna cauda as the final touch after frying.