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Crispy Breaded Air Fryer Zucchini Sticks

These easy Crispy Breaded Air Fryer Zucchini Sticks with parmesan cheese make a delicious appetizer, snack, or side dish, and they’re perfect for dipping. A great way to use up some of that garden zucchini!

The zucchini have arrived, and these air fryer zucchini “fries” are my new favorite recipe to make with them. They’re tender on the inside, crisp on the outside, and full of flavor. And since they use a lot less oil than deep-fried zucchini, they’re lower in calories too!

Yes, lower in calories, but they are just as good! Actually, no. I’m going to say that they’re even better!

Air frying is perfect for me because I am so not a fan of deep frying. Deep-fried food? Yes, I love it. But I hate the mess, the lingering smell, and the clean-up it takes to get there. Plus, I don’t want the extra calories.

In the past, I have tried making breaded zucchini in the oven. It was good, but I was never 100% happy with it. It just never seemed to get as brown and crisp as I wanted.

Since this is my first summer with an air fryer (better late than never!), I couldn’t wait to give it a try. As soon as that first zucchini was ready to pick, I grabbed it and made these zucchini sticks right away.

They totally exceeded my expectations! With just a quick spritz of oil on both sides, the breading turned a gorgeous, wonderfully crispy golden brown, and the flavor was all there and then some!

These breaded zucchini sticks taste great on their own, but they are really fabulous dipped into something like marinara sauce or ranch dip/dressing. I can’t decide between the two (they’re so different but so good), so I usually just have a little of both!

crispy breaded air fryer zucchini sticks in an air fryer basket

Ingredients you need:

  • Zucchini
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Egg
  • Italian-seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Garlic powder
  • Oil spray (light olive oil meant for frying or avocado oil)
  • Your favorite dipping sauce (such as marinara sauce or ranch dip or dressing, optional)

Here’s a look at how to make Crispy Breaded Air Fryer Zucchini Sticks:

two images, one of cut zucchini sticks with a knife on a cutting board with text that says cut zucchini into sticks, the other of a bowl of flour with a fork with text that says combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl
two images, one of beaten egg in a bowl with a fork with text that says beat the egg in another shallow bowl, the other of a bowl of breadcrumbs with a fork with text that says combine the bread crumbs, parmesan, and garlic powder in a third shallow bowl
two images, one of a zucchini stick coated in flour with text that says coat each zucchini stick in the flour mixture, tap off excess, the other of a zucchini stick coated with egg with text that says then dip in the egg
two images, one of a zucchini stick coated in bread crumbs with text that says then coat with the breadcrumb mixture, the other of an air fryer with text that says preheat air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
two images, one of the breaded zucchini sticks in an air fryer basket with text that says place sticks in air fryer basket (you will need to do 2 batches), the other of the sticks being sprayed with oil with text that says lightly spray with oil
two images, one of an air fryer with text that says air fry for 8 to 10 minutes or until browned and crispy, the other of the zucchini sticks being flipped with tongs with text that says flipping and spraying with oil halfway through
two images, one of the finished zucchini sticks being sprinkled with salt with text that says as soon as they are done, lightly sprinkle with salt, the other of the finished zucchini sticks on a plate with marinara sauce and ranch dip on the side with text that says serve with your favorite dipping sauce, enjoy

Tips & Tidbits:

  • I love the extra crunchiness that comes from the panko breadcrumbs, but you can use regular breadcrumbs if you prefer. Or you could do a combination of the two (I often do this, using half regular and half panko).
  • Use an oil spray that is meant for high heat (has a higher smoke point), such as a light olive oil meant for frying or avocado oil.
    • Try to use an oil spray that does not contain propellants, as they can possibly damage the non-stick coating of your air fryer over time.
  • Unless you have a super extra large air fryer, you will need to air fry the sticks in batches (it takes 2 batches in my 6-quart air fryer).
    • I usually bread half of the zucchini sticks, stick them in the air fryer, and then bread the second batch while the first batch is cooking.
    • If you’d like to keep the first batch warm while you cook the second batch so you can serve them all at once, place the first batch on a wire rack set on a baking sheet and place in a 200°F oven.
  • No air fryer? Place the breaded zucchini sticks in a single layer on a large baking sheet lightly sprayed with oil, lightly spray the top of the zucchini with oil, and bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until browned and crisp, turning once halfway through. They might not be as brown and crisp as with the air fryer, but they will still be good!
  • Serve immediately for maximum crispy, crunchy deliciousness!
  • If you have leftovers, store them covered in the refrigerator. Reheat them in the air fryer at 350°F for a few minutes, just until they are heated through and crisp again.
close-up of a crispy breaded air fryer zucchini stick being dipped into a small bowl of marinara sauce with the dish of zucchini sticks and a small bowl of ranch dip in the background

It’s a good thing I have lots more zucchini on the way in the garden, because these zucchini sticks are totally addicting. I seriously can’t get enough of them and have made quite a few batches already!

