Three words: Garlic. Parmesan. Broccoli. An oven and air fryer side dish that is an all-time favorite of ours and our loved ones. We have made it in both an air fryer and oven and are happy to report that both methods produce delicious results.
This blog post is about the finished product and not the kitchen appliance. So, whether you are team air fryer or team oven, you can make this side. No biases here. We own both an air fryer and an oven.
In today’s edition of oven and air fryer side dish, we will discuss:
Without further ado, let’s dive into it!
Oven or Air Fryer Side Dish?
Which is the best? The OG oven or the newcomer that is the air fryer? Can you make air fryer side dishes in an oven and vice versa? Short answer, yes. Long answer, yes but-
Let’s get this straight, at first glance, the common consensus is that an air fryer is basically a small oven with a basket.
And although both use hot hair, they work differently and share similarities as well as differences.
The Similarities & Differences
Air fryers are a popular alternative to deep frying because they offer a crispy finished product without the unhealthy effects of plummeting foods into a vat of oil.
But if you think about it, people have been serving up nuggets, wings, mozzarella sticks, and all sorts of frozen foods categorized as deep fryer-friendly foods for years. Actually, even decades before air fryers came on the scene.
And we all have a clear idea of what an oven can do. So, what gives? Which method produces the best results?
All air fryers are made equal but not all ovens are. Even knock-off air fryers look and perform the same task -to some degree. But if you have a toaster oven, gas, or convection oven, then results may vary. We have a convection oven, FYI. So, we will be doing an air fryer VS convection oven post.
Convection ovens and air fryers use similar technology. That is they both circulate hot air around the food via a fan. Which stands to reason that they produce equally tasting food.
The difference is that an air fryer is faster and that’s down to its size. The typical air fryer is smaller compared to a convection oven and because of this, the air circulates faster and more rapidly.
If you are looking for a shorter pre-heating and cooking time, then opt for an air fryer. But there is something to be said about the caramelization one is able to achieve in an oven. Just saying.
Some people think one is better than the other and personally, we think air fryers are great for some things. But a con -in our eyes- when it comes to air frying is the capacity. Because they are smaller in size, you can cook less.
A full-size oven or even a toaster oven can cook a larger quantity of food compared to the standard air fryer. If you skip cooking in batches, then you run the risk of soggy food. Nobody likes that.
An oven is great because even if you cook in batches, you’ll be cooking more than you would in an air fryer. It’s a great idea to use an air fryer in addition to an oven but an air fryer is more of a luxury than a necessity. And to be quite frank, not all oven dishes turn out well in an air fryer.
Go ahead and try to make oven roasted potatoes and broccoli in an air fryer. Guaranteed deliciousness but the end result will be different, that’s all we’re saying.
The Trick To The Best Garlic Parmesan Broccoli
If you’re looking for cruciferous vegetables recipes, vegetable tapas ideas, side dishes for seafood, or healthy cold lunch ideas, this recipe checks every box and delivers a cruciferous crunch on top of it all.
Before you go prepping your broccoli, let’s prep that oven tray! Have you ever placed a sheet of baking paper on the tray and huff in annoyance as the sides curl up? Not a big deal but utterly frustrating, right?
Here’s a neat trick:
Use that pent-up anger and crumple the baking paper into a ball. Yup, that was not a typo. It doesn’t matter if your baking paper is perfect or crumpled. It won’t affect the final result! Unravel that ball and tada! Baking paper that lays flat.
Now, before we move on to preparing the florets for the dish, here’s a fun fact: broccoli is basically an unbloomed bouquet. Do yourself a favor and google, “broccoli flowers,” or “broccoli bloom.”
A farmer’s nightmare but not a sight one sees every day. We digress though, once you have washed and dried your broccoli, cut your florets into bite-sized pieces.
Some people say that cutting the stalks off of the broccoli makes it a low fodmap dish. But if you factor in the garlic and parmesan, we don’t think cutting the stalks off will make a big difference. This dish has, “Go big or go home,” written all over it for anyone struggling with IBS and is looking for a treat.
