Air Fryer Padrón Peppers (Pimientos de Padrón) are the perfect traditional Spanish tapas dish. Serve with a generous sprinkle of flaked salt as an appetizer, side dish, or snack.
If you've ever been to a traditional tapas bar, then you've probably seen or tasted this simple yet delicious dish. Pimientos de Padrón are an accidentally vegan food that makes a perfect, sharable light appetizer, side dish, or addition to your tapas spread.
I absolutely love making these Padrón Peppers in the air fryer. From start to finish, this recipe takes about 8 minutes and cleanup is a snap. I like to pair these rich, earthy peppers with a crisp white wine and an array of plant-based tapas.
PS -- If you have any fancy salt at home, now is the time to break it out! I recommend serving this dish with flaked salt, but any kind of coarse salt will do. The salt really enhances the flavor and adds a little texture, so don't skip it!
Here's what you need to make this Padrón Pepper recipe.
- Padrón Peppers -- If you can't find those, Shishito Peppers make a great substitute.
- olive oil or avocado oil
- flaked salt -- or any kind of coarse sea salt
See recipe card for quantities.
Here are step-by-step instructions with photos.
Preheat the air fryer to 425F or 220C.
Toss the Padrón Peppers with oil and add them to a lined air fryer basket.
Cook for about 6 minutes, stopping to shake the basket halfway.
Transfer the peppers to a plate and sprinkle with a generous amount of coarse or flaked salt.
Serve right away and enjoy!
Hint: Be sure to preheat the air fryer for this dish! You want those peppers to get blasted with heat as soon as you put them in so that they get nice and blistered.
Want to switch things up? Here are a few variations.
- Spicy - add chili pepper flakes when serving.
- Citrusy - add a squeeze of lime juice before serving.
- Deluxe - add vegan feta crumbles and red pepper flakes before serving.
For this recipe, you need an air fryer, a mixing bowl, and tongs.
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How to serve
Serve these Air Fryer Padrón Peppers with a generous sprinkle of flaked or coarse salt as an appetizer or light side dish. They would make an excellent addition to any tapas spread.
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the air fryer. Do not freeze.
Be sure to preheat the air fryer for this recipe. You want your air fryer to already be nice and hot when you add the peppers. Because the peppers cook very quickly, you want to immediately hit them with heat so that they blister nicely.
Padrón Peppers, or Pimientos de Padrón, originate in the town of Padrón in Northwestern Spain. They have a rich, earthy flavor and are traditionally served fried with coarse salt as tapas. Generally, they are mild and green, but they can get spicier and turn red as they ripen.
Although they look nearly identical, Shishito Peppers originate in East Asia. They have a slightly sweeter, less complex flavor. That said, the flavors are similar enough that Shishito Peppers make the perfect substitute if you can't find Padrón Peppers.
For this tapas-style of preparation, you eat padron peppers with your hands. Pick up a pepper by the stem and eat the pepper in one or two bites, leaving behind the stem.
Padrón peppers are generally mild. However, you will occasionally bite into one that is as spicy as a jalapeno, so proceed with caution if you're sharing these with children.
Choose the air fryer that best meets your needs. Consider things like price, size, and functionality. I personally love my Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Grill and Air Fryer, because it has a bigger capacity, which better suits my family of four.
For more info, see my post What Air Fryer Should I Buy? or check out Good Housekeeping's review of the Best Air Fryers of 2023.
Looking for more air fryer recipes? Try these:
Air Fryer Padrón Peppers
- 16 oz Padrón Peppers
- 2 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil
- ¾ teaspoon flaked salt
- Preheat the air fryer to 425F or 220C.
- Wash the peppers and toss them in a bowl with the oil.
- Transfer the Padrón peppers to the air fryer and cook for about 6 minutes, stopping to shake the basket halfway. When they are nicely browned and blistered they're done!
- Remove from the air fryer. Season with the flaked salt. Serve and enjoy right away!
- Be sure to preheat the air fryer for this dish! You want those peppers to get blasted with heat as soon as you put them in so that they get nice and blistered.
- If you can't find Padrón Peppers, Shishito Peppers make a great substitute.
Air Fryer and food safety tips
Here are a few safety tips for cooking with an air fryer.
- Cook food to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Use oils with a high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always use oven mitts or some protective hand covering when shaking the basket or removing food from the air fryer.
- Hot air comes out the back of the air fryer. Try to keep the back of the air fryer at least a hands length away from the wall, other ingredients, or anything else that could be damaged by heat.