I’ll bet the kids will love them too. What a fun and yummy way to get them to eat some veggies!

I hope you try this recipe for Crispy Breaded Air Fryer Zucchini Sticks and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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crispy breaded air fryer zucchini sticks on a plate with a small bowl of marinara sauce on the side

Crispy Breaded Air Fryer Zucchini Sticks

These easy Crispy Breaded Air Fryer Zucchini Sticks with parmesan cheese make a delicious appetizer, snack, or side dish, and they're perfect for dipping. A great way to use up some of that garden zucchini!
5 from 2 votes
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 (about 8 per person; recipes makes about 32 sticks total)
Estimated Calories: 179

Ingredients

  • 1 medium zucchini, about 8 to 12 ounces
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus additional for sprinkling on the finished sticks
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup Italian-seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • oil spray, I use light olive oil (the kind meant for frying) or avocado oil

Special Equipment

  • Air Fryer (I used a 6-quart air fryer with a square basket for this recipe)

Instructions

  • Cut the zucchini into sticks about 2½" long by ½" wide.
  • In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper.
  • In another shallow bowl, beat the egg.
  • In a third shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and garlic powder.
  • Lightly dredge each zucchini stick in the flour mixture, tapping gently to remove any excess flour.
  • Then dip each zucchini stick into the beaten egg, allowing any excess egg to drip off.
  • Then dip each zucchini stick into the breadcrumb mixture, gently pressing to help the breadcrumbs adhere.
    See note below about dividing the breadcrumbs in half and doing this step in two batches.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 400°F.
    Note: If your air fryer doesn't have a preheat cycle, just turn it on to 400°F and let it heat up for 5 minutes.
  • Working in batches (I need to do 2 batches in my air fryer), place the zucchini sticks in a single layer in the air fryer basket, leaving space between them to allow the air to circulate properly around them.
  • Air fry for 8 to 10 minutes or until browned and crispy, flipping once and lightly spraying the other side of the sticks with oil halfway through the cooking time.
  • As soon as they are done, lightly sprinkle with salt, if desired.
  • Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce (marinara and ranch are my favorites!).

Notes

  • You can use regular breadcrumbs instead of panko, if you prefer, or you can do a combination of the two (I often do this, using half regular and half panko).
  • Sometimes the breadcrumbs can get a little wet and clumpy from the egg after a while. To prevent this, I will often divide the breadcrumbs in half, using half to bread the first batch of zucchini. Then, while the first batch is cooking, I will use the other half of the breadcrumbs to bread the second batch so they are fresh.
  • You can keep the first batch warm after air frying, if desired, by placing them on a wire rack set on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven.
  • Store any leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator. Reheat them in the air fryer at 350°F for a few minutes, just until they are heated through and crisp again.
  • Estimated calories shown are for the zucchini sticks alone and do not include any dipping sauces. The calories are also based on the entire amount of each ingredient. Since you may not use all of the flour, egg, or breadcrumb mixture, actual calories may be less. 
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!
Recipe Rating




Tina

Saturday 13th of April 2024

I’m allergic to eggs and wax wondering if there is something else I could use instead.

Michelle

Saturday 13th of April 2024

Hi, Tina! Although I haven't tried any of these myself and so I can't say for sure what the results will be as far as coverage and crispiness of the coating, you could try using heavy cream, whole milk or a vegan egg-free egg replacer instead of the egg. Thanks for the question, and let us know how it goes!

Claudia Helms

Wednesday 4th of January 2023

This was the first recipe to make in my Christmas air fryer. The zucchini turned out great and my husband loved it! He said “This is restaurant quality stuff.” It’s a keeper of a recipe. Thank you!

Michelle

Wednesday 4th of January 2023

Thank you so much, Claudia! I'm honored that this recipe was the first one you tried in your new air fryer, and I'm so happy that you both enjoyed the zucchini!

Meg

Tuesday 30th of August 2022

It was my first time to try anything like this in the air fryer. PERFECT! Crispy, crunchy, zucchini maintained its moisture. As vegetarians, these would be a perfect substitute in a fried chicken sandwich. One thing I always do with zukes or cukes: salt, drain (for at least a half hour), and dab to get out some of the moisture. I'll definitely make this again. THANKS for the great recipe.

Michelle

Wednesday 31st of August 2022

Thank you, Meg! I'm so glad you enjoyed them!

Kristyn

Friday 6th of August 2021

So delicious!

Michelle

Friday 6th of August 2021

Thanks, Kristyn! So glad you liked them!