Also, waste not want not, right? When you’re livin’ la vida broka, broccoli stems cut off are $$$ down the drain and less food in your bowl.
Truth be told, this recipe was made with leftovers. We had a whole head of broccoli and under 1 oz parmesan cheese. Actually closer to 22.5 grams or 1/4 cup. We’re not one to count calories and have never wondered what a 1 4 cup parmesan cheese calories would be. Guess what? It’s not that much. According to Fatsecret, 108 calories in a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.
Who knew saving money could also be good for the waistline. Also, since we’re on the topic of broccoli, did you know that this cruciferous vegetable comes in a variety of colors that range from a shade of green that resembles sage all the way to a deep dark green, yellowish hues, and even purplish-green.
Like the next person, we agree that the most tedious part of any garlic-based recipe is the mincing of the cloves. Already getting them out of their skins is a headache* but now you’ve got to chop it finely?
Tip: crush your garlic clove with the back of your knife and press down with your body weight to remove skins and make your life easier).
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this tip:
Instead of chopping your garlic cloves into tiny pieces, opt for a grater. Or if you have residual frustrations that the baking paper didn’t take care of, use a mortar.
As long as you end up with garlic that looks like this:
Now, toss everything together and put it in your kitchen appliance of choice (we are new to the job and forgot to take air fryer basket pictures) and leave it in there to form a delicious parmesan crust. The house will be perfumed with the heavenly scent of garlic in no time.
This recipe is versatile, you can swap the broccoli out for green beans and make air fried parmesan green beans instead. Or consider this the healthy green accompaniment to your chicken parmesan vegetable side.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why stop at garlic? Turn this recipe on its head and toss some ginger and garlic into the mix. Or better yet, ditch the parmesan altogether and make it an Asian-inspired dish by pairing the ginger and garlic with honey and soy. Merely the thought of it brings excitement.
When you hear the oven or air fryer ding, have a look at the crispy golden delicious goodness you have just created. The parmesan will have melted, caramelized, and stuck to the bottom of your florets.
Look at that. It’s a thing of beauty.
Air fryer aficionados worry not. If you opted for an air fryer with a standard wire basket, do not fret. Just scrape the golden bits off the bottom of your pan and it’s clear skies ahead.
Tip: don’t take your broccoli out of the oven the minute it is done. Let it cool on the pan or in the air fryer with the residual heat for that extra crispy parmesan crust.
There you have it, folks. An oven and air fryer side dish that will have even the pickiest eaters fighting over these delicious, cheesy, garlicky, green nuggets of goodness. What’s your favorite pairing with broccoli? Are you team oven, team air fryer, on the fence, or like us, think they both have their own merits?
What other broccoli or cruciferous vegetable recipes are you interested in seeing? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll head to the kitchen to start experimenting.
Garlic Parmesan Broccoli
Make this simple and delicious broccoli side dish in an air fryer or oven. It'll impress any cheese or garlic lover and win the hearts of picky eaters.
- 1 head of broccoli (ours was roughly 500 grams)
- 1 oz or 30 grams of parmesan cheese
- 2 tbs olive oil
- a pinch of salt
- 3 cloves of garlic (or more)
Pre-heat your oven to 180c or 365f. Alternatively, turn on your air fryer.
Wash and pat the broccoli dry.
Cut the broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces.
Peel your garlic cloves and pound with a mortar and pastel. If you do not have one, you can grate the garlic directly onto the broccoli or use the traditional method of mincing the garlic with a knife.
Coat the broccoli florets in olive oil, sprinkle on the parmesan cheese, and garlic. Toss everything together until each floret is evenly coated.
Line your baking tray and lay the broccoli on in an even layer. Do the same if you're using an air fryer. Do not overcrowd the pan.
Bake for 20 minutes. Make sure to check on it halfway through. Move the broccoli around in the pan or give your air fryer basket a shake.
Every oven differs! Ours is a little older and does the job in 20 minutes. If you've got a new high-tech powered oven, this could be done in 15 or so minutes. Alternatively, if your oven runs a little colder, achieving a deep brown hue could take a little longer.