Crunchy Broccoli Leaves

I first made this side dish a couple of years ago following a recipe that deep fried the leaves. Of course it was scrumptious - to me most 'deep fried' food is!!  :)

Though I love eating deep fried food, I dislike deep frying at home because of the clean up needed, and also the deep frying odour that seems to linger in the house after.

Yesterday we were at Springvale markets and bought 2 large bunches of Kai Lan for only $2. Bargain. And when I started preparing them for dinner tonight, they were so leafy I immediately thought of those yummy deep fried leaves. But I wanted to try making them in my air fryer instead of deep fying them. Result - yummm, and bonus, no oil splatters, and no yelping when oil spits onto my hand because no matter how well I dry the leaves, there is always moisture that makes the oil spits! They are similar to kale chips, but not as bitter as kale.

Next time you see bunches of leafy Kai Lan, get some and try making this. It is delicious sprinkled onto rice, or noodles, or sushi, or simply use as garnish for anything. And the bonus is that with the stems, you get an extra dish out of them.
Toss leaves thoroughly to coat them with oil.
Bonus stir fry using broccoli stems
Crunchy Broccoli Leaves

2 large bunches Chinese broccoli (Kai Lan)
1 tablespoon neutral flavoured oil
pinch of salt (optional)
dash of ground white pepper
toasted sesame seeds
  1. Cut the green leaves of broccoli from the stems. Keep stems aside for use in another dish.
  2. Wash leaves and pat dry thoroughly.
  3. Roll a few leaves at a time and julienne.
  4. Turn on your air fryer to preheat at 180C. **See notes below.
  5. In a large bowl, thoroughly toss julienned leaves with oil, a pinch of salt and ground white pepper. **See notes below.
  6. Put half of the leaves into your preheated air fryer and 'fry' for about a minute. Toss leaves, then continue to air fry for another minute, toss again to cook leaves evenly. As the leaves start to dry and crisp up, reduce cooking time accordingly between tossing the leaves to avoid burning. I tossed about 5 times each batch.
  7. Spread out crispy leaves onto a largish plate, garnish with lightly crushed sesame seeds, and leave to cool. Leaves will continue to crisp up while cooling.

  • Broccoli leaves are naturally salty so you don't really need to season with salt if you don't want to. If you do, just be a bit careful and not use too much of it. You can always sprinkle salt and ground white pepper onto cooked leaves instead of tossing it with the oil.
  • Like ovens, different air fryers have different capacities, speed, fan power. My air fryer (Rank Arena brand) used for this recipe has a grill between the heating element and the basket, and its fan power and temperature tend to be on the lower side, so the leaves cannot/did not fly into the heating element, and the 180C temp worked perfectly. If your air fryer is on the powerful side, do a test batch with a lower temp (perhaps 170C) and watch it like a hawk in case the leaves fly into the heating element. If that happens, the alternative for cooking this dish is to heat up some oil in a wok and deep fry. Heat about a cup of oil and deep fry the leaves in small batches (like a handful at a time). Discard oil when done as the leaves would have turned it green :)